stupid laws

Introducing…

If there’s one thing I’ve learned through reading Vanishing Point it’s that a blog without a Ben is barely a blog at all.

I’ve been toying with the idea of having more people write stuff here – and I’ve offered that to a few select people. I’m not a control freak – though I may appear to be – so I find the idea of other people producing content quite liberating.

I will, as I introduce more people, make it more readily apparent that you can subscribe to posts from particular people (which means missing the stuff from others).

For now, I’d like to introduce you to Benny. He guest wrote a post a while back about protectionism. He’s an economist. And an expert on strange laws that are still in force in Queensland (he’s not a law lecturer, despite the billing he gets). He’s happy to take media engagements on this basis. Actually he’s not. Despite repeated calls to do so from Sunrise.

I went to school with Benny in Brisbane. Good times were had by all. We started a spam newsletter that on retrospect was funny and offensive. And we harvested emails from forwards we received. Turns out that is pretty illegal.

Anyway, Ben intends to blog a bit here. He’s sent me a couple of incredibly long emails. He works best with word limits. I’m going to give him 500.

Here’s what he has to say about this opportunity.

Well, Nathan has said I can be an occasional contributor to his blog. this is most awesome, cause I don’t want to set up my own blog, and Nathan is an interesting person, so I like to comment about him. Further, it seems that this blog and all its affiliates are very Christian focused. So I guess instead of just whinging to Nathan via email, our background discussions with the alternative viewpoints can be brought upfront.
So, first up, it has to be said that quite often I have a very alternative views about things to Nathan. this has included religion (so very, very often), the role of public representatives, taxation policy, the merits of tax subsidies for childcare/rent/home ownership, abortion, stem cell research, home ownership v renting, the Iraq war, religion in schools/school prayer, speed limits/alcohol allowances, police procedure and police powers, criminal punishments, privacy regulations, preferred presidential candidates (well I think we both wanted Obama but one of us had more confidence in his potential success), the definition of marriage and marriage rights, and many other things.
Probably Nathan’s current distinguishing feature is his immense Christianity. I have also noticed that since I have known Nathan (since we were 15) that his Christianity has become a more and more prevalent feature. And it has really ramped up the last few years. We also know he is a good writer (so much so I remember him getting a few writing awards at school), whereas I care little for perfect grammar. And less for word counts. I like long posts. But since Nathan has full edit access, this probably won’t be such a problem.

Costello goes back to school

Peter Costello has a piece in the SMH on proposed changes to the discrimination laws, he chooses to focus particularly on the ramifications of changing this legislation for Christian schools.

“At present, discrimination statutes don’t apply to religious bodies and their schools on the grounds of freedom of religion. So a parliamentary committee has recommended options to extend the power of the state over the province of religion. One proposed change is to restrict the freedom of religious schools to choose their employees on the basis of their religious faith.”

I’m not apologist for Christian schools – they can create unhelpful monocultural microcosms that can cause problems for people engaging with the world later in life. On the flipside, they are really helpful institutions where children receive a better than average education at the hands of teachers who actually care about their development…

Forcing religious schools to make employment decisions free from preference to religion sounds equitable – but there’s no way a Christian School would hire an atheist teacher – they’d find other reasons to not hire them. It’s almost impossible to police. So it’s not a concern.

It is dumb though. And it’s the reason that Christians should push for a clear separation of church and state. It cuts both ways.

Give way to buses

This is the stupidest law in Queensland. I understand that in less civilised countries it’s basically the biggest thing on the road has right of way. But I was driving home tonight and this bus just pulled out of me. I started placidly raising my fist and questioning the ability of the bus driver when my wife gently informed me that you have to give way to buses. Hands up who knew that? It’s a stupid law. Here it is from the Queensland Transport laws of giving way page :

When should I give way to buses?

In built up areas where the speed limit is 70km/h or below you must give way to buses when: 

  • buses are entering or about to enter traffic 
  • buses are pulling out from a bus stop, shoulder of the road, or far left side of the road
  • the bus displays a GIVE WAY TO BUSES sign and the right direction indicator is operating.

When a bus complies with all the above criteria, then vehicles approaching from behind must give way. It is important to remember that all vehicles, including buses, must indicate for five seconds before moving off.

It’s a dumb law. And there’s no way buses ever indicated for five seconds before moving off – but how can you prove that in the event of an accident? Does anyone time it? Is it registered in the bus’s black box so that in the case of an emergency it can be recovered to tell all… If buses are a protected species there should be something to ensure they don’t take advantage of the system.

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