'Classic liberal' wants less government

09 Jul, 2014 03:15 PM
New Senator David Leyonhjelm is one of a handful of 'colourful' crossbenchers entering parliament.
I never liked being told what to do and I tend to assume others feel the same
New Senator David Leyonhjelm is one of a handful of 'colourful' crossbenchers entering parliament.

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.”

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Colin Bettles

Colin Bettles

is the national political writer for Fairfax Agricultural Media
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Old cowpoke
9/07/2014 3:56:41 PM

I'm not sure I'm as liberal as Senator Leyonhjelm however another approach to less government is to do away with the states altogether and form just two tiers - the Federal Government to handle defence, immigration, education, health and foreign affairs and a second tier (combining urban and regional councils) to look after the roads ,collect the garbage and do local policing and security. Think of what we would save in costs of bureaucracy and what we would gain in efficiency. A bonus would be to curtail the spread of big cities with the creation of regional growth centres .
9/07/2014 3:58:45 PM

Brilliant. Exactly what Australian Parliament needs.
9/07/2014 5:47:03 PM

Most of what you say David, (but not all), sounds very good for Australia. Good luck. We will all be watching you closely to see how you vote and behave in Parliament and judge you on your deeds much more powerfully than your words. After all, you would not be the first smooth tongued, smart talking MP, to say one thing and do another, or tell us you "did not say that", or, that you have been misquoted ". You are entitled to a honeymoon period. All the best.
9/07/2014 5:53:26 PM

Your message will resonate David, well done!
Jock Munro
10/07/2014 6:08:18 AM

Is the Senator Leyonhjelm the fellow who said that citizens should be allowed to bear arms?
John Newton
10/07/2014 6:24:51 AM

Two comments. Who create the largest government in the USA? Good ole boy George W, an advocate of small government. As for letting the free market run free, didn't that work with the GFC? I'm afraid the senator will only be around for a while.
10/07/2014 7:00:57 AM

I heard part of the Senators first speech. He came across like a statesman. If he is as good as his word his will be an interesting act to follow. However I do not agree with him on GM. But on less Govt. interference--------BRING IT ON .!!!
10/07/2014 7:12:07 AM

Sometimes citizens need to be governed particularly in areas where there is a conflict of interest between the rights of the individual at the expense of the wider community. Sometimes harm to others is not self evident as it takes time to manifest. They are usually indirect actions or lack there of made by many that only governments can remedy.
10/07/2014 9:47:08 AM

I'm all for less gov't, I would look forward to a country where farmers where not held to ransom by the public and corrupt practices. It will take a monumental effort
10/07/2014 10:01:57 AM

You are right Jock Munro. David's life story in this publication did say that he was in favor of gun freedom. My summing up of his story could go something like this - let us all play the game, (be it NRL, AFL, Business/Commerce, medicine, education, or life), with no rules and no referees. Imagine the NRL State of Origin, or AFL Grand Final under these "non conditions". It would descend into a blood bath. Having Government is democratic chaos. But David's alternative sounds more bizarre.
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