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Legislative Council

05 February 2019
David Limbrick  (LDP)


Mr LIMBRICK (South Eastern Metropolitan) (16:07:15): Firstly, President, congratulations are in order for your election to the office, and to all other members elected to this Legislative Council. I thank you all for allowing me to deliver my inaugural speech representing the people of South Eastern Metropolitan Region. Today I have good news for some of you and bad news for others. For those Victorians who feel overtaxed and over-regulated and are generally just over the way that government interferes in their lives, I bring great news: the libertarians have arrived. But for those of you who feel entitled to other people’s money or who like to meddle in private lives, impose taxes, police thoughts and censor others or who could be described as nanny statists, champagne socialists, rent-seeking fat cats, moral guardians, human red-tape dispensers or any other variety of authoritarian, I have terrible news: the libertarians have arrived. Along with my colleague Tim Quilty from Northern Victoria Region, I am proud to represent the Liberal Democrats. We are the first people in the 160-year history of the Victorian Parliament to be elected on a purely libertarian or classical liberal platform. We believe in liberty, and we are here to make Victorians more free. But first I would like to take this opportunity to tell you about myself. Like so many crossbenchers, I am not from the political class. My background is in IT. I am the proud father of three young boys, who I am happy could attend here today. As far as I can determine, I am the first man on my side of the family to ever finish high school. I am also the first to go to university, and I am certainly the first to ever be elected to office. It would be fair to say that I was born and bred in south-east Melbourne. I grew up in the region on a small hobby farm in Cranbourne in a house built by my grandfather, a veteran of World War II. The area where I lived was still rural at the time, and we looked after horses, goats, cows, chickens, dogs and cats. My mother originally hailed from Highett. She was the first woman in her family to go to university and spent a long, successful career teaching in secondary schools. I am honoured that she has joined us here today in the gallery. My late father lived in Oakleigh as a child. He suffered from a number of childhood illnesses, including polio. My middle name, Boyd, is in honour of one of the surgeons that helped him. He always loved animals, especially his prized racehorse. I remember as a child being taken to the track with him at 4 in the morning to watch the training before he would go off to his day job as an investigator. Unfortunately he passed away suddenly from heart problems when I was a teenager, although he is with me in spirit here today. My family was never political. No‑one that I knew was involved in politics. I never had ambitions to be involved in politics even as an adult; however, I always had a sense of what freedom was and why it was important. I believe in the individual. There are no human rights without individual rights. Self-ownership is the idea that a person owns their own body and as long as they do not cause harm to others they may act as they see fit, and no‑one, including government, should interfere in this. In the words of John Stuart Mill: Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign. It has always surprised me how unpopular this idea is. It seems there is no shortage of people who would happily invoke the power of the state to force others to bend to their will. The principles of freedom of speech and religion naturally follow from this. A healthy democracy requires free speech. Fundamentally, libertarianism is a moral position. It is based on respect for other people and the belief that we do not know what is better for others and that coercion is wrong. Just as it is wrong for a bully in the playground to take your lunch money and tie your shoelaces together, it is wrong for governments to overtax you and restrict your freedom. I reject identity politics. I have been saddened by the recent rise of authoritarians on both the left and the right attempting to declare certain sections of society as good or bad. Genders, races and religions do not commit crimes; individuals do. Pitting man against woman, black against white and Christian against Muslim is a recipe for social chaos. All Australians are valuable and should be treated equally under the law. Following the turn of the century I became increasingly concerned as governments grew ever larger and more dangerous. Even a cursory understanding of 20th century history will provide ample evidence of the disaster that awaits when government power is allowed to get out of control. My beliefs led me to join the Liberal Democrats, a party whose principles align strongly with my own. It is wonderful to see that enough freedom still exists in this great country that a person from outside the political class can be elected to Parliament. Tim Quilty and I follow the paths blazed by our Liberal Democrat colleagues, Senator Leyonhjelm in the federal Senate and Aaron Stonehouse in the Parliament of Western Australia. They have demonstrated that we are a consistent party of principle. They never vote for a reduction in freedom or an increase in taxes, and neither will we. The Liberal Democrats are often called a minor party, but there is nothing minor about our principles, which have been developed over centuries. Libertarians are consistently on the right side of history. We have led debates about free markets, a philosophy which has lifted billions of people out of poverty. We have been at the forefront of campaigns for women’s suffrage and free speech, against slavery and, more recently, for marriage equality and assisted suicide. I intend to carry on our grand tradition of being right by urging my colleagues to open their eyes and end the pointless, costly and deadly war on drugs. Like the failed experiment of alcohol prohibition in the US in the 1920s, drug prohibition also has been a catastrophe with similar consequences. As a taxpayer, I have had enough of spending billions of dollars on our justice, health and welfare systems to support prohibition. As a citizen who values the integrity of institutions, I have had enough of the proliferation of organised crime, petty crime and corruption. As a parent, I have had enough of hearing about young people dying from adulterated substances produced in backyard labs. It is time we not only talked about the harms caused by drugs but also started talking about the harms caused by prohibition. In Portugal the possession of drugs was decriminalised in 2001. For a country that was once considered the heroin capital of Europe, drug-related HIV infections have fallen by 95 per cent and the drug mortality rate is now the lowest in Western Europe. I will listen carefully to constituents about how the nanny state is encroaching on their lives and untie red tape wherever I find it. Today I pledge not to waste this opportunity to stand up to the legislative bullies, using my vote when I can and calling them out when I cannot. If we have our way, libertarians will eventually fill the seats in this place and leave Victorians free to plan their own lives instead of having it planned for them. I would like to acknowledge and thank some of the many people who have helped get me here today. Firstly, I would like to thank the Liberal Democrats team, especially Les Hughes, Duncan Spender, David Leyonhjelm, Stuart Hatch, Tim Quilty, Adam Karlovsky, Rachel Connor and Gabriel Buckley. I would like to thank the party founder, John Humphreys. I would also like to thank the candidates, volunteers and supporters for all of their efforts, especially Matthew Ford, Kirsty O’Sullivan, Lachlan Christie and Rob McCathie. I would like to thank my wonderful wife, Etsuko, and my three sons, Sen, Kai and Nao, for putting up with me over the past few years after getting involved in politics and directing so much time and energy away from them. I would like to thank my ex-colleagues who were so understanding when I suddenly had to depart last December. Lastly, I would like to thank my mother, who put up with so much trouble from me during my youth. Without her support and guidance, I doubt I would have ever achieved anything of substance. Thank you very much. Members applauded.