Quotulatiousness

March 31, 2014

Comparing NATO and Russian military spending to 2012

Filed under: Cancon, Europe, Military, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:23

Mark Collins links to this Washington Post graphic showing a comparison of military spending in the top five NATO countries and Russia (counting Soviet spending 1988-1991). Note that the United States and Russia now each spend the same proportion of GDP on their respective military forces:

Click to see full-size graphic

Click to see full-size graphic

For reference, Canada’s military budget doesn’t crack the top 10 in NATO: we spend about US$16.5 billion per year (not even in the top 15). Mark also points out that Australia spends proportionally more than Canada … about 50% more, in fact. But it should also be noted that while Canada and Australia have a lot in common, our defence needs are significantly different: Oz is in a much more dangerous part of the world than Canada, and they don’t share a lengthy border with the world’s biggest military spender. You could probably make a viable case that Australia isn’t spending enough given the rough neighbourhood they’re in.

January 6, 2014

US icebreaker dispatched to assist Chinese icebreaker in Antarctic

Filed under: China, Environment, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:02

AntarcticaThe Australian is reporting that the US Coast Guard’s Polar Star is enroute to assist the Chinese icebreaker Xue Long and the chartered Russian ship Akademik Shokalskiy:

The US Coast Guard’s Polar Star accepted a request from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) to help the Russian ship Akademik Shokalskiy, which has been marooned since Christmas Eve.

It will also aid the Chinese icebreaker Xue Long, which was involved in a dramatic helicopter rescue of the Shokalskiy’s 52 passengers last Thursday before also becoming beset by ice.

AMSA confirmed the Polar Star, which was on its way from Seattle for an Antarctic mission, had diverted course and was on its way to help.

It will take about seven days for the icebreaker, with a crew of 140 people, to reach Commonwealth Bay after collecting supplies from Sydney today.

The AMSA spokeswoman said the Polar Star had greater capabilities than the Russian and Chinese vessels.

“It can break ice over six metres thick, while those vessels can break one-metre ice,” she told AAP on Sunday.

“The idea is to break them out, but they will make a decision once they arrive on scene on the best way to do this.” AMSA will be in regular contact with the US Coast Guard and the captain of the Polar Star during its journey to Antarctica.

Twenty-two crew remain on board the Shokalskiy, which sparked a rescue mission after a blizzard pushed sea ice around the ship and froze it in place on December 24.

A U.S. Coast Guard HH-52A Seaguard helicopter landing on the icebreaker USCGC Polar Star (WAGB-10).

A U.S. Coast Guard HH-52A Seaguard helicopter landing on the icebreaker USCGC Polar Star (WAGB-10).

January 4, 2014

Antarctic climate researchers still not home-free

Filed under: Environment, Media, Science — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:59

AntarcticaRemember the story about the Australian climate researchers trapped in the Antarctic ice? The good news from a few days back — that all the passengers of the MS Akademik Shokalskiy (including researchers, tourists, and journalists, but not the crew) had been successfully transferred to the Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis is now overshadowed because the Chinese icebreaker Xue Long which also responded to the SOS call is now itself also trapped in the ice:

The saga just keeps going. The Chinese Icebreaker is now also stuck, and has asked for help so the Aurora Australis with 52 extra passengers rescued from the Russian Charter boat have to stay nearby to help. Twenty two Russian sailors are still trapped on board the Russian boat — the Akademik Sholaskiy. Plus other scientists in Antarctica still don’t have their equipment. Costs for everyone involved are continuing to rise.

In The Australian, Graham Lloyd‘s paywalled article begins with this:

TAXPAYERS will foot a $400,000 bill for the rescue of a group of climate scientists, tourists and journalists from a stranded Russian research vessel — an operation that has blown the contingency budget of Australia’s Antarctic program and disrupted its scientific work. The Antarctic Division in Hobart said it was revising plans and considering airlifting urgently needed scientific equipment that could not be unloaded from Aurora Australis before the ship was diverted from the Casey base to rescue the novice ice explorers just before Christmas.

The Sydney Morning Herald posted this short video earlier in the week, before the Aurora Australis had gotten close enough to take on the passengers from the Akademik Sholaskiy:

Update: The head of French antarctic research is unhappy with the tourists’ disruption to actual science work:

The head of France’s polar science institute voiced fury on Friday at the misadventures of a Russian ship trapped in Antarctic ice, deriding what he called a tourists’ trip that had diverted resources from real science.

In an interview with AFP, Yves Frenot, director of the French Polar Institute, said he had no issue at all with rescuing those aboard the stricken vessel.

But, he said, the trip itself was a “pseudo-scientific expedition” that, because it had run into difficulties, had drained resources from the French, Chinese and Australian scientific missions in Antarctica. “There’s no reason to place Antarctica off-limits and to keep it just for scientists, but this tourism has to be monitored and regulated so that operators can be sure of getting help if need be,” he said.

January 2, 2014

National reputation rankings for 2013

Filed under: Business, Cancon, Economics, Law — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:37

In Forbes, Susan Adams reports on the most recent reputable countries report:

Which countries have the best reputations? What does that even mean? The Reputation Institute, a global private consulting firm based in New York and Copenhagen, has just released its fourth annual list of 50 countries, ranked according to what it says is people’s trust, admiration, respect and affinity for those countries.

Topping the list for the third year in a row: Canada. Sweden comes in second, one place up from last year and Switzerland is third, up from fourth last year. (Australia slipped from second to fourth place.)

What’s most notable is how far down the U.S. ranks: 22nd place, behind Brazil and just above Peru. Several European countries that continue to battle severe economic turmoil ranked above the U.S. again this year including Italy in 16th place, France in 17th, Spain in 18th and Portugal in 19th place.

One reason the U.S. doesn’t rank higher, says Fernando Prado, a managing partner at the Reputation Institute, is that when asked what was most important to them in gauging a country’s reputation, respondents said it was effective government and appealing environment a bit more than an advanced economy. But the U.S. has been steadily gaining in each of those three categories, says Prado, which explains why it moved up one place from 23rd last year. Prado adds that the U.S. is burdened by what he calls “a negative emotional halo” that has to do with being a world superpower. Outside the U.S., people have mixed feelings about its dominant role in the world.

December 15, 2013

QotD: Choosing a capital city, Australian style

Filed under: History, Humour, Politics, Quotations — Tags: — Nicholas Russon @ 09:22

Australia [...] set up a special city just for the national capital. Keep them all in one place, it avoids spreading the contamination.

Partly that’s due to our settlement pattern. Mostly, each state capital is the oldest city in that state, the first point of European settlement. It’s also the largest city in the state (and, to be horribly honest, most other ‘cities’ in each state are really ‘regional centres’, the state capital is pretty much the only show in town.)

So when the states federated to form a nation, there was of course a fight to host the capital. Sydney was the obvious one — the oldest and largest city. Melbourne wanted it because it’s like that irritating little sister who always wants what her big sister has, and the other cities — well, nobody really cared about them anyway.

So, in a wonderful stroke of compromise, they chose a site that is roughly equidistant from Sydney and Melbourne (and set in some of the most boring countryside available). They held a worldwide competition to design the city — Walter Burley Griffin won. Lord knows what lost. It’s a clever plan designed for maximum confusion, condemning some hapless visitors to spending the rest of their lives endlessly circling but never arriving at their destination.

But, as I say, at least it keeps the federal pollies well away from everyone else. Always a plus.

Gwynne Powell, posting to the Lois McMaster Bujold Mailing list (http://lists.herald.co.uk/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/lois-bujold), 2013-12-13

December 13, 2013

Australian territory’s gay marriage law struck down by High Court

Filed under: Law, Liberty — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:01

The Australian Capital Territory attempted to make gay marriage legal within its borders despite federal law prohibiting same-sex marriages being recognized. The Australian High Court decided yesterday that the territory cannot override federal law on this issue:

The ACT legislation had allowed gay couples to marry inside the ACT, which includes the Australian capital, Canberra — regardless of which state they live in.

Federal law, however, specified in 2004 that marriage was between a man and a woman.

Civil unions are allowed in some states in Australia.

The High Court in Canberra ruled unanimously against the ACT legislation on Thursday, saying that it could not stand alongside national-level laws.

“Whether same sex marriage should be provided for by law is a matter for the federal parliament,” it said in a statement.

“The Marriage Act does not now provide for the formation or recognition of marriage between same-sex couples. The Marriage Act provides that a marriage can be solemnised in Australia only between a man and a woman,” it added.

Attorney-General George Brandis had previously warned that the local law would face a legal challenge, because it was inconsistent with the country’s Marriage Act.

November 29, 2013

Australian railway’s Chinese-made locomotives falsely certified as asbestos-free

Filed under: Business, China, Railways — Tags: , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:15

A growing concern for companies that deal with Chinese businesses is when safety is compromised and (as in this case) required safety certifications are falsified:

Railway workers have been exposed to potentially hazardous asbestos after the deadly dust was found in locomotives brought in from China.

The breach of a 10-year ban on the import of products containing the carcinogenic fibre is not the first incident of its kind.

Unions are now demanding tougher policing of Chinese imports, describing the current asbestos-free certificates as a farce.

Last year freight carrier SCT imported 10 locomotives made by China Southern Rail (CSR) to tow iron ore bound for China to port.

To comply with the decade-old Australian ban on asbestos imports, they were certified asbestos-free. However, this was not the case.

National secretary of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union Bob Nanva says maintenance workers raised concerns about the dust.

“We had our maintenance workers repairing a number of diesel engines,” he said.

“They identified a lot of white dust among those engines and asked the question as to whether or not that dust was safe.”

The workers’ concerns were justified. White asbestos — or chrysotile — was found throughout the locomotives, in insulation around the exhaust and muffler system, around coolant pipes and in the brake exhaust section near the roof of the driver’s cabin.

[...]

This is not the first time China has broken the Australian ban on asbestos.

Last year more than 25,000 Chinese-made Great Wall, Chery and Geely cars were recalled after asbestos was discovered in their engine gaskets and brakes.

In decades to come experts expect hundreds of thousands of Chinese casualties from asbestos.

A 1980s film by Szechuan University smuggled out from China shows the tragic story of China’s own Wittenoom — at Dayao, in the province of Yunnan — where asbestos exposures had led to the fatal cancer — mesothelioma.

Back in Australia, it was the same type of blue asbestos, from the Wittenoom mine, that lined Melbourne’s blue Harris trains, potentially poisoning passengers when the walls were broken.

So dangerous were the trains they were sealed in plastic and buried in quicksand at a quarry in Clayton.

Blue asbestos, which is more likely to cause the cancer mesothelioma, is now banned in both countries — but China is now the world’s largest user of white asbestos, which Perth’s asbestos expert Professor Bill Musk warns still causes cancer.

H/T to Craig Zeni for the link.

November 11, 2013

The newest menace of the waterways – private submarines

Filed under: Business, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 12:24

Keeping up with the Joneses has always been a popular hobby among the nouveau riche, and topping the neighbours’ fancy car is only the start of it for some people. If your particular Jones just bought a lovely new pleasure boat, here’s a possible riposte — the Seabreacher J:

Seabreacher J

The Seabreacher J was designed and engineered exclusively for the recreational boating market. This model incorporates a jet drive for increased safety and better surface performance. The J model is able to be registered as a conventional powerboat. It is powered by a Rotax engine which is available in 155hp or 215hp supercharged variants. The engine and jet drive can be easily maintained at any personal watercraft dealership, making it a very basic watercraft to own and operate. The Seabreacher J combines the thrill of flying a submersible watercraft with the practicality and dependability of a conventional personal watercraft. The J model can be custom built with a host of available options that can personalize your Seabreacher to your desires.

The Seabreacher J isn’t a true submarine, but it’s priced for a larger market. To see what they look like in use, a quick Google Image Search turns up lots of “action shots”. True submersibles are also available for more wealthy customers, as Strategy Page explains:

Since the 1990s there have been a lot of recreational submarines. Luxury boat builders have even built submarine yachts. Submarine construction technology has come a long way in the past century, and it’s possible to build these boats at an affordable ($10-200 million) cost. They are safe and there are over a hundred of them out there.

A few companies have gained a lot of experience building subs for non-military underwater operations (academic research, oil exploration), which has created a body of information and cadre of technicians who can build these recreational subs. One of the largest civilian submarine yards is in Dubai, where dozens have been built so far and construction continues. Another large operation in the U.S. has built most of the scientific subs over the last two decades.

The submersible pleasure craft look like streamlined yachts while on the surface. The upper deck, including the bridge, is outside the pressure hull. When submerging, everyone goes below and the upper deck gets flooded. If you get close to one of these yachts it becomes obvious that they are built to dive. Military subs are still not used to encountering this civilian traffic underwater. The military boats have the right of way, but military boats are now warned to exercise extra care when approaching coastal areas used by civilian subs.

Owners of these luxury subs tend to be secretive, and the builders have agreed to some government oversight, especially to make sure militarized subs, that can carry torpedoes or mines, are not built. But there is no law against anyone owning one of these submarines, and it’s feared that it’s only a matter of time before drug dealers, gun runners, or even terrorists, get their hands on some of them. Some police officials believe this has already happened, but no one is saying much. The civilian subs don’t dive as deep as military subs and are not built for combat. They have staterooms and large windows. But they do have carrying capacity, and that could be put to criminal uses. Already, Colombian gangs have been caught trying to build subs, using Russian advisors initially and later just employing the same tech used for recreational subs. Over a hundred submersibles (a sub that travels just below the surface) have been caught carrying cocaine. The age of privately owned subs is here.

October 9, 2013

England performs poorly in literacy and numeracy survey

Filed under: Britain, Cancon, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 07:50

In the Guardian, Randeep Ramesh reports on a recent OECD ranking of literacy and numeracy which shows England in a poor light:

England is the only country in the developed world where the generation approaching retirement is more literate and numerate than the youngest adults, according to the first skills survey by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

In a stark assessment of the success and failure of the 720-million-strong adult workforce across the wealthier economies, the economic thinktank warns that in England, adults aged 55 to 65 perform better than 16- to 24-year-olds at foundation levels of literacy and numeracy. The survey did not include people from Scotland or Wales.

The OECD study also finds that a quarter of adults in England have the maths skills of a 10-year-old. About 8.5 million adults, 24.1% of the population, have such basic levels of numeracy that they can manage only one-step tasks in arithmetic, sorting numbers or reading graphs. This is worse than the average in the developed world, where an average of 19% of people were found to have a similarly poor skill base.

When the results within age groups are compared across participating countries, older adults in England score higher in literacy and numeracy than the average among their peers, while younger adults show some of the lowest scores for their age group.

As with any sort of survey of this kind, it helps to know how they went about assessing skills in various countries and how similar countries rank:

Literacy for people aged 16-24

6 Australia
15 Canada
17 Ireland
19 England/N Ireland
20 United States

Literacy for all adults

5 Australia
10 Canada
14 England/N Ireland
16 United States
19 Ireland

Numeracy for people aged 16-24

14 Australia
16 Canada
18 Northern Ireland
20 Ireland
24 United States

Numeracy for all adults

13 Australia
14 Canada
16 England/N Ireland
19 Ireland
20 United States

If there’s reason for English authorities to be concerned with their middle-of-the-Anglosphere ranking, there’s even more reason for American educators to take note.

H/T to Tyler Cowen for the link.

September 10, 2013

Julian Assange thinks Cumberbatch sounds nothing like him

Filed under: Media — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:45

Wired‘s Angela Watercutter on the amusing report that Julian Assange seems to be the only person who thinks Benedict Cumberbatch’s accent is wrong:

Going into the making of The Fifth Estate, Benedict Cumberbatch had a tough task ahead: Resembling Julian Assange – a complex figure with a well-known public persona. And while Cumberbatch’s final performance in the film does the WikiLeaks founder justice, there’s one person who took issue with his accent: Assange himself.

In a video interview with Marc Fennell that was posted just a few days before the film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, the WikiLeaks founder said that the Australian accent Cumberbatch – a Brit – uses in the film was “grating.” Only, in the video he sounds eerily similar to the man whose performance he’s saying sounds nothing like him – an irony not lost on Fifth Estate director Bill Condon.

“It is crazy, isn’t it? I heard it before I saw it, and they sounded identical, and I thought that was really funny,” Condon said in an interview with WIRED. “Who actually can hear their own voice, I guess, right? That proves that. Benedict hasn’t seen it yet, but we just talked about it over lunch and he’s dying to.”

In the video (above) Assange, who once called Condon’s film the “anti-WikiLeaks” movie, also calls out the director for instructing Cumberbatch to portray him as a “sociopathic megalomaniac.” (Assange doesn’t cite his source, but he may be referencing comments Cumberbatch recently made in Vogue, stating that when it came to the stage direction in an early version of the script, the actor and director “collided paths because Bill did seem to be setting him up as this antisocial megalomaniac.”) But Condon said that characterization doesn’t come through in the film.

September 9, 2013

New South Wales “accidentally elects” libertarian senator

Filed under: Liberty, Politics — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:17

Australia makes it a legal requirement to vote in elections, which pretty much guarantees that a fairly high proportion of voters know little or nothing about the people they cast their mandatory votes for. Add in the fact that (at least in some jurisdictions) the order on the ballot isn’t in either alphabetical or party affiliation order. In New South Wales, this meant a Liberal Democratic candidate got votes that may have been intended to go to the Liberal party’s candidate:

The man elected to take one of six Senate seats in New South Wales says allowing the general public to carry weapons is one way of curbing gun crime in western Sydney.

Voters in New South Wales have chosen Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm for the Senate after the party appeared in the top left hand corner of ballot papers.

The seldom-mentioned party gained 8.89 per cent of the initial vote allocation, ahead of the Greens’ 7.77 per cent.

The party, which believes in social libertarianism, a free market economy and small government now joins a key group of minor party and independent senators set to hold the balance of power after July next year.

[...]

Mr Leyonhjelm accepts his party probably gained votes in error, with voters thinking they were choosing the Liberals.

The name has been raised as an issue before — in 2007 the Liberal Party objected and they ran as the Liberty and Democracy Party.

Mr Leyonhjelm admits the massively-long NSW Senate ballot paper may also have pushed votes to the Liberal Democrats.

“Oh yeah, we think there are three reasons why our vote was as high as it was,” he said.

“There are some people who voted for us because of our policies and they like what we stand for and we would like to think that that was all of them, but I don’t think that is the case.

“There would be some people who voted for us because we were first on the ballot paper — there is always a sizeable number of people who don’t care and vote for the first one on the paper, and with such a big ballot paper that was probably a factor.

“Then there are some people who mistook us for the Liberals, probably the Liberals, but they could also have mistaken us for the Christian Democrats or even the ordinary Democrats.”

In the 1980′s, we nearly had this happen in an Ontario election: the official Liberal Party candidate was disqualified after the deadline for submitting candidate names to get on the ballot, so the Libertarian candidate got a lot of votes that clearly were from people who thought they were voting Liberal … but not enough to win that riding.

June 26, 2013

Australian PM deposed in party coup

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:22

It may seem fitting that Julia Gillard was ousted from the premiership in the same way she achieved the position – an internal party coup:

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Wednesday pulled off one of the most sensational political comebacks in Australian history, ousting in a party vote Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the woman who replaced him as leader of the Labor Party in a 2010 party coup.

The victory by Mr. Rudd in a closed-door vote late Wednesday paves the way for an end to the rocky tenure of Ms. Gillard, who had called the surprise vote in an effort to head off a challenge from Mr. Rudd’s backers. Much of the momentum to reinstate Mr. Rudd came from a steady drumbeat of polls showing that the party under Ms. Gillard was almost certain to face a catastrophic loss in elections to be held in September.

Ms. Gillard became Australia’s first female prime minister in a 2010 party coup that ousted Mr. Rudd, who was derided during his tenure for an authoritarian leadership style. But she has seen her poll ratings plummet since announcing in January, unusually early, that federal elections would be held in September.

[. . .]

Despite Mr. Rudd’s victory within his own party, he is not automatically assured of becoming the new prime minister. It remained immediately unclear whether he had enough support from the independent lawmakers whose backing allowed Ms. Gillard to form a government after Labor’s disappointing showing in the last elections. The process starts when Ms. Gillard now formally asks the country’s governor general to make Mr. Rudd prime minister.

May 24, 2013

Australian police in a lather over 3D printed guns

Filed under: Law, Liberty, Technology — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:17

In The Register, Simon Sharwood covers the anguished response of police in New South Wales over the availability of “The Liberator”:

The New South Wales Police Force, guardians of Australia’s most-populous state, have gotten themselves into a panic over the Liberator, the 3D-printable pistol.

The Force’s Commissioner Andrew Schipione today appeared at a press conference to denounce the Liberator and urge residents of the State not to download plans for the gun.

Schipione offered this advice after the Force’s ballistics team acquired a 3D printer, downloaded plans for the Liberator and assembled a pair of the pistols.

One, when fired into a resin block said to simulate human flesh, is said to have penetrated to a depth of 17 fatal-injury-inducing centimetres.

The other experienced “catastrophic failure”, as we predicted a couple of weeks ago. [...] That failure didn’t stop Schipione declaring the Liberator a threat to public safety.

To understand why, you need to know that NSW has of late experienced gun violence at rather unusual levels by Australian standards (which means over a year all of Sydney had about half an episode’s worth of gun violence on The Wire). That spate of shootings has led to Operation UNIFICATION, an effort kicking off this weekend that encourages Australians to rat out strike a blow for public safety by informing Police about illegal guns.

May 6, 2013

Genetically modified barley may mean the end of skunky beer

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:54

The Register‘s Simon Sharwood on an Australian development that might herald new long-life beers:

Researchers at Australia’s University of Adelaide have unlocked the secret to letting beer age without it tasting like old socks.

Doctor Jason Eglington of the university’s School of Agriculture, Food and Wine explained that barley contains an enzyme called “lipoxygenase”. The enzymatic process produces several substances, among them an aroma volatile, catchily named “trans-2-nonenal”. The latter substance, over time, gives old beer a nasty taste and odour.

Eglington, who heads the university’s Barley Program*, learned that some ancient strains of barley have a defective version of lipoxygenase.

Some selective breeding later and the booze boffins have produced a new barley with everything a brewer could want — except working lipoxygenase.

February 27, 2013

Australia’s “human rights enforcement” industry

Filed under: Government, Law, Liberty — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:57

Australia, like Canada, has a large and over-mighty set of bureaucracies empowered to pursue “human rights” scofflaws (I put “human rights” in scare quotes because the most prominent cases in both countries appear to be enforcement of certain privileges rather than ensuring equal rights for all). Nick Cater says that the joyride for these — if you’ll pardon the expression — kangaroo courts may be coming to an end:

Quietly at first, but with a swelling, indignant chorus, respectable Australians of unimpeachable character began howling Roxon’s bill down. The contrivance of describing race, gender, sexual orientation, disability or 14 other grounds for victimhood as ‘protected attributes’ jarred; the inclusion of industrial history, breastfeeding or pregnancy or social origin suggested overkill; the reversal on the onus of proof, obliging alleged racists, misogynists and wheelchair kickers to demonstrate their innocence, seemed a step too far. The ABC’s chairman, Jim Spigelman, a lawyer of some standing, voiced his concerns about the outcome of the Bolt case. ‘I am not aware of any international human-rights instrument or national anti-discrimination statute in another liberal democracy that extends to conduct which is merely offensive’, Mr Spigelman said. ‘We would be pretty much on our own in declaring conduct which does no more than offend to be unlawful. The freedom to offend is an integral component of freedom of speech.’

[. . .]

Unlike political opinion, attributes like age or gender or sexuality are objective facts. They did not have to be demonstrated. As Senator Brandis pointed out: ‘There is no imperative for a 45-year-old man to go around saying, “I’m 45”. That does not happen.’ Political opinion, however, means nothing unless it is expressed.

Brandis: ‘I do not know if you are familiar with Czeslaw Milosz’s work The Captive Mind, or Arthur Koestler’s book Darkness At Noon… The whole point of political freedom is that there is an imperishable conjunction between the right to hold the opinion and the right to express the opinion. That is why political censorship is so evil — not because it prohibits us holding an opinion but because it prohibits us articulating the opinion that we hold.

‘We all agree that there is no law in Australia that says you cannot have a particular opinion. We all agree that there are certain laws in Australia, including defamation laws, that limit the freedom of speech. My contention is that there should not, in a free society, be laws that prohibit the expression of an opinion… This attempt to say, “Holding an opinion is one thing but expressing an opinion is quite different”, is terribly dangerous in a liberal democratic politic.’

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