The ACT Liberal Democratic Party believes that most problems can be solved by people, families and community groups working together and flexible and low cost answers. However, the growth of the size of government is breaking down these bonds and coarsening society. There is evidence that government spending crowds out the voluntary contribution of money and time.
Prior to the creation of the welfare state there were many examples of the provision of welfare by the non-government sector. An example of this were the member owned insurance and mutual aid organisations, known as friendly societies and workers clubs, that were popular in Australia in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Membership in one of these organisations was usually quite cheap and would provide a worker and their family with medical care and unemployment insurance among other benefits. With the creation of the welfare state these organisations started to disappear, with newer generations of Australians unable to conceive the welfare provided by these organisations being offered outside of the government sector.
Much like these early examples of private welfare, solutions to modern issues should first be sought through civil society, the government should only get involved with social issues where civil society cannot resolve the issue in a manner satisfactory to the community and where it is clear that some people will “fall through the cracks”.
The ACT Liberal Democrats acknowledges the generosity of the ACT community. The last General Social Survey conducted by the ABS in 2014 showed that residents of the ACT were more likely to volunteer their time than those living in any other state, with 36.8% of ACT residents volunteering at least once over a 12 month period compared with the Australian average of 31.3%. Through volunteering, these ACT residents not only enrich the lives of those who use services of volunteer involving organisations but also for their own.
While people are more generous with their time in the ACT than elsewhere in Australia there is currently a shortage of volunteers and obstacles discouraging members of the community from volunteering. A survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 86% of volunteer involving organisations in Australia need more volunteers, and that administrative requirements some of which is brought on by red tape are a deterrent to people volunteering. Removing red tape would reduce the administrative burden faced both by volunteer involving organisations and those wishing to volunteer with them, encouraging greater participation.
By further fostering the already immense generosity of the ACT community and encouraging the role of civil society in addressing issues facing the territory better social outcomes could be achieved. Where possible the ACT Liberal Democrats would seek solutions to issues facing the territory through civil society, enabling better outcomes at a lower price for rates payers.
For this reason the ACT Liberal Democrats would ensure that government spending proposals are put through a “personal choice test” to see if the issue could be addressed through voluntary actions by individuals, community groups, schools, churches, or similar bodies. Some issues surrounding community services, sport, and the arts could be better handled by civil society than government. Government involvement—and taxpayers’ funds—should be reserved for real cases of people falling through the cracks.
The ACT Liberal Democrats will:
- ensure that the volunteer sector will be the first port of call for addressing social problems rather than turning to the government;
- ensure that government spending proposals are put through a “personal choice test” to see if the issue could be addressed through voluntary actions by individuals, community groups, schools, churches, or similar bodies.
 Bredtmann, Julia, 2016, :Does government spending crowd out voluntary labor and donations?”, RWI, and IZA, Germany.
 Australian Bureau of Statistics, “General Social Survey”, Table 22 – volunteers – characteristics – state and territory, 2014
 ACT Government, “ACT Volunteering Statement: Action Plan 2018-2021”, 2017
 PricewaterhouseCoopers, “The State of Volunteering in Australia: Help Create Happiness”, April 2016
The official page of the Liberal Democratic Party in the Australian Capital Territory. Authorised by Guy Jakeman, Florey, ACT, 2615