The Liberal Democrats look set to take a Senate seat in NSW after the party scored the best spot on the ballot paper. A libertarian party, the LDP’s website describes it as a "a serious, progressive, small-government alternative."
The party was formed in 2001 partly as a reaction to the policies of the Howard government. The LDP’s founders "had been exasperated by the Howard approach of big government, high taxes and restrictions on personal freedoms", the party’s Peter Whelan wrote on the Menzies House blog. Writing in the Australian, Cassandra Wilkinson describes the party as the "only group which is comprehensively and philosophically liberal".
Asked about Tony Abbott’s policies, the party’s likely senator in NSW, David Leyonhjelm, said: "We wouldn’t stop him from getting rid of the carbon tax … But when it comes to his big spending plans he may be in trouble, such as direct action on climate change and his paid parental leave – he won’t be getting any support from us."
According to the Liberal Democratic Party’s website:
The LDP’s philosophy sometimes confuses those who like to apply left and right labels to political ideologies. Free trade is considered to be right-wing while drug legalisation is left-wing. Cutting tax is right-wing but defending civil liberties is left-wing.
However, all of these positions share the common principle of decreasing the role of government. They differ from "left-wing" people who often want the government to control the economy but not our social lives, and from "right-wing" people who want the government to control our social lives but not the economy.
The LDP supports the legalisation of cannabis, the right to carry a concealed firearm for self-defence, same sex marriage, abolition of the minimum wage, the abolition of public housing, and limiting welfare benefits to Australian citizens. When running as a candidate for the Outdoor Recreation Party, David Leyonhjelm pushed for higher speed limits and the freedom to perform burnouts.
Some Coalition MPs have accused the LDP of stealing the votes of people too rushed or confused to correctly identify the Liberal Party on the ballot paper. Coalition senator Eric Abetz said the LDP: "simply used the name to garner votes to then distribute out to minor parties and came nowhere near the Liberal Party where it counted." The Liberal Party has tried unsuccessfully to convince the Australian Electoral Commission to prevent the LDP from using the name Liberal Democratic Party.
As David Leyonhjelm pointed out in a comment at Catallaxy, the Liberal Party preferenced Fred Nile’s Christian Democrats and the Family First Party ahead of the LDP.
Last month Crikey’s Andrew Crook revealed that LDP operatives controlled a "swag of right-wing micro-parties" including the Smokers Rights Party and Stop the Greens. Also last month, the Sex Party’s Robbie Swan complained that the LDP and the parties it controlled had failed to honour a preference deal by not lodging in Victoria.