Unfortunately our early success in the count for the NSW Legislative Council did not continue into the final week with support from rural electorates. As a result I have not been elected to the Legislative Council, as previously claimed.
While this is not a personal tragedy for me (I was always a fairly reluctant politician), it is concerning for the Liberal Democratic party. I have long believed that holding a seat in NSW, where no Group Voting Ticket machinations are required, is important to the party’s future.
The party has been in my tender care for 14 years. As many know, I saved it from collapse in 2005 and organised it to the point where it could run in federal and most state elections. I won the party’s first parliamentary seat in 2013 in the Senate, and again in 2016. I engaged Glenn Druery to help in WA and Victoria, protecting him from idiots in the party, that resulted in winning a seat in WA and two in Victoria.
But ultimately I failed to attract enough votes to win in NSW. We have always known our libertarian base is small but we usually also attract protest voters and those who confuse us with the Liberal Party. In this case our ballot position worked against voter confusion while the presence of One Nation and burgeoning support for the Shooters Party syphoned protest votes away from us.
Whether there were other factors at work is difficult to say. Opinions are like arseholes – everyone’s got one. In politics, it sometimes seems a lot of people have more than one.
There will be plenty who believe they know what we could have done to increase our vote. I’ve probably heard them all before. It seems to me there is an inverse relationship between relevant political experience in politics and having all the answers.
Whatever the reason, it can’t be undone and I don’t want to hear them.
Now the party faces the future without me, either in parliament or managing the organisational side (which is where I started). I am no longer on the National Executive, which for the past year or so has been doing everything it can to reduce my influence.
I wish I could say the party is in good hands, but I fear that is not the case. The National Executive does not inspire confidence.
For myself, I will return to the business world. My company is still operating successfully and I have no need for employment. I will continue to write, including a book on gun control, but my life as a politician is over.
The impact is more far-reaching for my staff; they need to find a new job. We all go into politics knowing it is a precarious business, but that doesn’t make it easy. The hours are long and the pressure immense.
While I can’t say I it was fun, I’m honoured to have served almost five years in the Senate. I also have some very worthwhile achievements to my credit, of which saving Malabar rifle range is probably my most personally gratifying.
Thank you to all those who have supported me, whether in the last few years or over the long term. It is for you, your belief in me and our shared values, that I did it. I’m sorry that it ended this way, but it won’t be the end of our campaign for low taxes, less regulation and simply being left alone.