Democracy! It was one of the founding principles of this great nation that every person should have a say in the running of Australia, as long as they weren’t a woman, black or poor. With time, these sensible restrictions were removed and anybody could run for parliament – even if they were a total freak.

Unfortunately, the Stalinist AEC knocked all of the really cool parties out of the running with their fascist “electoral laws” – no more Deadly Serious Party, no more Surprise Party, no more Party! Party! Party! – but there are still some weirdos out there if you know where to look.

And then there’s the Liberty & Democracy Party. The LDP has been getting a bit of publicity lately, but it’s not all been good. Hack journos, too lazy to write an actual story about their policies, have been giving them a hard time because one of their ACT Senate candidates, Lisa Milat, is the sister-in-law of convicted serial killer Ivan Milat. Crikey spoke to the LDP’s Bennelong candidate and Treasurer David Leyonhjelm to get the real scoop.

C: A lot of your press so far has been about Lisa Milat. The party has made it clear that they think the connection to Ivan is irrelevant.

DL: Well, it’s by marriage, she only married his brother. You choose your husband, but you don’t choose your husband’s relatives.

C: Do you think the voters will take it that way?

DL: It depends what some of the media do. I think the Telegraph has got a particularly scruffy approach to it on their online poll – it basically describes her as Ivan Milat’s sister and basically asks if she’s a psychopath as well. We talked about this before we announced her candidacy, Lisa’s very emphatic that she’s standing on the issues that the LDP stands for – she’s a small business owner, she’s tired of government regulations, and she supports what we represent and wants to make a difference. The fact that she’s married to Ivan Milat’s brother is quite incidental to her interest in the LDP … I have no doubt she would do it irrespective of her connection to Ivan Milat.

C: This might be a simplification, but the over-arching philosophy of the LDP seems to be that you think Australian citizens are smart enough to make their own decisions.

DL: Absolutely, it’s not just Australian citizens, individuals in general, adults specifically. They’re certainly smarter than politicians and public servants.

C: Are you not giving some people too much credit? There’s warnings on toasters about not putting them in the bathtub for a reason.

DL: There’s no problem with warning people against dangers. There’s really no problem with telling people it’s unwise to smoke, for example. It’s very unwise to smoke, but the fact is, if you choose to be unwise, what business is that of the government? Should the government go further and protect you from your own stupidity? That’s where we draw the line – we say you have the right to be stupid.

C: One of your policies is decriminalising “victimless crimes.” How do you draw the line between when a victimless crime becomes a crime with a victim?

DL: It’s a grey area in the middle there. Some are pretty clear cut. Voting for example. If you refuse to vote, there is no victim, and yet it’s still a criminal offence and you’ll have a criminal conviction if you don’t vote. Another example is if you ride a bicycle without a helmet. If you fall off and smash your head, you’re the victim, no-one else. So it’s fairly clear cut, we don’t think the government has any role to play in that situation.

C: What about, say, wearing a seatbelt?

DL: We don’t put much emphasis on it, but it falls into the category of ‘it’s not a sensible thing to do,’ anyone with half a brain would use their seatbelt, frankly I think if it wasn’t compulsory 95% of people would wear one anyway, but the question is should it be an offence if you don’t wear one when you’re the only person who will suffer if you don’t.

C: But if you’re in a car crash, you can hurt other people if you’re not wearing a seatbelt.

DL: How does that work, if you’re not wearing a seatbelt how do you injure somebody else?

C: Well, if you’re in a car crash and you’re not restrained in any way, you’ll go flying everywhere and start hitting other passengers in the car.

DL: Is that a fact?

C: Yes, that’s a fact.

DL: Well, yes, I suppose, if that is a fact. I haven’t heard that before, but if there is evidence that your behaviour will have an adverse effect on other people around you, that’s where we start to say that the law has a right to have something to say about it.

C: Drugs!

DL: Drugs? Well, in principle we’re not in favour of prohibition, but we’re also not in favour of free slather. We would certainly have no problem with changing the law so that something like marijuana, adults smoking marijuana in their home was no longer an offence, it is at the moment of course. And even though we acknowledge that smoking marijuana is not a very clever thing to do, I don’t personally recommend it to anybody at all, but a lot of people do and the question is: is that any business of the government. The other thing about drugs is that it’s hugely expensive to enforce the prohibition on guns, er, drugs, it has a corrupting influence on the entire legal system, and it’s failing: drugs are very widely available. But we’re not at the stage where we’re saying open slather on ice, ecstasy and heroin.

C: So marijuana yes, but not so much with the harder drugs?

DL: Not at the moment.

C: You’ve got some policies regarding s-xual relationships, particularly equalising things in terms of gay marriage. You’ve also got a policy of decriminalising incest between consenting adults – aren’t laws against incest there for sound medical reasons?

DL: No, they’re moral based. They’re not for medical reasons. I mean, incest is an act of s-x, not an act of reproduction. Incest is frowned upon, but once again you don’t have to approve of something to say it’s not the government’s business. Should it be sitting there at the end of your bed saying who you can and can’t sleep with?

C: Some people have said your policies could be seen as extreme, how would you respond to those people?

DL: Well, extreme liberty. We describe ourselves as ‘moderate libertarians’ – there are libertarian policies that are much more extreme than our positions. We’re not left wing and we’re not right wing, so if we have to be extreme something it’s extreme liberty.

C: How do you rate the party’s chances of winning a seat?

DL: In the lower house, not high. This is our first Federal election, our aim is to run in all the marginal seats and to use our vote to leverage against the major parties. Both the major parties have gone way away from the liberty concept. We’re going to use our vote in this election to try and alert them to the fact that there’s a constituency out there that doesn’t think that they’re helpless, that the help the government can provide is to clear off and get out of the way. The Senate’s a different story. Minor parties can get elected, if Family First can get elected then the Liberty and Democracy Party can get elected.

C: Where will you be directing your preferences?

DL: In the lower house, with two exceptions, we are directing our preferences against the sitting member. The two exceptions are Malcolm Turnbull in Wentworth and Craig Emerson in Rankin. In the case of Malcolm Turnbull, it’s essentially because he’s made the right decision on a couple of things. One was, he’s in favour of hunting crocodiles in Queensland, which is a sustainable environmental policy and the other one was the Gunns pulp mill and his targeting by Geoff Cousins and the other Eastern Suburbs people, we think that’s totally unreasonable. Turnbull is also generally in favour of our broad principles of low tax and reduced government in our lives, and Craig Emerson is the same.

Do you want to toke up and have incestuous non-reproductive s-x on a bike without a helmet? Check out the LDP website and see if there’s a candidate near you!

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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