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Viv ForbesStuck on Red & Other Essays (First Published by “Business Queensland” and “Common Sense” in 1990), pp. 1-3.About the Author»

To many in business in Queensland, and especially to those trying to start a new business, it seems as if the lights are stuck on red.

My job in this column is to be the government gadfly — to bait the bureaucrats, poke the politicians and taunt the tax collectors till the stop-lights in George Street go green again.

This should not be seen as a partisan attack on the current brand of politicians — I have bipartisan disdain for all of them (with a few exceptions such as John Kerrin, Ian McLachlan, Peter Walsh and John Stone). I see most elections as the choice between a calamity and a disaster. However, I am not without hope — I have noticed that even members of Parliament talk quite sensibly when no one is listening.

What is wrong in Queensland? We have too many regulations, too much tax, and too many net consumers of tax. The ship has become top heavy and is in danger of capsize.

Business in Queensland today reflects the dreams, initiatives, investments and sacrifices of the past.

Our jobs and our prosperity depend on many wild gambles and a few considered decisions taken years ago. However, few of today’s wealth producing companies, big or small, will last even a decade. Like the ten little nigger boys, they will succumb, one after another, to high interest rates, foreign taxes, disappearing markets, depletion of resources or exhaustion of human energy. Thus we need a continuous and increasing source of new business to replace those which die, close, or lose their edge.

No business, big or small, was ever built without one man dreaming it, a few men believing him and a lot of people willing it to happen.

From our great Mount Isa Mines, now over sixty years old, to the Gracettas restaurant in Sherwood, which opened two months ago, every business in Queensland started with one person’s dreams.

Tomorrow’s jobs and tomorrow’s prosperity depend on how many dreams are allowed to develop.

In a quiet moment, however, almost every successful businessman will tell you he would have great trouble starting again today.

His energy and his capital would be sapped at every turn by council and business regulations, endless permits and submissions, dreadful delays and never ending fees and charges, all imposed by smug, super-annuated supervisors operating from the salaried security of the public payroll.

Only last week I heard of another dashed dream. A stud beef breeder owns a grazing block in Moreton Shire. He wanted to build a house to live in, and a stud cattle selling complex. Because there was already a small cottage on the land he was forced to go through a long rezoning saga to get approval to build his house. Then he was told he had the wrong zoning to allow him to build his stud sale yards. He has given this dream away — no house was built and no cattle sold. He is now trying to sell his land. No new business was born to replace the daily casualties of Mr Keating’s “beautiful set of figures”.

Of course they claim to represent “the public interest”. The public interest extends no further than ensuring that new businesses create no public nuisance by way of noise, smell, dust, pollution, health hazards or interference with water or sunlight. It does not extend to busybody interference based on official opinions on the esthetics, economics, industrial organisation, or political acceptability of the new business.

To be in any business today is like being a mouse in a house for hungry cats. And anyone wishing to start a new business will face scepticism from his banker, opposition from the council, hostility from the anti-everything league, and demands for up-front payment for government non-services whether he wants them or not. Baby businesses are an endangered species in Queensland. If they were baby seals we’d quickly see some action but as they are only selfish, profit-seeking dreamers they are fair game for any tax-happy knocker.

However, it takes no constructive skill at all to build a new bureaucracy — just sufficient numbers in Parliament to confiscate the necessary resources from those who earned them. Then, like sterile monuments to long forgotten problems, these departments will sit there forever, destroying dreams and consuming scarce investment capital.

And despite all the taxes they consume, our nationalised education and welfare industries have created a generation of people, many without the ability or the incentive to produce what the law says they must be paid. And despite all the regulations they enact, our legal system seems incapable of providing justice. Instead of delivering swift penalties to the guilty and restitution to the victims it rewards the guilty with endless delays and legal loopholes while the innocent go bankrupt paying legal fees.

The dreams of today are the realities of tomorrow. If I can help just one dream to survive the government gauntlet, my needling will have been worthwhile.

(in order of appearance on
  1. Lang Hancock's Five Point Plan to Cripple Australia
  2. Put Windmills in National Parks
  3. Magnifying National Disasters
  4. Please Don't Feed the Animals
  5. Buy Birdsville Made?
  6. The Economics of Flood Risk
  7. Touring Bureaucrats
  8. Our slip-shod laws to blame
  9. Why Wind Won't Work
  10. A Profusion of "Prices"
  11. R.I.P. Ron Kitching - pioneer, explorer, author, family man, entrepreneur, scholar
  12. The Carbon Pollution Lie
  13. Closing Down Australia
  14. The Anti-Industry
  15. The Pyramid Builders
  16. Carbon Tax Bribery
  17. Crown Monopolies
  18. Carbon Tax Job Losses
  19. What Next, a Tax on Water?
  20. Carbon Health Warnings Coming Soon
  21. Growth Mythology
  22. The Tax Collection Industry
  23. Propaganda Puts Paid to Proof
  24. The Milk of the Welfare Teat is Watered Down
  25. "Crops for Cars" as Bad as Everlasting Drought
  26. Poll speech sets record
  27. The Emissions Trading Casino
  28. The Contract Society
  29. A Model Ministry
  30. The Five Point Plan to kill the economy with High Cost Electricity
  31. Put a Sunset Clause in the Carbon Tax
  32. Stuck on Red
  33. Time to Butcher "Aussie Beef"
  34. Carbon Tax Lies and Bribes
  35. The Middle of the Road
  36. United against taxes
  37. Call for Govt administrator
  38. Property & Prosperity
  39. "The Science is Settled" BUT Durban Climate Summit Not Cancelled
  40. No End to Fuelish Policies?
  41. The Right to Discriminate
  42. Sell the CES
  43. Free Water Costs Too Dam Much
  44. Creating Unemployment
  45. Viv Forbes Wins 1986 Adam Smith Award
  46. 1985 news item on Tax Payers United, Centre 2000 and the Australian Adam Smith Club
  47. Having the numbers is not the same as having the truth
  48. Who's Who in the Workers Party
  49. David Russell Leads 1975 Workers Party Queensland Senate Team
  50. Caught in a welfare whirlpool
  51. Global Warming Season
  52. Mining in Queensland, Past, Present and Future
  54. Political branch formed
  55. Ron Manners on the Workers Party
  56. Viv Forbes on Libertarian Strategy and the Constant Resources Myth
  57. The New Brisbane Line?
  58. Carbon Lies
  59. We Mine to Live
  60. Save the taxpayer
  61. Solving Three Canberra Problems
  62. Vested Interests in the Climate Debate
  63. Carbon Tax Retrospective?
  64. Carbon Price Propaganda Taxes the Truth
  65. Don't Burn Food for Motor Spirit - Feed People not Cars
  66. Two Big Climate Taxes
  67. Greens Rediscover Hydrogen Car
  68. Atlas of Australia
  69. Shutting Out The Sun
  70. Safety Mania
  71. Coal - Sinking in the Swamps
  72. Hobbling the Competition
  73. Cubic Currency Coming
  74. "Dear Government"
  75. Viv Forbes mocks Flannery in 1988
  76. What we have is not a drug problem but a drug law problem
  77. Smoking, Health and Freedom
  78. Privatise Now! while they are still worth something
  79. The Electoral Act should allow voters to choose "none of the above"
  80. The New Federalism
  81. Sunset for Solar Subsidies
  82. The mouse will roar
  83. The Road to Homelessness
  84. Planning & Prosperity
  85. Viv Forbes and Jim Fryar vs Malcolm Fraser in 1979
  86. Quip, Quote, Rant and Rave: four of Viv Forbes' letters to the editor in The Australian in 1979
  87. Australia's First Official Political Party Poet Laureate: The Progress Party's Ken Hood in 1979
  88. Our homeless regulation refugees
  89. Progress Party and Workers Party lead The Australian
  90. Viv Forbes in 1978 on loss-making government, the Berlin Wall and misdirected blasts of hot-air
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Forbes has long been active in politics, economic education, business and the global warming debate, and was winner of the Australian Adam Smith Award “For outstanding services to the Free Society” in 1986.Powered by Hackadelic Sliding Notes 1.6.5