After almost 12 months of legal wrangling, the Liberal Democratic Party has been registered with the Australian Electoral Commission.

The anti-tax populist party which claims more than 1,500 active members has yet to prove to electors that it is either liberal or democratic.

It was first registered in the ACT to stand in local elections in 2001 but when it decided to go federal and stand candidates at the 2007 election, its name was opposed by the Liberal Party and the Democrats.

As a result, the LDP temporarily changed its name to the Liberal and Democracy Party and stood 47 candidates for the House of Representatives as well as a host of Senate candidates.

After an abysmal showing at the November 2007 election, the party set about reclaiming its original name. Following prolonged inquiries the AEC has now ruled against the objections by the Libs and Dems and officially registered the Liberal Democratic Party in time for the 2010 federal election.

Meanwhile, the party has opened negotiations for registration in NSW for the next state election in March 2011.

Since its formal registration, the LDP has resumed its campaign for smaller government, lower taxes and to reduce “nanny state interference”, national president Peter Whelan said.

“We are the true liberals, with policies based on classical liberal (or moderate libertarian) principles. Many ex-Liberal Party members have joined the LDP after becoming disenchanted with inconsistent Coalition policies, branch stacking and frequent leadership changes at the State and Federal levels,” he said.

To date, the party’s best result was in the Gippsland by-election in mid-2008 when its candidate received 4.2 per cent of the vote. It is relying on the strategic allocation of minor party preferences to sneak into the Senate and grab a crossbench spot.

Whelan has criticised the Rudd Government’s rescue plan saying it is “far from convincing”.

“For too long Australians have been paying too much tax. Now is the time to consider the positive aspects of cutting personal income tax and eliminating company tax,” he said before resuming his day job which, presumably, is selling snake oil.

The LDP’s national coordinator David Leyonhjelm, a pro-gun activist in NSW, stood against John Howard in his Bennelong seat at the last federal election.

After Howard’s humiliating defeat, Leyonhjelm issued a statement saying:

Australia’s sporting shooters were treated disgracefully by John Howard in 1996 and in 2002 when he inflicted his personal aversion to guns on the whole of Australia.

On the day he loses his seat, I dance on his political grave.

The LDP welcomes gun-toters too.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey