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Andrews was prudent to act on valid suspicions

Imre Salusinszky says it as well as anyone in relation to Minister Andrew’s handling of the Haneef case:

‘On balance, this is one of those no-scandal scandals where the stridency of some commentators only underlines their estrangement from the man and woman on the street.

Unfortunately, this estrangement reveals a pattern we have seen repeatedly […]

Who will win the next election?

Today’s Galaxy Poll shows an improvement in the chances of the Coalition – Labor gets 44% of the primary vote compared to the Coalition’s 41%. The two party preferred gives Labor 54% and the Coalition 46%. The Coalition have improved their primary vote 4% since April-May. An interesting analysis of the current situation is here. […]

Obesity cure

Last word on Haneef?

Md. Haneef has now left Australia. He has been cleared of the charges levelled against him. This does not mean that the charges against him and his possible terrorist links should not have been investigated. On the basis of information available at the time (and in the absence of the ex post wisdom so beloved […]

The pet economy & biophilia

I could barely believe parts of this story. According to this week’s Business Week Americans spend $41 billion on their pets which is more than the GDP of all but 64 countries. This is mainly spent on 88 million cats and 75 million dogs. Pets increasingly substitute for human companionship – 42% of dogs now […]

Policies for reducing the costs of cigarette smoking in Australia

I wrote this paper with Louise Collis. Comments are very welcome.

Abstract: Policies for regulating tobacco smoking in Australia are examined. Cigarette management policies need to account for the addictive nature of nicotine, information failures and the existence of externalities and internalities. The external costs of smoking are low relative to internalised private costs. […]

Bracks quits

I empathised with Premier Steve Bracks the other day after his son was arrested for crashing his car when he had been drink driving. Bracks was publicly scathing in his criticism of his son but you could see the deep sadness.

He said he ‘felt hopeless and useless, and you can’t help feeling a […]

Happy birthday John!

Prime Minister John Winston Howard turns 68 today. He has been Prime Minister for 11 years and involved in Liberal Party politics for 50 years. Howard looks fit and intellectually at his full strength – more like someone likely to fight on for a fifth term than someone about to retire as an aged pensioner. […]

Repositioning La Trobe University

The Green Paper Repositioning La Trobe University written by new Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul Johnson, was released yesterday.

It is discussed in this morning’s Age and Australian newspapers. The Age continues its campaign to denigrate LTU with a totally negative report – it never misses an opportunity to do this. The Australian’s discussion is more […]

Should we change our government?

Even as a partisan in this debate I still feel it is worthwhile to ask a basic question. Would we be better-off with an experienced Howard Government or with a broadly similar, though less experienced, Rudd Labor Government? The arguments I have seen favouring Labor often seem negative – reasons for not voting for the […]

Fat taxes – regressive & ineffective

This paper examines the case for leving fat taxes via dairy products.

The conclusion:

In an attempt to improve the nation’s health, many U.S. policy makers have or are considering imposing taxes on the fat in food. Dairy products constitute a large portion of at home fat consumption of particularly harmful types of fat, and […]

World weight loss record

Did he look better? Well, yes, but it took a bit of cutting & stitching.

Thanks LC

Hysterics everywhere: Give the Haneef issue a break

The press and the infantile, leftwing blogosphere are having a field day making conjectures that foster views of the innocence or guilt of Mohammed Haneef.

In part this might have been triggered by what seem to be failures in the methods of investigation and in the accuracy of information transmitted by the Australian Federal Police. […]

Passive smoking causes health damage

Yobbo suggested in response to an earlier post that there was convincing evidence that passive smoking was not linked to higher incidence of tobacco-related disease. This is an important argument in the context of tobacco regulation since one motivation for bans on smoking in bars and in the workforce is to reduce the health costs […]

Backyard birdwatching – 50 species seen

I keep a tally of the bird species I see from my home in suburban Ivanhoe in Melbourne. Keeping a watchout is part of the great art of pottering around the garden with no specific purpose but managing to fill in many a lazy day. It is also an outstanding way of confirming my ‘nerd’ […]

What I am reading: Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Infidel revealed much about a woman’s early life in repressive Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and (to a less extent) Kenya. It reveals her joys as she discovers the advantages of living in an open, wealthy society, Holland, where she can work, study and enjoy friendships and romance to an extent impossible in […]

Tobacco ban blows ill wind

Passive smoking is dangerous – particularly for young children but for anyone – so the Victorian Government has just joined other states in banning smoking from bars, pubs and hotels. My view is that this will be good for business because most adults are non-smokers and even 60% of smokers want smoking banned in such […]

Arrow & Schelling on global warming

Economists’ Voice publishes two short articles on climate change by Nobel Prize Laureates in economics, namely Kenneth Arrow (Nobel Prize 1972) and Thomas Schelling (Nobel Prize 1995). Both are good reading.

Kenneth J. Arrow “Global Climate Change: A Challenge to Policy”.http://www.bepress.com/ev/vol4/iss3/art2 (try here). Arrow is an economist I admire. He writes quantitative economics beautifully and, […]

Cigarette century

This remarkable graph from W. Weiss, ‘Cigarette Smoking and Lung Cancer Trends: A light at the end of the tunnel?’, Chest, 111, 1997, summarizes much of what we know about the health history of the cigarette in the twentieth century.

The graph shows percentages of the US male population that smoke compared to male lung […]

Probable Ford plant closure

The near certain decision by Ford to close its 6-cylinder plant in Geelong, thereby eliminating 600 jobs, is devastating for the workers concerning and a major problem for the Geelong community. It will be interesting to see how the two parties address this closure issue only a few months out from a Federal election given […]