Review - Institute of Public Affairs

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from June 2004
Last Number: June 2011

Institute of Public Affairs
ISSN 1030-4177

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Vol. 63 Nbr. 2, June 2011

Bad History Now a National Problem

Australia's unique cultural heritage risks being lost if the next generation is not taught about its classical liberal origins. Australia's education ministers have decided there will be a single National Curriculum for the country. The National Curriculum dictates what every student is taught up to Year 10. The plan of the ministers is that by the end of 2013 the National Curriculum for English, Mathematics, Science and History will have been substantially implemented. It's no exaggeration t...

Bourgeois Dignity

Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World, by Deirdre McCloskey, is reviewed.

Champions of Rights?

The proposed national curriculum, developed by the Australian Government, suggests that the ongoing struggle for human rights and freedoms in the world is fundamentally a result of the establishment in the last century of the UN and other international organizations. Indeed, the proposed curriculum asks students to consider the role of the UN in protecting human rights, when in actual fact this organization has a long tradition of shamefully declining to respond to gross human rights violatio...

Free Speech in the Climate Debate

You'd think that climate sceptics deserve free speech as much as everybody else. That, however, isn't the view of the ABC's media criticism program, Media Watch. In an episode this March, Media Watch host Jonathan Holmes called for the government to use a practically defunct regulation to restrict the free speech of climate sceptics because he disagreed with the content of that speech. Media Watch is one of the ABC's flagship programs -- a self-appointed press watchdog, dedicated to exposing ...

From the Editor

Nearly a third of the savings identified in this year's federal budget is actually the government's temporary flood levy -- collecting one and a half billion dollars for the 2011-2012 financial year. This rhetorical trick -- that you can make savings by increasing revenue -- was duly and uncritically repeated in much of Australian media's budget coverage. It's an old trick. Last year's budget claimed that increasing the tobacco excise was a 'major saving'. Then there's the yearly predictable ...

Full of Hope or Just Hopeless?

Here on Earth: An Argument for Hope, by Tim Flannery, is reviewed.

Identity Crisis

These are dark days for the Australian Labor Party. Its consistently bad opinion polls-the party's primary vote hovers in the early 1930s -- is but one of the symptoms of its seemingly incurable malaise. Just under a year ago, Labor thought that changing its leader would improve its standing with the electorate. The result was that Labor was the first government in 70 years to lose majority power. Nothing exemplifies more perfectly the confusion and dislocation that are ravaging Australia's o...

Is Modern Art a One Trick Pony?

Clear visual evidence of genius exists for all to see -- albeit at rather an inconvenient distance from Australia's shores. What then, should one make of contemporary artistic figures such as Damien Hirst, for whom claims of genius have certainly been made by some at least, including -- somewhat regrettably -- by the artist himself. Just as artists can be divided between avid self-promoters and more retiring types, so in art criticism a similar division could be said to exist between writers ...

It's the Pollies Fault, Too

Sideshow: Dumbing Down Democracy, by Lindsay Tanner, is reviewed.

Should Parallel Import Restrictions Be Removed?

For Tim Wilson, director of the IP and Free Trade Unit and Sinclair Davidson, senior fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs, Parallel Import Restrictions are an unjustified government intervention into the market for books. In a highly competitive market publishers can only sell high by offering a quality product, or by monopolizing the market by restricting supply to raise prices. But government action to remove parallel import restrictions would undermine private property rights, argues ...

Showdown in Wisconsin

The Midwestern US state of Wisconsin, home to long winters, strange delicacies such as fish boils, and sporting teams such as the Green Bay Packers, seems a strange epicenter for one of the great public policy battles of today: how to rein in rampant public sector unions. Essentially, the government of the 'Badger State' is living beyond its means, and with the global financial crisis having translated into a significant loss of the state's manufacturing workforce, the need for fiscal correct...

Taxi Mess an Old, Stubborn Failure of Government

In Melbourne, train performance was seen as a key factor in the defeat of the Labor Government in last November's Victorian Election, yet surveys conducted by Victoria's Department of Transport have consistently shown a greater degree of customer dissatisfaction with taxis than with the much maligned trains. So, given that improving the trains was seen as a key performance indicator for the new Victorian government, it was perhaps surprising that, when it came to taxis, nobody seemed to be ap...

The Biggest Loser Is the Nanny-State

The recently concluded reality television show, The Biggest Loser, contains some surprising lessons for public policy. Of all the reality television shows bombarding people, The Biggest Loser best combines entertainment with the spectacle of social stratification. And The Biggest Loser contestants fulfil their expectations. The Biggest Loser approach is to offer a massive financial incentive in the form of $100,000 of prize money to lose weight, plus substantial amounts of personal training a...

The Greens and Labor: It's Time for a Divorce

When Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced her carbon tax plan at the end of February, Greens leader Bob Brown and his deputy Christine Mime not only got to join her at the press conference. They also had the pleasure of seeing the Prime Minister formally adopt a policy proposal that they had put forward 12 months before. The public response was swift and severe. Less than a fortnight after Gillard broke her election promise not to put a price on carbon, the first Newspoll for March found La...

Tim Flannery: Climate Prophet

Appointed by Climate Change Minister Greg Combet to his $3,000 per week, part-time job in February, Climate Change commissioner Tim Flannery is tasked with turning around the climate change debate for the minority Labor administration. His comments, made in a 2004 interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, are just one indicator of the depth of Flannery's quasi-religious fervor for climate change, not to mention his exaggerated sense of self-importance. Many commentators have noted the extensi...

We're All Devils

All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis, by Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera, is reviewed.

Where Are You Superman?

Waiting for Superman, directed by Davis Guggenheim, is reviewed.


Inside Wikileaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World's Most Dangerous Website, by Daniel Domscheit-Berg, is reviewed.

Wild Colonial Boy

Colony: Strange Origins of One of the Earliest Modern Democracies, by Reg Hamilton, is reviewed.

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