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Don’t Tread On Us - A special message from the Libertarian Party of Australia


LA Member
Staff member

This open letter comes from the Libertarian Party of Australia, you can check out our website at https://libertarianparty.org.au. We are writing this for any interested parties participating in the Liberal Democrats “name change vote” being conducted on Saturday, May 13.

This email is somewhat long and we have therefore broken it up into subsections. These are:
  • About Us
  • The Workers Party and lessons learned
  • A Radical Strategy
  • Merger discussions with the Liberal Democrats
  • Some Q&As about the Libertarian Party in relation to the LDP’s proposed name change
  • Finally

About Us

The Libertarian Party of Australia was conceived around July of 2020 and launched on the 5th of November in 2020. The aim was to build an organisation that promotes radical libertarian ideals through the political sphere and to have a party that always puts integrity and principle above votes, a party that uses the political soapbox to educate Australians, and a party that will never sell out principle. Much work has been put into the party, including branding, platform and strategy. We based our platform on the 1975 Workers Party platform, spending many weekends working on how to include more recent issues including the Orwellian/surveillance state, Bitcoin, and more, while making minimal changes so as to honour the work of the giants that came before us. This was a huge undertaking. Please take a read.

A major part of the Libertarian Party’s direction has been guided by Bob Howard’s 1979 reflective essay in Playboy, particularly that it’s a better long-term strategy to be driven by radical ideals rather than populism. Last year (during 2022) a few of us flew to Brisbane to meet with Bob Howard and discuss the Libertarian Party. Bob signed two books for us with different messages, these were:
  • “Do it right and do it once.”
  • “Remember: The slow way is the fast way. Good luck.”
It may be true that from the outside it doesn’t look like much has been happening, but we’ve been trying very deliberately to build an organisation that all libertarians can be proud of and to ensure that the “Libertarian” brand will be respected, even by those that disagree with us. We want to learn from the mistakes of the past, mistakes that the Liberal Democrats continue to make. Our vision is a party whose efforts and words remain just as true and respectable in 30 years as they do today.


The Workers Party and lessons learned

In Bob Howard’s 1979 reflective essay in Playboy, many reasons were given for where the party went wrong. These included the party straying from principle, the party losing its radical messaging to pursue “issues of the day”, the party’s inability to attract young people by not being idealistic enough, the push by non-libertarians to make the party something that it is not, and more. Instead of libertarians, the party was somewhat seen as pro-big business and conservative.

We are also guided by this quote by Ron Paul, "Ideas are the only things that count, and politicians are, for the most part, pretty much irrelevant."

In stewarding the Libertarian Party, we want to prevent the same mistakes from being made. In an LDP context some recent mistakes in just over the past roughly two-years that we would have rather seen avoided include, the:
  • last WA State Election, where the LDP ran on building a freeway that the Labor and Liberal parties wouldn’t build, banning development to “protect the Perth Hills”, and state-based payment “bonuses” for babies. The LDP had one of its worst-ever results.
  • recent Federal Election, particularly in Queensland where there was a distinct lack of libertarian candidates and messaging. A lot of effort and money was wasted and it doesn’t seem that the LDP’s Queensland branch is any healthier because of it.
  • recent close-call with Barry Reed/David Leyonhjelm and co. in NSW. We are pleased that John Ruddick got up and are hoping for good things, but it really was a mess.
If the LDP were to use the Libertarian Party name, we’d hope that they would make libertarians proud.

A Principled Strategy

Our strategy can be found at https://libertarianparty.org.au/strategy. Our ten points of strategy have been adopted and adapted from the Rothbard Caucus of the Libertarian Party in the United States. There is no reason why a radical strategy (the Libertarian Party) can’t exist beside a more moderate party (the Liberal Democrats).

Take as an example how the Libertarian Party would seek to differentiate its messaging from some of the recent LDP NSW campaign:
  • “Capitalism”? We are for private law, voluntarism.
  • “Coal or nuclear”? We are for a free market in energy.
  • "Covid-Justice"? We are for private property rights.
  • "Colour-blind"? We are for voluntary association.
  • “Cuts"? Abolish! Reduce the burden of the state.


Merger discussions with the Liberal Democrats

We only became aware that the LDP were looking to change to the “Libertarian Party” after it had been recently announced in the Liberal Democrats Members and Supporters Facebook group. After some enquiries and with a fairly short time-frame, we floated the idea of a merger and started informal discussions.

Our party is very open to a merger. If something can improve libertarianism in Australia, we are for it. After some brief phone and Zoom discussions, the initial email from us asked “what would an offer look like that very much serves both parties and very much serves libertarian activism for not only now, but for many years to come?“.

From our side, a “framework” for discussion was quickly developed, and the four points at the very top were, word-for-word, copy-and-pasted:
  • What's best for libertarian activism? How can it grow?
  • Certainty for all parties: get an assured outcome
  • Legal fight/money + Electoral Commission fights won't serve anyone well
  • Radical libertarians need a venue they can be proud of
Our primary focus through the merger discussions centred on how the LDP can move forward as a Libertarian Party that sticks to principle, echoing some of the concerns articulated in the above section.

We understand politics can be dirty, but in the same way the “Liberal” party hardly represents liberalism, we would hate it if the word “Libertarian” was used by a party that moved in a direction away from the ideals and dirtied up that word too.

Unfortunately, due to the short time constraints from when we became aware of the LDP’s potential name change until now, we weren’t able to resolve these issues to any satisfaction.

We then asked that the LDP defer name changes to a later date so we could continue discussions and to give LDP members more time to consider the change and what a merger might look like. We were told that the name change vote would go ahead anyway.
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Some Q&As about the Libertarian Party in relation to the LDP’s proposed name change

Are the LDP and Libertarian Party rivals?
A: Not at all. We are doing different things, and we believe these things can complement each other. As the Liberal Party fall apart, there is very much a space for a more moderate free-market, free-speech oriented party to take the space. The Liberal Democrats in NSW may soon be well positioned to overtake the Liberal Party. Additionally, as the Libertarian Party pushes radical messages, it hopefully opens the Overton window and makes classical liberalism look much more moderate. Those that want to compete politically can join the LDP. Those that want to focus on education and radical messaging can join the Libertarian Party. Some can be involved in both.

Q: Do you support the LDP changing their name to “Libertarian Party”?
A: We do not. Unfortunately, such a change will put the LDP and its members into direct confrontation with us. As we do have a trademark, we are somewhat legally mandated to defend it. We don’t want to have to. We also think this will be bad for everyone. Firstly, we’ll look like socialists with internal fighting that only muddies up everyone. Secondly, we have a lot of good people doing good things at our end. If the LDP are looking to “wipe us out”, it’s going to split the movement and possibly make us all look muddy and untrustworthy into the future. Reputation matters.

Q: In an election, would the Libertarian Party preference the LDP?
A: We are here for the long haul and are committed to integrity in our dealings. We will never work with “preference whispers” or engage in horse-trading that sees us elect candidates with views that are offensive to us. Our preferences will always be set by members with the guidance “start from the most libertarian, and put the most totalitarian last”. We can’t guarantee we’ll always give the LDP first preferences, but if their candidate is the most libertarian, they will get them. For what it’s worth, in the most-recent NSW election we would have preferred John Ruddick first.

Q: Are you still open to a merger?
A: Absolutely. We are also very open to a coalition.

Q: Do you wish to comment on the recent claims by Jordan Ditloff in an online forum regarding the existence of the Libertarian Party or anyone mentioned?
A: The idea that the Libertarian Party was established with intent to cause harm to the LDP could not be farther from the truth. In 2020 when the Libertarian Party was established there was no indication whatsoever that the LDP was interested in either the name or in positioning itself as a radical libertarian party. If you look at our materials, it should be obvious that we are serious and that serious work by many people has gone into the Libertarian Party. There are further claims made in Mr. Ditloff’s post that we believe, at a polite minimum, are misguided. We think it’s regrettable that this post seemed to make negative arguments based on one-sided, inaccurate, and unfair smearing of an individual rather than promoting a positive vision for libertarianism.

Q: Did you only start your registration campaign in NSW because of the Liberal Democrats announcement?
A: We started the registration process in NSW last year (2022) when the NSW Electoral Commission confirmed our name (Libertarian Party of Australia) and abbreviation (Libertarian Party). To compete in the 2024 Local Government elections, the deadline for registration was set at around mid-May of this year. Obviously, now that our organisation might have its name taken, we’ve put more resources behind the push to be registered. We have many great members that are dedicated to our anti-war, anti-state, pro-markets, and with this current push, we are seeing more join.


A question to you: As a political activist, are you interested in “win at all costs” or are you interested in growing a flourishing libertarian movement within Australia?

If you are for the latter, we’d ask that you please do not put us head-to-head on the issue of the Libertarian Party name. That you either keep the Liberal Democrats name (which is fine at the state level), choose a different name, or ask your party leaders to continue into a broader discussion around what a merger (or coalition) may look like. We ask that you encourage your peers to do the same and share this email with anyone that may be interested in what it has to say.

There is no reason that both organisations can’t exist side-by-side and that both organisations benefit through the existence of the other, and we do look forward to building a libertarian future.

Please, don’t tread on us.

Yours sincerely,
Libertarian Party of Australia
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Very much can see value and good outcomes by coming together, yet as in Animal Farm... who will be the first of all equals?
A question to you: As a political activist, are you interested in “win at all costs” or are you interested in growing a flourishing libertarian movement within Australia?

What small government advocates should be doing is trying to create a party that's classically liberal, that effectively balances economic and social policy, aiming to become almost everyone's "second best" option. There's absolutely no reason a libertarian party couldn't position itself as a "second preference" to people who would usually vote for one of the three majors, by highlighting different parts of the party platform for different audiences. Over time, this would increase the profile of this party even if there was no immediate electoral success, and a careful balancing would ensure the party is correctly viewed as primarily being interested in "small government" rather than being lumped in with the right or left. This is how you set yourself up for long term success.

However, this would require a dedication to following a distinctly libertarian path, not being sucked into chasing the leftovers from groups like One Nation, making an honest attempt to engage civil and left libertarians as common travelers, flatly refusing to engage in petty right wing culture war drama, and most importantly: no longer engaging in a "big tent" strategy to try and incorporate people who have left (or were made to leave) the Liberals because they saw the Liberal Party as too classically liberal or moderate. I think several elections ago it was possible to argue to people on the left and in the centre that libertarians are natural allies on many issues, but things have shifted so far I feel as if it's now extremely difficult to get anyone who would be "socially progressive but fiscally conservative" to go anywhere near most "free market" or "libertarian" groups or cliques in Australia. Long term, this is not a realistic outcome for advocating free markets and free people.

In short: a "win at all costs" strategy is always doomed to fail. You will lose long term committed activists in favour of people who are temporary allies and single issue voters, who will inevitably leave after an election cycle or two.
Added for posterity. Posted 13th May in the Mises Seminar group:

"After being in the Liberal Democrats Members & Supporters group for 14 years, apparently this is what can get you kicked out


Images attached to original post in Liberal Democrats Members and Supporters group:



Posted in the LDP supporters group the night before National Conference vote. I was looking to advise members of the coalition offering being proposed that the National Exec had been informed of (incl. elected MP's) but had not informed the party of.

Related comments from moderators in the Liberal Democrats Members & Supporters group on the Mises Seminar group post: