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Gambling in WA

As Sam Ward pointed out to me in a comment (he has made further points here) it is not true that WA has no gaming machines. They do but they are restricted to the Burswood Casino or to slot machines in pubs that do not dispense coins. Indeed, Premier Carpenter announced yesterday that another 250 […]

Jihad Jack’s romance

Odd spots: Coffee fungi and feral burgundy

I heard on ABC radio this afternoon that it is fungi that give coffee its distinctive flavor. I have no reason to think this research is wrong. Indeed it rationalizes the fact that the half-drunk cups of coffee that I discover, after several days, in nooks and crannies around my office, are often encrusted in […]

Gambling in Australia

I have just managed to get Australian Gambling Statistics 2006 prepared by the Queensland Treasury. This data is not available on any website (why?) and costs $175 for the CD rom. It is the most comprehensive aggregate picture of gambling in Australia, providing consistent time series reporting since 1979-80.Gambling expenditure measures total losses while gambling […]

Demise of Earth Sanctuaries

I was deeply saddened, though not surprised, by news this week of an offer for all of the outstanding shares in ESL Holdings Ltd by the property development group Prudentia Investments Pty Ltd. Directors of ESL recommend that its shareholders accept this offer. The future of the few remaining biodiversity conservation sanctuaries in the ESL […]


I have long opposed the privatisation of Telstra. There are, in my view, too many natural monopoly elements involved in the non-retail part of Telstra and the effective provision of an efficient, low cost message market in Australia is an overriding social priority. Such provision is a much more effective way of bringing together our […]

Risky boozing

I am having a quiet Friday night after an academic seminar and a ‘big’ lunch. Earlier this evening I had a quick (and somewhat hypocritical) flip through a just released ABS survey of Australia’s drinking habits.Levels of risky drinking have increased 50% over the past 10 years. 15% of male adults and 12% of female […]

Local retailing monopolies

I have been reading Alan Moran’s The Tragedy of Planning which argues that having too few land releases with too many urban planning restrictions has driven the sky-high house prices Australians now experience. I’ve already posted on this general thesis.One of Alan’s remarkable claims is that:

‘Metropolitan Development in Victoria is controlled under Melbourne 2030. […]

William’s blog

My son William has his blog here. Please pay him a visit!

And please make a comment!

Addiction treatments that worsen health

Standard economic explanations of addiction (such as the rational addiction model of Gary Becker and Kevin Murphy) do formally allow for drug users to invest in rehabilitation. They can spend money to undo the effects of an addiction – e.g. Mel Gibson can devote time, effort and dollars to dealing with his alcohol problems in […]

Miracle cures

Over the years I’ve gobbled more than my share of supposedly health-promoting pills that could, from a cynical viewpoint, be seen as a fairly pathetic attempt to boost my flagging health in the face of aging, near-legendary sloth and a persistent overindulgence in red wine. I’ve eaten vitamins A, C, bioflavonoids, B-complex, inositol, beta-carotene, E, […]

Fatter but healthier

Australia’s Health 2006 has just been released. On the health risks I am interested in studying (smoking, booze, illicit drugs) and the obesity issue it makes these points.• Smoking rates continue to fall, with 1 in 6 Australians aged 14 years or over smoking tobacco daily in 2004, compared with 7 in 10 men and […]

Urban spawl & house prices

An idea increasingly posing a challenge to State Governments is that house prices in Australia are high not because interest rates are relatively low but because State Governments have been excessively stingy in releasing land and are charging new settlers too much in upfront infrastructure provision fees.The Reserve Bank’s Ian Macfarlane argues that high prices […]

Terrorism prosecution failures

The nits at Larvatus Prodeo are celebrating the release of Jihad Jack. The left generally does anything it can to apologise for what I would call Islamo-Fascism. Sympathy for victims of terrorism – well there is not much of that. On Jihad Jack I much prefer The Australian’s response today – his release is a […]

A likely bid for Coles-Myer

An announcement by Coles-Myer management yesterday suggests CM is likely to be subject to a takeover bid. A $16 billion bid for CM (a massive bid by international standards!) would have enormous Australian political implications.CM is Australia’s biggest employer and its staff are mainly vulnerable, low income retail workers so trade unions will be concerned. […]

Politics of pokies

At Crikey Charles Richardson discusses proposals to restrict poker machines. A Morgan poll released yesterday shows that a majority of Australians want local councils to be able to prohibit pokies on their territory – 57% of Australians favour giving councils the right to ban machines.Richardson claims that the policy will fail for the same reason […]


Three propositions:1. In one of my earliest posts on this blog I argued that religions have positive placebo value. They may be the ‘opiate of the masses’ that acts on the brain as an endogenous opioid but religion makes people less ill, suffer less mental illness and provides a convenient social glue. Praying for someone […]

Dealing with terrorism effectively

Somewhat inconclusive thoughts based on recent press arguments.

Stephen Morris on recognising the problem. ‘…we in the West are at war with a hydra-headed and barbaric enemy that has not a shred of humanity and relishes the bloodletting on tens of thousands of innocents, including other Muslims…Should any of its constituent elements – the Iranian […]

LPG conversion grant

The decision of the Howard Government to provide a grant of $2000 towards the cost of converting existing cars to LPG, a a grant of $1000 for installing LPG in new cars, is a political decision designed to offset community perceptions that the Government is not doing enough to protect motorists from rising petrol prices.The […]

Sam Ward apologises

This is memorable. SW apologizes to yours truely as well as other paternalistic health Nazis, Qantas stewardesses, Greenpeace, animal rights campaigners and the masses suffering under the yoke of John Howard’s rule.