Equality Before The Law, Not Laws For Equal Outcomes

20 October 2023
Equality Before The Law, Not Laws For Equal Outcomes - Featured image

This magazine is being sent to print just after the massive rejection of the Voice to Parliament by Australians. This is a victory for the principle that we are Australians equal together, and that no one should have special civic and political rights over and above their fellow citizens.

In the lead up to the referendum, the IPA summarised its extensive research program in a one-page document, ‘5 Things You Need to Know About The Voice’:

  1. The Voice would divide Australians by race.
  2. The Voice would permanently change the Constitution.
  3. The Voice would undermine civic equality.
  4. The Voice would undermine your say in our future.
  5. The Voice is risky and would mean decades of legal challenges.

The stakes were high. Passage of the referendum proposal would have marked the end of the liberal democratic constitutional order that has underpinned Australia’s success as a nation since Federation. It would have been a victory for elite opinion and for the Canberra-based political class.

I am proud of the research done by the IPA to examine the Voice to Parliament and highlight its many flaws. We also had occasion to examine the means by which the Federal Government sought to ‘stack the deck’ in favour of the Yes campaign, and in which various arms of Government have constrained contrary voices. There will be more on this in the next IPA Review, and about what comes next.

The Minister is taking us back to the 14th century!

If this is your first IPA Review (we have added hundreds of new IPA Members just in the last few months), our research output can be viewed at ipa.org.au/thevoice.

This is also the first IPA Review since Daniel Andrews resigned as the Premier of Victoria. It perhaps is also the opportunity to put on record what I said after that event.

We need to draw a line under the Andrews era now. Practically, the authoritarian model in which he combined the direction of both party and State cannot be replicated, and shouldn’t be. His government has been an appalling distortion of how we deserve to be governed. Its imitators in Queensland and Western Australia may perhaps also have their shelf life. If we can’t have a proper Royal Commission into COVID-19 management, let’s have a proper inquiry into the operation of the Andrews Government, and its legacy. Maybe he will say as he did so many times, “I have no recollection of that”. But the IPA will.

The destructive precedent set by Victoria in banning gas connections to new homes is the subject of an excellent analysis by IPA Senior Fellow, Dr Kevin You, on page 46. As Kevin says, this is just another element in the mad rush to net zero. This policy, announced unilaterally by then-PM Scott Morrison after intense lobbying by then-UK PM Boris Johnson, appeared to be already past peak interest in that country.

On page 8 net zero is analysed by Professor David Martin Jones, an Australian based in the UK and Europe, who is very well placed to trace the initial steps taken by new UK PM Rishi Sunak as he rightly prioritises energy security and cost of living over net zero dreams.

On page 40 industrial relations expert Dr Mark Mourell lays out the many flaws in the Federal government’s proposed IR Bills, which follow the debacle of the re-introduction of pattern bargaining in 2022.

Dr Mourell’s article had me diving back into The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith. The Scottish economist reinforces my view that the ACTU/ALP Government’s approach of ‘same job, same pay’ rests on a flawed premise. Smith, writing in 1776, himself quoted the 1764 analysis by one Dr Richard Burn in The History of the Poor Laws: With Observations:

By the experience of above four hundred years it seems time to lay aside all endeavours to bring under strict regulations, what in its own nature seems incapable of minute limitation; for if all persons in the same kind of work were to receive equal wages, there would be no emulation, and no room left for industry or ingenuity.

On that reading the Federal Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Tony Burke is taking us back to the 14th century! We need equal treatment under the law, not laws by which government seeks to enforce equal outcomes.

The other current crisis we look at in this edition is the NDIS, for which the former Federal Minister for Social Security Kevin Andrews is extremely well placed to lay out the very concerning state of play (page 24).

Another current crisis is the NDIS.

On page 32 Research Fellow Brianna McKee, who also runs our Generation Liberty program, lays out the lamentable state of free speech on campus. Research Fellows Colleen Harkin and Lana Starkey have written an excellent follow-up to last year’s article on the ‘Victims of Communism’, laying out the results of a groundbreaking survey on millennials’ attitudes to socialism, and what needs to be done (page 16).

For those with an interest in climate change, there are two relevant articles. Professor Stephen Wilson, who was recently appointed a Visiting Fellow researching energy security at the IPA, has reviewed Judith Curry’s latest book. Thomas D. Wilson has done a review of the great new The Little Green Book trilogy by Professor Ian Plimer. These appear on pages 54 and 66, respectively.

On page 62 IPA Senior Fellow Dr Richard Allsop asks in a review what we should expect of biographies of our PMs.

Following the divisive, disastrously expensive and badly conceived referendum, we now have the chance to move forward with a positive agenda for all Australians, including Aboriginal Australians.

Thank you for your support.

This is the editorial from the Sprint 2023 edition of the IPA Review by Editor of the IPA Review, Scott Hargreaves. Articles once loaded online are listed here. IPA Members receive a print edition and online versions of articles are progressively released in the months following publication. To join/subscribe see here.

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