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Previous Names: none, but sometimes referred to as The Liberal Democratic Party
Slogans: Low Taxes. Small Government. Individual Responsibility.
Fighting for less government and more freedom
Themes: Get the government out of your business
Electorates: Upper House: New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and West Australia
Lower House: Aston, Ballarat, Banks, Bass, Bendigo, Bennelong, Berowra, Blair, Boothby, Braddon, Brisbane, Bruce, Capricornia, Casey, Chifley, Chisholm, Clark, Corangamite, Corio, Cowper, Cunningham, Deakin, Dickson, Dobell, Dunkley, Eden-Monaro, Fadden, Farrer, Fenner, Flinders, Forde, Fowler, Franklin, Fraser, Gellibrand, Gilmore, Gippsland, Goldstein, Greenway, Grey, Higgins, Holt, Hotham, Hume, Indi, Isaacs, Jagajaga, Kooyong, Lalor, La Trobe, Lilley, Lindsay, Lingiari, Longman, Lyne, Lyons, Macarthur, Macnamara, Macquarie, Maribyrnong, Mayo, McEwan, McMahon, McPherson, Melbourne, Menzies, Mitchell, Monash, Moncrieff, New England, Nicholls, North Sydney, Page, Parkes, Parramatta, Paterson, Petrie, Reid, Richmond, Riverina, Robertson, Ryan, Scullin, Shortland, Solomon, Sturt, Wannon, Wentworth, Werriwa & Whitlam
Preferences: The Liberal Democrats have chosen a small grouping of fellow travelers, leading off with United Australia and One Nation, followed by Morgan C Jonas at number 4. The Australian Federation Party and Australian Values Party bring up the rear, and it’s saying something that the AVP are probably the least crazy group in this listing.
Previous Reviews: 20192018 (VIC) — 2014 (VIC) — 20132010

Policies & Commentary

Looking back over Cate’s earlier commentaries on this party, it’s hard not to be struck by just how much the Liberal Democrats have pulled their collective head in. One searches their site in vain for even the mention of firearms, for example. But they remain the same group of Libertarians justifying their policies by highly selective readings from Adam Smith. The problem with their economic theory is that it’s almost entirely disengaged from the real world – it’s that mid-twentieth century idea of rational actors responding to perfect information. And they’ve just never met a policy that hasn’t been a disaster when tried in the United States without thinking “we should do that here!”

But soft! What are their actual policies? I’m so glad you asked. Leading the pack is their opposition to Covid Alarmism. And I have to say, compared to most of the anti-vax parties, they actually sound more or less sensible. They’re not denying the reality of covid, or constructing elaborate conspiracy theories about it: they simply believe that the government response was an over-reach inconsistent with our liberties. For example, they think the government failed Australians who were trapped overseas during the pandemic, a position that is hard to argue with (because it is, as it happens, 100% accurate). On the other hand, they’re opposed to school closures, lockdowns, mandatory mask rules and mandatory vaccinations, believing that all these things should be left up to the individual. You can see where their economic ideas come into play here: if we were all rational actors responding to perfect information, there’d be no problem. Do you recall a lot of rational activity or perfect information during the pandemic? Me neither.

On economic policy, it’s a mixed bag that shows that maybe, just maybe, the LDP is not as wedded to its principles as it would have you believe. For instance, they’d like to Abolish subsidies for renewable energy – and never mind that other forms of energy are much more highly subsidised, renewable energy must compete in the Free Market… even if no one else in their sector is. They also want to Abolish duplicate departments. The federal government does not run any hospitals or schools, yet still runs bloated Departments of Health and Education, staffed with bureaucrats. Because, for example, the National Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and all the universities will somehow simply organise themselves into existence. Not content with abolishing departments that we actually need, they also want to immediately reduce the budgets of all departments (except Defence) by 10%, and continue to cut an additional 1% a year from the budgets of all departments (except Defence). Because apparently defence, consistently the worst department in terms of cost overruns and delays, is fine, but everyone else needs to tighten their belts, because we have to balance that budget. Nevermind that balanced budgets actually have very little to do with actual economic performance – it’s a quick, simple-minded measure of how good a government (supposedly) is at economic policy. It’s lazy thinking, in short.

They also want to Defund the ABC & SBS. Let the ABC & SBS pay their own way through advertising, subscriptions and donations from their adoring fans. My word, is that actual sarcasm there? Never mind that one of the functions of the ABC is to be the national emergency broadcasting service, because what are the chances of Australia having some sort of emergency? Surely the last thing we need is accurate and up to date information on how to reach safety in the event of, say, a bushfire. Or a flood. Or a pandemic.

In terms of electoral reform, they want to introduce recall elections to replace unpopular candidates, apparently unaware that these are an enormous drain on time and resources, which would run counter to the idea of cutting government spending and reducing the size of bureaucracies that they’re so in love with, in addition to being a terrible idea. They want to make voting voluntary, which might or might not be a good idea (there are compelling arguments on both sides) and then there’s this:
Enable a citizens’ veto of any legislation. Citizens should also have the right to act as an effective third house of parliament, with the power to recall any legislation. A petition signed by a set percentage of the electoral roll to repeal any legislation should trigger a binding public vote on that legislation.
This is a very interesting idea, and I want to hear more about it, not least on whether the binding public vote is a referendum or not. But I can see where, with the right mechanisms, this could be a worthwhile additional to the legislative process. But overall, this is a mixed bag of policies – two which appear to be trying to combat voter disengagement while the middle one would exacerbate it.

They’re also climate denialists who are pushing nuclear power as the cleanest, safest and most reliable means of making grid-scale electricity, one which generates significantly less waste than solar energy. Both of these are absolutely remarkable claims, for which no evidence whatsoever is provided. I will grudgingly give them a point or two for at least mentioning nuclear waste disposal – all the other parties pushing nuclear energy tend to elide that part, but the LDP sees it for the profit-making opportunity that it is, so get ready for Australia’s future as a manufacturer of depleted uranium rounds, I guess.

Look, I’m going to stop here. You can read more on their site, if you like, but I’m sufficiently nauseated already. There are a few gems amidst the muck, but it’s mostly muck. And while many of the policies that Cate has railed against in the past are no longer mentioned here, I would be very surprised to learn that they have been abandoned entirely, especially those regarding firearms. The Liberal Democrats are very big on the idea of caveat emptor, but I wonder how much sympathy they have for the parallel idea of caveat sentio – especially when applied to them.

Just a reminder that Maz and I lack the necessary Eurovision knowledge to choose the songs that Catherine liked to include, but we’d love to see what you suggest in the comments below 🙂