In Australia lawmaking has become a political act viewed from a partisan Left vs Right perspective. If a Labor politician proposes a bill it is immediately opposed by those on the Right, and vice versa, regardless of its merits. If the Greens propose a bill there is laughter from both sides. If a cross-bencher propose one then it must be time for lunch.
My libertarian starting point is to oppose the making of a new law because it is a new law. As each law takes away the freedom of Australian citizens it should be treated with utmost scepticism. The merits of the law must pass my free and fair test. Only then can we begin to debate whether the law is necessary, whether it will be effective, whether it can be enforced, how much enforcing it will cost the taxpayer and whether it is something useful to all citizens rather than just the political tribe of whoever is proposing it.
My libertarianism is a healthy scepticism of lawmaking as the solution to society's evils. As society and technology progresses there will be new laws made and changes to the old ones. But we should not automatically give away our freedoms to enhance the prestige of our tribal leaders and those they owe favours to. Nor should they be used as a weapon against their political opponents or segments of society against which they hold some prejudice.
Some laws are just plain evil as discussed in my last post. Some are ineffectual wastes of our hard earned money. Some laws act as Trojan horses – they are gifted to us for a benign purpose but will kick us in the teeth if we don't pay attention.
One is the Major Sporting Events Act which currently gives the Victorian Police the power to search without giving a reason anyone at and around venues such as stadiums and racetracks.
Designed to eliminate potential terrorist threats at major events, the Act allows police to search you inside or outside the venue – if you refuse they can kick you out or stop you from going in. Refusing their directions will cost you $3000. They can also demand to see your ID and fine you $750 if you don't comply.
Which might all seems well and good if it will help keep some mad bastard from blowing up the Melbourne Cup or the AFL Grand Final.
Victoria's police now want to broaden the scope of this Act to include dance festivals - so that they can surround the event, search young folks for drugs and bar, eject and fine those who do not comply. In other words – so they can shut the damn doofs down.
A classic Trojan horse scenario - a law is passed to combat terrorists but concealed inside it is the means to criminalise our young people for doing what young people do for fun these days.
And while Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville claims that the proposal is all about reducing harm at festivals, if they were serious about harm reduction they would listen to the professionals and allow pill testing which has proven to be effective all over the world.
And where on from there? Well if you can extend the law to reach from the Melbourne Cricket Ground to a bush doof in Lexton, then it is on to the city nightlife precincts where since April the police have increased their use of sniffer dogs in and around Melbourne nightclubs under Operation Safenight.
So aggressive are the police that the High Alert campaign was formed in response to Operation Safenight by a group of concerned harm reduction advocates, health professional and legal practitioners including Nevena Spirovska, a former campaign manager for the Australian Sex Party.
So aggressive that just yesterday a man and a woman were shot by police at a 'Saints and Sinners Ball' inside a Melbourne nightclub following a report that the man was armed with a gun. But as you might expect to find at at fancy-dress party on a guy dressed as The Joker – the pistol was a toy. Not a safe night for him or his girlfriend.
If the Anti-Terrorist / Anti-Fun / Super Safety Squad are successful then it won't be long before similar legislation appears in other States.
Then who knows how far the long arm of the law will stretch to keep us safe from ourselves? Perhaps to Melbourne Cup Day at your local pub, to the Australia Day bash at the end of your street, and to your kid's 18th birthday party at your house.
Be it what it may, I fear the Grecians even when they offer gifts.
Remember you are free.