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No freedom to choose

By Nicola Wright - posted Wednesday, 13 June 2018

So laws should only exist to protect us from fraud or harm from others, NOT to force us to live healthy or wealthy lives – ultimately we are responsible for the lives we lead.

But the overriding irony in Australia about laws designed to protect us from ourselves, is that we are forbidden by the state to protect ourselves from real threats. It is illegal in Australia for any person to carry a 'weapon' for self defence in the absence of imminent harm. Obviously that includes firearms, but it is also illegal to carry mace or pepper spray. In all states except Western Australia mace and pepper sprays are classified as prohibited weapons- you can't even legally buy them without a permit and permits are not issued for the purposes of self defence. In WA it's more confusing. Mace and pepper spray are restricted weapons which means you can buy them but can't actually carry them with you unless there are reasonable grounds to suspect you may be attacked.

In 2014, journalist Claudia Fleurs was found to be carrying a small keyring with a pocket knife and a 10 ml can of mace in her backpack on her way into court to cover a case. Although the magistrate threw her case out of court she endured months of stress and anxiety knowing that the maximum penalty in NSW for carrying a prohibited weapon is 14 years imprisonment. In most states of Australia if you are carrying pepper spray and use it to ward off an attacker you can potentially be charged with not only possessing and using a prohibited weapon but also with assault.


So despite the fact that the state is very concerned about how many vegetables we eat, or what substances we put into our bodies, they aren't so worried about whether we can protect ourselves from real and present danger. It seems like a contradiction on the surface, but really it isn't. If the state doesn't trust you to eat properly, or go home to bed early enough on a Saturday night, how on earth will it trust you to defend yourself against imminent harm?

The nanny state believes that it knows best, and if it can't come to your rescue when you need it the most, then that's just too bad. It's the nanny state's way or the highway. At every opportunity we need to call out the perverseness of nanny statism and declare it for what it really is – an authoritarian tendency to control the masses by people who think they know better than you or me about our own lives.

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This article was first published by LibertyWorks. It  has been adapted from a talk given at the 6th ALS Friedman Conference on May 24-26 2018.

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About the Author

Nicola Wright is a senior writer at Liberty Works Inc.

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