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PERSONAL FREEDOMS

Lifestyle Choices

Adults must be free to make their own lifestyle decisions, including marriage, without interference by the government or any need for its approval.

The ACT Liberal Democratic Party:

  1. Believes private sexual activities and lifestyle choices voluntarily undertaken by adults are not matters for government intervention except to prevent coercion and protect children.
  2. Believes marriage is a private matter (assuming informed consent) and should be free from government rules and regulation, with the government’s role limited to providing a register.
  3. Believes those who perform marriages and provide marriage services should be free to discriminate in accordance with their own views of marriage.
  4. Believes children should be adopted into a loving, stable and safe environment, irrespective of the marital status, gender or any other irrelevant attributes of the adopters.
  5. Does not support, endorse or recommend any particular sexual preference or lifestyle.
  6. Would abolish the need for sex or gender being displayed on birth certificates.

Freedom is the right to choose; the right to create for yourself the alternative of choice.  Without the responsibility and exercise of choice a man is not a man but a member, an instrument, a thing. Archibald Macleish (1882-1982)

Adults must be free to make their own decisions without interference by the government or requiring its approval. Adults are not like children, who lack sufficient experience of life to make reasoned choices and cannot appreciate what it means to take responsibility for those choices. They do not need anyone to make their choices for them. They can choose where to live, which job to take, where to go on holiday and what to do with their money, and live with the consequences. Similarly, they can choose their particular lifestyle including such things as how to live, whether to live alone or with others, and who to live with.

In most countries these matters are taken for granted. In only a few countries, for example the former Soviet Union, Cuba and North Korea, have adults been compelled to work in certain jobs, live in assigned premises or go on holiday to designated locations. Similarly, in only a few countries are people forced to marry against their will.

Having such a right inevitably means some people will make silly or unwise choices that others find amusing, perplexing or annoying. It also means that some people will make choices of which others strongly disapprove. That does not entitle them to seek to interfere in those choices.

The role of the government is to ensure choices are freely made and do not result in coercion of others, and that responsibility for the consequences of choices is not transferred to others (for example by claiming to be a victim or by later arguing that the choice was made involuntarily).

If others can be prevented from choice, the same can happen to you!

Most people will fight vigorously to protect their own right to choose. However, many will quickly acquiesce to arguments that governments ‘do something’ to prevent people from engaging in activities of which they disapprove.

This is not only hypocritical but also dangerous. What they generally fail to realise is that if others can be prevented from making choices, the same can happen to them. Once government interference in the lives of others is accepted as legitimate, there is little to stop others, whether malicious or well-intentioned, from co-opting the government to control, manipulate or manage the lives of any individual or group they choose.

Although such interference is frequently justified on the grounds that it is in the best interests of those affected, those who do the interfering invariably have the loudest voices, greatest numbers or most political leverage and those who endure the interference are in the opposite situation.

The only safe principle is for the government to be prevented from interfering in the choices of individuals no matter what those choices might be, so long as they are freely made and non-coercive.

Private activities are not the matter for the government!

It therefore follows that private sexual activities and lifestyle choices are not matters about which governments have a right to intervene. In terms of regulation, except to prevent coercion, they are no-go areas.

This is particularly relevant in relation to the rights of LGBTI individuals. Discrimination by governments against LGBTI individuals (or even in favour of them) is not acceptable.

In most western democracies, government discrimination against LGBTI individuals is subtle relative to earlier times. A same-sex partner, for example, may be denied next of kin rights that a heterosexual partner would automatically receive. In areas such as immigration, welfare, inheritance, health care and workers compensation, LGBTI individuals may be subject to inferior treatment because they do not fit the standard male-female orthodoxy. That is discrimination.

The ACT Liberal Democrats do not support, endorse or recommend any particular sexual preference or lifestyle. It also does not consider governments should be seen as a source of rights to be granted. Rather, it views governments as a threat to pre-existing rights through its power to take them away.

Consistent with the principle of the principle of non-interference, the ACT Liberal Democrats acknowledge and respects the rights of others to make their own choices, provided they also accept responsibility for their consequences.

It considers the role of government to be limited to the prevention of coercion in the exercise of choice, including the protection of children, and to ensuring that the consequences of choice are not transferred to others.

In government it would repeal or amend laws that created disadvantage for LGBTI individuals on the basis of their difference from heterosexuals, to remove such disadvantage.

Recent arguments in the ACT regarding the changing of sex, as displayed on birth certificates, is a perfect example government overreach and a sad continuation of unhealthy identity politics.  What is clearly being missed in these arguments is: why have sex (or gender) on any government documents?  By removing this classification of an individual:

  • You do would not need a government permission slip, or stamp of approval, to change your “official” gender to whatever you are comfortable with.
  • The government would not have the data to make, discriminatory, gender biased policies. This would encourage the position that all citizens, regardless of how they identify, were treated equally.  Both under the law, and by their elected representatives.

 

Voluntary Assisted Dying

The ACT Liberal Democratic Party believes adults have a right to end their own lives, with or without assistance, and to have access to information to help them do it.

The ACT Liberal Democrats believes in the inalienable right of individuals to end their lives painlessly, at a time of their choosing, and to be legally able to obtain information and assistance to do so with dignity.

The ACT Liberal Democrats is committed to enacting legislation to allow adults the right to assisted suicide provided there are appropriate safety mechanisms to ensure consent is given freely and confirmed.

We are not ignorant of the practical difficulties in developing this legislation or the risks associated with poor or ineffective safeguards. However, there are many international models that can be considered and upon which legislation could be modelled.

The ACT Liberal Democrats believe that the principle of control over one’s body is the most fundamental expression of individual freedom. If the law prevents rational adults from making free choices about what we can do with our own bodies then we are not really free at all.

When cancer, degenerative disease or some other ailment renders a person’s life no longer worth living, that person should be free to choose to end their lives. The person should be able to escape pain and the tragic indignities of a failing body and die painlessly and peacefully, as medical technology currently permits.

In 1997, with the tacit support of both the Liberal and Labor parties, Kevin Andrews MP succeeded in pushing a private members Bill through Federal Parliament that overturned the first law to legalise assisted suicide in Australia, enacted in the Northern Territory.  This is despite opinion polls showing that around 70% of Australians are in favour of some form of voluntary assisted dying.

While most fair-minded people accept that painlessly terminating the suffering of animals is a humane act of compassion (a fact recognised by the law), the law prohibits the application of the same principle to ourselves.

The Liberal Democratic Party, as a party that supports individual rights and freedom of choice, rejects this cruel approach. While we are cognisant that there are federal limitations on the power of the ACT Government, we would be passionate advocates for the rights of ACT citizens on this issue.

Fireworks

The rise of the Nanny State is becoming ever more pervasive.  Presumably, the attitude of our elected officials is that we cannot look after ourselves; that we have no self-control; and they need to save us from ourselves. 

It has been approximately ten years since fireworks were banned in the ACT.  At the time, a strong proponent of the ban, Mr Hargreaves MLA (Labor Party), assured ACT residents that we would still be able to enjoy public displays (refer ABC news article ACT bans fireworks 24 August 2009).  These would include New Year’s Eve (cancelled in 2020, due to bushfires) and Skyfire (also cancelled in 2020, due to COVID). 

The irony of Mr Hargreaves, the then Transport Minister, stepping down following him being charged with a drink driving offense, is certainly not lost on ACT residents. 

Unlike the attitudes of some elected officials, that believe that they know best and the people need to be told what to do, the ACT Liberal Democrats believe in individual responsibility.  We believe that, Canberrans especially, are well aware of how to look after themselves and others.

The ACT Liberal Democrats disagreed with the original ban.  Instead of punishing the very few individuals that were misusing fireworks and causing property damage and general disruption, all Canberrans were denied cracker night. 

If the Liberal Democrats hold the balance of power, cracker night will be back!

Vaping

Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), such as electronic cigarettes, are absent from the ACT Action Plan, ignoring the NDS Pillar of “Harm Reduction”.  As ENDS deliver nicotine to satisfy a smoker’s cravings without many of the harmful chemicals found in tobacco smoke, they offer a significant opportunity for harm reduction among smokers.

In recent years, a wealth of evidence in support of the harm reduction benefits of ENDS has been published in studies and reports around the world.  This evidence has not been given due consideration by Australian health authorities.  Strong headway has been made in the UK and USA, where ENDS products containing nicotine are legal.

The reduction in smoking rates in these countries now exceed those in Australia, in part through access to safer alternatives to tobacco, including ENDS.

The UK Royal College of Physicians concluded that ENDS use is unlikely to exceed 5 per cent of the harm caused by smoking.  A recent Public Health England report found the concern that e-cigarettes lead to tobacco smoking among young people is not supported by the evidence.

Australian adult smokers are very positive about the potential benefits of ENDS.  Surveys indicate that:

  • 82 per cent of Australian adult smokers agreed that it would be wrong for the Government to prevent or delay the introduction of less harmful alternatives to cigarettes for adult smokers;
  • that three-quarters agreed that e-cigarettes represent a positive alternative to today’s cigarettes; and
  • that 65 per cent would consider quitting smoking if the nicotine-laced liquids used in ENDS were legally available.

If most Australian smokers switched to vaping, over 500,000 lives would be saved from premature death.

For these reasons, the ACT Liberal Democrats suggest ENDS should be included in the Emerging Issues section of the Action Plan.

The ACT Liberal Democrats also believe that penalties in the ACT for possession of ENDS products containing nicotine should be abolished.  Under the Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 2008 (ACT), possession of such substances currently attracts a maximum penalty of 200 penalty units, imprisonment for two years, or both.  Such penalties do not reflect a harm minimisation approach for smokers attempting to quit. 

The ACT Liberal Democrats consider that the penalties should be immediately reduced to a nominal sum, and eventually eliminated.

 

Drug use

The ACT Liberal Democratic Party believes adults should be free from government interference when making choices where they do not inflict harm on other, non-consenting individuals.

The ACT Liberal Democrats neither supports nor opposes drug use. It considers it to be a matter of choice for responsible adults.

The ACT Liberal Democrats also recognises the right of individuals to choose to not engage with drugs or their users. Restaurants, clubs, hotels and other private establishments where people gather should be free to impose conditions of entry including prohibitions on the use, or being under the influence, of drugs. Similarly, employers should be free to require their employees to refrain from drug use and to implement testing policies as required.

The ACT Liberal Democrats does not believe that personal drug use is a law enforcement issue, nor can it be resolved by “arresting your way out of the problem”. Drug use is a social issue, a health issue, and an education issue.

While there are health costs involved in any recreational drug taking activity, marijuana use is already widespread in the ACT and Australia and death, disorders and impairment directly attributable to its use occur at significantly lower rates than for legally available alcohol and tobacco. The ACT Liberal Democrats acknowledges that some in the community may struggle with addiction. Our proposal to legalise cannabis includes provision to redirect funding from savings arising from reducing law enforcement costs towards the provision of treatment of the addiction within the health system.

The ACT Liberal Democrats supports:

  1. Legalising the recreational use of cannabis by adults.
  2. Legalising the cultivation, processing, possession, transport and sale of cannabis and its derivative products
  3. Allowing the recommendation of cannabis or its derivatives for medical use by authorised medical practitioners.
  4. Implementing penalties for the sale or supply of cannabis or its derivatives to minors.
  5. Implementing penalties for driving while demonstrably impaired by the effect of drug use. Where a technology cannot ensure that a driver has been impaired, it should not be used.
  6. Pill testing and the decriminalisation of possession of small amounts of other recreational drugs for personal use.
  7. A reduction to the burden on the ratepayer for a law enforcement based approach to drug issues in the community.

 

Gambling

The ACT Liberal Democratic Party neither supports nor opposes gambling. It considers it to be like any other form of entertainment - a matter of choice for responsible adults.

Just as we may turn off the television or decide not to go to a cinema or go bushwalking, we may also leave a casino or not bet on Melbourne Cup Day.

The ACT Liberal Democrats therefore rejects the view that the potential hazards of excessive gambling justify the current level of government control of the gaming industry. The rise of mobile technology that allows people to gamble from a handheld device at any time demonstrates just how disproportionate government regulation of the gaming industry really is.

We also believe that government’s current approach to gambling control is inefficient and delivers sub-optimal outcomes to gamblers, non-gamblers and the broader economy. We acknowledge that some members of the community will struggle with gambling addiction, and support the funding of treatment programs that help those affected overcome their problem gambling.

The ACT Liberal Democrats:

  1. Strongly supports voluntary exclusion and supports penalties on licensees that fail to remove persons that have (self-elected to) exclude themselves.
  2. Supports the funding of treatment programs for problem gamblers and those affected by the gambling of others.
  3. Proposes to strengthen requirements to ensure that minors are not exposed to gambling, specifically poker machines.
  4. Proposes to auction poker machine licences and remove restrictions on which (adult clientele) businesses can install them - this includes pubs, clubs and casinos.
  5. Would seek to remove any regulations or laws that prevent online gambling businesses (including online casinos) from being established in the ACT.

 

Firearms, gelblasters, airsoft and paintball

The ACT Liberal Democratic Party believes that adults should be able to own firearms. Thousands of Canberrans have been appropriately trained in the safe handling and storage of firearms and hold appropriate licences for doing so. The ACT Liberal Democrats believes that illegal gun ownership is a serious issue, and notes that the overwhelming preponderance of firearm crime relates to illegally-owned weapons.

We appreciate that some sections of the community have concerns about firearms and their regulation. The ACT Liberal Democrats proposes reforms that improve the safety of the public and licensed firearms users. The ACT Liberal Democrats will advocate for the rights of licensed firearms holders in the same manner we will advocate for those who undertake responsible and safe activities that do not harm others.

The ACT Liberal Democrats consider that gelblasters, airsoft, and paintball are legitimate recreational activities.  They should not be regulated in the same way that firearms are, and should certainly not be banned. 

The ACT Liberal Democratic Party:

  1. Would bring administrative requirements for licensing a firearm in line with NSW to avoid confusion and reduce administration effort.
  2. Regulate the transport and storage of the smokeless powder used for the reloading of ammunition in the same way it is treated in NSW.
  3. Call for higher standards in the firearms safety course required for AB licenses, the most common form of licence1.
  4. Bring the procedure for police compliance checks into line with NSW.
  5. Allow for a right of appeal in circumstances where licenses have been revoked by the operation of an automatic rule.
  6. Believes that changes to the regulation of firearms should be undertaken in close consultation with shooters.
  7. Would seek to legalise gelblasters and airsoft.
  8. Would seek to deregulate paintball, apart from measures to protect innocent bystanders.

 

  1. Specifically, we believe that the course should include theory and a hands on shooting element. It should include modules on: holding, aiming and firing a rifle; how to zero the rifle with both iron sights and telescopic sites; an introduction to competition shoots; the dangers of ricochet; conduct at the rifle range; legal rights and responsibilities; the correct rifle for different pursuits; and safe handling practice.

 

The official page of the Liberal Democratic Party in the Australian Capital Territory. Authorised by Guy Jakeman, Florey, ACT, 2615