The ACT Liberal Democratic Party will contest the 2016 ACT Election, running credible local candidates committed to personal freedom and reducing the role of government in the ACT.

At the beginning of 2001 a group of young Australians recognised the inadequacy of the political choices facing the Australian electorate and banded together to create a serious, progressive, small-government alternative. Since then, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has achieved electoral success in a number of NSW local government elections—including the election of Australia’s first libertarian mayor in Campbelltown—and at the Federal level with the election of David Leyonhjelm to the Senate in 2013 and 2016.

The Liberal Democrat's philosophy sometimes confuses those who like to apply left and right labels to political ideologies. For instance, the legalisation of marijuana for personal use or support for gay marriage is often regarded as left-wing, while the outsourcing of services to the private sector and reducing taxes is considered right-wing.

The ACT Liberal Democrats are neither left-wing nor right-wing. We support evidence-based decision-making, and reject the protection of special interests. We are committed to transparency and accountability in government. We believe that the public has lost confidence in the manner in which government does business in the ACT – from land release policy, construction and development works, through to the management of licensed venues.

We believe that government money is your money and that you have the right to expect more from your elected representatives. We believe that government is a useful servant but a terrible master, and that Canberrans should have a voice that resists unnecessary intrusions into our lives and advocates for personal freedoms that the major parties have shown little desire to support.

A High Quality of Life

While Canberra residents enjoy a high standard of living, there are some warning signs that government provided services are not up to scratch. About half of all parents choose to educate their children outside the public schooling system at some stage of their edcuation. We have some of the worst hospital waiting times in Australia. Our public housing system is bloated and inefficient. The cost of childcare is beyond the means of many working parents. Young homebuyers can often only find affordable houses in far-flung suburbs on small blocks, as Canberra begins to feel the impact of a confused planning system, and we see concerning signs of a two-tiered market developing in the housing sector. Mum and dad investors are now finding themselves paying a quarter of their rental earnings in land taxes, rates and other fees to the ACT government.

A vote for the ACT Liberal Democrats is a vote for choice and flexibility in education and childcare. We would act to address housing affordability issues in Canberra. After all, government policies should focus on genuine homebuyers, not speculators. While we acknowledge that the federal funding of state and territory health systems is a complex issue, we believe that reform to the delivery of medical services within the ACT could achieve significant benefits for citizens. You would be voting for serious reform to public housing in Canberra, allowing government to prioritise access to a smaller stock of housing based on need. And you would be voting against the seemingly endless increases in rates, levied by a government that seeks more and more from its citizens without looking for efficiencies within its own operations first.

A Diversified Economy

The ACT is home to a large part of the Commonwealth public service. We all benefit from having thousands of well-paid, securely employed and well-educated citizens drawing an income from the federal government. This benefit, however, is not without its risks. Many of us would recall the impact of cuts to the APS in the early Howard years on house prices, unemployment and bankruptcies. More recent efficiency dividends, job cuts and the movement of APS roles out of Canberra have also had a negative impact on the ACT region. Indications are that these reductions will continue into the foreseeable future, as more functions are moved to other cities and regional areas, and individual vacancies created by retirements in an ageing APS remain unfilled by government agencies.

The ACT also faces revenue challenges. The Commonwealth government has recently cut earmarked funding to states and territories for health and education. Further cuts seem likely if the task of federal budget repair becomes a priority. The ACT could also lose out in GST reform. GST revenue is raised through a tax on all non-exempted goods and services and is allocated by the Commonwealth to states and territories using a series of complicated formulas. The ACT is currently a net recipient of GST funding – which is to say, we receive more from the Commonwealth government than we pay in GST. With the intensity of lobbying of the larger states and territories, it is uncertain whether the ACT will continue to receive an equally favourable deal into the future.

On the upside, Canberra is home to a pool of highly-skilled labour, a great number of national bodies and functions that provide roles in servicing the federal government, and world-class research institutions and educational facilities.

The ACT government should be responsive and act now to address the probable reduction of APS employment in Canberra and the possibility of decreases in GST funding. A vote for the ACT Liberal Democrats is a push to diversify the local economy. We know that this can be achieved by encouraging private investment by reducing red tape and restrictions, and by reducing the cost of doing business in Canberra. Industry should be encouraged to partner with government in the provision of services, to work with our research institutions to innovate, and to make long-term investments that create jobs and stimulate economic activity. It will require the removal of unnecessary barriers to competition that protect special interests and the reduction of the growing array of taxes that unfairly punish business under the guise of government service delivery.

A diversified economy is the only way in which Canberra residents can ensure that we continue to enjoy a high quality of living in the face of the challenges of coming decades.

Your Personal Freedom

The ACT has seen a significant increase in rules and regulations affecting the way each of us can live our lives. University students have been fined for cycling without a helmet between classes on campus. The government engages bureaucrats to run consultation processes on what we should be allowed to do with the green strip in front of your property. There have been recent calls to ban the humble moggie from going outside. If you choose to go out of an evening, there are pages of rules about where you can drink, what you can drink, in what volume and in which container, and at what time you can drink it.

We have had 15 years of avowedly progressive government, but are still little closer to progress on voluntary euthanasia, gay marriage or marijuana legalisation. In fact, there are now more rules and restrictions on what you can do than ever before.

A vote for the ACT Liberal Democrats is a vote against the Nanny State. It is a vote for common sense and personal responsibility. We don’t believe that the right way of dealing with a one-in-a-thousand problem is to punish the vast majority of people who do the right thing. We will oppose any lockout laws because they do just that: they punish the law-abiding majority for actions of a tiny minority. We would work to ensure that cats are not banned from going outside, but rather look to work within the current system where owners are responsible for their pets, including their impact on local wildlife.

While there have been obstacles to the ACT legislating on gay marriage and euthanasia, we would look to work cooperatively with likeminded MLAs to undertake work towards a trial euthanasia program and to lobby the federal government for change on the matter. Finally, we would seek to end the waste of government resources tied up in the policing and prosecution of marijuana users. A vote for the ACT Liberal Democrats would be a vote for a sensible policy on marijuana—that is, the legalisation of the growth and consumption of marijuana—allowing adults to make decisions for themselves.

If you believe that societies don’t tax their way to prosperity, if you worry about the rise of the Nanny State, if you despair at the cosy relationships between the major parties and special interest groups, and if you think that your government ought to spend more time balancing the books and spend less time passing rules about matters of personal choice, the ACT Liberal Democrats are for you.