A nanny state has the appearance of protecting vulnerable people from incompetence, foolishness, bullies, abusers and exploiters, like a ‘nanny’ who controls unable, greedy, unruly and innocent children.

I want to expose nanny state overreach in Australia that diminishes personal responsibility, replacing it with ethics and morality, weakening self-control and becoming like a police state. It is insulting for an authority to treat me as a child when I am a competent adult.

A sign displayed at the entrance to a local park is:


In my opinion, this is overreach, without sufficient benefit to justify intrusion.

Rousseau’s social contract required all people to act for the public good. The Soviet experiment with communism prescribed state control of religion, health, education, employment, manufacturing, commerce and election of leaders. When people withdrew their support from the ‘nanny’, the state failed.

‘Some countries like Singapore are reputed to have many more regulations and restrictions on citizens’ lives than in other countries,’ said a libertarian friend, Don. ‘Germany was freest in a recent survey of regulation of alcohol, tobacco, food and vaping in 30 European countries.’

‘Maybe Germans are least well off,’ I said.

‘No,’ said Don. ‘A reason to be without those regulations is free choice. Governments have legislated to control thousands of products and situations unnecessarily.’

‘A Canadian journalist and magazine publisher says Australia has a nanny state,’ I said. ‘He wrote:

. . .Australia is becoming the world’s dumbest nation . . .(because of) the removal of personal responsibility and the increase in the number and scope of health and safety laws.’ Tyler Brule, 2015

‘He argued that Australian cities are over-sanitised,’ I said. ‘Many of the laws have been implemented in the expectation that they will reduce violence or improve health and safety. The excessive laws were accused of restricting freedom, ruining livelihoods and small businesses, turning the nation into a nanny state.’

‘We’re steeped in nanny state laws,’ said Don. ‘We have mandatory bicycle helmet laws, gun control laws, prohibitions on alcohol in public places, plain packaging for cigarettes, pub and club lockout laws and permits for picnics on a beach. These are only a few. They are ridiculous. A senate enquiry investigated laws and regulations that ‘restrict personal choice for the individual’s own good.’ It’s an oxymoron. Australia’s criminal legislation has gone too far.’

‘Our gun control laws are reasonable,’ I said. ‘Other nations envy us.’

‘That may be an exception,’ said Don. ‘A nanny state excessively controls, monitors, or interferes with people’s private actions or behaviours that are deemed unhealthy or unsafe.’

‘What is state-like about a nanny state?’ I asked.

‘The term is an echo of ‘nation state’, which is a body of related people in a country. A nanny state has a nanny figure parodying a monarch,’ said Don. ‘The government may be autocratic and resented by the people.’

‘Utopians like George Orwell have satirized cradle-to-grave care by the state,’ I said. ‘Scandanavian welfare comes close. Israel, Cuba and former Soviet countries have achieved some success, but opinions about this differ.’

‘How wonderful to have every want supplied by the state, with little or no personal expense!’ said Don. ‘How wonderful to be securely employed under good conditions, without having to compete with others! Being without luxuries would not matter, because everyone would be without them.’

‘Orwell in his book 1984 satirised a totalitarian hell, with control of every aspect of life, including thinking and talking,’ I said.

‘During the Covid pandemic, various technologies were proposed to be mandated: quarantine, masking, vaccination,’ said Don. ‘Nanny state conditions were protested in some countries.’

‘Most interventions have been adopted democratically and objectors are usually a minority,’ I said. ‘Aboriginal people have had a state nanny doling out welfare payments, alcohol and houses.’

‘Objectors to nanny state provision are sometimes labelled as haves, capitalists, authoritarians or conservatives. Nanny state supporters called have-nots, socialists, Bohemians, nihilists and free-loaders,’ said Don.

‘Babying adults is self-defeating,’ I said. ‘I have protested provisions intended to keep streets safe for pedestrians, having the opposite effect. Zebra crossings and traffic calming obstacles encourage mindlessness on the roads. Children do not learn to cross safely. They step out into a trap and are squashed. Youths will speed, choosing the fastest streets to rat-run.’

‘Consolatory education is harmful,’ said Don. ‘Nanny state education has courses for every child to succeed too easily. When young people leave school and get jobs, they are expected to perform but when they are criticised, they quit.’

‘Poor people pay subsidised rents, with nanny state support, as if there can be no market correction that would charge them a fair price.’ I said. ‘They are like babies, fed by umbilical cord. They cling to benefits that others have had to work to achieve.

‘Electricity users, instead of reducing their bills by conserving power, expect the government to pay the increases.

Our nanny state sometimes helps with the cost of disabilities. If claimants fake symptoms, others could have to pay too. I had a student who claimed to have dyslexia and required to write on dark purple exam papers. Her ruse included writing with a black pen. I was ruining my own vision catering to her faked needs, when I realised her pretence was a rebellion and I refused to implement it.

When a nanny state wants positive discrimination in favour of a type of individual, the validity of the claim and its provision have to be administered, at significant cost to the community.

A sign displayed at the entrance to a local park reads ‘Beware falling branches.’ Parks are places where visitors go to be exposed to conditions as in nature. They should not have their wits dulled by instructions. This is nanny state overreach.

When you encounter nanny state overreach, please call it, for the rest of us. Australia is not the World’s dumbest nation, is it?

My novel Turkeys Not Bees is a story about how two young people confront a nanny state.

Available on Amazon. Reviews see

About martinknox

Materially minimalist; gastronomically prefer food I cook; biologically an unattached male survivor; economically independent; sociologically a learner and teacher of science; psychologically selfaltruistic; anthropologically West Country English tenant farmer; religiously variable; ethically case by case; philosophically a sceptical Popperian.

Posted on April 11, 2023, in Australia and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on IS AUSTRALIA A NANNY STATE?.

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