'Our Candidates Are Freaks'

28/08/2015 5:38 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
Stefan Postles via Getty Images
CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - JULY 07: Senator David Leyonhjelm casts his vote for President of the Senate during an official ceremony at Parliament on July 7, 2014 in Canberra, Australia. Twelve Senators will be sworn in today, with the repeal of the carbon tax expected to be first on the agenda. (Photo by Stefan Postles/Getty Images)

On behalf of the Liberal Democrats I must issue an apology. Unlike other political parties, we cannot guarantee that half of our candidates will be women. We understand that many of you like to see a 50/50 male/female split -- whether on the ballot for a politician or in the Yellow Pages when looking for a plumber. But, unfortunately, our hands are tied.

It's our members, you see. They're so annoyingly principled. They've got it stuck in their heads that individuals have rights that the collective cannot overrule. And to bind the party, they've ratified policies supporting civil liberties and equality before the law, and opposing affirmative action.

So if an individual in our party is the best person to promote the party's principles and policies in Parliament, that individual will get our nomination.

Not only can't I guarantee that 50 percent of Liberal Democrat candidates will be women, I can't guarantee that a quarter of them will be born overseas, that half of them will be under the median age of 38, or that half will have below-average intelligence. Merit is the only consideration. Race, age, sexual orientation and secret cross dressing tendencies don't matter either.

In fact, I have a huge admission to make -- our candidates are not at all representative of the general population. Each of them believes that you can run your own life and that you pay too much tax. With views like this, our candidates are freaks.

I can't even guarantee that each Liberal Democrat candidate will be local, either. At the last election our party had the temerity to nominate a Queenslander to run in Western Australia, simply because he was an intelligent and hard-working libertarian with experience in the West, a willingness to move back there, and a desire to implement policies that would make West Australians better off.

Our party does not accept that having lived in the same postcode and supported the same footy team for your entire life should be a qualification for political office. Our members believe it is what you think, what you know and what you'll do that matters.

The big parties have it so much easier. As the price of an affirmative action policy they can screw the hard‑working and talented individuals who would be the best candidates. But since the big parties require their new politicians to just repeat what the frontbenchers are saying, no‑one notices that the best candidates haven't been selected anyway.

So back to my apology. If the men in parliament like me are only there because we elbowed out women in our ranks, we should fix the problem ourselves rather than expect the blameless young men of our parties to sacrifice themselves. I therefore propose that Tony Abbott, Bill Shorten and I immediately resign, to be replaced by women.

I'll do it once they do. Promise.


David Leyonhjelm is Liberal Democrats Senator for New South Wales. He is on Twitter @DavidLeyonhjelm or you can visit his website here.

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