If you are one of those people who raised an eyebrow about my election to the Western Australian Legislative Council, I don’t blame you. It came as a bit of a surprise to me as well.
As a 26-year-old call centre manager from Rockingham with no experience at all with unions or as a party staffer, you might argue I am the least qualified person in this place. One lady I met at a function recently called me the Rockingham Kid. It’s a title I wear with pride.
But as I said in my maiden speech, what I lack in experience, I make up for in conviction. And as the first person elected to a state parliament on a purely libertarian platform, I stand on the shoulders of giants.
I am the first and only member of my party in the parliament, but it feels as if great thinkers like Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, and Milton Friedman have created a clear path for me towards smaller government, lower taxes, and less regulation.
These people taught us about the importance of freedom in the economy as well as our personal loves. They taught us that each of us should be free to think, to speak and to write, to marry, associate and to worship, eat, drink and smoke as we choose.
When we are free we can construct our lives as we see fit. We need not approve of our neighbour’s behaviour, but merely practice tolerance – to respect the moral autonomy of each person, seeing each person as the owner of his or her own life.
During my term I hope to plant the seeds for a new libertarian movement in WA, and I believe the time is right.
There are already far too many laws in the West that encroach on our lives. The government takes far too much money from us for things we can do for ourselves, and there is no good reason to leave a debt to my generation — or any other generation for that matter. It spends far too much time telling individuals who are doing no harm to others what to do.
And as a young person trying to get into the property market, I will hold any politician to account who pretends to care about housing affordability but does not mention stamp duty.
My Party, the Liberal Democrats, is probably best known for being represented in the federal parliament by Senator David Leyonhjelm. There will only ever be one David Leyonhjelm, and those who expect us to be similar people will either be disappointed or relieved, depending on their point of view.
David is renowned for saying it like it is, and never taking a backward step. For this uncompromising approach, he has done for the federal Senate what punk rock did to popular music.
My favourite music is heavy metal, so I aim to be just as uncompromising, but with my own unique style. I hope to shake things up in my own way.
However, you can expect our voting patterns to be very similar. Like David, I am a very consistent libertarian. Like him, I will look at each piece of legislation in terms of what it means for the rights of individuals. Like him, I will support free markets. I will not vote for increases in taxes or new laws that add to the burden of regulation, and I will seek wherever possible to increase the freedom of individuals.
Aaron Stonehouse is the Member for South Metropolitan for Liberal Democrats WA.
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