Why are many Australians joining the Liberal Democratic Party?

by on 2 February, 2010

PeterWhelan Peter Whelan explains why people are moving from traditional major parties to the Liberal Democratic Party.

At the LDP’s National Conference in Sydney on Jan 24th, 2010, I spoke with some of our long-time supporters and also had the pleasure of meeting several newer members; they came from diverse backgrounds.  One of the LDP’s newest members had even travelled from Perth to attend.

Many were attending the conference to listen to the words of wisdom from Sir Roger Douglas, ACT (NZ) Member of Parliament. Roger, as Labour Finance Minister, was the originator of “Roger-nomics” which revitalised (some would say “saved”) the NZ economy back in the 1980s.

Others attended to meet with the LDP’s Federal Executive, meet with other LDP members, to participate in the debate over policy issues and to discuss the strategies for the upcoming federal election.

Thinking about the increase in membership, I was prompted to consider the question, “Why are people joining the Liberal Democratic Party?”

The reasons are many and varied. The founders of the LDP in 2001 had been exasperated by the Howard approach of big government, high taxes and restrictions on personal freedoms. The Howard years saw a dramatic increase in public servants, a building boom in Canberra with new offices to house those bureaucrats and the “churning” of the taxes into middle class welfare such as first-home owners’ grants and baby bonuses.

Some had joined the LDP over restrictions in personal freedom such as the anti-smoking laws, or the bans on fireworks. Some farmers had joined after they found that restrictions on land clearing reduced the viability of their farms. Many had never been a member of any political party, but felt the increasing burden of government initiated paperwork and an increasingly complex taxation system. Most people now have to employ a tax consultant or accountant to do their annual tax return!

Many more members had quit the Liberal Party over the extremely unpopular Howard gun laws. Remember how Howard bullied the States and Territories into overseeing a billion dollar gun crushing program and implementing cumbersome and flawed firearms registries? Following those draconian laws, passed by each jurisdiction in 1996/97, each of the Coalition governments was voted out and in NSW the Labor government was returned with an increased majority!

Some from the medical profession had joined, frustrated by a State/Federal medical system which was expensive, poorly administered and was killing many patients it should have been saving!

I then thought about my own reasons for joining the LDP and in helping frame some of their policies; it was a case of “all of the above”.

As an engineer, farmer and business man, I had never been happy with people telling me how to run my life. I have always preferred to make my own decisions and live with the consequences. If I made a mistake, I did not blame others. I learned from the mistake and tried not to do it again.

I resented paying high taxes (among the highest in the world) and seeing those taxes being squandered, simply for expedient, populist political purposes.

While I did not always approve of people who made unwise decisions regarding their safety or lifestyle, I did not consider it my business to intervene or to expect the government to do so. I always had a ‘live and let live’ outlook. I was ready for a political party which would help “keep the government out of my pocket and out of my face”.

Certainly I hated being treated like a criminal because I happened to own some firearms. A party with libertarian principles of small government and low tax was certainly a party that represented my beliefs.

People, who are generally fed up with excessive bureaucracy and government intrusion into their lives, whatever their particular personal issue, are joining the LDP, which they see as the “true liberal” party.

Australians were once proud of their independence and initiative, but are now over-governed, over-taxed and subject to too many arbitrary rules, regulations, laws and by-laws. As a consequence, many have lost the ability to think for themselves, or to look after themselves and their families.

Peter Whelan is the Federal President of the Liberal Democratic Party.

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