Don’t we already have a bare arms campaigner in the Senate?

Posted: September 13, 2015 in Ranting
Tags: , , , , , , ,

There has been some amusement around Australia the last couple of days after the ultra-right wing group, United Patriots Front, declared that they were forming a political party to contest Senate seats at the next Federal election, which, if we can believe recent media reports, shall be happening before the end of the year. The amusement came over the group’s declaration that they were going to campaign on the right to “bare arms”. Leaving aside the poor spelling, the reality is that in Australia we have never had any such ‘right’ to bear or even bare arms. We do not have anything remotely resembling the  US Constitution’s infamous Second Amendment. Just as an aside – how many people have actually read that Amendment? I have – and it is very clearly and directly linked to service in a now-nonexistent militia which makes you wonder how that ‘right’ survived the challenge in the US courts – the one factor only existed because of a second factor that was no longer in place. But there is a more immediate threat to weapons control in Australia. How many people realise that we already do have a Senator with a specific party policy of the right to own firearms.


Senator David Leyonhjelm

The Senator in question is David Leyonhjelm representing the Liberal Democratic Party.

If you are anything like me, you had never heard of the Liberal Democratic Party. So who are they and how did someone from a seemingly nobody party reach the Senate seats?

The Liberal Democratic Party is a pretty recent thing. Initially the Australian Electoral Commission refused to register them with that name due to the similarity to Liberal Party of Australia and when Leyonhjelm first contested a seat for that party, it was called the Liberty and Democracy Party but  their preferred name was eventually agreed to by the AEC. However in NSW elections, it runs under a different name again – Outdoor Recreation Party. Now if you go to the website for the ORP, it claims to be an independent party. There are claims that the party is ‘allied’ to LDP. However Leyonhjelm was a member of LDP, running their election campaigns in 2007, 2010 and 2013 federal elections, standing for a seat unsuccessfully himself for LDP in 2007 (Bennelong). Yet he also somehow contested the 2010 Penrith NSW state by-election for the Outdoor Recreation Party and was listed first on the ORP’s ticket for the 2011 NSW state election. How can one individual, while a member of one party, contest seats for another allegedly independent party?? An alliance hardly means interchangeable candidates. If you run down the party policies on the websites for both parties, they are remarkably similar. I wonder how many ORP supporters in NSW realise that it seems the LDP appear to effectively be running things.

So what is the Liberal Democratic Party actually about? They claim to be “Australia’s only libertarian political party.” But what does that even mean? By jumping over to a dictionary we read that libertarian means:

  1. One who advocates maximizing individual rights and minimizing the role of the state
  2. One who believes in free will

This is starting to sound like that bunch of nutters in the USA, the Tea Party part of the Republican Party with their poster child, Sarah Palin. In both instances they want government all but removed from just about everything. And somehow all our justice, social welfare etc systems shall somehow happily survive all by themselves with everyone somehow equally protected – presumably by the fairies living down in the bottom of my vegie garden.

So what does the LDP actually stand for? Their website includes a nicely structured listing of their core policies. And some of these are frankly of concern.

First up, and what I was getting to at the start of this piece, is their issue towards firearms. Their official party policy in respect of firearms is “The LDP regards the right to own firearms for sport, hunting, collecting and self-defence as fundamental to a free society.” To clarify this a little further, in the immediate wake of the Lindt cafe siege earlier this year Leyonhjelm fired up saying Australians should be allowed to carry concealed weapons, as in some states in America. “Statistically speaking” in those jurisdictions, “one or two of the victims” would have had a concealed gun, he said. In other words, Leyonhjelm  and the Liberal Democratic Party don’t just want the post-Port Arthur gun restrictions lifted, they want firearms freedoms handed out that weren’t even available to us in the first place. For there to have ‘statistically speaking’ a realistic chance of someone in the Lindt siege to have been carrying concealed firearms under such expanded ‘freedoms’ would require one hell of a lot of people in our communities to be carrying concealed firearms. How many people in Australia would want that????

Following the Port Arthur massacre, firearm restrictions removed pretty much all rapid fire firearms from the general population. However very recently the Abbott government has decided to start relaxing those restrictions by agree to lift the ban in a year’s time on the Adler rapid fire shotgun – exactly the sort of the thing the restrictions imposed by Abbott’s mentor, John Howard, were intended to restrict. And why did the Abbott government agree to this? It is quite simple – because they wanted Leyonhjelm’s support for government migration issues. Leyonhjelm goes further, openly boasting that he had successfully ‘blackmailed’ – specifically “Last week I managed to blackmail the government into adding a 12 month sunset clause to its Adler ban”

The Liberal Democratic Party has other policies of concern all spelled out on their website, including:

“The LDP believes government foreign aid, other than short term humanitarian relief, should cease. ” (common speak – they can all bugger off and look after themselves)

“The Liberal Democrats will deregulate and privatise higher education” (common speak – only the wealthy and privileged should be allowed higher education)

“The Liberal Democrats will ensure that governments are restricted as to what they can do” (common speak – let big business etc run riot, doing whatever they like and screwing people as much as they can with our government powerless to do anything to help protect our citizens)

“The Liberal Democrats believe Australians should be free to enter employment and service contracts without government interference.” (common speak – employers get to do whatever they like free from any regulation, arbitration or social justice and bugger the workers)

LDP also includes this rather bland statement on the environment: “The LDP values the natural environment within the context of a prosperous society that provides equal protection under the law and is based on respect for individual freedom, personal responsibility, small government and the defence of private property.” However if you look further on their website you will realise that they are actually declaring that there is no proof of climate change as now generally perceived and that further, it has already been occurring quite naturally (implying thus it is not just natural but fixes itself), even citing things such as Sumerian creation myth and even the Biblical story of the great flood as a form of ‘evidence’ for that stance.

So how on earth did someone from a party who quite frankly seem so incredibly far removed from actual public opinion, end up in the Senate?

The order of names on a ballot is quite literally the luck of the draw. The Australian Electoral Commission effectively draws names out of a hat thus determining the order in which those names shall appear on ballot paper in each electorate. And by that luck of the draw, Leyonhjelm’s name was first on a ballot paper in the 2013 election. And anyone whose name appears first does best out of donkey voting where people tick the first name they see and then hand in their ballot paper. And we cannot rule out the possibility that people saw ‘Liberal’ against the first name on that ballot paper and selected that name thinking that they were voting for the Liberal Party of Australia, not for this other mob. I have the distinct impression that Leyonhjelm’s election to the Senate was actually nothing but a bloody fluke. In fact, here’s a little curiosity. The LDP wants ‘voluntary voting’. But if we had voluntary voting, the donkey voters probably wouldn’t even bother voting in the first place, probably removing the donkey element that would appear to have so significantly supported Leyonhjelm’s electoral success.

That combination of things which supported Leyonhjelm’s fluke election reminds me of the election of another loose cannon. Remember Pauline Hanson? She was originally awarded pre-selection for her local branch of the Liberal Party of Australia. But eventually they realised that they probably hadn’t made such a good choice at all and withdrew her preselection. One problem though – by then all the ballot papers had in fact been printed and the deadline for changes had long passed. So innocent voters in that electorate went to the ballot box to be faced with a ballot paper declaring Pauline Hanson was representing the Liberal Party of Australia when in fact she most definitely was not. So all those votes she received in error awarded her election as an independent. Another disastrous bloody fluke.

So by all means, continue to mock the United Patriots Front and their right to ‘bare’ arms if you will. But you should also be aware and concerned that we do in fact already have a highly conservative party in the Senate whose policies already support that UPF intention on firearms and other highly concerning political intentions.

Ross sig

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