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The Liberals should show respect to potential allies

By David Leyonhjelm - posted Wednesday, 2 October 2013


A political party that advocates "lower taxes, more efficient government and more productive businesses", as the Liberal Party does, should be fairly comfortable with a party promoting lower taxes, reduced regulation and individual liberty.

But not, it seems, if that party is the Liberal Democrats.

The Liberal Democratic Party was first registered in the ACT in 2001. It achieved federal registration in 2007 and state registration in SA and local government registration in NSW in 2011. The Liberal Party objected to most of these approvals.

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While the Labor Party long ago learned to live with other parties using the word 'labour' in their names, currently including the Democratic Labour Party, and the Australian Democrats and Christian Democrats manage to share the word 'democrats', the Liberal Party thinks it owns the word 'liberal'.

According to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal it is wrong. In a 2001 decision involving the party 'liberals for forests', it concluded that the word liberal is a generic term and cannot be owned by any single party.

It said the provisions of the Electoral Act regarding names should not be seen as intended to protect the interests of political parties which have already secured registration, and pointed out that it is common practice for political parties to use generic words in their name, including the words "liberal" and "democrat", and that the use of such words should not be prohibited.

It also thought the words "Australian", "labour", "national", "Christian", "progressive" and "socialist" were generic.

The name Liberal Democratic Party was chosen because it represents our values of liberal democracy. Indeed, we think the Liberal Party ought to be re-named the "Tax-and-Spend Populist Party" so that voters are not misled into believing they are voting for a genuinely liberal party.

The Liberal Party has misled its supporters with its antagonism towards us. Two days prior to the election it was behind a major article in a Sydney newspaper warning voters against voting for us by mistake, claiming this would lead to the election of Pauline Hanson at the expense of their third candidate, Arthur Sinodinos.

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A senior Liberal Party official emailed members, "We won't be able to repeal the carbon tax and repay the debt if the Liberal democrats (sic) win a Senate seat that should be ours."

There was never much chance Hanson would be elected. Moreover, our party has consistently opposed the carbon tax. Indeed, reducing taxes is one of our key policies.

After the election we received abusive phone calls and emails telling us we were cheats who had stolen a seat from the Liberal Party. They only stopped when it became apparent that Sinodinos would win as well.

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A shorter version of this article was published in The Australian.



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About the Author

David Leyonhjelm is the Liberal Democrat Senator for NSW.

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