My Speech at the WA Freedom Breakfast on Free Enterprise

Good morning and thank you all for coming.

For those that do not know me, my name is Graeme Klass, senate candidate for the Liberal Democrats. I am a father of 3 young children, husband to a beautiful wife. I am a senior software engineer and currently working in the mining technology industry. This has taken me to remote parts of Africa, Asia and here in Australia. I have my own software consultancy and have created new tech startups. I have worked at the department of defense, in academia and in large corporations. So I have the unique perspective of seeing the various ways in which business is conducted and the goals and aspirations of peopleIMG_8771 from a broad range of backgrounds and circumstances.

The theme of today is the spirit of enterprise.

The boxes you see in front of you represent the total number of regulations and laws at the federal level (not even counting state and local). 50 boxes. 250 reams of paper. 125,000 pages. If you were mad to read this it would take you 174 days reading 24 hours a day 7 days a week continuously to read it all.


These laws and regulations are contributing to what I think is an invisible strike – one that does not make it on the media and not even your Facebook feeds. It is the entrepreneurs are going on strike. Everyday, business owners are giving up. They are tired. Tired of the red tape and paperwork, giving up on hiring that extra employee, tired of the massive tax bills – waiting for that dreaded phone call from the ATO. Just tired.

Too often the ivory towered political class see business as the golden goose that just keeps giving. “Companies must pay their fair share” – they proclaim. The inventors, the creators, the risk takers are being trampled.

We need to get off their back and let them grow and prosper. They are over taxed, over burdened. As represented by these boxes  individuals and business owners have to wade through these pages  (or pay someone to go through it).

According to the Institute of Public Affairs red-tape accounts for 11% of the GDP.

As a comparison the mining sector is only 7% of economy. Put in another way red-tape costs Australia $19,300 per household. Ask yourself what are you getting for this $19,300?  These are, some may call dry figures, so let me put this another way: think of the time an owner needs to spend on regulation. The time away from expanding their business, away from their family, time spent dealing with authorities to simply cut down a tree on their own private property.

The enterprising individuals of this country are what drives Australia and makes Australia great.  It is not the bureaucrats, the do-gooders, the parliamentarians. It’s time to give them a break.

One area I am passionate about are startups – my area is in technology startups – but I support any startup in any industry. They are the innovative and agile ones not the government, despite what Mr Turnbull says.

I will be fighting to make it easier for new ventures to raise capital especially via new peer-to-peer lending platforms like KickStarter and RateSetter. There should be no impediments between a potential investor and a company from willingly and honestly wanting to work together for mutual benefit. Yes there are risks, but investors will know better what to do with their money than any regulator or bureaucrat in Canberra.

I support loosening the restrictions on your superannuation so that you can choose to put your money into startups – you may have a son or daughter that you want to support in their new endeavor – we need to make it easier for this  to happen.

Being pro-enterprise is not the same as being pro-business.

Pro-enterprise creates an environment for new Ventures, new ideas, new competition where new industries blossom. Being pro business at the expense of an enterprising culture entrenches existing industries, existing technology, existing markets. Think Uber vs the protected taxi industry. Some businesses and industries like regulations especially large corporations with large legal departments and hefty retainers to  lawyers in their fancy offices on St. George’s Terrace. In fact many large corporations are actively involved in crafting draft bills that are presented in parliament. They are writing the rules to favour their own interests. And this is spun as “business engagement” or worse “community engagement” by the government.  It creates an artificial barrier to entry for the little guy who simply cannot compete with the bigger boys – not because they are producing an inferior product but because they cannot Wade through and comply with the pages of laws set out here before you.

What would happen if we removed these regulations. More time spent building businesses, more money to invest in new equipment and hiring new people. There would be more time spent trying to serve your customers rather than satisfying the bureaucrats and politicians. Lowering the tax rate would mean more money to re-invest. We would start backing  ourselves again and the entrepreneurs would be the heroes of our society. There would be more time and money for charity and non profits. Our society would become stronger.

So what can we offer?

We are the fastest growing political party in Australia with over 5,000 members. We are also getting a lot of support from disgruntled ex-liberals

If the LDP are successful in getting candidates elected we will most likely hold the balance of power in the Senate. We will be in a position to negotiate, amend bills that are presented to us,  – for example, adding sunset clauses – so if we cannot stop the maddening increase in regulation we can at least place a time limit on them. We can create and chair senate committees like the nanny state inquiry that David Leyonhjelm our LDP senator has done successfully.  We will frustrate the hell out of them. We don’t mind being called obstructionist and feral. We take it as a badge of honour.

So what are our chances?

The double dissolution lowers the percentage quota for senators from 14.4% to 7.7% with 12 senators up for election in each state. However, the 11th and 12th spot is where it gets interesting. At these spots basically you do not have to get the 7.7% – you basically have to beat out the remaining candidates. To get the 12th spot we calculate we need about 3.5-4% of the vote and for the 11th spot about 5-6%. We will be fighting it out with the other minor parties and also the Greens for those last two spots. At the last election we scored 3.5% of the vote with almost no marketing and no exposure. This time, we have a sitting senator much more exposure and decent war chest. We can do this.

In summary, it is important not to just list out our particular policies (which we do have in detail)  but to convince you of our principles. We will never vote for legislation that diminishes your freedoms or increases taxes. We will vote for any bill that lowers taxes. We will be the voice of enterprise and liberty in the parliament.

Thank you for your time.

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2 comments on “My Speech at the WA Freedom Breakfast on Free Enterprise
  1. Graeme, great stuff! Unfortunately you are not getting the exposure you need. It took about 5 minutes on the web to find out you were the candidate for WA.

    Can you explain the difference between Liberal Democrat and Libertarian?

    • Thanks Jim. The official announcements of candidates will be released sometime this week – that’s why it is a little difficult to find out about my candidature.

      Libertarianism is the philosophy of limited government, free markets, free association, personal responsibility. The Liberal Democrats (in the Australian sense) is the political party with Libertarianism as its guiding philosophy.

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