Australian governments – local, state and national – have earned us an international reputation as a nanny state. The term compares government to the role that a nanny has in child rearing.

And we’re giving nannies a bad name.

Yesterday, a well-researched, no-holds barred criticism of the nanny state of NSW went viral.

Written by Freelancer’s CEO Matt Barrie (you can read it here) it’s a massive indictment of the NSW lockout laws.

Here’s some of what he wrote:

The utter destruction of Sydney’s nightlife is almost complete...

Some bullshit statistics were concocted, cherry- picked and distorted and you swallowed it hook, line and sinker… 

Sydney is not just being left behind, it's regressing into the dark ages.”

A couple of random but deadly punches thrown by drunken idiots have resulted in the death of a once-thriving - if infamous - business and entertainment precinct.

And it’s not just the death of Kings Cross that’s a direct result of nannyism. Our lives are being curtailed in so many ways it’s impossible to list them all here. When was the last time you went for a long drive without worrying if there was a policeman hiding in the bushes with a radar?

My neighbour bought himself a motorised scooter with a seat. It’s a great little machine – built not for speed, but convenience. It’s perfect for going up the road to do a little shopping or carrying a parcel home from the Post Office. Our entire suburb has a speed limit of 40kph so he’s hardly going to be interfering with the traffic. But it’s completely forbidden for him to ride it. Not on the road. Not on the footpath. Nowhere.

I have a kayak which I seldom now paddle because I’ve been ordered to wear a lifejacket whenever I’m more than 100 metres from the shore.  A friend paddles with a dragon boat crew in Melbourne. In 16 years they’ve never capsized. And then the Victorian government decides to introduce a law forcing them all to wear life jackets. Even when paddling no more than 20 metres from shore. On the Yarra!

The jackets are uncomfortable, they make him sweat and give him rashes. It’s enough to make him give up dragon-boating.

There’s no greater way for a neighbourhood to coalesce than by holding a street party. Yet local government regulations make that near impossible. Party organisers have to fill out safety plans – some provide forms up to 25 pages long. Al fresco dining is another minefield of local government regulations for restaurants and cafes to navigate.

Private and public swimming pools have to be completely fenced and surrounded by signs telling us not to run, jump, dive, bomb, and how to conduct CPR.  Does anyone ever refer to that sign during a real emergency?

Recently, a waterfront site near me was opened to the public for the first time ever. Previously a harbour headland used as an oil depot, it was remediated, landscaped and given over to the people. It’s a real gem and it’s almost a welcome change to realise there’s the possibility you can actually hurt yourself there. Rock shelves without safety railings, rusty old fuel tanks to clamber over and a long drop down to the water with no fencing to stop you if you’re foolish enough to fall or dive in.

Of course there are arguments to be made in favour of nannyism. Fewer die of lung cancer due to restrictions and plain packaging of cigarettes. We can all be much healthier if our food is labelled honestly and the road toll is lower due to seatbelts and speed limits. But the line between personal responsibility and government regulation is being crossed again and again.

In Canberra, there’s currently a Senate inquiry into the nanny state instigated by so-called libertarian Senator David Leyonhjelm​. Its terms of reference relate mostly to public health - submissions have already closed on the sale and service of alcohol, marijuana, tobacco and e-cigarettes, the classification of films, literature and computer games and bicycle helmet laws.

But you’ve still got until 1 March to make a submission to the nanny state committee on any other measures that you think have been introduced to restrict personal choice. Their report is due by 13 June.

While we’re at it, let’s add over-zealous parking inspectors, council rangers, public transport officers and police with sniffer dogs to the list of bad nannies.

Bossiness and officiousness has reached epidemic proportions in Australia. There are too many people, too many governments assuming the nanny role, telling us what we can and can’t do. If we must have these nannies in our lives, perhaps they should try to be more Mary Poppins, less wicked stepmother.