Features Australia

In praise of Australia's Liberal Democrats

Far from being dismissed, David Leyonhjelm may spark a genuine libertarian renaissance

21 September 2013

9:00 AM

21 September 2013

9:00 AM

Anyone of good sense, or with a political sensibility placing them to the right of Lenin, couldn’t help but celebrate on Saturday 7 September. Electoral defeat of a disintegrating and duplicitous Labor government was a glorious event. But for Australians whose souls burn with the flame of liberty, that day delivered an additional and more important victory: the election of David Leyonhjelm to the senate.

The real significance of the Liberal Democrat’s senate seat win was lost in the media furore. Stories and interviews hammered home a few points: the novelty of new independent parties achieving representation; the preference deals that got them there; the ‘donkey vote’ position of the Liberal Democratic party on the ballot; the confusion of some voters who may have mistaken the Liberal Democrats for the Liberals.

The only Liberal Democrat policy repeatedly referenced by the media — always out of context — was the party’s support of the right of citizens to own firearms for self-defence. This has long been dismissed by most Australian pundits as some loopy idea imported from the US by home-grown ‘gun nuts’. But when America’s Founding Fathers drafted the second amendment to the US constitution — unlike most of today’s commentariat — they were not operating in an historical nor an intellectual vacuum. The Founders were aware that the right to keep and bear arms was an ancient one, long established in British common law, and finally codified in England’s 1689 Bill of Rights. They had read Aristotle, Locke, Machiavelli and scores of other western thinkers who all understood that this right was indivisible from the absolute right of the individual to self-defence. Moreover, America had just won a war of independence, a conflict sparked by the British Empire’s attempt to disarm American colonists at Concord and Lexington. The Founders knew first hand that abdicating force to an overreaching government would spell the death of liberty.

What struck me when I spoke to senator-elect Leyonhjelm this week was that like America’s Founders, he too was not living in a vacuum. His political philosophy had taken decades of thought — and decades of real world experience — to form. In youth, his nascent distaste for authority was further informed by the Vietnam era draft. Imbued with the bright-eyed socialistic leanings shared by many young men and women, he’d travelled behind the Iron Curtain and to communist countries in Africa. Witnessing the hideous realities of collectivism soon cured him of leftist delusions. Later in life, the works of free-market economist Milton Friedman helped cement his philosophical move to classical liberalism.

While the Liberal Democrats’ firearms policy is unique in this country, so is their entire platform. They are the only party upholding the ideals of classical liberalism. They support your right to smoke what you want, marry who you want, gamble when you want, own what you want, trade with whom you want, run your business the way you want, defend yourself when threatened and pay as little tax as possible (so don’t worry Libs, Leyonhjelm won’t oppose the scrapping of carbon, mining, or any other taxes). The party’s website outlines an extensive platform, informed by a powerful philosophy: folks should be free to live unhindered by senseless and despotic government regulations.

If you believe in liberty, you can’t pick and choose rights. You can’t just support those individual rights that complement your temperament and taste, but spit on those that don’t. Denying the freedom of others makes you a tyrant. This applies even in a democracy. Even if you are in the majority, if you disagree with a certain right and your vote helps outlaw it, that doesn’t make you justified, it just means you belong to the tyranny of the majority. Shame on you if you do. More so if you pay lip-service to the ideals of liberalism.

Being a true liberal — today the term libertarian better reflects this position — means that you are often embattled by both the Right and Left establishment (intrusive government is a blight long nurtured by both sides of mainstream politics). It also means yours is a voice of reason in a world where ‘bipartisanship’ has become code for a two-party duopoly introducing overreaching policies that only benefit power-broking special interests and a control-hungry bureaucratic machine. In a recent internet panel discussion, Julian Assange recognised this trend in America: ‘The only hope as far as electoral politics is concerned in the United States presently is the libertarian section of the Republican party… It will be the driver that shifts the United States around. It’s not going to come from the Democrats. It’s not going to come from Ralph Nader. It’s not going to come from the co-opted parts of the Republican party.’

This resurgence of libertarianism among Republicans owes much to Ron Paul. The retired Texas congressman’s steadfast philosophy was marginalised for decades, but paved the way not just for his son Rand Paul (Republican Senator from Kentucky, and 2016 presidential hope for liberty-minded Americans), but a growing cadre of other libertarians.

Leyonhjelm acknowledges the influence or Ron Paul on Liberal Democratic policy. Indeed, when the senator-elect speaks — ‘There are two guiding principles that determine our approach to legislation: We would never vote for an increase in taxes and we would never vote for a reduction in liberty’ — you can hear the spirit of freedom channelled not just from Paul, but from centuries of liberal thought. All too often Australia’s Liberal party loses sight of this original mandate. ‘The political middle ground is now left of where it once was’, Leyonhjelm tells me. ‘We have to shame the Liberal party into moving in our direction.’ And while aware he is now just ‘one voice’ in the senate, the Liberal Democrat’s ‘aspiration’ is that his will be ‘the first of many’.

Just as the once solitary figure of Ron Paul paved the way for what is now the only alternative in American politics, David Leyonhjelm may well spark a libertarian renaissance here. This is the real significance of his election to the senate. As George Washington once recognised, ‘Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth.’

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  • Ray

    Excellent article.

  • Hugh Halloran

    It’s a small victory, but I – convinced is not the right word – ‘encouraged’ three friends to vote LDP in the election. Once they had read the party’s policies, they were more than happy to do so; they simply hadn’t realised a party that supported such aims existed. (Fortunately, we’re all under 40yo too; our votes aren’t just those of grumpy old men, or women in one case, in other words.)

    I don’t agree with everything the LDP suggests, but one of the telling lines in the article – “If you believe in liberty, you can’t pick and choose rights. You can’t
    just support those individual rights that complement your temperament
    and taste, but spit on those that don’t.” – hits the nail on the head.

    • Bob_Robert

      The wonderful thing about liberty is, if you don’t like something then don’t do it.

      Govt regulation is just as much “you MUST do this, you MUST do that” as it is “you CAN’T do this, you CAN’T do that”. Liberty is about having the choice to say No as much as it is about Yes.

      Personal responsibility, individual Liberty.

      • Trilby

        Small government is the key. If people don’t want to live in a part of the country which is run a certain way, they can bugger off to live in a different part which is run the way they like it.
        Don’t like the idea of a right to self-defence? Bugger off to a part of the country where other people who feel the same. Don’t like the idea of gays being able to marry? Just go where people feel the same. Want to grow dope and get high all day? Good for you, pack your bags and head to Nimbin.
        But nobody should be able to take away the rights of other people simply because they don’t like them themselves. Biggest bloody hypocrisy of all. So many damn bleeding hearts who want to take away gun rights but give more gay rights. Now, I don’t have a problem with gays, I have a few friends who happen to be that way inclined. Hell, I reckon that if they want to be able to get married then have a messy effing divorce and have to organize splitting everything up between them, let them. No skin off my back.
        But there is a very clear hypocrisy in granting one set of minority rights while stripping another set of fundamental rights (even if only a minority still believe in them).
        I believe all people have the freedom to live in a place they feel comfortable with their government, or to relocate to a place where they do feel comfortable with their government. And that right there is the problem we have with Federal structure and large scale government, because so much bullshit stays the same throughout all the states and there’s no where to go but overseas, which costs an arm and a leg and if you’ve got a record because you’ve fucked up in the past, then there’s a lot of shit you can just kiss goodbye.

        • Bob_Robert

          Being an anarchist, I agree that small government is key. So small, in fact, that it can be ignored.

          • Trilby

            I used to be an anarchist, but I can’t really be one anymore since I believe in a degree of regulation. That said, I believe that degree must be MUCH smaller than it currently is
            I believe that the “regulation” (restriction) of rights leads not to a safer society, but an irresponsible society. Rights are accompanied by responsibilities, and to deny individual rights is to deny individual responsibility.
            I guess you could say that I’m a minarchist. I believe there should be some organized system of justice, because there will always be murderers and rapists and thieves and other individuals who act only considering their best interests. I believe here should be some system to regulate commercial enterprise to ensure that runaway monopolization and unjust business practices are prevented, or at the very least penalized. You get the idea.
            However, I also believe that the decentralization of these systems is not only a possibility, but also also the best means of running such systems in a way which mitigates the potential for corruption.

            You should correspond with me, I think you have ideas I would like to hear and I have ideas which you may like to hear. Slaughter_The_Gods@hotmail.com.

          • Bob_Robert

            Good to meet you.

            I cannot go along with several point, because I don’t believe in enforcing opinion at gunpoint. For example, “unjust business practices”. If their customers believe them to be unjust, then the business will fail.

            Monopolization is a feature of regulation, so using regulation to “prevent” some someone’s opinion of what is and is not a monopoly doesn’t work for me either.

            Thank you, you’ve given these things far more thought and consideration than most, and for that I expect we’ll get along fine.

          • GraemeScott

            Customer selection only works in an environment in a perfectly informed consumer. At the very least, regulation should enforce transparancy and honesty in business as a first and foremost concern, and aiding the customer in being able to be duly and appropriately informed.
            I actually agree with our food labelling laws for example.

          • Bob_Robert

            “an environment in a perfectly informed consumer”

            Not at all. Not just that “perfect information” is impossible, also that consumers pick from what they know about. That’s why advertising and marketing work.

            Complaining that others don’t make good choices is just sour grapes.

            “regulation should enforce transparancy and honesty”

            Then do so. Go ahead and work for Underwriters Labs, Consumer Reports, or found your own business or charity to look out for people. If it’s good, I’ll likely contribute myself. However, putting a gun to my head to pay for something you want is just robbery.

            “I actually agree with our food labelling laws for example”

            Such labeling laws are redundant and wasteful. Don’t buy from any company that doesn’t label their products, problem solved. No law needed.

            Just like “green” or “organic” products. No law was required, they became selling points all by themselves, and companies realized they could charge more (make higher profits) by giving people what they considered “better” things.

            Let me give you and example: The company that makes aspartame wanted it redesgnated, by law, as a “spice”, so that it would stop showing up on the legally required labels.

            By making something a “law”, people start fighting about it. Rather than cooperate, it becomes “winner takes all” where the more politically connected get to force their opinions on everyone else.

          • Bob_Robert

            I could just as easily say that effective regulation would require a perfectly informed, perfectly altruistic regulator, two things that also cannot exist. Perfect information cannot exist, and everyone acts in their own self interest, including regulators.

            Just like everything else, the consumer will get what they demand. Demand factual labeling and entrepreneurs will provide it. Those that are false can be sued for fraud, and I doubt there will be any lack of consumer advocacy lawyers (a-la Erin Brockovitch) ready to make a name for themselves by holding company’s feet to the fire.

            “aiding the customer in being able to be duly and appropriately informed.”

            The most effective advocates are interested people working together. Regulatory Capture takes care of government “regulators” and makes sure that the biggest firms get away with anything they want while crushing competition in the name of “regulation”.

            We agree on the goals, certainly. May we achieve truth in labeling by whatever means. Peace.

  • Ryan B

    Just a fluke due to preference deals. Australian liberalism has no history of this stupid nonsense and we never will. It’s unAustralian and the electorate will never vote for it, as they didn’t this election.

    • Ray Chandler

      You sound like a dazed and disappointed loser. UnAustralian? I’ve always seen Australians as a freedom-loving people, just as Americans used to be and I hope will be again.

    • James

      You must be one of those Australians who bends over and takes it in the arse like your Cricket and Rugby teams…

      • Christopher Hoare

        Last time Australia played in England in both those sports it was the Australians who won.

        So what was your point again?

    • disqus_zXLbNfw1Yi

      “It’s unAustralian and the electorate will never vote for it…”
      – you can recognize an authoritarian when they presume to speak for

      • Christopher Hoare

        Just as the article did in its very first sentence.

    • Well, classical liberalism had no history in Britain before the Charter of Liberties. Someone gave it voice, so it became Magna Carta, and eventually a Bill of Rights. In the case of internet discourse, scepticism like yours is more readily refuted. I doubt it will take as much time this time round given popular discontent and the fact that most people are not against liberty, like you they don’t believe its possible. Get LDP to 10% of the vote, and watch how quickly they become 30%, then 50%. We might be as little as 10 years away, or 3 years from a sanction. The issue for me is political identity. Libertarianism for most people = conservatism for small govt. There is no integrity there. So long as libertarianism is simply a political movement and not a coherent ideology, then its going to flounder. I’m going to help it so, by holding you people to account. That is your next lesson. Its the incoherency in libertarian advocates as well as the broader community which is holding it back.

  • Alexsander Rosa

    CLAP, CLAP, CLAP… The best article I read in years.

  • NakedJusticeLeague

    Hopefully, the some sort of attitude will come to America. However, the problem with the U.S. is the universal right to vote. The mobs will vote for the politician that gives them the biggest handouts from the treasury, While this election in Australia is a good sign, lets hope that these ideas stay in force.

  • KitKat

    Great article. I have looked at their website, and will definately go to the next meeting.

  • mikewaller

    Let us do a deal; if Aussies go for this stupid tosh in big way, could we arrange a one for one swap in which those in the UK who like such ideas would be sent to Australia with a matching Australian who thinks them incredibly stupid twaddle, coming over here. Thus two countries would get more of what they wanted. That said, with all those guns around, Oz would soon be doing more for a very desirable reduction in the world’s population than we would.

    • Trilby

      Spoken like a true elitist hoplophobe. You obviously haven’t done any actual research on gun control. But you know at least you’re suggesting a rational compromise, even if you’re making the flawed assumption that a higher rate of firearm possession will lead to a higher rate of mortality.

  • Christopher Hoare

    While I would cautiously welcome the overall policies of the LDP, I fear for its long-term future for two reasons:
    1. It will be hijacked by single issue extremists (e.g. redneck gun enthusiasts, or gay marriage enthusiasts) who will misrepresent the overarching goals of the party. This has already happened with the Tea Party in the US.
    2. There is too much emphasis on the rights of the individual and not enough on emphasizing that along with those rights should come a sense of thoughtful responsibility. A society is a collective – as such, in order for society to function effectively, the rights of the individual must bow to the collective rights of society. Getting that balance right is very difficult, particularly when considering slogans such as “you can’t pick and choose rights”.

    • marlow44

      “A society is a collective – as such, in order for society to function
      effectively, the rights of the individual must bow to the collective
      rights of society.” Just what are those “societal” rights? Who decides? Contra your view, only individuals exist. “Society” has no existence absent those individuals. Thus any “societal” rights must derive from those of the individuals. Buying into the idea of “society’s” rights, and that they conflict with those of the individual, whose rights “must bow to the collective rights of society” is a prescription for the evisceration of individual freedom and mass, oppressive servitude..

      • Christopher Hoare

        What are societal rights? Who decides them? These are questions that could equally be asked of the individual.

        And when individuals’ rights come into conflict, which comes out on top? This is the fundamental problem with libertarianism – taken to its logical end point, it results in anarchy. It’s just a whole bunch of individual rights, existing in a vacuum.

        And despite your ludicrously strong language, I live in what I consider to be a free, open society. I’m quite happy with the balance between the rights of the individual and the rights of the society in which I live in.

        You sound like a pretty sad and paranoid individual.

        • Bob_Robert

          “What are societal rights?”

          There are no such things. There are only individuals.

          • Christopher Hoare

            When you return from living alone on an island and rejoin society we can have a sensible conversation.

          • Bob_Robert

            You are welcome to show me any society without individuals that you know of.

            While you’re looking around for such a thing, I be without Mexican culture, without Sudanese culture, without Indian culture, and get along just fine.

            In other words, collectives do not exist without individuals, yet individuals exist without collectives. It’s called “logic”, you should get some.

          • Christopher Hoare

            Where did I say society exists without individuals? Please don’t make stuff up to fit your own lack of sensible argument.

            I presume you do live in a country that has a culture of its own and that you interact with others within that culture? If so, and this is probably going to come as a shock to you, but that means you are part of a society. In order for the individuals to function within that society, they need to operate within that society’s laws (i.e. the individual does not have unfettered freedom to do whatever he or she wants). The individual has some rights, of course, but not complete freedom. There is a balance, which is what I said in my original post.

            So how about you a) engage your brain and think beyond your fantasy-land ideology, and b) go back and read what I actually wrote (as opposed to what you THINK I wrote).

          • Bob_Robert

            Good sir, you can run and hide all you want. Anyone who reads your “When you return from living alone on an island and rejoin society” will know exactly what you meant, regardless of how much you backpedal when challenged.

            “this is probably going to come as a shock to you,”

            More personal attacks, eh? Good sir, again I challenge you: Show me a society without individuals.

            “The individual has some rights, of course, but…”

            Ah, you’re a Fascist. People have rights, but only the ones YOU like. Only the ones YOU approve of.

            “There is a balance”

            No. There are only individuals.

            When people accept responsibility for their actions, there is harmony.

            When the rulers do what they want, there is tyranny.

            “go back and read what I actually wrote”

            I did. Maybe you should.

          • Christopher Hoare

            Backpedalling? I think not!

            “again I challenge you: Show me a society without individuals.”

            Why? How many times do I need to repeat myself – I never said this. This is something you’ve dreamed up yourself.

            You’re calling me a fascist? Based on what? Again, you’re making things up (you seem to be very fond of this). Where did I say people should only have the rights that I like/approve of?

            “There are only individuals.” So what is a State, a country, a family? They are collectives. It’s a pretty simple concept, but you seem to be either in denial or ignorant.

            “When people accept responsibility for their actions, there is harmony.”

            This statement is utter rubbish. Most terrorists take responsibility for the actions – yet their actions are anything but harmonious.

            “When rulers…” – finally you say something sensible that I can agree with!

          • Bob_Robert

            “I think not!”


            “I never said this.”

            Bullshit. I mention individuals, you say I live on an island alone. AN ISLAND ALONE. Get it? AN ISLAND ALONE.

            You said it.

            “You’re calling me a fascist?”

            Yes. The fact that you put “society” above the individual, that you want to restrict the rights of the individual in favor of this fantasy “society” as if “society” isn’t just individuals, makes you a Fascist.

            Or Socialist. Take your pick.

            You don’t like it? Then change your mind.

            “Most terrorists take responsibility for the actions”

            You should take some time and look up what motivates terrorists. Real ones, not government agents. Hopelessness, powerlessness, against big states.

            Remember big states? Those are things YOU say are more important than individuals.

          • Christopher Hoare

            Gosh you’re getting aggressive. This usually happens when somebody’s arguments start to fall over and they realise they’re caught out being the illogical and laughably simplistic idealogues they really are.

            As you seemed to reject the notion that you live in a society, I can only presume you live on an island by yourself. Is this not the case? If not, then maybe you should acknowledge the obvious and admit that you (an individual) live in a society (a collection of individuals). And unless you consistently break laws, then you also need to admit that you live within the rules set by that society (these rules are set by the government and are known as laws). Hey, look at that – your rights are being subsumed by that of society!

            And just because I like living in a society that has rules that benefit the members of that society doesn’t make me either a fascist or a socialist. I’m simply a reasonable citizen.

            It seems being reasonable and accepting balance in my life is something that causes you great angst. Maybe you should work on your anger issues?

          • Bob_Robert

            “As you seemed to reject the notion that you live in a society”

            That, right there, is the mistake you keep making. You are asserting as “fact” something that is not true, and then when you supposedly “disprove” that “fact”, you pretend you’ve done something constructive.

            So, since your entire argument is based on a false statement, your conclusions are false.

            “Maybe you should work on your anger issues?”

            Good sir, look at the GUN IN YOUR HAND, pointed at the head of those who merely disagree with you. Can you see it? Because if you can’t, then it’s not me who has a problem.

          • Christopher Hoare

            No I don’t have a gun my hand.

            Which means I can now quote your own words back at you – tour argument is based on a false statement, and therefore your conclusion is false.

          • Bob_Robert

            “No I don’t have a gun my hand.”

            The gun in your hand is the VIOLENCE by which you enforce those prohibitions and requirements which you support, against those who disagree with you. You called them “rights of society”.

            The gun in your hand is the state. They act with your support, your finger might as well be on the trigger.

            By respecting other people, I have no use for the gun which is the state, to enforce my opinion against others. Sadly, you call that “living alone on an island”.

            So be it. I’m happy to live at peace with my fellow human beings.

        • marlow44

          You are correct about one thing. “Libertarianism – taken to its logical end point, it results in anarchy”. But for libertarians it is anarchy in its original Greek meaning – no rulers, not no rules, and certainly not bomb throwing terrorists. This result is based on the ethical principle that violence or threats of violence are only legitimate defensively. While many people would say they agree, libertarians go further in holding government to this standard. And since government claims a monopoly of force which it frequently initiates, it is fundamentally immoral. As to the US being an “free, open society” I presume you are forgetting the Patriot Act’s crushing of 4th amendment protections and Edward Snowden’s revelations of NSA recording every bit of digital information on everyone. These examples just scratch the surface of governmental threat to liberty. I hope you can see that these government activities are rife with possibility for abuse, especially as government continuously seeks to expand its powers – at the expense of the people’s freedoms and property.

          • Christopher Hoare

            The trouble is there is no one definition of libertarianism – it’s really choose your own adventure for many people. Limited government – well what does that mean exactly? How limited/small/non-intrusive does it need to be? Until there is some semblance of order around what libertarianism actually means (apart from vague idealistic phrases) its very difficult to take the concept seriously.

            Nothing wrong with holding governments to account – but sometimes that’s ignoring the idea that government is simply a reflection of society. When we criticise government behaviour, the uncomfortable truth is that we are essentially criticising ourselves! “Government is fundamentally immoral”? Perhaps so – I suspect we agree with each other, but for different reasons.

            I agree absolutely with you that any government activity is open to the possibility of abuse. But that is the case for any entity – governments at any level, corporations, businesses, other organisations and individuals. Anyone who holds any position of power over anyone else has the possibility to abuse that power. We should always be vigilant for abuse of power wherever it appears.

            So the NSA has the ability to read my email? So what? Have they? If so, have they actually done anything about it? How have they used that data to impact on my life in anyway? I find it really difficult to get upset about this unless they actually did something. You know, like Google, Facebook, your ISP, etc all do. Surely those businesses are more worthy of your ire than the government?

          • marlow44

            Likewise, must it not be even more difficult to take Republicans (conservatives) and Democrats (liberals) seriously in that there is enormous differences within these groups.

            I cannot agree that criticism of government is criticism of ourselves. In fact, criticizing government is shorthand for criticizing those officials who are responsible for objectionable behavior. When many of us criticize government courts for punishing peaceful, consensual acts – drug use, prostitution – it is not ourselves we criticize but rather those who, under color of law – condemn those others to prison. Further , regarding your point that businesses are more worthy of my ire than businesses, it is not businesses that have given the US the world’s largest prison system, imprisoning hundreds of thousands for non-violent drug infractions, in ways that disproportionally impact minorities. It is government, not business, that authorizes drone strikes on wedding parties that kill whole families of innocents in Pakistan.

            Would that Google, Facebook, etc. had the courage of Lavabit to refuse government strong arm attempts to coerce release of customer details.

            Just one example of the chilling effect on investigative journalism by NSA snooping: if confidential sources fear their identity may be discovered and exposed due to NSA warrantless eavesdropping they will be much less willing to divulge important information. Then too, there is the very real danger that government agencies may blackmail their adversaries with threat of revealing private details of the person’s life, much as the FBI kept a dossier on Martin Luther king’s sexual activities.

          • Christopher Hoare

            I agree with you that the big political parties are finding it increasingly difficult to provide a clear direction for themselves. In the US, the GOP is being torn apart from within by Tea Party sympathiszers, and in Australia the Labor Party is wrestling with the changing demographics of the country which has seen its natural supporter base shrink.

            When you say government courts, what do you mean? Are you referring to the court that is a requirement of the US Constitution? I take it you have problems with the Constitution then. That is your right of course…

            And how is it the government’s fault the US has such an appalling crime rate?

            “if”, “may”, “danger” – as I said, when the government actually does something that impacts on my freedom to go about my life then I’ll be worried. Until then it’s all speculation and chicken little stuff.

            And if you think the government is the bigger threat to your life’s freedoms than business, then you are one seriously deluded individual.

          • marlow44

            You would have to explain how business is the far greater danger. While certainly those businesses – generally large corporations – that rely on political influence to obtain special favors are a danger, such as Halliburton and the whole military industrial complex, I don’t see those that survive or fail based upon their ability to attract willing customers as dangerous. Regarding the major players, the distinction between government and business is difficult to discern. For example, look at the old boy network wherein Goldman Sachs executives are routinely made Sec. of Treasury and use that position to benefit their corporate allies. But most businesses are a boon, providing needed products and services, providing employment, improving our quality of life. They could, of course, like any private individual, engage in fraud or commit other crimes but then they risk severe legal repercussions.

          • Christopher Hoare

            “They risk severe legal repercussions”? Come on now – don’t be naive. Please let me know which large multi-nationals have had any “severe” repercussions for breaking the law.

            It’s the large companies who are the greatest abusers of power, and who get away with it. At best they pay a fine (which generally amounts to nothing more than an accounting error), or are actually rewarded for their actions!

          • marlow44

            Perhaps I was not clear enough, but my reference to “severe legal repercussions” was to “most businesses”, those thousands and thousands who work desperately to navigate endlessly changing regulations,hoping to earn a living for their owners families, often spending enormous hours. And, yes, they do face severe repercussions, often due to inadvertent violations of regulatory agencies rules. The politically connected officials of large corporations enjoy limited liability of which i do not approve. At this point I will depart from this conversation. Thank you for your comments.

          • Christopher Hoare

            Yes, fair point!

            Thanks for the discussion…:)

          • Trilby

            “And how is it the government’s fault the US has such an appalling crime rate?”
            Three words buddy:
            War On Drugs.

          • Christopher Hoare

            Are you a member of the Australian Liberal Party? They like nonsensical three word slogans too.

          • Trilby

            Actually no, I’m not a member nor a supporter of any party yet. But after doing some research, I think that I’ve just found the one I can believe in.
            By the way, you avoided the point that I raised with my reply.

          • Christopher Hoare

            I didn’t avoid your point. I simply illustrated that you’ve given an incredibly simplistic response to a very complicated problem.

            But I do agree with you that (assuming you’re going to use three word slogans to argue a point of view) the debate will be fruitless.

            Glad you’ve done research to come to a point of view though. Many people don’t appear to actually make that effort. I may disagree with your decision, but I genuinely applaud you for taking the time…:)

        • Jim Bones

          Individual rights are not decided by the individual, they are decided by man’s nature as man (by reality).
          There is no conflict between the individual rights of people as individual rights do not create contractions. Please give any example of a conflict?
          Anarchy is not the conclusion of individual rights as rights can only be upheld by a rights protecting government.

    • Bob_Robert

      The “Tea” parties in the US were coopted by the Republican party, exactly as #Occupy was taken by the Democrat party. Divide and conquer works very well, and the two faces of the Party Of Govt Power know how to do it very, very well.

      Your impression of a lack of individual responsibility is just your impression. I assure you, if you brought up that idea in discussion with the folks there, saying something like, “But what if there were no prohibitions at all, just responsibility for any harm people end up doing?”, you would find a LOT of support for exactly that.

      Liberty is not _license_. Liberty is not insulation from the results of one’s actions. Liberty is having the choice, and the responsibility.

      Unlike every other “political” position, Liberty is the policy of adults.

      • Christopher Hoare

        I think you’re over-reaching a little with your hypothesis about the GOP taking over the Tea Party. It’s more that people who identify with any/all of the Tea Party ideas would usually fit more comfortably on the Right side of politics rather than the Left. Ironically the Tea Party represents more of a threat the GOP than the Democrats. In the same way that the Greens are a threat to Labor in Australia.

        At the end of the day, extremists on either side of politics are dangerous. They’re usually far too dogmatic and wedded to ideology to be willing to work with anyone who doesn’t share their views. As such your last sentence is disappointing.

        • Bob_Robert

          You have cause and effect backwards.

          The Republican party undermined and coopted the Tea party because Republicans publicly espouse the same sort of rhetoric. So why any Tea part in the first place? Because the Republican party does not ACT on that rhetoric.

          I find it sad that you call anyone outside of one or two “parties” to be “extremist”. Why do you want people to subsume their own opinions into someone else’s party?

          Do you really believe people are so plastic that other’s “extreme” opinions are “dangerous”? That, and I quote, “the Greens are a threat to Labor in Australia”?

          Opinions are not dangerous. Governments are very dangerous. Yet here I am defending differing opinion, while you are supporting government.

          • Christopher Hoare

            I don’t call anyone outside the main political parties extremist. You continue to (I assume deliberately) misinterpret my words to fit your own ideology.

            And I stand by my words that the Greens are a threat to Labor. As Labor’s traditional supporter base (blue collar, unionised workers) is shrinking, they are finding it difficult to represent anyone with any clarity. There has been a steady stream of left-leaning supporters (who a generation ago would have voted for Labor), who now vote Greens.

            I have no problem with differing opinions – in fact I welcome it. It’s the main reason I am continuing with this very discussion! Don’t you recognise that?

            The trouble is that you can’t seem to accept that I don’t share your fear of government. I believe that government can always be improved, but it is not inherently dangerous. And as members of government are elected members of a country’s citizenship, they are (by definition) a reflection, or a part of, society).

          • Bob_Robert

            “the Greens are a threat to Labor”

            How about looking at it in the opposite direction? The Labor party isn’t satisfying their customers, so the customers are going elsewhere. If this organization, the “Labor Party”, is not satisfying their customers, it’s a good thing if they loose those customers. Either the Labor party will change, and earn their customers back, or they will go out of business.

            Burger King is a “threat” to MacDonald’s, but I don’t stay up nights worrying about the demise of the Big Mac.

            “you can’t seem to accept that I don’t share your fear of government”

            Accept? That’s absurd. Of course I accept the fact. The sky is also blue.

            You do not understand the nature of the state. If you did, you would be afraid. Very afraid.

          • Christopher Hoare

            I agree with you about the Labor Party adapting or dying. Looks like the Republican Party in the US is facing the same challenges at the moment.

            And you’re very wrong about assuming (there you go again – making assumptions based on no evidence) that I don’t understand the nature of the state. I have both studied it academically and worked with two levels of it. I understand it VERY well. Which is why I don’t fear it.

            Most people only fear things they don’t understand, so obviously your chicken little routine is born out of ignorance.

          • Bob_Robert

            “I understand it VERY well. Which is why I don’t fear it.”

            Which I disagree. Good. We understand each other.

            “obviously your chicken little routine is born out of ignorance”

            And there you go again, being a shithead and assuming that which is very much not in evidence.

          • Christopher Hoare

            You’ve actually given plenty of evidence, but you’ll deny it of course.

            And calling me names? That’s real classy and grown up of you. Careful your mother doesn’t find out and take away your internet access.

          • Bob_Robert

            “You’ve actually given plenty of evidence, but you’ll deny it of course.”

            Evidence of ignorance? Hardly. Impoliteness, sure. I get tired of the same old crap from people day after day.

            “And calling me names?”

            No. I said “being a shithead”, I did not say “Hey, Shithead”.

            Just as saying, “being a human” would not be “Hey, Human”, thus not calling you the name Human, but describing you as human.

            Now, back to your calling me ignorant. Oh, were you calling me names? “Hey, Ignorant”? Shall I use the same standards of language you do?

            Understanding the naked violence that is government action is what causes me to fear it. Seeing people killed every day by their own governments, living under layer after layer of government all with armed agents all with Sovereign Immunity, that is what makes me fear the govt.

            To call that “fear from ignorance” is, well, ignorant. Or, your head is full of shit. You’ve already denied ignorance, so I’m left with …. aww, I don’t want to hurt your feelings again.

            Can we agree to disagree, or shall you continue to demonstrate your ignorance of the nature of government?

          • Christopher Hoare

            I’m surprised you have the courage to get out of bed every day. You seem terrified. But that’s your decision. Me – I’m educated enough to not live in such a state.

            As you seem to have degenerated into using gutter language rather than engaging in any rational discussion, I shall leave you to it. Good luck dealing with all that fear buddy!

          • Bob_Robert

            “I’m surprised you have the courage to get out of bed every day.”

            Funny! That just has to be repeated. I am so very impressed. Such eloquence, such insight.

            “I’m educated enough to not live in such a state.”

            Wow. Care to share the name of the Shangri-la where govt agents don’t harm anyone? With 200.000.000 dead at the hands of their own governments in the 20th century alone, and the 21st shaping up to follow suit, not including wars, that is a rare place.

            Switzerland, maybe? Oh, wait, the people there are not just safe, they’re armed to the teeth. You would call that “fear” so it’s not Switzerland.

            Even the Canadian police kill people, so I’m stuck. You’ll just have to tell me or walk away the winner, because you’ve stumped me. Congratulations. From your description, I have no idea what country you’re in.

    • Trilby

      I smell a socialist….

      • Christopher Hoare

        I trust you don’t rely on your sense of smell then…

    • Jim Bones

      A society is not an entity; it is simply a collection of individuals and as such can have no rights outside of the rights of the individuals themselves. To suggest otherwise is to destroy the entire concept of individual rights and to support tyranny.

  • Ernst Preuss

    Well said David!… Sadly modern Australians are scared shitless of having actual freedoms.

    • arthur brogard

      I think that’s right… well, feel it’s right… it just ‘feels’ like a constricting, restricting environment rather than a free one….

      One knows not to talk to strangers about encouraging any kind of freedom at all….

      Talk to strangers about restricting freedoms, about restricting people, catching people, imprisoning people, hurting people… and they’ll listen and probably agree…

      It’s Un-Australian. I feel. It is how Australia feels but it is not how Australia is supposed to feel.

      It’s paradoxical.

      I can sum it up like this, I think: Australia feels like ‘Advance Australia Fair’ sung on command by stuffed shirt robots and their lackeys. Australia is supposed to feel like Waltzing Matilda sung by defiant free spirits with little else to support them but their own courage and mateship.

      This Lib Dem thing doesn’t talk like that but it’s closer to it than the other two…

  • John Henningham

    While it’s good to see a libertarian elected to an Australian parliament, it would be a pity if libertarianism were framed only in terms of gun laws. Indeed, there is a libertarian case for gun control: http://www.walterblock.com/wp-content/uploads/publications/theory_gun_control.pdf

  • A good addition to this would be Murray Rothbard’s essay “Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty;” Google it and it will come up. Trust me, its worth your read.

  • Alan Harrison

    No philosophy is perfect. Life does not exist in a theoretical bubble. I welcome the LD’s in our Parliament and hope that with their help we can move Australia toward greater individual freedom and accountability. Socialism clearly doesn’t work. It destroys lives and opportunities. We now have ample empirical evidence of that so lets put it aside and get on with our lives. By evolutionary means lets move the boundary between individual and social rights and responsibilities back toward the individual making their decisions and confine those would be ‘busy bodies’ and control freaks to living their own lives.

  • Jamie

    Excellent article in my opinion, breath of fresh air in comparison to the rubbish our biased main stream media rubbishes on about.