Liberal Democratic Party (Australia)

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Liberal Democratic Party
Liberal Democrats
AbbreviationLDP, LD
PresidentJohn Humphreys[1]
FounderJohn Humphreys[2]
Founded2001; 21 years ago (2001)
Registered2007–2022[3][4]
HeadquartersMount Waverley, Melbourne, Victoria
Ideology
International affiliationIALP
Colors  Yellow
House of Representatives
0 / 151
Senate
0 / 76
Victorian Legislative Council
2 / 40
Website
Official website
Party logo used briefly between 2021 and 2022

The Liberal Democratic Party, shortened as LDP, Liberal Democrats, or Lib Dems, is an Australian political party founded in Canberra in 2001. The party espouses smaller government and supports policies that are based on classical liberal, libertarian principles,[11] such as lower taxes, opposing restrictions on civil liberties, decentralisation, utilising nuclear energy, and the relaxation of smoking laws.[12]

The LDP is a registered party in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia and is also registered for federal elections with the Australian Electoral Commission. As of May 2021, it has two representatives in the Victorian Legislative Council, Tim Quilty and David Limbrick, and elected representatives in some local governments. In April 2022, Senator Sam McMahon, sitting as an independent after resigning from the Country Liberal Party in January 2022, joined the Liberal Democrats, giving the party representation in the Australian Senate. However, she lost her seat in the 2022 federal election and the party was deregistered at the federal level on 19 July 2022.[13]

History[edit]

Formation[edit]

The Liberal Democratic Party was founded in 2001 as a political party registered in the Australian Capital Territory. It first contested elections in the 2001 ACT election, receiving 1 percent of the vote.[14] The party also contested the 2004 ACT election, receiving 1.3 percent of the vote.[15]

In 2006, changes to the Electoral Act by the Howard government forced all parties without parliamentary representation to deregister and re-register under stricter naming rules.[16] Advised by the Australian Electoral Commission that federal registration under the original name was uncertain given opposition by the Liberal Party of Australia, the party chose to register federally as the Liberty and Democracy Party in 2007.[17] The Liberty and Democracy Party contested 2007 federal election, winning 17,048 votes (0.14 percent) in the lower house and 16,942 votes (0.13 percent) in the upper house.

In 2008, the party successfully applied to the Australian Electoral Commission to change its federally registered name to Liberal Democratic Party.[18] During this period, the party remained registered under its original name in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).[19]

Initial electoral contests[edit]

In 2010, the party contests 2010 federal election, receiving 1.8 percent of the national senate vote[20] and an average of 1.3 percent across the 21 lower house seats it contested, with a best of 5.52 percent in Gippsland.

In 2012, the Liberal Democratic Party had its first successful election win. Jeff Pettett was elected as a Councillor to the Ku-ring-gai Council in northern metropolitan Sydney at the New South Wales local government elections, gaining 24 per cent of vote in the absence of Liberal Party candidates.[21] Clinton Mead was elected as a Councillor to the Campbelltown Council in southern metropolitan Sydney at the New South Wales local government elections

Prior to the 2012 Ramsay and Port Adelaide state by-elections in South Australia, the polls in The Advertiser newspaper gave the LDP 23 percent and 14 percent of the vote respectively in the absence of Liberal Party candidates. The LDP ended up with votes of 13.3 percent and 7.3 percent respectively. The paper described the LDP as "a hardline liberal party that demands abolition of government welfare as well as the minimum wage, seatbelts and bike helmets. It backs legalisation of marijuana and increased freedom to access pornography".[22]

At the 2013 federal election, LDP candidate David Leyonhjelm was elected to the Senate after polling the third highest vote in the state of New South Wales after the Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Labor Party.[23] According to Leyonhjelm, a portion of their vote probably came from their 'first position' on the long senate ballot paper and voters potentially being confused with his party and other contesting parties such as the Liberals, the Australian Democrats and the Christian Democratic Party.[24] However, Leyonhjelm points to the fact that the Liberal Democrats' vote in South Australia, where they were fifth on the ballot, rose 3 percentage points. He also points to the fact that the donkey vote generally only produces swings of +1 or 2 percentage points to the party listed first on the ballot.[25] Leyonhjelm organised preferences for several different, but closely entwined, political parties seeking election to the Senate, including the Outdoor Recreation Party, Smokers' Rights Party and the Republican Party of Australia.[26] Australian Sex Party candidate Fiona Patten alleged Leyonhjelm intentionally failed to lodge ticket voting preferences forms, reneging on a preference deal,[27] but Leyonhjelm claimed that there was a mistake entering the AEC fax number.[28] The Liberal Democrats were not involved in Glenn Druery's Minor Party Alliance during the election which assisted in negotiating preference flows between minor parties.[29] On 1 July 2014, David Leyonhjelm became the Liberal Democratic Party's first senator.

Shortly after David Leyonhjelm's Senate victory, Liberal Democrats councillor Clinton Mead was elected Mayor of the City of Campbelltown in New South Wales.[30]

In 2015, the Liberal Democrats registered with the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC), and announced it would field upper-house candidates in the upcoming Victorian state election on 29 November 2014.[31] In 2016, the Liberal Party sought to challenge the name of the party with the electoral commission, but ultimately abandoned the action.[32]

David Leyonhjelm was re-elected with a 3.1 percent (−6.4) primary vote, or 139,000 votes, at the 2016 double dissolution federal election.[33] Gabriel Buckley, the LDP's lead candidate in Queensland, marginally misses out on a seat.[34]

WA elections were held 11 March 2017 where the states first LDP member, Aaron Stonehouse was elected.[30]

In May 2017, former Leader of the Opposition and political commentator Mark Latham left the Australian Labor Party and joined the LDP.[35]

In 2018 candidates Tim Quilty and David Limbrick were elected to the Victorian Legislative Council (state upper house). In the same year, Mark Latham left the party to become the leader of One Nation NSW division.[36]

In 2019, David Leyonhjelm announced that he will be quitting federal parliament in order to contest the New South Wales state election.[37] This resulted in Duncan Spender being sworn in to fill Leyonhjelm's former seat until the next Federal election.[38] David Leyonhjelm did not get elected in the 2019 New South Wales election securing only 0.46 of a seat quota.[39] Duncan Spender also lost their Senate seat in the 2019 election.

In the Victorian Local Government election of 2020 the party fielded 11 candidates state-wide. Two endorsed candidates were elected, Olga Quilty in Wodonga with a 5.83% first preference vote against 18 other candidates and Paul Barker in Torquay with a 11.67% first preference vote against 9 other candidates.

Recent developments[edit]

On 18 May 2017, the Liberal Democratic Party formed a 'conservative bloc' with One Nation and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party in the Western Australia Legislative Council.[40]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Victorian MPs Quilty and Limbrick became outspoken critics of the Victorian Parliament, the Federal Parliament, and Australia's COVID response in whole. On August 17, 2021, while the Victorian Parliament was closed due to restrictions, the two protested park closures on the steps of Parliament in the presence of armed police.[41] They refused to comply with a vaccine mandate for MP's, with Limbrick publicly destroying his vaccination status card.[42]

In May 2021 the party founder Dr John Humphreys was re-elected to the position of National President.[43][44]

In July 2021, Campbell Newman, the former Premier of Queensland and Leader of the Liberal National Party of Queensland, resigned from the LNP, stating the LNP candidate in the 2021 Stretton state by-election was "let down by a party and leadership that never stands up for anything".[45] In August 2021, he announced he had joined the LDP to run as the party's lead Senate candidate in Queensland at the 2022 Australian federal election.

On 16 October 2021, Quilty, Limbrick, and other opposition MPs were ejected from Victorian Parliament for refusing to disclose their vaccination status.[46][47] After two weeks of exclusion, the MP's submitted their vaccination status on October 28, 2021, in order to return to parliament to oppose the legislative agenda of the government.[48]

On 23 November 2021, the LDP announced a preference deal with the United Australia Party in the upcoming Australian elections where each party would encourage its members to choose the other as their second preference.[49]

On 24 November 2021 Krystle Mitchell, an acting Senior Sergeant of the Victorian Police who resigned after speaking publicly against enforcing health orders, announced she would be running for Federal Senate with the Liberal Democrats as their second in Victoria.[50][51][52]

According to The Age, between November 2018 and November 2021, the Liberal Democratic Party's Legislative Council members voted with the Andrews Government's position 22.1% of the time, which was less than the opposition Coalition (28.9%).[53]

Due to changes in the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 and a subsequent objection to the party's name by the Liberal Party, the Liberal Democratic Party applied to the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) to change its name to the Liberty and Democracy Party in February 2022 in order to remain registered.[54][55] The party then withdrew the name change application on 22 March 2022.[56] On 1 April 2022, the AEC gave notice to the party that it would consider deregistering the latter, giving one month for the party to appeal the notice.[57] However, as the writs for the May federal election were issued the following week on 11 April, the party register then would be "frozen" and this meant the party was allowed to contest the election with its current name.[58]

On 8 April 2022, Senator Sam McMahon joined the party after defecting from the Country Liberal Party in January.[59] This gave the federal parliamentary representation to the Liberal Democratic Party. McMahon would also be the lead Senate candidate for the party at the May federal election. She was unsuccessful in her election and the party lost parliamentary representation. AEC's consideration to deregister the party continued after the writs for the election were returned in June, and the party was deregistered at the federal level on 19 July 2022.[13]

Policies and views[edit]

The LDP states that it adheres to classical liberal, small government and laissez-faire principles coupled with what the party considers as a high regard for individual freedom and individual responsibility.[60] LDP supported policies include:[61][62][63]

National Policy[edit]

Current and past policies and views[edit]

Election results[edit]

Federal parliament[edit]

Senate
Election year No. of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
No. of
overall seats won
No. of
overall seats
+/–
2007 16,942 0.13
0 / 40
0 / 76
2010 230,191 1.81
0 / 40
0 / 76
Steady 0
2013 523,831 3.91
1 / 40
1 / 76
Increase 1
2016 298,915 2.16
1 / 76
1 / 76
Steady 0
2019 169,735 1.16
0 / 40
0 / 76
Decrease 1
2022 340,132 2.26
0 / 40
0 / 76
Decrease 1

State parliament[edit]

New South Wales[edit]

Legislative Council
Election year No. of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
No. of
overall seats
+/–
2019 109,777 3.24
0 / 42

South Australia[edit]

Legislative Council
Election year No. of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
No. of
overall seats
+/–
2014 6,091 0.6%
0 / 22
2018 25,956 2.47
0 / 22
2022 36,445 3.35
0 / 22

Victoria[edit]

Legislative Council
Election year No. of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
No. of
overall seats
+/–
2014 104,516 3.06
0 / 40
2018 89,428 2.50
2 / 40
Increase 2
2022 72,958 2.56
0 / 40
Decrease 2

Western Australia[edit]

Legislative Council
Election year No. of
overall votes
% of
overall vote
No. of
overall seats
+/–
2017 23,848 1.77
1 / 36
Increase 1
2021 9,218 0.64
0 / 36
Decrease 1

Political representatives[edit]

Current members of parliament[edit]

Victoria

Past members of parliament[edit]

Australia
Western Australia

Donors[edit]

The Australia Institute's 2019 report found that the Liberal Democratic Party had received political donations of $37,311 from pro-gun groups between July 2011 and March 2019. The report contextualises their donations as similar in value to the Nationals, Labor and Country Alliance, whilst being less than those to Katter's Australia Party, the Shooters Party, and the Liberal Party.[84][85]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]