Why do some governments behave as if they’re little more than thieves in the night? Why is it that the very parties who trumpet their dedication to free enterprise so easily succumb to this? As Hernando de Soto so cogently demonstrated in his magisterial work on capital, they assert that private property is fundamental both to economic progress and individual freedom. Nevertheless, we have just seen the Turnbull government, breaking its promises, go after the assets of self-funded retirees. Meanwhile, in alliance with the extreme left, the NSW Baird government is about to ruin the lives of thousands of honest hard-working Australian families. This is perhaps not so surprising for a government which recently made petrol station proprietors criminally responsible, at ministerial discretion, for people not buying the ethanol they don’t want − a lobbyist’s dream.
The Baird government has, in the middle of the night, rammed through a bill to liquidate all greyhound racing. As if NSW were some soviet republic, this expressly denies individuals who relied on the industry the compensation to which they are morally entitled. This was notwithstanding the fact that the report on which this action is claimed to be based is seriously flawed, as crossbenchers Fred Nile and Robert Borsak explained in the debate. Warren Mundine says the government thinks it will get away with this because its target is only working class people. No other industry should sit back and think that they won’t be touched. The same forces that seriously damaged live cattle exports will move on to other targets, including harness and thoroughbred racing, fishing, and the meat industry. Anyone who doubts this should recall that we live at a time when governments, under the guise of a response to bullying, endorse the abuse of school children under a Marxist designed gender fluidity program.
The attack on greyhound racing, slammed by Ray Hadley as the ‘greatest act of bastardry on the battler’, is part of a dangerous trend by politicians to undermine the property rights of Australians, while encouraging communist government entities and oligarchs, no doubt with the help of the best lobbyists money can buy, to corner the freehold of some of our best farms, ports and strategic assets. Not only were two such approved deals kept from us until after the election, the foreign land register is to be a state secret.
But for Australians, one prominent lawyer warns that there has been a gradual, but ‘significant erosion of traditional protections for private property rights’. In anticipation of the worst, our forefathers approved a constitutional requirement that the Commonwealth can only compulsorily acquire property on condition it be for a federal purpose and on just terms.
But the Canberra politicians have worked out a way to avoid paying compensation – pay the states to do their dirty work. The declaration of Peter Spencer’s farm as a useless carbon sink by the NSW government acting for Canberra is a classical example. Denied fair compensation, Spencer went on a hunger strike in 2009, but was persuaded to sue. His case is still ricocheting around the courts, with Canberra claiming there was no acquisition on the spurious ground that they received no benefit. Hypocritically building up the most massive CO2 footprints, it will surprise no one that at the 2015 Paris global warming extravaganza, the politicians argued the opposite. Canberra benefited from the carbon sinks − they helped fill their Kyoto emissions quota. Spencer is fortunate he has Peter King, the former Wentworth MP, acting for him pro bono.
To prevent similar outrages, I proposed to Barry O’Farrell, just before he became Premier, that the NSW constitution be changed to guarantee fair compensation in such circumstances. He declined, but did promise in an op-ed that if elected, his government would seriously consider introducing recall elections. When an expert panel recommended 2:1 in favour of these, the premier’s office told Alan Jones on air that as the panel had rejected the idea, the government would not be proceeding with them. A minister admitted to Jai Martinkovits, the reason not to introduce them was that they were now in office.
If it were good enough for Turnbull and McCormack to boast on Twitter how they had completed their census forms, why didn’t they tell us immediately they knew the system had been shut down? As for the claim that the census is crucial for deciding where to build new schools, hospitals and, if they weren’t otherwise forbidden, dams, the response by 2GB’s dynamic young broadcaster Michael McLaren was priceless: ‘I thought they built these where they hoped they would attract votes in marginal seats.’ With all the information readily available today, there’s no real need these days for a census. That would save $300 million, enough to pay Canberra’s interest bill for about a week. The fact is, far from just collecting information, personal details are being retained and can be used to exercise unnecessary surveillance. It is not at all paranoid to be suspicious of governments knowing far too much about their law-abiding citizens − just recall how the Nazis used such information in the Netherlands, and what Roosevelt did to intern US citizens of Japanese ancestry. While wanting to place the law-abiding under increasing surveillance, the Turnbull government falls down in obtaining publicly available information it ought to have. Just recall their excuse for inviting Sheik Shady to a Ramadan dinner at Kirribilli House. With a staff many times that of Menzies, the nerve centre of the government claimed it was blithely unaware of Shady’s well documented views on adultery, homosexuals, Jews and Christmas.
More than in other Western countries, the major parties are today no more than fronts controlled by cliques of powerbrokers, withpoliticians doing an enormous amount of damage to the nation. Apart from voting strategically, the solution lies in restoring the federation and making politicians truly accountable, with recall elections and Citizen Initiated Referendums. Switzerland is the model, where, without any mineral wealth, the GDP per head is about a third higher than ours. That must be because they keep their politicians on a leash – as we should too.