NSW Liberal Democratic Party Senator David Leyonhjelm has declared he’s a proud “classic liberal”, and with eight minor and independent Senators on the crossbench, one of the most exciting periods in the Federal Senate is about to begin.
Senator Leyonhjelm - who writes a weekly column for FarmOnline - was officially sworn into the Senate on Monday and today became the first of the new members commencing their terms to deliver their maiden speech.
“In the service of this mission, at the outset I declare that I am proudly what some call a libertarian, though I prefer the term classical liberal,” he said.
“My undeviating political philosophy is grounded in the belief, expressed so clearly by John Stuart Mill, that ‘the only purpose for which power can be rightfully ever exercised over any member of a civilized community against his will, is to prevent harm to others’.
“I pledge to work tirelessly to convince my fellow Australians and their political representatives that our governments should forego their over-governing, over-taxing and over-riding ways.
“Governments instead should seek to constrain themselves to what John Locke advised so wisely more than 300 years ago – the protection of life, liberty and private property.”
Senator Leyonhjelm – a former veterinarian - has also declared he’d never vote for an increase in taxes or a reduction in liberty.
He said his belief in limited government differed from ‘left-wing’ people who want the government to control the economy but not our social lives and from ‘right-wing’ people who want the government to control our social lives but not the economy.
“Classical liberals support liberty across the board,” he said.
“I never liked being told what to do and I tend to assume others feel the same.
“The simple rule: do not do unto others what you would rather them not do to you, has always driven my thinking.”
Senator Leyonhjelm said but for the Whitlam government’s election, he would have either served two years in the army or gone to gaol, as he refused to register for national service.
“Being forced to serve in the army, with the potential to be sent to Vietnam, was a powerful education in excessive government power,” he said.
He also expressed views on abortion in his speech, saying those opposed to abortion or in favour of conscription, were not interested in trying to debate their opponents.
He said instead “they sought to seize the levers of government power and impose their views on everyone else”.
Senator Leyonhjelm said reducing any kind of taxes would always have his support and he’d “always oppose measures that restrict free markets and hobble entrepreneurship”.
Free speech is fundamental to liberty and it is not the government’s role to save people from their feelings, he said.
“Liberty is eroded when we are prohibited from doing something that causes harm to nobody else, irrespective of whether we personally approve or would do it ourselves,” he said.
“I don’t use marijuana and don’t recommend it except for medical reasons, but it is a matter of choice.
“I don’t smoke and I drink little, but it’s unreasonable for smokers and drinkers to be punished for their alleged excesses via so-called ‘sin taxes’.
“Liberty includes the right to make bad choices.”
Senator Leyonhjelm said wile he sat in the federal parliament, he didn’t approve of the extent of its power.
He said the property rights of rural landowners have been undermined by bans on clearing native vegetation, “imposed at the behest of the Commonwealth in order to meet the terms of a treaty Australia had yet to ratify.
“Environmental fanatics are not omniscient geniuses: they don’t know enough to tell other people how to live their lives any more than I do,” he said.
“Indeed, they are the same people who engage in anti-GMO pseudoscience, pseudoscience that is not just nonsense, but murderous nonsense.
“I view my election as an opportunity to help Australia rediscover its reliance on individualism, to reignite the flame of entrepreneurship, and to return government to its essential functions.
“There is much to be done.”