New senator takes aim

THE Abbott government could be forced to rethink gun laws and decriminalising cannabis when a former Heywood man takes his seat in the new senate. 

Senator-elect David Leyonhjelm has foreshadowed his first priority will be to stop the closure of a rifle range when the Senate comes together in July. 

The former vet turned politician grew up in Heywood. 

He was swept into power last year with just 8.87 per cent of the New South Wales Senate vote to represent the little-known Liberal Democratic Party. 

Mr Leyonhjelm grew up in the south-west and attended veterinary school alongside South West Coast MP and Victorian Premier Denis Napthine at the University of Melbourne. 

The incoming crossbench Senator could pose a challenge for the government because of his broad policies, taking in conservative economics and progressive social libertarian values. 

“There will be times when my vote is important. When the voting is tied there will be times when I leverage my vote,” Mr Leyonhjelm told The Standard. 

But with the new Senate only weeks away, Mr Leyonhjelm is tightlipped about where he will use his influence, naming only an embattled gun range in Sydney at risk of closure. 

“It’s a big rifle range in Sydney and it’s been under threat for many years,” Mr Leyonhjelm said, adding he wanted the government to guarantee tenure of the site. 

Asked what the main social liberty aims of the party were, Mr Leyonhjelm said decriminalising cannabis for medical and recreational use, as well as allowing gay marriage and euthanasia. 

“It really annoys the crap out of us that the issue of gay marriage is seen as a left-wing issue,” he said. 

Mr Leyonhjelm is yet to decide what parts of the federal budget he will support, taking issue with the government’s hard-line stance on freezing dole payments for job seekers under 30. 

“It’s a very blunt instrument to address what is a very complex issue,” Mr Leyonhjelm said. 

“The fuel excise levy I won’t support.” 

Mr Leyonhjelm has also struck a deal to vote alongside Family First senator-elect Bob Day on economic issues. 

“We’re a liberty party, we don’t think the government should boss us around.” 

s.mccomish@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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