This year’s highly un-coveted Nanny State Award was a tight contest, with a horde of strong contenders from around the world, including Australia.
The winners were announced by Emeritus Professor Steven Schwartz at an evening event held at the Centre for Independent Studies.
Lifetime Achievement Award
The judges have given a lifetime achievement award to the Australian Medical Association (the AMA) and its cronies, for calling for a tax on sugary drinks every year since the Nannies were first awarded.
“The AMA has pointed to the UK, which began taxing sugary drinks years ago. However, the health benefits of the UK sugar tax are not immediately obvious,” Prof Schwartz said.
“Life expectancy in Australia is the third highest of any country in the world — while the UK doesn’t even make the top 10. And the unintended consequences of a sugar tax are difficult to predict. Two years after the implementation of a sugar tax, a recent American study found that sales of sugary drinks decreased a little, but beer sales increased markedly — not an obvious way to improve public health.
“Because of their persistent devotion to micromanaging our lives, the AMA is a worthy recipient of this lifetime achievement award.”
Third place: Queensland government vow to phase out coal-fired power by 2035.
Under the plan, more affordable coal power will be axed, generators will be converted to ‘clean energy hubs’, and electricity will come from pumped hydro storage.
“To achieve this vision, the Queensland government must create multiple pairs of large reservoirs one above the other all over the state,” Prof Schwartz said. “Given the Queensland government’s record of managing water reservoirs, what could possibly go wrong?”
Second place: traffic ‘experts’ calling for an urban speed limit of 30km/h.
Slow cars may be less dangerous, but they harm the economy by making shipping and travel inefficient, Prof Schwarz pointed out. “When setting speed limits, we must trade off economic costs against the safety benefits of driving slower and find an acceptable level of risk.
“The next logical step from this call is to go back to the days when it was required to have somebody walk along ahead of your vehicle waving a flag to warn passersby there was a car in motion.”
Winner: all those who wish to rename our towns, regions, parks, and landmarks.
Among those honoured by this award is the organisation known as PETA: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “PETA wants Wool Street in Melbourne to change its name because … well, just because,” Prof Schwartz said.
PETA is a repeat winner. It previously won a Nanny for wanting to change the name of Tasmania’s Eggs and Bacon Bay to something vegan.
Sharing the honour of this year’s Nanny with PETA is Bec Cody, an Australian Capital Territory (ACT) politician. Some of her constituents are unhappy because a new ACT electorate was named in honour of World War I correspondent, Charles Bean. Bean, they say, made antisemitic remarks about General John Monash.
“In response, Ms Cody has called for a government review of all Canberra’s 7000 place names. Her goal is to rename all parts of Canberra that are named after undesirable people,” Prof Schwartz said. “Given that a lot of the parts of Canberra are named after politicians, we predict a massive bill for new signage.”