Thursday, June 22, 2006

Coalition backbenchers fight government for freedom

It looks like John Howard and his government are emerging as strong social conservatives, after trying to bring through legislation that will ban gay marriages and civil unions and that oppose stem cell research.

Mr Howard told the meeting of Coalition MPs last night that cabinet had resolved on Monday to reject the recommendations of the Lockhart inquiry into stem cell laws and retain the status quo.

The battle over stem cell research has split cabinet, with conservatives including Health Minister Tony Abbott and Finance Minister Nick Minchin lining up against Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane and Education Minister Julie Bishop.

Why the ban on stem cell research, since when is it the role of government to restrict what research should be carried out by scientists ? Who knows what kind of breakthroughs in medicine stem cell research can bring about, obviously there are many experts who are putting resources and efforts into this area, but there are also many religious authorities condemning it outright as immoral.

Whats really shocking is that for the first time I can remember, Steve Bracks is fighting *ON* the side of freedom:

Victorian Premier Steve Bracks has threatened to break ranks and explore state options to allow limited stem cell research if bans remain in place against therapeutic cloning.

Under existing laws governing embryo research and the prohibition of cloning, scientists can use only spare IVF embryos for stem cell research.

However the Howard government is considering relaxing its fairly tough asylum seeker detention laws:
The Coalition partyroom was last night formally briefed on asylum concessions, including offering community housing for women and children, 90-day time limits for the processing of claims and a watchdog role for the Ombudsman.
Immigration laws are usually contentious issues. If we lived in a free country, then I would support much more open immigration, as immigration wouldn't affect me. However our socialist democracy has created a troublesome situation where everybody pays exorbitant amounts of tax and the only way to recover some of that is to be a citizen and consumer social goods (i.e roads, public hospitals, public schools, subsidised tertiary education). So because of our socialist utopia, it actually DOES harm me and all taxpayers if more people arrive and consume the fruits of our labour, because we are compelled to spend on public services and every taxpayer suddenly has an interest in whether additional immigrants arrive.

If this country had minimal taxes and very few people depended on the state for goods and services, then I would rely on libertarian principles. Unfortunately these don't give a clear cut case. On one hand, there are security issues to consider, and most moderate libertarians support the state having a monopoly on violence through , so from a security perspective, I can sympathise with the need to control immigration. But this is balanced against the libertarian instinct for freedom of human movement.