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Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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The 'nanny state' and freedom of choice

In recent times, a number of Australian Government policy initiatives have been criticised as ‘nanny state’ or ‘paternalist’ policies. Describing policies in this way resonates with concerns held by many that there should be limits to the extent to which governments should protect people from the consequences of their choices. But are there circumstances in which some help from ‘nanny’ can be justified? This week the tobacco industry launched a nation-wide media campaign in an attempt to stop the Government introducing plain packaging for all tobacco products sold in Australia. The industry has based its campaign around the idea that the policy is a ‘nanny state’ measure. The campaign has be... Read more...

Gambling on the pokies - recommendations for government policy

The Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform has just released a report into the design and implementation of a mandatory pre-commitment system for electronic gaming (poker) machines.The introduction of mandatory pre-commitment technology for poker machines was one of Independent MP, Andrew Wilkie’s key demands in return for support of the minority Gillard government after the last federal election.Under the agreement, Labor agreed to begin implementing pre-commitment technology by 2012, with a full pre-commitment scheme—that is, one that is uniform across all states and territories and machines—commencing in 2014.The Joint Select Committee on Gambling Reform was charged with ... Read more...

When is government paternalism justifiable?

A core assumption of liberal societies is that individuals are the best judge of their own interests and therefore are best placed to make choices about how to live their lives. But what if a choice—say, to take adictive drugs or to smoke—is likely to be detrimental to the person involved? Can governments be justified in interfering with individual choices in the interests of the person concerned? This question is examined in the new Parliamentary Library Research Paper, Paternalism in social policy—when is it justifiable?  The paper argues that paternalist policies may be considered justifiable under circumstances where: high stakes decisions are involved the decisions being made by individ... Read more...

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