What is it with Labor administrations that they sit around and dream up new ways to get involved in our lives? The latest is a registration system for locksmiths. I am sure we all feel safer at night, knowing that over and above the Lock Association, the Locksmith's Guild and the Master Locksmiths, the Queensland government also keeps a register of these tradesfolk with fingerprints.
I don't mind a police check for anyone in such a sensitive industry; a bit like a blue card register for volunteers. But Labor state and federal governments have created a nanny state on steroids back in 2008 and we are finally feeling the effects.
So as a sole-operator locksmith, now being asked to pay a thoroughly reasonable $36 for a police check. Next comes the $180 for a security licence each and every year. Once every locksmith in a business is registered, there is the $732 each year to register the business if you employ someone. Happily, this miserable State Government throws in a free year if you pay $1500 up front.
All this money and some of your taxes are then spent on Fair Trading officials who repeatedly visit locksmith businesses threatening them with $2000 fines for non-payment.
The latest outrage is another $100 charge on each locksmith just to be fingerprinted. I guess that is to make sure that we can rule out locksmiths when police find prints at crime scenes. Apparently, bikies were infiltrating the security guard industry on the Gold Coast, so our Government seized the chance to get trigger happy and chase an entire unrelated industry for fingerprints. Their excuse was that locksmiths are security workers. An upside is that the extra bureaucracy helps Anna Bligh hit her jobs target.
Most galling was the sanctimonious justification for charging $100 for a two-minute fingerprint appointment at a police station. Apparently it is heavily subsidised by the kindly Queensland Government. That is odd, because a global search of fingerprint charges worldwide found Virginia in the US was the highest charging at just AUD46.
Last, Queensland justifies its actions as 'coming into line with new federal arrangements. Problem is there isn't any fingerprinting happening in Tasmania, South Australia or Victoria. New South Wales started this bureaucratic madness in 1998. They were on their own until Labor states decided in the middle of the GFC that there were no more important decisions left to make so they should turn to beating up on locksmiths. Don't just blame Labor. The state LNP sleepwalked through the Bill's debate and voted for it.
We all hate crime and want to get tough, but there are smart and genuinely dumb ways to do it. Locksmiths are tradies and don't deserve this treatment. If you want to catch bikies at security venues, there are dozens of ways to do it.
If all this sounds a little remote, just think where this goes next. Do we fingerprint hospital staff to prevent prescription drugs being sold to bikies, or bank customers to prevent identity theft?
Small Business is doing it tough at the moment. So are a few households. Every dollar not collected in taxes and fees runs through the private economy where it belongs. All respect to public servants (and myself included), but it's time to shift many of us back to the private sector where we grow the economy rather than weighing it down. In a nation where every problem must be fixed by public servants and programs, Australians will need to reassess their expectations if this cancerous growth of government is to be reined in.
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