Tag Archives: Liberty

Do Australians Care About Personal Choice?

The Senate Standing References Committee on Economics is accepting submissions on one of several inquiries:  Personal choice and community impacts. The aim of this, ostensibly,  is to look into ‘measures introduced to restrict personal choice “for the individual’s own good”.’, (which actually sounds vaguely interesting).

The terms of reference cover a range of areas that I expected to generate some interest:

The economic and social impact of legislation, policies or Commonwealth guidelines, with particular reference to:
a. the sale and use of tobacco, tobacco products, nicotine products, and e-cigarettes, including any impact on the health, enjoyment and finances of users and non-users;
b. the sale and service of alcohol, including any impact on crime and the health, enjoyment and finances of drinkers and non-drinkers;
c. the sale and use of marijuana and associated products, including any impact on the health, enjoyment and finances of users and non-users;
d. bicycle helmet laws, including any impact on the health, enjoyment and finances of cyclists and non-cyclists;
e. the classification of publications, films and computer games; and
f.any other measures introduced to restrict personal choice ‘for the individual‘s own good‘.

The submissions received so far are available for download, other than any that have been submitted confidentially or whose authors chosen not to be identified publicly.

Given some of the conversations I’ve had over the years, I would expect that many of these terms of reference would attract attention. Having perused the published submissions, it is pretty clear that, thus far, only (d) – regarding bicycle helmet laws – has many submissions – that are publicly accessible at least.

I wonder, what is behind this occurrence? Is it that only anti-helmet activists are contributing? Is it that all the other submissions, on other matters, are confidential? Personally, I find that a little hard to believe. We have not reached the deadline yet, so perhaps cyclists are just more organised than everyone else.

Assuming that the makeup of the submissions does not change between now and the 24th of August, I would like to know what is going on here. Perhaps other campaigners are reluctant to be politically associated with Senator Leyonhjelm, who was behind this inquiry. Or maybe they are more jaded than anti-helmet activists, having spent more time struggling to have their voices heard.

Or maybe, despite the fact that Australians seem to break such laws pretty regularly, most are not interested in challenging laws that exist to restrict their personal choice.