Australian Politician Tells it How it is

Bureaucrats are the same the world over. They think they know best, and as they’re the ones advising Government Ministers, they think they have the authority over what’s right and what’s wrong.

Public health troughers are the same, particularly as they try and get the government to introduce plain packaging for tobacco and lobby the government for fat and sugar taxes over soft drinks.

Occasionally a politician peers through the wool that is being pulled over their eyes by their officials and by troughers sucking on the taxpayers’ tit.

Last week David Leyonhjelm, Australian Liberal Democrat senator for NSW did exactly that, and on an issue that is sure to get the health zealots all fired up, by writing a piece in the Australian Financial Review titled “E-cigarettes at mercy of bureaucrats who ban by default”.

The honesty is refreshing and is an example politicians in NZ should look to for inspiration, instead of being captured by the health bureaucrats.

He talks about how the health bureaucrats have got the whole debate on e-cigs wrong in Australia, David Leyonhjelm had some cracker lines:

It seems everything is illegal in Australia unless a bureaucrat gives permission. What’s worse, you have to go to the trouble and expense of asking for permission, because if bureaucrats were proactive they would run the risk of serving the public.

A good example is the case of e-cigarettes. These inhalers deliver a warm puff of nicotine, without the carcinogenic tar and industrial solvents of cigarette smoke. Alternatively, they can deliver a puff of anything else you could wish for, such as the flavour of chocolate or whisky.   Read more »

Fancy a bet on the election?


Sportingbet Australia odds

Whale Oiler RGW writes:


Right thinkers despair at the prospect of the left mess winning.

Fearing I might become suicidal if that happened I got to thinking what I might do to minimise having to top myself. I found the answer in Australia!

I call it my “Emotional Election Hedge.”

I discovered that Sportingbet Australia are offering (or were at the time I placed my bet) $7.00 on a Labour-led Government. National: $1.09, and Other: $50.

So I asked the holder of the Visa what value she would put on my not topping myself in the early hours of September 21 (or later if it’s really close). She determined that would be worth $300. At  least it was $300 Australian.

Armed with this approval I scampered off and bet the $300.    Read more »

Opposition to idiocy of plain packs laws is mounting

The evidence is building that Australia’s plain packaging law for tobacco is failing is now prompting other countries to learn from the Australian debacle and ditch plans for plain packaging.

New Zealand should be looking at ditching our ill conceived proposed law as well.

Ireland’s government recently took steps toward becoming the first EU country to require plain packaging for tobacco products, and the UK would like to follow its lead. In light of recent reports coming out of Australia, the only country to enact the measure, showing the law is not achieving its intended effects, it is paramount these governments reconsider.

Free market and taxpayer groups are concerned about the consequences of such extreme laws, not just in terms of health and safety of consumers, but their impact on national treasuries. As reported in the Sun newspaper the UK Government faces a potential compensation bill of between £9-11 billion if it proceeds with the removal of internationally protected trademarks and intellectual property.

Already Indonesia is threatening to introduce plain packaging for beers, wines and spirits. And if other countries followed their lead this could have a significant effect on the Britain’s £38 billion alcohol industry which directly employs around 650,000 people.

But the Ireland and the UK still have a chance to stop this bad policy.

The stated purpose of plain packaging is that once you take away tobacco companies’ branding, people will be less inclined to buy their products.  The results thus far appear to be the opposite.  More than a year after Australia enacted the policy, studies by London Economics and renowned professors at the Universities of Zurich and Saarland (Switzerland and Germany) concluded it’s not deterring adults nor adolescents from smoking.

In fact, according to the tobacco industry’s sales volume data, cigarette sales increased by 59 million sticks in Australia during the first year of plain packaging, offsetting a four year downward trend. The Australasian Association of Convenience Stores even reports that its members’ sales grew by 5.4 percent.

Why are more cigarettes being sold when the goal of plain packaging was to reduce smoking? As any elementary course in marketing will teach you, a product becomes commoditized when it is stripped of its branding. The industry is forced to compete on price and consumers buy cheaper cigarettes, less expensive loose tobacco or even turn to the black market.

This is exactly what The Australian, a leading newspaper Down Under, recently reported is happening: nearly half of the country’s cigarettes are now purchased from the lowest price segments, up from just a third before plain packaging was introduced.

As the leading taxpayer rights group in the United States, the number that is even more offensive is the AUD $1.1 billion that KPMG reports Australia’s Treasury lost last year due to the growth of the black market for tobacco products.

While these tax dollars should have been in the government’s coffers, they were not because a record number of Australians purchased one of the cheapest type of cigarettes: those manufactured in branded packs and smuggled into the country.  The market for these “illicit whites,” as they’re called, saw a shocking 151 percent rise during the year.

Read more »

Face of the day

Rebecca Gibney

Rebecca Gibney is a NZ born Australian actress

Rebecca Gibney. is a perfectly lovely person and a good actress but I have made her face of the day because she has followed the trend set by The Cunliffe by apologising for something that she has no responsibility for or control over whatsoever!

Read more »

Aussies are “rascals and cowards”

convictsI thought newspapers were supposed to tell us things we didn’t already know?

Australia is an outpost of “rascals and outlaws” that will soon adjust to the shifting realities of power, says a Chinese state-owned newspaper.

“Australia’s history is not short of records of human rights infringement on the Aboriginal population,” said the Global Times, China’s most popular tabloid, in an editorial published in the newspaper’s English and Chinese editions today.

“The country used to be a place roamed by rascals and outlaws from Europe,” it said. “Perhaps it has to boast its values to cover up its actual lack of confidence in front of Western countries.”

Well, hello.  We all know they’re of convict stock.  Nothing new there.   Read more »


Photo Of The Day

Photo Jasper White

Photo Jasper White

Man Caves

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They are coming for your booze now with plain packaging

Christopher Snowden tweets:

This is the news that Indonesia is moving to implement plain packaging for alcohol, using the same arguments to support their laws as those used against tobacco products.

This weekend it was reported that Indonesia is stepping up plans to introduce plain packaging for alcoholic products. Should the country press ahead with its plans, the prediction by IP associations that plain packaging will creep into other industry segments may be realised sooner than expected.

The Jakarta Post and Food Navigator Asia both report that the Indonesian government is considering regulation that would require beverages with an alcohol content in excess of 20% to either carry graphic health warnings or to use plain packaging.   Read more »

More good news

No matter how hard Labour tries to trash talk eh New Zealand economy, all indicators are showing the economy is recovering fast.

All regions across the country recorded growth in the number of jobs advertised on Trade Me Jobs according to an analysis of listings onsite in the April-June quarter.

Head of Trade Me Jobs, Peter Osborne, said the number of job listings nationwide was up 19% on the same period in 2013, continuing the healthy job market trend evident since the September quarter. “Growth in listings has been very strong, despite the potential handbrake effect of the unusual combination of Easter and Anzac Day holidays in March, and a Budget that had a cooling effect on the number of jobs advertised in May.”

Mr Osborne said most advertisers were upbeat. “We’re hearing plenty of optimistic reports from recruiters and employers, and the majority are planning to keep on hiring too.”

He said improved economic and employment opportunities in New Zealand also contributed to the lowest ever level of migration to Australia in May. “Kiwis are increasingly likely to stay in New Zealand which is good news for NZ Inc, and is also complemented by returning expats who have noticed things on the improve back here in New Zealand.”  Read more »

New evidence from Australia shows no measurable effect of plain packaging


Evidence is building that the plain packaging experiment in Australia is a failure and anyone pushing plain packaging as a solution for halting the prevalence of smoking is actually playing a shell game and promoting a sham.

Ashok Kaul and Michael Wolf of the University of Zurich Department of Economics have conducted an independent study of the effects of plain packaging.

We carried out a trend analysis to study the (possible) effect of plain packaging on smoking prevalence in Australia. More specifically, we fitted a linear time trend that explains well the fact that observed prevalence has declined steadily from mid 2004 on at an annual rate of about 0.54 percentage points.

It is of particular interest to see how observed prevalence behaves relative to the fitted trend line from December 2012 on (that is, from the point when plain packaging was implemented).

It was seen that observed prevalence lies sometimes above and sometimes below the fitted trend line.   Read more »

State funded trougher advocates banning tobacco without understanding the consequences

I abhor the state funded troughers who have built little niches for themselves and in many cases little empires off of the back of advocating law changes for their pet hates.

One such bludging ratbag is Professor Richard Edwards from Otago university.

He has produced a treatise suggesting the banning of tobacco as the final step in the war against tobacco. He suggests massively tightening up tobacco control processes and ultimately banning the product altogether.

I oppose this, not because I am a fan of smoking or tobacco, but because these wowsers are manipulating public policy against their pet hate and once they have finished with tobacco they will move on to the next ‘evil’, which is looking more and more likely to be sugar.

His justifications are:

To assess the feasibility of the introduction of a policy of this nature, the broader context need to be considered. In many ways this appears highly favourable. For example,

  • Smokers are a steadily shrinking minority, albeit still a substantial one. In the 2013 census only 15% of adults were regular (daily) smokers, and 62% of adults had never been regular smokers;
  • An extraordinarily high proportion of smokers regret having started, and around half have tried to quit in the last year;
  • There is widespread public support for the Smokefree 2025 vision and ‘endgame’ ideas to achieve it. For example, in a recent survey 79% supported the Smokefree 2025 goal, 71% agreed that they want to live in a country where hardly anyone smokes, and 50% agreed with a ban on tobacco sales in 10 years time (1);
  • Use of tobacco among politicians, teachers, health professionals the media and other opinion formers, decision makers and influential occupational groups is low and decreasing (2);
  • The Government has recently introduced strong tobacco control measures with overwhelming parliamentary support. These include large increases in tobacco taxation and the point of sales display ban (passed 117-3 in July 2011);
  • The tobacco industry is largely viewed as a pariah, and has little public or political support. For example, 65% of smokers (higher among Māori and Pacific smokers) think the industry should be more tightly regulated (3).

Note how the anti-tobacco industry has created pariahs and demonised smokers…they will do this to those who enjoy sugar and use sugar in products. Instead of Philip Morris or British American Tobacco being evil corporates it will Coca Cola, Pepsi, Chelsea and Frucor. They will be labelled drug dealers, diabetes causing poisoners and much the same titles currently put against the tobacco industry.

His main suggestion is to ban tobacco altogether:

However, there is a theme in New Zealand’s current political discourse which favours minimal intervention and has a low threshold for labelling regulatory or legislative interventions as manifestations of a ‘nanny state’. If a policy to end tobacco sales became viewed in this way then it could quickly become politically unpalatable and implementation unfeasible. Indeed, if seen as too radical and punitive, a proposal to end tobacco sales could conceivably intensify and expand the breadth of opposition to tobacco control. If so, advocacy for such a measure might be counter-productive by discrediting and derailing less radical tobacco control approaches and even the Smokefree 2025 goal itself.

Overall the social and political environment appears favourable. However, the small risk of a political and publish backlash suggest that if advocacy for a policy ending tobacco sales is to be successful and not counter-productive, then its merits must be carefully explained and debated.

Ending tobacco sales could also greatly reduce the current tobacco control policy agenda, saving legislative time and resources. Measures such as licensing of retailers, restrictions on location of retail sales and increases in tobacco taxation would be redundant if the products cannot be legally sold. Nevertheless, assuming importation or cultivation for personal use was permitted, policies mandating smokefree outdoor public places and smokefree cars would remain relevant.

He helpfully has an image from Bhutan, but fails spectacularly to understand what has happened in Bhutan since the total ban on tobacco products.

For a professor who deals in information you would think he wouldn’t have failed to mention that Bhutan had to lift their blanket ban due to skyrocketing criminal trade. A simple Google search could’ve told him that.

Bhutan – the only country to have banned the sale of tobacco

Bhutan – the only country to have banned the sale of tobacco

Bhutan’s second parliament is likely to set the history of ‘ban lift’ as it takes steps to do so one after another. Very recently the country lifted ban on import of furniture and alcohol.

Now the country’s Upper House resolves that ban on import of tobacco must end. In a majority resolution on Monday (3 February 2014), the house said ban on import and sale of tobacco products must end to control the black market.

Bhutan had gained fame for being the first country to completely ban on manufacturing, import and sale of any tobacco products. However, the government also received harsh criticism for sending a monk behind bar for years on charge of carrying tobacco products worth Nu 120.

After public outcry over the harshness of the law, the first elected parliament of the country showed some leniency towards tobacco consumers. Many send to jail for selling tobacco were subsequently released on king’s order.

Read more »