The soften-them-up pre-Federal budget rumours include an increase to the departure tax which is currently $47. The claimed reason is to better fund border security including improved biosecurity.

Canberra has been sold a crippled pup when it comes to biosecurity in its allegedly more sophisticated variations, such as finger print matching, data mining (how many Middle East text books have you read and did you order a halal meal and do you have convictions for making small nuclear weapons), retinal scans and who knows these days, maybe rectal scans. They don’t achieve anything. They rely on the existence of completely accurate fail proof data bases which record the instantanously verifiable registration of personal data which, surprise, is 99.99999% likely not to include the details of terrorists.

They don’t work. Intelligent policing does work, and Australia is rather good at doing it too.

The jargon laden but unreliable bio and info based security measures that seem to mesmerise some of the decision makers in Canberra make as much sense as the dishonest and unworkable alleged p*rn filter being pushed as by the sub lunar social conservative faction in Canberra, which would take us back to the beloved days of The Index (of forbidden works of art, literature and cinema). What part of it-doesn’t-work don’t they understand?

$47 doesn’t in itself have any effect on tourism in a world where it could easily cost $97 just to escape from an early morning arrival at London’s diabolical Heathrow airport, or buy a rather ordinary lunch for one in Tokyo.

The simple truth is that at current exchange rates and in the existing economic circumstances long distance air travel is so stuffed that there is no level of security, quarantine, or general purposes charges that can be attached to ticket prices that will usefully fund any of the government’s responsibilities to provide services in these areas.

And let’s be honest, the policy settings for quarantine in Australia seem in recent years to have been complicit in the outbreaks of equine influenza and diseased NZ fruit because no-one in authority really seems to care, or to accept any responsibility.

Adding extra taxes to activities which are in sharp decline is nothing more than a distraction from the real problems for any government, which is rebuilding the financial systems rather than punishing consumption.

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