Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm believes his chances of winning a seat in the NSW parliament are strong as he calls time on his federal political career.
The controversial libertarian says after working on parliamentary committees looking at “nanny state” and red tape issues, he believes his aims can be better achieved in state parliament.
He plans to quit federal politics by March 1 and will contest the state’s March 23 election.
Senator Leyonhjelm says he isn’t concerned about competing against one-time Liberal Democrats member and former Labor leader Mark Latham, who is running for One Nation in the state’s upper house at the election.
The NSW senator believes they’ll both be elected and says his chances are “strong”.
But ABC election analyst Antony Green says Senator Leyonhjelm is searching for votes in a competitive space to the right of the Liberals.
“His problem is that there are other people in the same space on the ballot paper competing to the right of the Liberal Party issues,” Mr Green told the ABC on Monday.
Mr Green noted the Liberal Democrats historically poll better if listed to the left of the Liberal Party on the actual ballot paper.
Senator Leyonhjelm said NSW was becoming “nanny state central”.
If elected to the upper house he vowed to tackle laws around liquor licensing, where smoking is allowed, vaping, gambling, lock-outs and voluntary assisted suicide.
He will continue his push to legalise cannabis for recreational use and supports pill testing at music festivals but wants it to be privately-funded.
The sole Liberal Democrats senator was engulfed in controversy in 2018 after he told Greens’ Sarah Hanson-Young to “stop shagging men” in parliament.
Senator Hanson-Young is suing over interviews Senator Leyonhjelm gave between June 28 and July 2 to Sky News, Melbourne radio station 3AW and the ABC’s 7.30 program – and a media statement posted on Medium.com on June 28.
Senator Leyonhjelm doesn’t think the lawsuit will hurt his chances in the NSW election arguing the two senators have “radically” different supporters.
He was first elected to the upper house at the 2013 federal poll and re-elected at the 2016 double dissolution election.’
Senator Hanson-Young on Monday said she believed Senator Leyonhjelm wouldn’t be missed in Canberra.
“I won’t be missing him in the Senate but I’ll be seeing him in court if indeed he doesn’t come forward and apologise for his appalling comments to me and about me over the past six months,” she told reporters.
NSW Opposition leader Michael Daley asked people to reconsider voting for independents or minor parties in the upcoming election.
“If you vote for independents or minor parties, you might just wake up the day after the election and see that this bad Liberal-National government has squeaked home,” Mr Daley said when asked about Senator Leyonhjelm’s candidacy.