The Liberal Party in Australia is imploding! One Nation is controlled by Pauline Hanson! The Australian Conservatives have taken on the religious right! Who the heck do I support? Australian Liberty Alliance? Well they are too focused on kicking out all muslims to care about other important issues that affect many Australians. Help!
I have been involved in politics one way or another since 1998. I have been a member of both a minor and major political party, most recently the Liberal Party. I supported the Liberal Party because I believe in small government, low taxes, low spending, individual responsibility and strong border protection policies. I left the Liberal Party for several reasons. In 2015 when they knifed a first term Prime Minister I felt that the Liberal Party was no different to the Labor Party when it came to revolving door of leaders. In the 2013 Federal Election we campaigned strongly that under a Liberal Government you would see stability – well that didn’t work out. This issue alone wasn’t the only reason why I left the Liberals. I felt that Malcolm Turnbull – despite my disliking of the fella – deserved to be given a chance. The catalyst of me leaving the Liberal Party is the ever growing factional warfare, especially within the NSW Division. Seeing potential new members being rejected on the basis that it would weaken a certain faction, or candidates pre-selected on the basis of which faction they belong to rather than on merit made me think about my future within the Party. Liberal Party members are treated as political pawns, they are just there to campaign, hand out how to votes and be potential donors. It was time to find a new home.
Admittedly I was flirting with the idea of One Nation but their instability and policy flip flops turned me off. Then there was the new kid on the block, the Australian Conservatives led by former Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi. The problem with this party is that it prides itself on religious values, as I am not religious I believe I would clash on some social issues. The only other party that is worthy of a choice is the Liberal Democratic Party. This party is based on Libertarianism and looking at their history it has been slowly gaining political momentum. At the time of writing this blog the party only has two parliamentarians: One federal Senator in NSW, David Leyonhjelm and one Member of the Legislative Council in WA, Aaron Stonehouse. There could be one more in the Victorian Upper House as voting continues post the Victorian State election held on the 24th November 2018.
On further investigation of the Liberal Democrats I am finding myself more in tuned to their philosophies:
The Liberal Democrats stand for greater freedom, smaller government and personal responsibility. We promote the following principles:
1. Economic Principles
- Free markets and freedom of choice
- Low tax, limited public spending and minimal regulation
- Widespread ownership of private property
2. Social Principles
- Civil society and volunteerism
- Civil liberties and individual freedom
- Individual liberty and personal responsibility under the rule of law
3. Government Principles
- Constitutional liberal democracy
- Ethical and impartial government under the rule of law
- Devolution of power including decentralised government and competitive federalism
4. International Principles
- Free trade in goods, services and capital
- Free trade in ideas and culture
- Freedom and human rights
Whilst political parties often do have feel good philosophies or objectives which are often outlined within their constitutions, what really matters is their policies. The Liberal Party of Australia have similar philosophies to the Liberal Democrats but their actual policies or direction is completely opposite. Here is an example of the philosophies of the Liberal Party and compare this to what they actually deliver in Parliament.
Liberal Party of Australia
In the inalienable rights and freedoms of all peoples; and we work towards a lean government that minimises interference in our daily lives; and maximises individual and private sector initiative
In government that nurtures and encourages its citizens through incentive, rather than putting limits on people through the punishing disincentives of burdensome taxes and the stifling structures of Labor’s corporate state and bureaucratic red tape.
In those most basic freedoms of parliamentary democracy – the freedom of thought, worship, speech and association.
In a just and humane society in which the importance of the family and the role of law and justice is maintained.
In equal opportunity for all Australians; and the encouragement and facilitation of wealth so that all may enjoy the highest possible standards of living, health, education and social justice.
That, wherever possible, government should not compete with an efficient private sector; and that businesses and individuals – not government – are the true creators of wealth and employment.
In preserving Australia’s natural beauty and the environment for future generations.
That our nation has a constructive role to play in maintaining world peace and democracy through alliance with other free nations.
In short, we simply believe in individual freedom and free enterprise; and if you share this belief, then ours is the Party for you.
As you can see these philosophies are very similar to the Liberal Democrats and I guess this is why I was a member of the Liberal Party.
As stated philosophies alone do not make or break a political party. So I examined the Liberal Democrats policies. Given that there are so many policies on their website I will only outline a few which I think are prudent to what my own philosophies are. The first policy is Immigration. I am a firm believer that all sovereign nations should have strong border protection policies. As former Prime Minister John Howard once said;
“….we decide who comes into our country and the circumstance in which they come”
Most minor political party’s have developed a discriminatory policy or a knee jerk approach such as banning certain religions from entering the country or only accepting migrants from certain countries. Most Australians accept that migrants, regardless where they are from – can and have – contributed positively to Australian society. The Liberal Democrats take a pragmatic approach to immigration. Reading their policies they appear to support good quality migration by implementing a fee for those who wish to become permanent residents. New migrants will not be eligible to receive welfare but they will be able to contribute to society by working. As for illegal immigration they support the closure to offshore detention but support the idea of detention for health and security assessments. The following is a summary of their policies from their website.
- Negotiate Free Immigration Agreements (FIAs) with compatible countries to allow unrestricted movement of citizens between those countries.
- Replace the current points-based quota system with a tariff system where immigrants pay for the right to become a permanent resident (PR) in Australia.
- No eligibility for welfare for PRs except where reciprocal arrangements have been established through a FIA.
- Increase barriers to citizenship so Australia can sustain a high level of immigration and relatively free movement of people without the risk that new immigrants will undermine our democracy or social harmony.
- Adopt a liberal approach to temporary residency for workers and tourists.
- Detain unauthorized arrivals for security and health checks, after which they can be temporarily released on payment of bail equivalent to the immigration tariff while their application to stay (as asylum or other) is processed.
This approach to immigration is sensible. It provides opportunities for good people to enter the country and enjoy what Australia has to offer. It also offers illegal immigrants an opportunity to escape their woes and allow them to work. The idea of stopping welfare to all migrants including illegal immigrants will reduce people entering Australia purely because of our generous welfare system. Whilst it is unclear whether or not refugees will receive welfare under their policies it would be fair to say if they did include this, then who needs a discriminatory immigration policy?
Low taxes, low spending and less regulation is one of my own philosophies. When you look at the Liberal Democrats taxation policy they certainly follow through on this. The Liberal Democrats believe that taxation should be cut so that there is more money in our pockets to be able to spend things on what we want to spend it on. If we had more money in our pockets then we can spend more on things like health insurance or on goods and services, this in return will benefit the economy because consumer confidence will be higher and if we spend money on good health insurance we are less likely to rely on medicare. Here is an example of the Liberal Democrats taxation policy.
- Limit the federal government to defence, immigration, basic public services (e.g passport services, regulation of hazardous materials, air and sea transport regulation), and assistance to the least well off.
- Stop all transfers from the federal government to other levels of government, including grants from the pool of GST revenues.
- With the associated savings, cut federal taxes by more than half, through:
- lifting the tax free threshold to $40,000, cutting personal tax rates to a flat 20%, and cutting the company tax rate to 20%; and
- abolishing tobacco, alcohol and fuel taxes, import tariffs, carbon pricing and mineral resource rent taxation.
- Limit state governments to the provision of: police, courts and prisons; fire services; animal control; roads and other transport services; libraries; local amenities; basic public services (eg consumer protection, building standards), means-tested vouchers for health and schooling, and welfare services.
- Replace insurance taxes, taxes on vehicles, stamp duties on property transfers, along with various other nuisance taxes collected at the state level with less inefficient taxes, while ensuring that the overall level of a state or territory’s taxes as a proportion of state GDP declines over time.
I hear some people say “well if we cut taxes what expenditure will need to be cut?” As you can see from their policy, the Liberal Democrats want to decentralised Government. At the moment the Federal Government is funding for schools, education, hospitals and roads. Under the Australian Constitution these issues are all the responsibility of State Governments, somehow the Federal Government has decided to stick their noses into it. We do not need a Federal Department of Education, we do not need a Federal Department of Health, having these departments federally just doubles the amount of bureaucracy adding cost to the taxpayer. The Federal Government only needs to tax to be able to fund for defence, immigration, welfare and medicare. The Liberal Democrats also want to cease Foreign Aid. The idea of the Government borrowing money just to give it away in foreign aid does not make sense. It would be like you having a mortgage, struggling to live day to day paying bills, raising children and buying food but then going to the bank and asking for a credit card of $10,000 just to give that money to Amnesty Australia. It does not make sense at all.
The last example I am going to discuss is Freedom of Speech. One Nation and Australian Conservatives claim they believe in freedom of speech yet they want to ban organisations such as Hizb ut-Tahrir.
Hizb- ut-Tahrir have been known to express extreme islamic beliefs and some would argue it is a terror organisation. One Nation wishes to ban this organisation, given their strong views on Islam I understand their point of view however banning such organisation – like most extreme groups – it would go under ground. Allowing them a platform provides you and me an opportunity to critisise them and to point out their fundamental flaws. The other issue is if you ban one organisation you will need to ban all organisations that cause offence, and given that being offended is subjective, where will it end? The Liberal Democrats policy on freedom of speech does not wish to ban these organisations because one is allowed to hold these views despite how distasteful they may seem. We do not want to go down the same path of the United Kingdom whereby the Government prosecutes people who posts an offensive video.
The Liberal Democrats policy on Freedom of Speech is as follows:
The Liberal Democrats believe that freedom is precious, that our freedom is not conferred by government, that government poses great risks to our freedom, and that the role of government is the defence of freedom.
- Freedom of speech and expression.
- A free media.
- Freedom of association, assembly and movement.
- Freedom over one’s own body, beliefs, privacy and property.
Freedom of speech is fundamental in a democratic society. The free exchange of ideas and opinions allows these ideas and opinions to be tested, with the more robust being accepted and the less robust being rejected.
Freedom of speech and expression should not be limited because the speech or expression is defamatory, offends, insults, humiliates or intimidates, because it is thought to be wrong, or because it is immoral, indecent, or contrary to community expectations. Freedom of speech and expression should only be limited under long-standing laws against aiding or inciting a crime or disturbing the peace.
There should be no government filtering of the internet, and there should be no bans on movies (except where depicting an actual crime), books or games for adults.
A free media
Along with free speech, a free press is particularly important for constraining government. There should be no constraint on owning any media organisation, radio spectrum should be auctioned without conditions, and no one should be required to reveal one’s sources.
Freedom of association, assembly and movement
Restrictions on freedom of association, assembly and movement represent government over‑reach. Freedom of association should not be limited by bans on membership of bikie gangs or groups deemed to be terrorist organisations. Long-standing laws against conspiring to carry out a crime are sufficient. Freedom of association should not be limited by prohibitions on joining a trade union, nor on requirements to join one. Freedom to gather in public places without hindering the movement and peace of others should not be limited by curfews, ‘move along’ powers, or laws against loitering and peaceful protests.
Freedom over one’s own body, beliefs, privacy and property
Freedom over one’s body includes freedom to take one’s own life (and to assist others to do so), to control one’s own fertility and to have children, to refuse medical treatment, to obtain one’s own medical records, and to give binding health directions in case of subsequent incompetence. We should be free from harassment, from physical harm, and we have a right to privacy, to our own thoughts, opinions and religion, and to our own property.
I have only touched on three policies of the Liberal Democrats however there are plenty more that could be discussed. You can access their policies here https://www.ldp.org.au/
After examining their policies and studying their actions in both the Senate and WA Legislative Council, I believe the Liberal Democrats are a viable option for those Liberals who want to find a new home. Having a sensible approach to issues is what Australia needs right now given that we are lacking leadership. After 12 months of contemplation I decided to join the Liberal Democrats and one can only hope they can move forward and build upon their organisational structure to provide hope to hard working Australians who want to see more money in their pocket; freedom and less government interference.
*Editors note: This blog is my interpretation of Liberal Democrats policy, at no stage am I writing on behalf of the Liberal Democrats. I welcome any comments or criticisms.