In the latest of an ongoing series of candidate interviews for the federal seat of Lilley, Aubrey Clark of the Liberty and Democratic Party (LDP) spoke to Woolly Days yesterday. The LDP is a new entry on the Australian political stage. Founded by economist and libertarian John Humphreys in 2001, this is the first federal election it is contesting. Humphreys leads the party’s Queensland Senate ticket and the party are contesting 12 of Queensland’s 26 lower house seats including Aubrey Clark in Lilley.
Aubrey Clark is 21 years old, a former overseas volunteer and student and is currently studying economic and maths at the University of Queensland. He lives in St Lucia but is contesting Lilley as a “marginal seat”. Clark says he became interested in politics a couple of years ago when he met a group of friends with a libertarian perspective who successfully changed his left-wing views. He says he is not a political person but feels strongly about the way in which social and economic liberties are being taken away from citizens.
He defined the LDP as a “moderate libertarian party” as opposed to extremists, the anarchists who see no place for government at all. Clark believes there is a legitimate role for governments to “help hold society together” but he strongly supports the “small state” principle with low taxes, the right to take drugs, gay marriage and freedom of association. Clark acknowledges that legalisation of marijuana is one of the LDP’s more controversial policies. He does not advocate its use but merely states that drug use is “people’s own affair”. He said people should have the freedom to “do what they like with their own bodies”. In the area of gay marriages, Clark believes government should not have any role in what he called “private contracts between individuals”.
Clark also believes in economic freedoms. People were free, he said, to employ, or work for, whoever they wish and do what they like with their own property. He believes in free trade and says the LDP would abolish government interference in work relations. He said there was no role for government in private contracts and also believed there should be no anti-discrimination laws. “The Government shouldn’t force people to be tolerant”, he said. Clark believed that pubs, clubs and restaurants should be free to set their own smoking or non-smoking policies and there should be no laws governing prostitution. “If people want to sell their own bodies,” he said “government has no place to regulate or restrict it.”
Clark praised the economic policy of the party founder and personal friend John Humphreys. Humphreys’ policy is outlined in his document “Reform 30/30: Rebuilding Australia’s Tax and Welfare Systems” (pdf). Clark said the policy proposes a flat 30 per cent tax rate on all income above $30,000 with a negative income tax of 30 per cent paid to any one earning below that threshold. He said the proposal was revenue neutral and had excited lots of interest from both major parties and groups such as the CIS. He admitted the policy would be difficult to sell because of the way people took advantage of existing tax rules and tax breaks such as negative gearing.
Clark saw the three biggest issues in the election as tax, social freedoms and economic freedoms. He believed that human induced climate change was a reality and something needed to be done. He said the LDP would soon release a white paper on global warming that advocated carbon taxes but he was against a carbon trading system which had failed wherever it was tried. Clark believed there was no great difference between the two major parties and said the LDP had split their preferences equally to both parties across the country.
When asked about the media, Clark said it was free to do whatever it liked. Once again, he saw no role for government in this area and was not worried that a company such as News Ltd would monopolise information. He said “everyone I know gets their information from blogs”. He said he reads The Economist (a choice he shares with the Lilley Democrat candidate Jennifer Cluse) and had faith in the fact that people will choose what they like the best. Clark finished by saying he acknowledged that some of society’s rules were necessary. “People should not be allowed to kill or steal or break a contract,” he said. “Those rules are needed to hold society together”.