The Hidden Benefits of the Minor Parties

The senate crossbench has been the target of considerable contempt, since the 2013 election. Frustrated by the election of minor party candidates, the Australian political class is demanding reform. The frustration of failing to pass legislation has even prompted the Prime Minister to label the senate ‘feral’.

There are electoral reforms worth pursuing. But this contempt and hostility ignores the benefits of having minor party MPs.

Less constrained by electoral pragmatism, and the excessive party discipline that has infected Australian politics, minor party MPs are able to expand public debate and raise issues that would otherwise be unrepresented.

Immigration reform is on such example.

In an issues paper released on Friday, the Productivity Commission raised the prospect of a price-based immigration system—similar to the system proposed ($) by Nobel Prize winning economist, Gary Becker. As The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

The Australian government would sell the right to immigrate to Australia – with migrants no longer accepted based on their skills or family connections – under radical proposals being examined by the government’s independent think tank.

The Productivity Commission is investigating a price-based immigration system that would use entry fees as the primary determinant for who gains entry to Australia.

This reform would be enormously beneficial—as the IPA’s Jason Potts explained on The Conversation.


Read the rest at Freedom Watch…

Taxi Industry Will Suffer if it Refuses to Embrace Uber

Threatened by the growing popularity of ride-sharing app Uber, the Australia taxi industry has resorted to a campaign of misinformation to protect its market share.

In a response to state Opposition Leader Matthew Guy, who has called for the Government to embrace the service, the Victorian Taxi Association raised the prospect of safety concerns to attack its competitor.

Victorian Taxi Association CEO David Samuel remarked that he was “concerned that a senior member of Parliament would associate himself with a dangerous and illegal service”.

Samuel’s comments mirror the message from the Australian Taxi Industry Association, which last month claimed to be concerned with community safety, because of the dangers of this “imitation taxi service”.

The problem with this party line is that it’s just not credible.

As users of Uber can attest, the service — which is based in San Francisco, operates in 55 countries and more than 200 cities across the globe and which is predicted to generate more than $10 billion in revenue by the end of the year — provides a cheap and convenient method of transport, which is considerably safer than traditional taxis. And it’s only the first of a raft of similar services.

Taxi drivers have a dangerous and often difficult job. They carry large amounts of cash and pick anonymous customers up off the street.

That can create risks for both drivers and passengers. Passengers can be assaulted and drivers robbed, and there is no guarantee that the offender can be identified when a crime is committed.

Uber has significantly reduced those risks. The ride-sharing app facilitates a cashless transaction and both the driver and passenger know the other’s details before the ride begins.

If a crime does occur, then all of the perpetrator’s personal information is available and can be sent directly to the police. That means that anyone stupid enough to assault an Uber driver, or a driver stupid enough to assault a passenger, will effectively be leaving a copy of their driver’s licence and credit card with the victim of the crime.


Read the rest at Herald Sun…