Libertarian Party

The Outback Libertarian

In September, David Leyonhjelm was elected to the Australian senate as a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, a libertarian party founded in 2001.

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David Leyonhjelm
Wikimedia Commons

In September, David Leyonhjelm was elected to the Australian senate as a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, a libertarian party founded in 2001. In August, reason's Scott Shackford spoke with Leyonhjelm about compulsory voting, the campaign against him, and why he's able to say things that no other politician can.

Q: You're the senate's sole representative of the Liberal Democratic Party. Does this make you the sole libertarian, or do you have allies who come close to a libertarian philosophy?

A: I'm the first politician, at least in the federal parliament, who's been elected on a libertarian platform, but there are libertarian-inclined people in the Liberal Party, which is the governing party. There are also people with some libertarian inclinations, at least on some issues, in the National Party, which is in coalition with the Liberal Party. And occasionally you'll find a couple in the Labor Party, which is the equivalent of your Democrats. But there's not very many of them and they tend to have big blind spots as well.

Q: How did Australia's compulsory voting laws and your placement on the ballot affect your chances?

A: We got nine and a half percent of the vote, and we attribute that mostly to the fact that the Liberal Party went on a campaign of warning voters not to vote for us in the week or so before the election. Talkback radio, which has huge reach, was constantly telling people not to vote for Liberal Democrats by mistake: "They're number one on the ballot but don't vote for them by mistake. They're not the Liberal Party." And then the day before the election, the biggest-circulation newspaper in New South Wales where I was elected ran a two-page spread, a huge big thing, with a picture of me and another guy from my party, warning, "Don't vote for these guys by mistake!"

Australians are a perverse people. There's a significant number of them that will do exactly the opposite of what they're told. It's actually quite an endearing feature about them. If they're told that the right thing to do is such-and-such they'll go and do the opposite. We think that was a major factor.

Q: Despite the fact that you may have benefited from compulsory voting laws, you have spoken critically of them.

A: We have a right to vote, and it's not a right if you get fined for not doing it. It becomes an obligation, like paying your taxes.

Q: In your maiden speech in July, you spent much of your time simply explaining the basics of libertarian or classical liberal philosophy. Did you feel it was important to explain where your political platform came from? Is that an indication there isn't a lot of understanding of the classical liberal philosophy in Australia?

A: There is a tendency to note anybody who believes in low taxes and less government expenditures as being far right. "A far-right extremist" is the term that gets thrown around quite commonly. So I have spent quite a bit of my time in the media-confusing the media if you like-by talking about right-wing issues and the soft-left social issues: same-sex marriage, marijuana, assisted suicide. Those sorts of things which the left thinks are their issues. I'm in the process of characterizing them as liberty issues. It's partly to head off this far-right extremist label. So it was important to set out the philosophical underpinnings of it to show it goes back a long time.

Q: What kind of response did you get from your maiden speech?

A: Very positive. Quite a number of senators who were in the chamber listening to me-it's a courtesy thing to listen to the speeches-many of them said, "God, I wish I could make a speech like that."

NEXT: Long Fingers of the Law

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  1. What does it mean being an Aussie libertarian? Does than mean that you still want to ban guns, but leave steak knives legal?

    1. Afaik, the knife ban is still in effect, meaning you need a “good reason” to possess a knife in public in Australia.

      1. They are in Australia.

        Isn’t that reason enough to pack a knife, if not a gun ?

        Thay got all them things that will kill you living there.

    2. Australia’s a bizarre country. They’re terrible on guns and still have dipshit hate-speech laws on the books, but they elected Tony Abbott specifically to repeal carbon credit legislation and they’re pretty free market on business issues.

      1. Also, Tony Abbott at least ran on a platform of getting rid of their hate-speech legislation, his party just became completely spineless once they were actually in office. I don’t know why they were too cowardly to repeal those laws given that their opposition to them was clearly okay with the voters who elected them.

        1. The spinelessness was weird given that Abbot and his party stared down a lot of protest over some budget measures that are considered ‘radical’ in Australia such as the $7 GP visit payment (or something like that) and entitlement reductions (I think). Maybe they used up all their spine on that.

        2. You know who else became spineless once in office?

    3. From what I’ve seen from Reason‘s coverage, it means you want to cut some economic red tape, but everything else remains intact, and even full-speed ahead.

  2. What cologne does he wear and brand of jeans? What records does he listen to? And does he think that Taylor Swift has sold out?

    1. Who cares about all that shit. I want to know what Aussie millennials think about him.

    2. To stick to a more contemporary subject, what are his feelings on Dylan going electric?

  3. When I clicked the article on from H&R, I expected to find out that Scott Shackford was, in fact, a newer version of Mick Dundee…come to save Los Angeles from the scourge of progressive idiocy while brandishing a big knife.

    Now my dreams are shattered.

  4. The Outback Brokeback Libertarian

    ?Fabulous!?

  5. I’ve resisted my cop stories for quite a while, but this one needs to be read and the comments heeded. Because this is what cops think about real people and it speaks volumes.

    http://www.policeone.com/offic…..ookie-cop/

    1. For policeone, those first few comments seem reasonable. Guys blaming the brass for sending two young officers together, “let’s wait to see the witness statements,” others acknowledging that it’s going to be an expensive payout.

      1. An expensive payout for the taxpayers. I doubt they’ll want the killer punished.

        Plaxico Burress hurts himself and ends up in jail. This cop kills an innocent man and will end up with a pension.

    2. We send in extra officers but can’t change the light bulbs? I realize that this is New York and probably involves the electricians union, the bulb changers union and the ladder climbers union but lighting makes the roaches scatter.

      Most of the comments are fairly normal “He’s a brother cop and I feel bad” fodder, but THIS is special.

      Notice how he doesn’t bother to add the Police Union to that list?

    3. I read the topmost comments and surprisingly didn’t see anything that made my stomach turn.

      Again, not a lot of discussion about the guy who died in a hail of bullets, more on the cops themselves. I’m sure if you go deeper it’ll get worse, though.

      1. Their concern ends with the “brother”, not the innocent man that was killed. And their calls for “mote information” are the polar opposite of their comments about perps being worthy of assassination whenever a “brother” pisses his pants and shoots someone without a reasonable justification.

        Also, I’m mildly disturbed at the references to the dead person as a “subject”. As if dehumanizing him somehow makes his killing less of a concern.

        1. It isn’t really a concern for them. You know this, cops see non cops as untermensch. I’m not trying to Godwin the thread, but it’s abundantly clear that the majority of cops see non cops as sub-human. They have more concern for “K-9 officers” than the general public.

    4. Very sad situation for both the officer and the subject killed.

      Emphasis added.

  6. There is a tendency to note anybody who believes in low taxes and less government expenditures as being far right. “A far-right extremist” is the term that gets thrown around quite commonly. So I have spent quite a bit of my time in the media-confusing the media if you like-by talking about right-wing issues and the soft-left social issues: same-sex marriage, marijuana, assisted suicide. Those sorts of things which the left thinks are their issues. I’m in the process of characterizing them as liberty issues. It’s partly to head off this far-right extremist label. So it was important to set out the philosophical underpinnings of it to show it goes back a long time.

    I’m impressed. Reason actually profiled someone who appears to be a libertarian. This is a definite step up from their tendency of declaring random porn stars to be libertarians even though they clearly aren’t.

  7. So my wife works at this hospital. The rational me says meh whatever. The germaphobe side of me wants to get a hotel room even though its most likely nothing and my wife would have no direct contact with these girls.

    http://www.nbc4i.com/story/274…..-for-ebola

  8. Oy! Crikey! Liberty!

    1. Let’s put anathah freedom on tha bahbie!

  9. If that cop had not had his finger on the trigger, a REAL bad guy could have gotten the drop on him!

    OFFICER SAFETY must never be compromised.

    The dead guy was probably a thug, anyway, so- good shoot.

  10. What sort of image does “far right extremist” conjure up in Australia? Monocle, riding crop, cigarette held between thumb & forefinger, shaved head, garlic necklace, hemophilia, hydrophobia…?

  11. Has Kevin Bloody Wilson been convicted of hate crimes under their absurd speech codes?

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