Victorian State Election 2018: Meet the Liberal Democrats

I don’t have time to read all of this!
The Basics

LDP

Website: https://www.ldp.org.au/victoria
Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/LibDemVIC/
Themes: Libertarians.  Free speech, right to bear arms, small government, cutting welfare, privatising everything.

With friends like these…
The Group Voting Ticket

Bizarrely, the most favoured party in the LDP’s top five is the Democratic Labour Party, which on the face of it, should have nothing in common with the LDP’s libertarian principles.  I mean, the DLP has a pretty strong emphasis on both conservative social values and universal access to things like healthcare.  About all they have in common is a desire to repeal 18C.  Sustainable Australia and Transport Matters also appear in the top five six times each, and Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party, the Aussie Battlers and the Shooters and Fishers are also popular.

The Australian Liberty Alliance features twice in their top five, so clearly the LDP has no problem with right-wing nutters.

Left wing nutters are clearly another story, because the bottom of the ticket always runs Animal Justice, the Victorian Socialists, Liberal or Labor (usually mixed up in such a way as to help neither), and last of all, the Greens.

Not, of course, that I am calling the Greens left-wing nutters.  But I’m pretty sure the LDP is.

The Body Politic
Policies, Snark, Terrible Theme Songs and Other Observations

The Liberal Democrats tell us that they are about ‘Low Taxes. Small Government.
Individual Responsibility,’ and their slogan is ‘Fighting for less government and more freedom’.

The assumption underlying this program is that governments exist to restrict our freedom, which I suppose is true – I mean, they create legislation, and legislation tells us what we can or can’t do, which technically does restrict our freedom to do whatever we please.  Of course, legislation also restricts the freedom of others to harm us physically, underpay us for our work, or deny us goods or services for arbitrary reasons.  And I would argue that when others use their freedom to do these things, then our freedom is restricted far more than it would be by government regulations or legislation.

But this is kind of the underlying assumption of libertarianism.  It’s absolutely individualistic and carries with it no obligation to the people around you.  I am quite strongly of the opinion that we owe our fellow humans quite a bit and that this is the foundation of a civilised society, so I do not get along with the LDP, to put it mildly.   I feel that libertarian values work very well for the strong (people who are healthy, have money, and are not in classes of people that others like to discriminate against), and completely fail to care for the weak, and I have a very large problem with this.

Unpicking their slogan and tagline a bit more illustrates this further.  They want low taxes – but taxes are how we pay for the things we use in common, as well as for safety nets.  They are the price we pay for a functional society, and I’m OK with that.  ‘Small government’ is, I suspect, about cutting that red tape that people feel so strongly about.  And look, I’m not pro-bureaucracy, here, but some of the red tape that makes people so irate is things like occupational health and safety requirements, or laws telling us how much we are allowed to pollute our environment.  ‘Individual responsibility’ sounds all nice and responsible, but it also means that if you are unlucky enough to be unemployed or disabled or a single parent, you shouldn’t expect any help, because you need to be responsible for yourself.  You have the freedom to starve in a dignified fashion, I suppose, but that’s not a great freedom to have.

Essentially, libertarianism is profoundly selfish.  It’s ‘I’ve got mine, and everyone else can go jump’.  It also carries in it the assumption that if you are doing well in this system of total freedom, you are clearly a go-getting, hard-working, deserving sort of person, whereas if you are doing badly, you probably deserve it (since, after all, you have total freedom to fix your situation, and have not done so!), and therefore you should not expect help.  There is no concept of systemic barriers to success – because there is no real concept of systems.   It is, at its heart, a weirdly moralistic and judgmental system.

I’d also like to note that once again, we are using the language of revolution –they are not just promoting or arguing for freedom – they are fighting for it.  This will become important later.

The Government is comprised of politicians and public servants with no special insight or wisdom. Despite that, it constantly tells us what is best for us and how to run our lives. It ties up businesses in red tape – preventing them from investing, expanding and employing.

The Liberal Democrats believe government have neither the expertise, nor the rights to tell people how to run their lives. People should be free to make their own choices and accept responsibility for the consequences, so long as nobody else is harmed.

There’s that red tape, right on cue! But I’m more interested in the last sentence in the second paragraph, because the bit about ‘nobody else is harmed’ is, I think, something of a misleading statement, though perhaps not an intentional one.  We are going to see that ‘harm’ is quite narrowly defined – the LDP are of the opinion that sticks and stones may break your bones, but repealing 18C will never hurt you, for example.  And it ignores the possibility of indirect harm, or the fact that sometimes the consequences of our choices affect others as much as or more than they affect us.  Smoking is a good example of this, particularly smoking around children or people with lung issues.

OK, I think you probably all understand that I’m not keen on libertarianism now and why, so how about I let the LDP tell you what they think it means?

Libertarianism can be based on two very different philosophical starting points. Some libertarians believe that free markets and individual freedom should be preferred because, freedom being inherent, they are more moral political systems. Such people argue that it is immoral to take money from people by force and to tell people how to live their lives.

Utilitarian libertarians believe that a small government will lead to better outcomes than a big government. Such people argue that libertarian solutions will lead to greater wealth, less poverty, more diversity and will generally make people happier.

The first philosophical position is concerned with process, while the second is concerned with outcomes. In reality, most libertarians (and most people) care about both.

Acceptance by libertarians of the rights of individuals to pursue their activities, subject to non-coercion of others, does not indicate endorsement of those activities.

I should also add at this point that I don’t oppose absolutely everything libertarianism stands for.  Their emphasis on personal freedoms includes the freedom to love people of whatever gender you prefer, and to hold whatever religious belief you choose.  Llibertarians tend to support freedom of choice in matters such as contraception, abortion, and voluntary euthanasia.  And these are choices which I think genuinely should be personal and not someone else’s to decide for you.  My issue with them is that this philosophy does not extend well to broader social policy.

I’ve avoided this as long as I can, but now I think it’s time to hold my nose and dive into their policies.  Which are many and long, and enough to make one consider alcoholism as a lifestyle choice.  (Says the woman who has maybe three standard drinks a year.)  Their policies are divided into two key areas, Liberty and Prosperity, and they also have an Alternative Budget.  I’m not going to use this division, because they’ve categorised policies in ways that don’t seem logical to me.  Instead, I’ll go with somewhat narrower themes.

Health

The LDP wants to take the government out of healthcare, with the exception of infectious disease management and vaccination.  Hospitals, blood banks, organ donorship and health insurance should all be privatised, and medicare and the PBS should be abolished and replaced with a medical expenses subsidy for citizens.  All medical visits should involvea co-payment.  (Medical research funding should also all be privatised, by the way, because apparently we should only be working on things that either charities or the pharmaceutical industry thinks are important.)

Most people can look after their own health, including through private insurance and membership of friendly societies. Family, community and charity can assist the least well off. And governments can help people look after themselves by reducing their taxes and freeing society to generate more jobs and higher incomes.

Nonetheless, more than sixty years of significant government interference in people’s management of their own health has bred dependency and eroded civil society. Renewing independence and civil society will take generational change.

OK, first, if you are considering voting for the LDP, you need to consider the fact that this is a party which has looked at the US healthcare system and decided that it is a good thing.  Setting aside for a moment the many, MANY ethical issues with completely privatising healthcare, on a purely practical level, this plan does not align with the LDP’s own views on economic sustainability and avoiding waste.  The US spends more on healthcare per person than any other country, and has the lowest life expectancy of any first world country.  And apparently a big driver of these costs is administrative costs, which certainly fits with the anecdotal evidence I have from friends in the US – both patients and healthcare providers – about spending hours on the phone to insurance companies trying to get treatments or medications authorised or reimbursed, not always successfully.

Second, I’d like to point out just how well ‘family, community and charity’ assisting those who were well-off worked when we kicked all our mental health patients out of institutions and said they would be cared for by the community.  I know when I was working on a crisis line, we were literally the only after-hours resource for some mental health patients (I hope things have changed since then), and mental health is still a great driver of homelessness.

And, frankly, it’s pretty humiliating to force people to rely on charity to get basic healthcare.  One of the great things about a public health system is that we don’t have to feel that our healthcare is at the mercy of others, who may withhold it or put conditions on it.  And it puts up another barrier for people leaving abusive relationships, who are often already financially poorly off and socially isolated – if you or your child has an expensive illness, you now have to make the calculation of whether you can afford to leave, of whether it’s worth staying and being beaten or otherwise abused in order to be able to afford your medicine and your medical appointments.

The LDP think that ‘the ability to easily purchase medicines is a vital aspect of maintaining health and vitality’, which is bizarre given that they want to defund the PBS, and they apparently view the TGA as more red tape, and want TGA approval of medicines to be voluntary.

Here, have an article about that petty FDA bureaucrat, Dr Frances Oldham Kelsey, who stubbornly refused to approve thalidomide in the US because she felt that the safety evidence was insufficient.

Also, they want to make a lot more medications available without prescription and over the counter and at supermarkets, because we are grownups who can make responsible choices about our health without needing doctors or pharmacists to get involved.  I mean, I suppose if you are going to make everyone pay for healthcare at point of service, making more medicines prescription-free is perhaps a merciful idea.

Here, have some stats about health literacy in Australia.

I was going to note that the LDP doesn’t have a policy on disability, but I’m beginning to think that this is because the plan is to kill us all off via unrestricted access to unregulated medications before we get as far as having a disability.

They do have a policy on assisted suicide, though, which is something they support as ‘there is no more fundamental expression of individual freedom than the right to decide what to do with our own body’.

Look, I’m really ambivalent about assisted suicide or euthanasia.  But when you combine it with the sorts of policies above, that make it so very costly to be sick, and the sort of policies you will see below, this particular freedom starts to look pretty sinister.

Drugs, Smoking, and Victimless Crimes

Unsurprisingly, the LDP supports legalising cannabis, with protection of minors and penalties for driving while impaired.  In general, they support a harm-minimisation approach to drug policy, with legalisation of any drugs less harmful than alcohol or tobacco (a low bar, for sure), and decriminalisation of other drugs.

This is actually a pretty good set of policies, though fewer references to the nanny state would be nice.  They point out that a lot of the dangers of drugs come from users not being able to obtain accurate information on dosage or what the drugs have been cut with.  So they want more labelling, and I am now very concerned about all this red tape that they are requiring sellers of drugs to cope with.  What about small business people?  At this rate, they will be getting the TGA involved!

They also want more treatment options for those with chronic diseases or mental illnesses, which is a fine policy in isolation, but since the LDP has already got rid of all government funding for medical research, I would like to know who is making sure that these drugs are safe and do they have vested interests?

Smoking should be allowed if business owners want to allow it.  Workers can vote with their feet if they don’t want to work in smoky environments.  The market will fix everything!

If there is a demand for smoke-free venues, then operators will make them smoke-free to attract more clientele. Any operator who ignores the hoards of patrons deserting their establishment for the smoke-free establishment up the road will soon be out of business, while those who recognise and meet the demand for smoke-free environments will prosper and grow.

Victimless crimes should not be prosecuted, according to the LDP, and in addition to drug use, these include failing to wear a seatbelt, prostitution and pornography (so long as these involve consenting adults), abortion, and euthanasia.

Oh, my, and they have this to say on euthanasia:

This includes the elderly and seriously ill as well as less obvious scenarios. For example, helping someone such as a celebrity facing exposure for socially unacceptable behaviour who seeks a gun or other means to end life; a driver trapped in a burning tanker full of gasoline who begs a passing armed police officer to shoot him rather than let him burn to death; a person who suffers traumatic injury in a road accident and wishes to avoid the humiliation and pain of a lingering slow death.

OK, first, several of those scenarios would make fantastic set ups for a murder mystery.  But I’m a bit worried about the last bit.  As noted above, disability is not mentioned anywhere so far… and the use of the word ‘humiliation’ here is making me a bit nervous about some of the LDP’s assumptions about disability.  Perhaps I’m being oversensitive to this one, but I’ve heard disabilities described in not dissimilar terms.  And the LDP world doesn’t sound like it would be very welcoming to disabled people.

Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade

On diplomacy, the LDP supports ‘professional diplomatic engagement together with trade representation (funded on a user-pays basis)’.  How very convenient.  They generally endorse the right of countries to self-define, so they are pro-Tibet and pro-Taiwan, and have managed to make a statement about Israel that is so poorly written that it took me several tries to work out whose side they are on.  They are definitely blaming Palestine, but whether they are saying they should still be independent or not is anyone’s guess.

The Liberal Democrats endorse the right of the people of any region to have their own country, provided that the majority of the people of the region support it and its creation does not pose a threat of violence to the region’s neighbours.

  • the threat of continuing violence from Gaza and the West Bank towards Israel represents a barrier to their independence.

Grammar matters, people!!

Weirdly, the ‘I’ve got mine’ philosophy seems to have some surprisingly reasonable effects on how the LDP thinks about the military.  I’m pretty sure this has changed, because in the past the military was one of the only things the LDP was in favour of the government taxing us for, but now, while it is still a ‘legitimate role of the Commonwealth government,’ they are worried that ‘unnecessary expenditure on defence contributes to excessive taxation’.  The LDP notes that we need to actively engage with other countries diplomatically and through free trade, and they would really rather we didn’t fight wars internationally unless they are directly related to us.  We can, on occasion, be involved in UN operations or ‘relief of oppression in another country’ but this should be rare. And we aren’t very keen on helping with emergency aid in other countries, but we will begrudgingly accept that sometimes it must be done.

Of course, on foreign aid, their policy is about as obnoxious as you would expect:

  • Aid to foreign countries by the Australian government, other than short term humanitarian relief following natural disasters, should cease.
  • Donations by private individuals to foreign aid projects should neither be encouraged nor discouraged by the government.
  • Organisations that accept donations for the purposes of providing aid to other countries, and which receive Australian tax exemptions or concessions, must each year publish an annual report incorporating a statement of goals, progress towards the achievement of these goals, full financial accounts including details of income from donations, investment, fund-raising etc, plus expenditure including remuneration. Reports are to be lodged with the Australian Taxation Office and made publicly available. 

It does not seem to occur to the LDP that foreign aid also serves a diplomatic purpose.  Possibly because they are not diplomatic people.

Unsurprisingly, the LDP is into free trade, and is against protectionist trade policies, which they say are motivated by ‘xenophobia and irrational economics’.

They are also unexpectedly OK with immigration and want to negotiate ‘Free Immigration Agreements’ with compatible countries, allowing unrestricted movement of citizens between countries.  Of course, they also want people to pay to become a permanent resident, rather than having to get a certain number of points, though they would create a limited number of immigration scholarships and immigration loans for highly-skilled people.

After paying the immigration fee a migrant will become a Permanent Resident. PRs will have the same rights to live and work as citizens except they cannot vote, they do not receive an Australian passport, they are not entitled to welfare income payments (though they may still use public health, education and infrastructure) and they may be deported if they commit crimes of a serious nature or are unable to support themselves.

Hmm.  I’m not convinced about immigration being based entirely on wealth, or on creating a second class of Australian, but we shall see.

But now the LDP surprises me with an unexpectedly friendly refugee policy:

It is important that Australia provides a sanctuary for people who are fleeing political oppression and persecution, both on compassionate grounds and to demonstrate to the rest of the world the attractions of a free and democratic society. Such people can also become fierce advocates of freedom in Australia, having experienced its loss.

All people arriving in Australia with the aim of remaining should be subject to preliminary health and security checks. Because it is not possible to check unauthorized arrivals before they come to Australia, it is necessary to detain them temporarily. Those refused admission on health or security grounds will be deported.

Following these checks the unauthorized arrival can then apply for PR either by paying the immigration fee, being awarded an immigration scholarship or loan, or by applying for admission on humanitarian grounds as a refugee…

While awaiting a decision on humanitarian grounds, unauthorized arrivals can apply for temporary release subject to payment of bail equivalent to the immigration tariff plus bail-like reporting conditions. Applicants will be permitted to work. Any individual or organization can offer to post bail. If the unauthorized arrival is denied entry on humanitarian grounds and declines to leave the country, the bail money may be used to pay the immigration fee. If the applicant leaves, the bail will be refunded.

There are many flaws in this plan, but it is still better than our current system.  Which is quite appalling, really.  (Both our current system and the fact that this is better than it)

 

 

Democracy & Small Government

The LDP is in favour of competitive federalism, and worry that ‘the federal government has usurped the authority of the states by ratifying international treaties and then relying on these to override the powers of the states as elaborated in the constitution’.  States’ rights, anyone?  They really are the Tea Party, aren’t they…

They also want voluntary voting and enrolment, presumably because they are more likely to get elected that way – compulsory voting does tend to drive votes towards the middle of the political system and away from the extremes.

They want set parliamentary terms, which I think is a good idea, and they want citizen-initiated constitutional referendums:

Citizen Initiated Referendums (CIR) allow for laws to be struck down in a two part process. First, a petition requiring the signatures of 2% of the eligible electors would be submitted to the Australian Electoral Commission. Second, following a period long enough for people to think the issue over, the electorate has the chance to vote Yes or No to abolish the law in question. The decision would be made on a simple majority basis. If the vote is no, there should be no opportunity to hold another referendum for a significant period (eg two years).

This policy effectively introduces the citizenry as a part-time, voluntary “third house of parliament” that exercises a “citizen’s veto” over bad government policy. The politicians (the House of Representatives and Senate) would retain responsibility for introducing new legislation but in the knowledge that grossly unpopular laws, taxes or regulations could potentially be repealed.

Hmm.  I’m not sure of this one.  I feel like it is really open to being manipulated.  I mean, take the Marriage Equality Plebiscite.  Whatever you think of the outcome, there was a *lot* of advertising going on about this, and not all of it was entirely accurate.  I can see this sort of legislation being misused, particularly by whichever party was in opposition, to nullify anything the government wanted to do, to be honest.

Government should be small, and highly regulated (but… red tape!), there needs to be protection for whistleblowers and freedom of information, and also property rights must be protected!

The LDP wants to immediately privatise utilities, transport, the NBN, the ABC, the SBS, and Australia Post, and in the long term, they also want to privatise schools, hospitals and universities.  They want to deregulate just about everything.  They are convinced that the free market works *because* people are selfish.

As long as there is the rule of law and a voluntary system, the profit-maximising behaviour of businesses will lead to the best outcomes. Intervening in the process to create different incentives will only distort the market and lead to a less efficient outcome. The worst form of interference is government ownership* and control, which reduces the profit motive, but even subtle political manipulation can lead to a sub-optimal outcome.

Best outcomes for whom, though?  Because there are some things, like healthcare and education, to which  everyone needs access in order to have any chance for a reasonable quality of life.  And access to these things shouldn’t be subject to market forces.

They also believe in equality, which is to say, they think we all already have it and affirmative action is discriminating against that most oppressed of all groups, straight, white men.  Apparently, any talk of systematic disadvantage is just expecting someone else to take responsibility for your problems, and anyway, affirmative action doesn’t work.

And free speech should be absolute:

Freedom of speech and expression should not be limited because the speech or expression is defamatory, offends, insults, humiliates or intimidates, because it is thought to be wrong, or because it is immoral, indecent, or contrary to community expectations. Freedom of speech and expression should only be limited under long-standing laws against aiding or inciting a crime or disturbing the peace.

That is probably the broadest definition of free speech I’ve seen so far – ‘defamatory’ and ‘intimidates’ are not usually on that list, and really take it far further.

Again, I would argue that this is a freedom at the expense of others’ freedom. But apparently, the right to free speech trumps the right to live without fear.

And speaking of which:

The LDP would repeal the Crimes (Foreign Incursions and Recruitment) Act 1978, thus allowing Australians to voluntarily engage in efforts to overthrow authoritarian and oppressive regimes.

Good grief, it’s the bloody Tea Party.  I’m actually a bit shocked by this one.

Also, remember how they were ‘fighting for less government and more freedom’?

Yeah.  This may not be a metaphor.

Which brings us to the LDP’s other favourite things:

Firearms

I’m just going to quote their bullet points in full here.

  • Sport, hunting and self-defence are all legitimate reasons for firearm ownership.
  • Firearm ownership should be subject to possession of a licence. However, all adults over 18 years of age have a right to a licence unless it has been removed because of a history or genuine prospect of coercion.
  • Those who wish to carry a concealed firearm for self-defence are entitled to be issued with a permit to do so unless they have a history or genuine prospect of coercion.
  • All genuine sporting uses of firearms are legitimate.
  • There should be no registration of long-arms.
  • There should be no prohibitions or special limits on semi-automatic firearms.
  • Individuals and organisations are entitled to establish facilities that involve the use of firearms. This includes shooting ranges and hunting reserves.
  • Impediments to children participating in safe shooting activities should be removed.
  • Airsoft and paintball should be deregulated apart from measures to protect innocent bystanders.

I mean… look, either you like everyone having guns as the default setting in society, or you don’t.  I don’t.  The LDP does.

Things I would particularly note are the bits about the ‘history or genuine prospect of coercion’.  Who decides what is a genuine prospect?  Does a restraining order count?

Also, I’m sorry, but children and guns are not two great flavours that taste better together.

Seriously, this is straight out of the NRA playbook, right down to this part:

Ownership of firearms is also the only practical means by which the people can retain any semblance of ensuring that governments remain their servants and not vice versa. Although the ballot box and peaceful protest will always be the preferred means of removing unsatisfactory governments, history is full of examples where those options were denied.

As Thomas Jefferson put it, “What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?” Or as another US President, Woodrow Wilson, put it, “Liberty has never come from government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of government. The history of liberty is the history of resistance.”

This is the point where I start wondering if the ALA really do deserve their spot at the bottom of my ballot, because seriously, this lot are actually advocating armed revolution as a good remedy to bad government.  This is seriously scary stuff.

Gambling, Fast Cars, and other lifestyle choices

The LDP has no particular opinion about gambling, except that it should be taxed less.  Sigh.

They are in favour of marriage equality, but I wish they wouldn’t call it a lifestyle choice, because, ick.

The LDP in favour of freedom of religion, which they interpret fairly sensible – essentially, you can do what you like you but can’t make other people follow your religious convictions (except on your own property, apparently), or expect government funding for it.  But they are a bit worried about halal stuff and Sharia law and ‘acknowledge the significant contribution of Christianity to liberal democratic values’, which I think would come as a surprise to Jesus of Nazareth.

Unsurprisingly, they are in favour of hunting and fishing, and want to reduce ‘unscientific’ restrictions on these activities.

They like motorbikes and want more rights and facilities for motorbikes.

The LDP wants to raise speed limits and reduce the policing of road rules.  They are very excited about the 85% percentile rule for speed limits, but I can’t actually make head or tail of what this is – as far a I can tell, it’s about assuming that most motorists drive safely and a speed limit should be set so that the majority will observe it voluntarily.  And speed limits over 90kmph should be reduced by a uniform amount at night and in the rain.

That last bit sounded almost sensible, but then there’s this:

Annual road deaths in Australia have fallen from a peak of 3,798 in 1970 to approximately 1,600. Over that period, road travel has increased by almost 150 per cent. While this is commendable in one sense, the restrictions on mobility and transport imposed in the course of achieving such a reduction are rarely considered.

My jaw literally dropped at that one.  That is one messed-up set of priorities.

Policing & the Law

To my extreme surprise, I actually like quite a bit of the LDP’s policy on policing.  They want to base it on Peel’s Principles of Policing, which warms my historical-romance-reading heart (you would be surprised how often these things come up in historical romances), which are actually pretty sensible and reasonable, and favour cooperation and de-escalation over coercion.

I don’t quite see why they put this in policing, but I approve of the fact that the LDP is against the death penalty, and believes that

Rehabilitation, restitution for victims, deterrence and incapacitation (that is, removing perpetrators from society to avoid further harm) are legitimate principles for sentencing. Retribution by the state is not a legitimate principle of sentencing

At last, somewhere the LDP and I can agree!

Education

But that’s not going to last, because the LDP opposes government  involvement in education, beyond accreditation, and they want to phase out public schools.

When governments first began to establish schools in the late nineteenth century, they were motivated by the belief that all children should receive an education irrespective of their means, and that the education should meet certain standards. For hundreds of years before that, education had been a matter for private institutions and churches. More than a century later, the rationale for governments to remain involved in the provision of education has no validity. Indeed, both children and the community generally would be better off if the provision of education was left to others. The role of government is simply to establish a policy framework that ensures all children receive a good educational start in life.

Australia currently has a mixed education system comprising a substantial but declining government sector and a growing private sector. There is also a vast bureaucracy devoted to the administration of education. Dissatisfaction with government schools is leading to a substantial drop in their popularity. The percentage of students enrolled in non-government schools grew from 23 percent in 1980 to 33 percent in 2005. Forty percent of students attend non-government senior secondary schools. However, the ability of parents to choose a different school for their children is restricted to those wealthy enough to buy into those areas where there are successful government schools or to pay costly fees. Clearly, a more equitable solution would be to give parents on low incomes the same type of choice.

Do they really think that low-cost schools will magically spring up once we get rid of public schools and make it all competitive?  Also, what happens to special schools in this brave new world?  It’s going to be really hard to make schools for kids with special needs affordable without government involvement, I’d think.

The Liberal Democrats will deregulate and privatise higher education, while retaining loans for tuition fees. It is unfair for those without the benefit of higher education to pay for the higher education of others.

Austudy and Abstudy should be abolished, the HECS repayment threshold will be the point where you lose eligibility for unemployment benefits, and HECS will also charge commercial interest.  And shouldn’t be written off at death.

Basically, you only get higher education if you have wealthy parents, and never mind the fact that education is pretty much the only pathway out of poverty and to employment these days.  I think I hate these people.

Childcare

The LDP thinks that childcare is over-regulated and overrated and looking after children isn’t something that requires qualifications, so it should be much cheaper, basically.  And they wan to get rid of the Family Tax Benefit, Baby Bonus, government-funded parental leave, the Child Care Benefit and the Child Care Rebate.

Remember all that equality and liberty we care so much about?  Yeah, not if you are a woman who wants to have children, basically.  (Yes, some men stay at home with the kids, and good on them.  But in the vast majority of cases, it’s the women who do this, and lose the income, superannuation, etc as a result.)

Energy and the Environment

Scientific evidence suggests that the Earth’s climate has changed throughout its existence, sometimes dramatically, and that changes in climate have impacted human civilisation. Much of human history has been subject to the effects of global warming or cooling – the origins of the Sumerian, Babylonian and perhaps also biblical stories of a great flood, for example, are probably due to a massive rise in sea levels following global warming 7,600 years ago.

Global cooling from 1300 to 500 BC gave rise to the advance of glaciers, migration, invasion and famine. The Medieval Warm Period from 900 to 1300 AD led to the Vikings establishing colonies and trade routes.

Whether human activity is causing climate change or not, the important issue is whether governments are capable of implementing policies that mitigate it without reducing the prosperity of future generations.

Should the evidence become compelling that global warming is due to human activity, that such global warming is likely to have significantly negative consequences for human existence, and that changes in human activity could realistically reverse those consequences, the Liberal Democrats would favour market-based options.

So, warming is a good thing, because look what it did for the Vikings, and anyway, even if it is a problem – and we aren’t sure the science says it is! – the market is the best solution.

I can’t believe these people.

Anyway.  They seem to think that energy costs should be lower, and the best way to make this happen is to privatise all energy companies.  Because that has worked so very well so far.  They do think  that the government has a role in establishing ‘consistent, objective rules for environmental impact consistent with community values’, but they also seem to think that noise pollution by wind farms is on a par, in terms of severity, with emissions from coal-fired power plants and storage of waste by nuclear power plants.

They are pretty big into nuclear power, actually.

They also feel that the value placed on the environment is one of those luxuries of an advanced and somewhat effete civilisation, apparently.

There is nothing inherently superior about the “natural” environment, a term that simply refers to that part of the environment man has not extensively modified, nor anything inferior about the man-made environment. The elevation by some people of the natural environment to semi-religious status is no more than a reflection of their personal beliefs and values. The Liberal Democrats aim for a more balanced perspective.

The high value placed on the natural environment and on minimising the impact of humans is largely a consequence of society’s prosperity. In less prosperous nations and times, particularly when survival was more uncertain, concerns such as the biodiversity of wetlands and the majesty of rainforests rarely received serious consideration.

And anyway, if there is a problem government regulation only makes it worse.  We need to stop being mean to the logging industry, we should stop worrying about GM crops, and they will protect endangered species by letting people… buy them?

This reform will give environmental and conservation groups the freedom they are now denied, to buy the relevant natural resources and devote them to conservation purposes. This will greatly increase the ability of genuine conservation groups to protect endangered species at the same time as it fosters civil society and respects private property, removing bureaucratic vested interests in the publicly-funded neglect of endangered species.

And then when they get outbid by mining companies or the logging industry, oh well, that’s the market for you.

Oh!  And also, the best, the very best, way to preserve native species is to let people hunt them:

The hunting of certain native animals is one of the few means by which they can be given a commercial value that ensures their survival. In some areas of Africa, commercial hunting of big game species has made them so commercially valuable that poaching is no longer a problem.

Up is down, wet is dry, and killing animals is a great way to keep them alive.

Also, I’m pretty sure they are wrong about the poaching bit.

The LDP thinks that recycling tends to be wasteful and shouldn’t be subsidised.  And national parks should be open to all, and should have vehicle access and access for hunters to control pest animals.

Industrial Relations

According to the LDP, unions are terrible, the existence of a minimum wage is terrible, and unfair dismissal laws are terrible (except in cases of sexual harrassment).

According to me, the LDP is terrible (and also apparently just fine with exploiting workers),

Who do you believe?

Copyright

Should be reduced to 15 years or the life of the author.  And generally weakened.  I’m sorry, I’ve been at this for hours and I really can’t keep going into detail on these policies.  This one seems only moderately stupid and harmful, at least.

Banks

Inflation is taxation by stealth, and banks should be allowed to fail, and not be bailed out.

Bailouts are a poor use of taxpayer funds. They represent a transfer from taxpayers without savings and taxpayers who manage their savings prudently, to people who have savings but concentrate them in a poorly managed bank. The prospect of bail outs discourages scrutiny of bank management, and poor management contributes to the risk of bank failure.

Here’s the thing with the LDP.  All of their policies assume that everyone has the time, money and education to research everything they do and make informed choices.  And all their policies also tend to have the effect of decreasing the time, money and education people have access to – by reducing wages, making education and healthcare more inaccessible, etc.

I mean, I’m reasonably intelligent and well-educated but that doesn’t mean I can accurately assess the safety and interactions of any medications I’m taking.  Nor do I have the skills or knowledge of forensic accounting to know whether my bank is being managed well.  But apparently, that’s really my problem, and I shouldn’t be so dependent on the government to solve it for me.

I’m not convinced about bank bailouts.  Banks don’t seem to have many consequences for bad behaviour.  But shrugging your shoulders when someone loses their savings and saying, well, people should have known better and chosen a different bank is just callous.

Taxation

The LDP is against it.

Welfare

Ditto.  Oh, alright then.  Basically, they want everyone to have tax-free savings accounts to fund health, disability and unemployment.

[Those] with less than a designated amount in their accounts would be required to take out catastrophic health insurance. This would protect those with low balances from large health costs and also lead to a large and highly competitive market for health insurance.

To prevent insurance from becoming a substitute for welfare, a co-payment on all health expenses would be required.

So, what happens if you can’t afford to take out insurance? Or go to the doctor?  Where do you get the seed money for this account?  What if you are born with a disability that means you can’t work?  What if you are looking after a dependent, and have no income?

Well, you probably should have tried harder to be born into a wealthy family, then, shouldn’t you?

Bleargh.  I really don’t like these people.  They may actually be worse than the ALA, and I didn’t think that was possible.

Essentially, the LDP’s policies provide absolute freedom if you have money, and the freedom to starve if you don’t.  You are responsible for yourself – but not to anyone else, and nobody is responsible to you. It’s the very definition of selfishness.

In the LDP system, people are only valued as commodities, for their ability to materially contribute to the economy. If you can’t contribute, you have no value – and this is defined very narrowly and in a way that tends to disadvantage women, who often have caring responsibilities.

I can’t face commentating on their alternative budget.  It’s mostly ‘privatise everything and cut any service that might help someone’.  You can look at it here if you like.

But I’m done.

5 thoughts on “Victorian State Election 2018: Meet the Liberal Democrats

  1. And national parks should be open to all, and should have vehicle access and access for hunters to control pest animals.
    Frankly I trust the “hunt’n’hoon” party a lot more than this mob with anything regarding control of feral animals. This mob sounds suspiciously like they think complete deregulation of gun ownership will somehow equate to responsible hunting.

    • Yeah, the hunt’n’hoon party are misguided, but reasonable people. This lot are bloody terrifying. And what with all their business about self-defense and making sure the government knows we can revolt at any time, I get the distinct impression that animals are not the ones the really want to use their guns against.

  2. Also I think they either don’t understand or have an outdated understanding of how HECS works. Personally I am in favour of their representatives not wearing seat belts or bike helmets and paying out of pocket for all medical and educational services. Oh and paying tolls on all roads.

  3. Pingback: The One and Only Cate Speaks Endorsed How to Vote Card! | Cate Speaks

  4. Pingback: Victorian State Election Wrap Up: Who’s Who in the Legislative Council | Cate Speaks

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