David Leyonhjelm on Studio 10.
David Leyonhjelm on Studio 10.

Reason behind Leyonhjelm’s rants


DAVID Leyonhjelm's hopes of fluking a third election to the Senate have been boosted by the controversy he started and has worked hard to prolong.

After a 40-year dismal trudge through unwelcoming political territory Mr Leyonhjelm would think he's finally playing with the grown-ups.

The "slut-shaming" argument with Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young has brought him into the media big-time.

Once limited to appearances on zany and largely unwatched TV shows, he has in recent days been interviewed on mainstream programs such as Ten's The Project and ABC's 7.30.

It's national exposure he has not earned during four years in the Senate. He has taken more from federal politics than he has contributed and has been treated as a quirk at best.

But suddenly his quirkiness and fringe appeal are big news.

Important for him, he has been able to lay out his angry white man credentials, skilfully appealing to that frothing group and associated cranky electors.

Picking a fight with an outspoken woman from the Greens wouldn't hurt him with that group of voters.

And he needs the exposure if he hopes to win the election expected in the first half of next year.


Angela Bishop confronts David Leyonhjelm on Studio 10.
Angela Bishop confronts David Leyonhjelm on Studio 10.


Mr Leyonhjelm's hope would be there is a significant NSW constituency determined to not support the major parties. They are favouring One Nation and right-wing independents and he wants them to include him in their considerations.

His party, the Liberal Democrats, is hardly a household name and nor is Mr Leyonhjelm. Or it wasn't until he insulted Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

In the 2013 election he stood as a Liberal Democrat candidate, and had the good luck of the party being given the number one position on a long, long ballot paper for the NSW senators. There was confusion between the Liberal Party of Australia and the Liberal Democrats.

That helped the Liberal Democrat ticket reach a primary vote of close to 10 per cent - remarkable for a party which was little known and whose contribution to policy debate was non-existent. David Leyonhjelm directly received about 1600 votes.

He next contested the 2016 election and again got lucky.

It was a double-dissolution election which meant only half the quota of a regular, half Senate election was be needed.

That 10 per cent of 2013 dropped to just under four per cent and the Leyonhjelm vote went to 5400, but with preferences he was back in the Senate.

Next year, when it's again a normal half Senate election and a full quota required, he will need more than luck.

The problems for this strategy is that in the process he is harming his chances with 51 per cent of the electorate - women voters.

And it could be that the bracket of angry male voters he is counting on already knows of him from is appearances on their favoured political talk shows.

One other problem could be his running mate.

Former Labor leader Mark Latham, a Liberal Democrat since May last year, is considering standing for the party at the state or federal level.

If he tried for the Senate the better-known Mr Latham could crowd out Mr Leyonhjelm.