Stepping up to the crease

I hope history will say July 1 was the day we got to work putting Godzilla back in its cage

THE first of July 2014 will be my first day as a Senator, representing NSW and the Liberal Democratic Party. I hope history will say it was the day we got to work putting Godzilla back in its cage.

Godzilla is that blundering monster that our governments have become, with their hands in our pocket and noses in every room of our house.

I am the first politician elected to an Australian parliament on a purely libertarian or classical liberal platform, with a mission to lower taxes, remove regulation, and put an end to the nanny state.

To see the challenge I face, you only need to stand at Canberra’s War Memorial and look down Anzac Parade. From there you can look towards the modest building that was once our Parliament House and on to new Parliament House.

At the first sitting in Canberra’s old Parliament House in 1927, taxation was less than 10 per cent of GDP, with most of this directed to core government functions like defence, and only the Speaker of the House, the President of the Senate, the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Government in the Senate and Ministers had their own offices.

These days, taxation is around 30 per cent of GDP, most directed to social security, health and education, and on sitting days there are 5000 people in new Parliament House in more than 4500 rooms. They are not there to produce anything; they are there to make legislation, tell others to make legislation or more likely, tell someone to do something entirely unrelated. Others are busy spending your money to let you know what a great job they are doing or what a bad job the people down the corridor are doing.

But of course, Parliament House is only the nerve centre of the monster. According to the latest figures, Australia has 1.9 million public servants – as many people as there are men, women and children living in Perth. Their salaries alone amount to $134 billion, or more than $100 dollars a week from each person in Australia. Much of this could be more prudently spent by individual Australians for their own purposes. It never seems to matter how much money is taken from us, it is never enough to satisfy the beast or those who believe they are entitled to some of it.

Public servants are mostly dedicated, well-meaning employees who spend their days in busyness. But the public service also tends to attract people who think they know what’s good for us, and are intent on delivering it whether we need it or not.

When there are so many people being busy on our behalf, they start to encroach on our lives; drafting laws we don’t need, spending money on things we can do for ourselves, spending money telling us what to do, and finding new ways to collect the money so they can do it all over again.

But if you corner any one of them at a barbecue, stories soon emerge about waste and mismanagement, the entanglement of bureaucracy, and how people in their organisation are cavalier with your money.

They might tell you why the Department of Industry spent $75,000 on coffee machines and a further $45,000 on a contract to service them; why Centrelink spent $4.6 million on a new logo; and why the Government committed $16 million to help a profitable corporation upgrade a chocolate factory in Hobart.

And these are just small examples that do not begin to explain the $10 billion we pay for government spending on corporate welfare or the tens of billions taken from us and then redistributed as welfare handouts to middle class people who don’t need it.

How does this happen? It is simply, as the economist Milton Friedman put it, what happens when people are allowed to spend money in the worst possible way – by spending someone else’s money on somebody else.

In my term in Parliament, I want to convince Australians to reconsider whether handing their money over to the government is better than keeping it themselves. I want them to understand that disapproving of something does not justify it being prohibited or heavily regulated. I want them to understand the connection between the liberties they care about and the liberty of others, and to understand that individual freedom is universal, precious and must be fiercely protected.

We need more people in the Senate intent on putting Godzilla back in its cage, but in the meantime I will bring argument, reason, pleading and occasionally, blackmail, to the fight.

David Leyonhjelm is the new NSW Senator representing the Liberal Democratic Party. He has worked in agribusiness for 30 years and may be contacted on

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David Leyonhjelm

David Leyonhjelm

has worked in agribusiness for 30 years and is a Senator for NSW representing the Liberal Democrats.
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30/06/2014 5:52:28 AM

While I agree with much of what you have said about the growing cost of Government David, I also note that you have no shame in being part of that cost by accepting over $1m of our money yourself from the AEC over and above the highly regulated $200k + perks you get annually from us. If you are such a libertarian, what about throwing the decision on MP's salaries and perks/costs back to the taxpayer and putting in some performance based system for salary reviews?
30/06/2014 6:04:03 AM

Having read about your policy to free or open up gun laws, legalise drugs, and homosexual marriages, and open our borders purely on a mercenary basis, I am not sure how fit you are to become the public hero on Government morality? That is not to say we don't need to address Government morality. We do. I would prefer the current elected PM over you for that task despite his human failings. And lets face it, he and his Coalition got genuinely elected, compared with you, under the LDP banner which got many donkey votes and got LP votes due to the word liberal cleverly woven into your name.
Chick Olsson
30/06/2014 6:38:27 AM

Best of luck David. Aussies need some maverick action to control the tide of big politics.
John Newton
30/06/2014 6:39:18 AM

Your election had nothing to do with your policies. It was a mistake because you stole a name and confused people. You are, as you admit, the Senator for Donkies. Bray away. You won't last.
30/06/2014 7:00:07 AM

Thank you David - glad to see some common sense in Canberra! With you all the way
30/06/2014 7:05:26 AM

The authors argument about bludging off the taxpayer might have had some credibility if he hadn't pocketed over a million dollars in electoral funding.
30/06/2014 7:28:34 AM

The only hope for this nation is a return to the management of the economy based on AUSTRIAN economics. Big government will lead us all back into the goolags where misery is shared equally.
30/06/2014 11:29:07 AM

If only life was so simple. The fact is that Australia's taxation levels are lower than most of the top OECD countries and the government provides a range of quality services Australians take for granted such as Medicare, education, welfare including for the aged, infirm, returned veterans. They all require public servants to administer. Or does David wants us to emulate American style capitalism, brutal for the unemployed and the working poor and fabulous for the rich and the corporations. I am sorry David but you have little to offer the Federal parliament and may your term be short.
30/06/2014 12:04:31 PM

David is certainly offering us the chance to see a shake up, the likes of which govt needs desperately. A while back I would have outright objected to any of his ideas. As time goes by I find govt has been at the heart of AGs troubles, perhaps u are on the right track. I disagree on topics like the abolition of bodies such as the Dept of Ag and research, the idea of Mega chem deciding whats good for us scares me greatly. I think farmers should have the right to veto what megachem releases to us, prior to product release. I feel many of their products may be wolves in sheeps clothing.
30/06/2014 2:29:32 PM

I hope that David is not so loose with his facts (30% of GDP in taxes - more like 23% in reality) when he is involved in something more important than spouting rhetoric through the media. Can we try some responsible commentary rather than inflammatory rhetoric?
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Agribuzz with David LeyonhjelmCommentary, news and analysis with agribusiness consultant David Leyonhjelm. Email David at


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