On whether we should follow bad laws + Public Choice podcast chat with Brendan Markey-Towler

Despite the positive messaging from the Queensland Government yesterday, Brisbane’s lockdown has been extended by at least 24 hours, because of two new cases on the south side, causing considerable angst among more than one million people and ruining weddings and causing florists to throw out flowers and restaurants to throw out food. Luckily for Sunshine Coast residents, the new COVID case in their region was found late in the day, so Sunshine Coast residents are now out of lockdown. Our Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young was so embarrassed over her anti-vaxxer-type comments earlier this week that she couldn’t possibly have embarrassed herself further by reneging on the lifting of the Sunshine Coast lockdown. So Sunshine Coast residents will have at least one or two days of freedom, before they are at risk of lockdown being re-imposed.

In my post last night I noted that even though the COVID laws are bad laws, we need to follow them nonetheless. Up-and-coming Brisbane economist Brendan Markey-Towler made a great comment on LinkedIn on my post which read:

Not quite. Lex iniusta non est lex is a well developed doctrine. It’s really more of a prudential question whether the penalty and consequence is worth the protest.

Lex iniusta non est lex” is Latin for “An unjust law is no law at all”, which according to Wikipedia is associated with St Thomas Aquinas and was quoted by Dr Martin Luther King. That’s pretty heavy backing! Unfortunately, the state government controls the police force so it can enforce its bad laws, even though they may be incompatible with natural law and arguably completely illegitimate. That said, Brendan is correct that it comes down to a prudential question. We may be getting to the point where civil disobedience (e.g. that shown by the Newstead beauty salon owner) to protest these heavy-handed restrictions is justified.

Incidentally, I interviewed Brendan again recently for my Economics Explored podcast on the topic of Public Choice theory, which takes as its starting point the assumption that politicians and bureaucrats are self-interested. In a state where our political leaders are willing to go on a junket to the Tokyo Olympics at the same time as they are restricting our liberties, that seems like an appropriate assumption.

Please feel free to comment below. Alternatively, you can email comments, questions, suggestions, or hot tips to contact@queenslandeconomywatch.com.

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10 Responses to On whether we should follow bad laws + Public Choice podcast chat with Brendan Markey-Towler

  1. Russell says:

    Hi Gene, you organise the protest and I will be there. But, there probably won’t be many of us and the media will make out that we’re one step away from breaking down the doors of Parliament House. I can’t even make a protest in my own family group and get support. Now, we can see how easy it was for the 20 century dictators to come to power.
    I had my first AZ jab yesterday and next one in late September. Not that I think it will make a lot of difference for quite some time.

  2. Glen says:

    Gene the great failing here is with Scott Morrison, he has allowed the office of Prime Minister to be diminished by his own actions, a strong leader like John Howard would never have supported the states like Morrison has and allowed them to control the agenda. Whether it be financial support through to ADF support at state borders, he has been played by the states and made some really poor decisions, by supporting their poor decisions, we have all paid a price and will do for many years to come.

  3. Katrina Drake says:

    I can’t see that CHO has anything to be embarrassed about. She should be appreciated for trying to get us all through a global pandemic, without the loss of a single soul, especially when so many other leaders have failed dismally. She values every life, and follows the statistics and science rigorously.

    Anyway, all this commentary and outrage on a three day partial lockdown is becoming boring, when we have enjoyed weeks of relative social freedom.

    Just need to speed up the vaccine rollout. I’m half way there.

    Keep rowing, we are nearly there.

    • Gene Tunny says:

      Thanks for the comment, Katrina. Thankfully, the lockdown ends 6pm, although the threat of future lockdowns remains, making it challenging to plan anything.

  4. Katrina Drake says:


    This research published in the Lancet should be of great interest to you.

    Research that indicates that countries that pursued strict pandemic suppression strategies fared better on measures of health, wealth and civil liberties, than those that didn’t.

    The five elimination countries Australia, New Zealand, Ice land, Japan, and South Korea, compared to 32 mitigation countries. Elimination countries had 4 percent of the per capital death toll of mitigation countries, their GDP growth returned to pre-pandemic levels far earlier, and elimination had less of an impact on civil liberties.

    You should read this, as I believe criticism by commentators of the elimination approach by Queensland Government has been unhelpful to the success of us all.


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