Monday, July 03, 2023

Everyone’s sick ... of over-regulation. It’s time to flip the script

Parnell Palme McGuinness misses the avaiability of codeine in cold medications. I must say I always wondered that it was freely available. Codeine is an opiate and prodrug of morphine. But the regulators have caught up with it. As usual, the many are hit to protect the few. My bathroom cabinet still contains some of the "old" medications but I find that Ibuprofen and paracetamol get me by. Eucalyptus lozenges help too

It’s flu season and there’s at least one nasty virus going around. If the overregulation bug hasn’t bowled you over yet, it will as soon as you get sick.

In my lifetime, the incredible advances of Western medicine have delivered the perfect preparation to ameliorate the worst symptoms of a cold or flu: a combination of paracetamol, which reduces fever, pseudoephedrine, which clears stuffy noses, and codeine, which treats the aches and can help suppress the body-wracking dry cough that makes it hard to rest and recover.

Except you can’t buy it anymore. In 2018, the government made codeine a prescription-only substance. So while you’ll still need to hand over your driver’s licence to buy cold and flu medication with pseudoephedrine (just in case you’re a gangster buzzing your Harley from chemist to chemist to get enough Codral to cook a minuscule amount of methamphetamine), it won’t contain codeine. You’d need a GP script for that.

For which you can thank the same instincts that have brought us lethargic speed limits on roads built for more (does anyone else itch to check their phone as they crawl along at 40 kilometres per hour on a wide and empty road?), laws against drinking alcohol in parks or by the beach on a warm summer evening, and laws that shut down Sydney’s all-night district because some lunkheads got violent and tragically punched and killed two young men at 9pm.

It is the Australian prison-warden spirit that prohibits people from eating in a pub’s designated smoking area and the intolerant egotism of people who move in next door to a pub and then campaign to shut down the noise.

Oh, believe me, I know that each of these things can be justified with some sanctimonious appeal to the health of the citizenry, but so often this spirit is really about imposing minority obsessions on everyone else. They make for great announcables – post-pandemic we can be under no illusion that Australians love councillors, governments and regulators which “keep them safe” – but as often as not, they make for terrible policy. Sometimes they can even lead to a different type of harm.

Like the hobbled Codral.

This winter’s ubiquitous cold is a doozy. The aches are bad. So let’s look at the options. If you’ve got some on hand, you could take Panadeine or some other paracetamol and codeine combination alongside your cold and flu tablets. But then you’d be exceeding the safe dose of paracetamol – and we’ll get back to what that does later.

Alternatively, you could schlep your sorry sick body to the doctor and get some ibuprofen with codeine – haha, jokes, with GP waiting times blown out to weeks, there’s not much chance of getting any in time. So just take straight ibuprofen alongside your cold and flu meds – this helps a bit. And then – because the body ache persists – make yourself a hot toddy. The lemon and honey are good for your throat. And the free pour of rum or whiskey really hits back at the general misery.

Now, while I’m all about a well-crafted cocktail, I have an inkling that consumers making their own medicine-and-booze cocktails to replace a lab-calibrated formula is probably not ideal. In fact, it’s one of those policy outcomes which are generally considered perverse.

The champions of prescription-only codeine will say that “upscheduling” codeine has led to a drop in codeine poisonings. In the year after the new regulation was introduced, Sydney University researchers found there was a 51 per cent drop in codeine poisonings overall – mostly from “low-strength preparations” which had previously been available without a prescription. That’s what you and I would call Panadeine.

That left paracetamol, which is not addictive, for non-prescription pain management. But here’s the thing – even at the time of the codeine upscheduling, research covering the preceding decade showed that paracetamol was the drug Australians most frequently overdosed on. Too much causes severe liver damage. It’s not good.

In acknowledgement of this fact, the regulator is now planning to reduce the pack sizes that paracetamol is available in at supermarkets and convenience stores by 2025.

Personally, I’m not fussed about smaller packs. I don’t feel any pain relief from it (maybe it’s not addictive because it doesn’t work). But I still end up having to take it because it always comes packed up with medicines that are more effective – the pseudoephedrine in cold and flu medicine is only sold packed with paracetamol, for instance, and low-dose codeine is only available to most of us with paracetamol or ibuprofen accompanying it.

Of course, the ibuprofen has side effects too. It can irritate the stomach lining and combining it with alcohol can make that effect worse.

Oh, and paracetamol interacts badly with too much alcohol as well – it can exacerbate liver damage – there goes another consolation because the “safe” painkillers conflict with it. So better go easy on the hot toddies above.

In fact, if you’ve got the flu, it looks like the regulator reckons it’d be best you just wallow in wretchedness and herbal remedies. But I’m sure we’re much better off now there’s no chance of getting addicted to a few milligrams of codeine in your cold and flu medicine.

It’s a great feeling to be protected by regulation, isn’t it. With so much protection against low-dose codeine, the ways left to manage pain can be downright dangerous.

Sometimes it seems that our overzealous regulators leave us with nothing left to fear but regulation itself.


Meet the Australian women making a stand for free speech

Some of Australia’s best emerging female leaders gathered in New South Wales last Thursday to formally protest the trans takeover of women’s spaces.

The high calibre demonstration of solidarity brought together nine diverse biological women, each of whom have taken up the battle for free speech, and female-only spaces.

Sall Grover, Kirralie Smith, Moira Deeming, Katherine Deves, Louis Elliot, Jasmine Sussex, Angela Jones, Holly Lawford-Smith, and Dr Jillian Spencer, all spearheaded the event as keynote speakers.

Opposing the free speech marathon, LGBTQ+ forced speech activists rallied outside Sydney’s Parliament House, while a group of activists inside attempted to shut the forum down.

We keep hearing from various left-wing publications, that there is no need for a trans debate because ‘trans’ science is ‘settled’.

What does ‘settled,’ mean?

It means biological woman’s rights, vis a vis the right to freedom of speech, religion, and conscience, are not just anti-LGBTQ+ rights, they’re antiquated and ‘anti-science’.

Returning fire against this social commentary, lawyer, Katherine Deves, wrote:

‘We didn’t want this culture war either. Neither does anyone else, but when women were erased as a legal class, dissenters were punished, and the gender botherers came for our children, we would not be silent.’

The heat from haters didn’t sway the noteworthy nine from voicing their concerns during the Binary-backed event.

Headlined the ‘war on women, and sex-based rights’, the 1-hour parliamentary forum asked, ‘Why can’t women talk about sex?’

Speaking out against the weaponisation of ‘hate speech and vilification laws’, Deves said, ‘We all need to join together, and push back against it. My own experience galvanises me, and my resolve in maintaining a system of sex-based rights.’

‘[We are united] in the face of a society that is captured by a movement that is determined to erase [biological women] as a legal class.’

Deves continued, ‘Our society is legislating away the reality of biological sex, redefining women to include biological men; encoding legal fictions into law.’ It is also punishing those who refuse to comply.

‘The moment we favour gender identity rights over sex-based rights, is the moment we deny the basis of human existence. Sex-based rights must have primacy!’ she exclaimed.

Giggle owner, Sall Grover described, trans-enabling self-ID laws as ‘authoritarian’ saying, ‘…no government’ should dictate what people ‘think, see, and say.’

Right to slam self-ID legislation as forced speech laws, Grover said she’d researched the subject at length and found that the trans science wasn’t settled at all.

Men who identify as women, are not women, she argued.

Describing the trans attempt to takeover Giggle – a women’s only space – Grover called the human rights complaint, ‘misogyny on steroids’.

‘[This is like] psychological torture, every day I’m forced to feel like I’ve done something wrong, simply for acknowledging [biological] reality,’ Grover shared.

Newly elected Hobart city councillor, Louise Elliot, who is under investigation by the Tasmanian anti-discrimination Commissioner ‘for hate speech and vilification’, said:

In relation to the trans invasion of women’s spaces, Elliot said, ‘For me, this is a first. I’m being called a bigot, a TERF, and a clown, for daring to speak up.’

Elliot told the forum, even politicians have ‘screamed, spat on’ and defamed her, and other women for either attending, or hosting Let Women Speak events, and ‘stating facts’.

Binary director, Kirralie Smith, another woman held hostage by LGBTQ+ lawfare, spoke brazenly about how her, and women like her, will not be intimidated by ‘those who want to affirm lies’.

‘Not one police officer, judge, politician, journalist, or medical practitioner can ever prove a male has become a female. All they can do is appropriate stereotypes and use brute force, threats, or intimidation to try and force us to accept the lie. Regardless of how captured anyone else is, I will not bow down [before this] altar of lies. Truth matters. Sex is binary – male and female,’ she asserted.

Moira Deeming also spoke.

The exiled Liberal Party member, maligned, slandered, and denied due process, spoke briefly about her experiences.

Deeming recounted how opponents were quick to frame her as a neo-Nazi, after a small unaffiliated group of masked men hijacked a Let Women Speak peaceful protest, by performing a Nazi salute.

Instead of addressing the men responsible for disrupting the protest, legacy media, politicians, and the acronym activist army came after Deeming, and other female protesters.

‘No one in the media bothered to cover the violence directed at women on the day,’ she explained.

The clash between women’s rights and the LGBTQ+ isn’t a storm in a teacup, it’s a ‘cultural and political crisis’.


Shaky rule of law in Australia

Probably best represented by the statue of Lady Justice, the rule of law demands that it be applied impartially, objectively and transparently to ensure that everyone is equal before it, thereby not being able to be manipulated to serve the ends of a powerful few. As Margaret Thatcher once famously declared, when this does not occur, the rule of the mob is substituted for the rule of law.

The whole notion of the rule of law, and the fairness and transparency (i.e. justice) it demands, seem to have been the real casualties of the Brittany Higgins saga and the Calvary Hospital takeover.

These sordid affairs have seen their antagonists captured by identity politics and/or an ends justifies the means mentality, thereby junking long-held ideals of the presumption of innocence, freedom of belief, and even basic fairness.

As far as the Higgins matter is concerned, one would expect persons in government, and above all the prime minister, to do their utmost to uphold fundamental principles of our justice system.

Former prime minister Scott Morrison, under cover of parliamentary privilege, made a point of apologising to Brittany Higgins personally following the allegations she raised against Bruce Lehrmann, even though those allegations had yet to be proved in court. Morrison had no compunction in trashing the presumption of innocence to embrace toxic identity politics. Seemingly for him, the end justified the means.

So, too, can the same be said for Finance Minister Katy Gallagher and Foreign Minister Penny Wong. Secret text messages published by the Australian showed Gallagher was involved in the story before Ms Higgins’ interview on Channel Ten’s The Project. The text messages also show Higgins’ boyfriend David Sharaz telling Ms Higgins that Anthony Albanese had inserted himself in the story a month after it became public. Seemingly, all this was done with the intention of bringing down a government, notwithstanding Gallagher’s holier-than-thou denials about what she knew and when in Senate hearings.

Then there is the disgraceful lack of due process and transparency in the awarding of taxpayer-funded compensation to Ms Higgins (rumoured to be around $3 million) to settle her claim against the federal government. This was despite no finding of wrongdoing being made against anyone and without the opportunity for those accused of wrongdoing, including former Liberal ministers, to test the allegations made against them. Add to that the fact that we taxpayers, who are footing the bill for this payout, are not allowed to know its amount.

And if that weren’t enough, the Sofronoff inquiry has revealed that the Director of Public Prosecutions for the ACT, Shane Drumgold SC, may well have strayed from acting as an objective ‘minister of justice’ to acting as Higgins’ lawyer, which is untenable, since it undermines the public’s trust in the criminal justice system.

As Janet Albrechtsen wrote, that trust is based on the notion that the administration of justice is committed to a fair trial and the search for truth. What emerged from Drumgold’s evidence was a recurring theme that he sought to protect the complainant – Ms Higgins – from harm while apparently unconcerned about the risk to the defendant – Mr Lehrmann. It appeared that Drumgold was prepared to get a conviction at any cost.

The attempt by the ACT government to compulsorily acquire the Calvary Hospital is a similarly sinister attack on the rule of law.

As the Archbishop of Canberra-Goulburn, Christopher Prowse, wrote, never before has a government – commonwealth, state or territory – sought to acquire the assets, operations, staff and clients of a church agency with the effect of ceasing its ministry.

This would have to be one of the greatest assaults on the principle of private property ever seen in Australia, and could set a very dangerous precedent. What prevents any government making a similar grab for education or welfare services to meet their own agendas?

The hard-left ACT government suspended usual parliamentary procedure to ram through special legislation for the compulsory acquisition of the hospital with no declared compensation.

Greg Craven put it best when he declared that this is the classic case where a so-called progressive government professes human rights while punishing the wrong sort of rights. Gender and equality freedoms are priceless, while religion and conscience are plain embarrassing.

According to the ACT government, your faith is a set of abstract ideas that you intellectually assent to and that’s it. Thus, schools should not reflect faith and hospitals should not follow conscience.

It is precisely because of the notion of Christian service that the Church has established hospitals, schools, aged-care facilities, and, in doing so, these institutions must therefore stick to fundamental tenets of belief, such as the sanctity of human life – which, by the way, is a belief not restricted to those of the Christian faith.

Whether you profess the Christian faith, any faith or none, it cannot be ignored that religions generally, and the Catholic church in particular, have worked throughout the centuries for the common good. The church for over two millennia has established hospitals, care facilities, schools, universities. The Christian faith and its principles have given us our legal system, with its notions of stability, fairness, equality and tolerance.

Therefore, in this country, in line with the ideal of freedom of belief, the state has supported religious works that benefit the public. Not any more, it seems. As Craven states, the Calvary saga illustrates that an anti-religious ‘progressive’ regime in the ACT will stop at nothing to destroy politically incorrect religious institutions of care, even if that means assaulting legal principle.

So can the rule of law be saved? The principle of equality before the law is under threat in the proposed indigenous Voice to parliament.

Voting No to that, in my opinion, is a good place to start


Love that gas!

Judith Sloan

I love our gas heater. In these cold months, there is nothing better than getting home, switching on the gas heater, backing in the derriere and suddenly feeling much better.

In the past, I loved the open fire place we had in our family home but, let’s face it, they are a bit of hassle – getting it started, waiting until the heat really begins to radiate and, of course, cleaning it out. And just as the environmental hysterics can’t abide gas heaters, they can’t abide open fire places either.

Call me cynical, but does anyone believe these new studies that seek to demonstrate that gas heating is very bad for a person’s health? Why is it that these studies are only now emerging? Could it be a classic case of the tail wagging the dog, with authors determined to establish yet another reason to demonise fossil fuels?

And if it were really the case, why are age-adjusted life expectancies not significantly lower in Victoria where gas heaters and appliances are much more common than in the other states?

Now while I’ve got you in the box, can I make another confession, two actually? I love our gas stove. To be sure, I don’t do a lot of cooking these days but when I do, I really appreciate the quick response time of the gas stove. Very high and very low – both settings work well. Compared with our induction stove at our other place – that’s my other confession – the gas cook-top is far superior.

Indeed our relatively new, very expensive and rarely used European induction stove at our other place had the temerity to conk out while we had guests. It turned out to be a defective motherboard, which seems a very sexist description for a component of a stove – only kidding. It cost an arm and leg to replace it, but it would have cost several arms and legs to replace the whole stove with a newer induction model.

Evidently, having a second house, indeed having a spare bedroom, is now regarded as equivalent to a mortal sin by progressive thinkers. According to their astonishing insights, if only everyone could just share what accommodation is available, there would be no housing shortage and rents wouldn’t be rising. And if these undeserving rich bastards can’t be forced to offer up their spare accommodation, then they should be taxed to high heaven. (Note here the religious theme).

Returning to the issue of gas, gas, gas –OK, just gas – the little darlings down at the Grattan Institute have been jumping on the anti-gas bandwagon, telling everyone that they should be replacing their gas appliances and instead relying on the unreliable electricity grid. You know it makes sense – or not.

To be sure, no immediate wholesale replacement of gas appliances is being suggested, although government subsidies to push the process along are seen as necessary. Needless to say, all new housing should be deprived of the benefits of gas connections, according to the great minds from Grattan.

But here’s one of the problems with the central recommendation: if some residents abandon their gas appliances, then the economics of the domestic reticulation of gas begin to falter. It’s not worth servicing some areas unless a high proportion of residents use their connections. At that point, many people might be forced into abandoning their much loved gas heaters, gas stoves and gas hot water services but won’t be in a positon to fund the conversion. It is also likely that there will be insufficient replacement appliances and qualified tradies to do the installation at the time. The politics don’t look great.

But here’s the thing: when we are talking about gas, which is widely regarded as the only feasible transition fuel, it’s not clear why you would bother nagging households about their appliances. The majority of natural gas is used by industry and power generation and, if anything, we need to sharpen the incentives to ensure we have an adequate gas supply into the future.

And isn’t there an irony as the gas supply in the Bass Strait dwindles and any further extraction of gas in Victoria is essentially prohibited, that Dan the Man complains about Queensland gas being exported? That’s right: he thinks the federal government should limit gas exports so Victorians can have a plentiful supply while banning gas extraction in his state. But I guess lying straight in bed has never been Dan’s long suit.

Talking more generally about how the energy transition is going, if B1 (Chris Bowen) really understood matters, he would be losing a lot of sleep. There is no way that we are getting to 82 per cent renewables by 2030 – the target in Victoria is 95 per cent by 2035 – and there is no way that electricity prices are coming down, let alone falling by $275 per year as promised by Labor during the last election campaign.

In Victoria, it has dawned on the political masterminds there that the state’s land mass is actually not large enough to accommodate the necessary onshore wind and solar installations. One study has estimated that 70 per cent of the state’s land currently used for agriculture would have to be repurposed to generate sufficient (intermittent) electricity to replace coal and gas. Let’s face it, that’s not going to happen, even with Dan in charge.

It’s one reason why offshore wind is seen as the answer, with Gippsland waters nominated as the place for a renewable energy zone. It’s just a pity that offshore installations are so expensive and have much shorter lifespans than onshore ones.

It’s dawning on pretty much everyone, including even B1, that even if renewable energy projects go ahead at the pace he dictates – they aren’t and they won’t – the delays in the construction of the additional transmission lines constitute the biggest and most expensive obstacle.

It has been estimated that 10,000 additional kilometres of transmission lines are needed between now and 2030 but we will be doing well to achieve 500 to 600 kilometres per year. Thankfully, the completely understandable resistance of farmers and regional communities will ensure a slow rollout. Why should they bear the external cost of having unsightly high voltage pylons cutting a swath through their landscapes so the inner-city luvvies can pretend that the planet is being saved?

Back to the drawing board or should that be the gas heater?




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