Thoughts on economics and liberty

My position on some policy issues, in response to questions received

I have been asked a few questions by a constituent of Menzies:

  1. Where do you stand on religious freedom?
  2. Where do you stand on gay marriage?
  3. Where do you stand on abortion?
  4. Who are the others in your party – I don’t see anyone on the website?  Where are they standing for this election?
  5. How do you feel about Australia’s dependency on other Nations with regard to food, energy and manufacturing?
  6. Do you support nuclear energy?
  7. Does your party believe in the climate policies currently undertaken by our Federal Government?
  8. What do you think about the fact that a lot of Australia is owned by foreigners?
  9. How do you think we can help young people to own a home?
  10. What are your views on the taxation status of Superannuation?
  11. I note that you have worked mainly for Government entities; what is your position on the level of governance (size of government) in this country and do you think that Australians depend far too much on government to solve their personal problems?

MY RESPONSE

I want to preface my response with a qualifier. First, my views are personal, not necessarily the views of the Australian Federation Party. That is because the Party’s policy development process leads to general recommendations on various issues, with party members free to deviate from the recommended position if they can provide a strong justification. In fact, AFP members are expected to listen to their constituents and to develop their views along with their constituents. And since AFP has not necessarily developed recommended policy positions yet on everything, I’m not even sure AFP has a position on all these matters. And AFP may not even have a position on many such matters, which are ultimately a matter of conscience and we respect the right of all AFP members in Parliament to stand by their beliefs.

But I do, and here goes:

1. Where do you stand on religious freedom?

To me religious freedom and tolerance for other religions is a primary pillar of a Western liberal democracy. That means I defend everyone’s right to their own religious belief. There is a proviso: I would not support actions to force others to believe in a particular religion, or to engage in any violence on the basis of religion.

2. Where do you stand on gay marriage?

I think we do not have any reason to look into private matters of consenting adults, but I have opposed – and do not support – the use of “marriage” to represent the relationship between persons of the same sex. To me marriage is a relationship (often considered by many to be sacred) between a man and a woman. Legally, there should perhaps be another name for gay “marriage” – that’s my view.

3. Where do you stand on abortion?

I have discussed this in The Discovery of Freedom under the section: “what is life?” Relevant portion:

Prior to the 24th week, the foetus can’t even feel pain since basic nerves are still forming. The brain then kicks into life in some primitive, sub-human form by the 26th week, with the first brainwaves detected…. It is crucial that our interpretations about ‘life’ are based on evidence, not on ideology, else we may violate the mother’s freedoms. While the foetus is life, and is a potential human life, the mother must be allowed to remain the best judge of the fate of her foetus till the end of its 24th week. At the same time, medical practitioners must be allowed the freedom of conscience to not support abortions at any stage. No compulsion should be exercised on the medical fraternity on such a delicate and sensitive matter.

4. Who are the others in your party – I don’t see anyone on the website?  Where are they standing for this election?

I understand 61 lower house seats are being contested by Australian Federation Party and a number of senate seats. The party was registered under the new electoral laws (which require 1500 members) only on 24 March 2022, so its website, etc. is under development.

5. How do you feel about Australia’s dependency on other Nations with regard to food, energy and manufacturing?

I’d cite Bastiat’s Economic Sophisms for a simple and clear depiction of the way the world is inter-twined. Exchange ultimately occurs between individuals (including individual companies) and not nations. Except for national security reasons (and I believe Chinese investment needs to be viewed with concern) we should have unilateral free trade – which is in the best interest of Australians. There is another exception, though: strategic reserves. We may need strategic reserves for food/oil, but also support the development of alternative supply chains.

6. Do you support nuclear energy?

I’ve looked into this and consider there are pros and cons. With modern improved technology, nuclear energy should be considered.

7. Does your party believe in the climate policies currently undertaken by our Federal Government?

This is one area where I believe there are significant differences of opinion based on different understandings by different members/ citizens. My personal view is that we have over-reacted to the climate threat – and we have not done enough to manage forests (in fact, we have allowed excess fuel to accumulate). I’d want a thorough review of these matters.

8. What do you think about the fact that a lot of Australia is owned by foreigners?
I think Australia benefits from capital investment by foreigners -so that’s overall a good thing. There are national security concerns that should inform such investments.

9. How do you think we can help young people to own a home?

The supply side of homes is a major issue due to highly restricted zoning in inner city areas. Some release of land in outer areas is made but that is irrelevant for the young whose job is in the city. Unfortunately, this is a state subject and the federal government mainly operates on the demand side by trying to reduce the cost of homes for the young. It could incentivise states to loosen up the restrictions in inner city areas to allow higher density – while also ensuring better infrastructure to meet growing density in the inner city. The First Home Super Saver scheme can also help. But with working from home being more common, it is possible that living in peri-urban or even regional areas might become an option in the future – which will dramatically ease the cost of owning a home.

10. What are your views on the taxation status of Superannuation?

There is no doubt that this issue needs to be reviewed. I don’t like constant tinkering with superannuation, but there is probably a need to reduce (and grandfather for existing contributors) tax-exemptions after superannuation reaches a significant level, say $2 million.

11. I note that you have worked mainly for Government entities; what is your position on the level of governance (size of government) in this country and do you think that Australians depend far too much on government to solve their personal problems?

I consider that the government in Australia has grown far beyond the efficient level. That is because people are expecting government to “solve” every possible “problem”. The issue is that once the government is expected to solve one problem then it is open-slather. Expectations build for the government to solve everything – and that’s both inefficient and impossible. The concept of self-reliance has effectively been lost in Australia. We need to have a conversation with the people on this. I personally like to ask policy questions (about the role of government) from first principles – so that’s where we need to go, with first principle reviews of major issues.

I’ve not edited this – so pl. ignore any typos.

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Sanjeev Sabhlok

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