I voted today, in the NSW election. I’m going to be in Melbourne on election day and, to be honest, I just really wanted to vote. I numbered all the way to 311 on my upper house ballot. It was fun.
But in perusing all the different party groupings on the upper house ticket, I’m astonished by the parties that do exist and, more relevantly, by the parties that don’t. There are plenty of representatives of fairly obscure interest groups, but no party that represents the political space that I, and a lot of my peers, occupy: a space that is more genuinely liberal, and interested in maintaining liberty.
I’ve been saying forever that I’d like to be part of starting a new party, but I’m starting to think it’s time. It would be a long term project: while we’d contest elections within five years, we’d fully expect to take 10-12 years to get any kind of a footing. Broadly, the party would be based on the following principles:
1. Protection of individual liberties. Minimise government interference in the way people live their lives, both directly and indirectly. Fight for a Constitutional Bill of Rights that protects political liberties, including freedom of speech, assembly, worship, and freedom from unlawful search and seizure.
2. And while we’re working on the Constitution, let’s become a Republic.
3. Where markets work, leave them be. Where they don’t, intervene to correct them, but interfere as little as you can.
4. Reform the welfare system. Don’t abolish it, but look at the incentive structure and try to provide incentives for people to work where they can. Reduce middle class welfare, including Baby Bonus and First Home Buyers Grant.
5. Where possible, tax to price for negative externalities and shift the savings to income tax reductions.
6. Let people live the lives they want. Stop state-sanctioned discrimination. Institute Civil Unions for the legal recognition of partnerships, and allow “marriage” to be a purely personal label in which the state has no role.
Such a party might be described as Libertarian, but that label isn’t correct, as it would neither advocate the abolishment of the Australian welfare state, nor of progressive taxation. It would, however, be an economically moderate voice, adopting a neo-liberal approach to markets, while also rejecting social conservatism and middle class welfare.
I’m genuinely interested: would such a party have a constituency in Australia? Would people join?