Border town Wodonga should be the capital of a breakaway state with a parliament at the city’s RSL sub-branch, new member for Northern Victoria Tim Qulity told MPs on Tuesday.
The Liberal Democrat aired that view in his inaugural speech to the Legislative Council.
Mr Quilty said ruralites were irked by city folk regulating their lives and a version of Brexit may be needed.
“The ultimate solution to the problem might be Rexit – the regions of NSW and Victoria separating from their city-based overlords and forming new states,” he said.
“I am happy to nominate Wodonga as a brand new regional state capital, a place governed by people who actually know about the community they live in.
“Now if seceding the region of northern Victoria from this state sounds a bit extreme, the reason behind the idea is not extreme: the people of northern Victoria want their voices to be heard.
Until we build a new parliament house on the banks of the Murray, we can convene at the Wodonga RSL.
“So often legislation is designed by and for people who would only ever be seen north of Coburg if they fell asleep on a tram.”
Mr Quilty said he would back law-abiding gun owners, oppose new national parks, fight for sensible speed limits, seek decentralised public service jobs and push for the end of prohibition as part of drug law reform.
He needled the Greens MPs over controlled burning.
“Getting advice from the Greens about managing northern Victoria is like getting advice from someone from Yackandandah about organic cold-pressed latte,” Mr Quilty said.
The former Wodonga councillor thanked Russian-raised wife Olga and sons Fred, 6, and Misha, 3.
“My wife Olga, having followed me halfway around the world, has already had to put up with quite lot from me in 14 years of married life,” Mr Quilty said.
“To Olga, I’m sorry, and I love you.
“And my two boys, Fred and Misha.
“My two little freedom fighters, my biggest supporters during the campaign, delivering leaflets to mailboxes all over the neighbourhood, handing out how to vote cards at pre-poll – the ‘More Freedom’ cards as they called them.
“In the mornings Misha would ask me ‘Papa, are we going to give out More Freedom to people today?’
“That is what we are here for, boys.”
You can read Mr Quilty’s full speech below .
“As you are all now aware, the Libertarians have arrived, which is good news for the lovers of freedom, but not so good for those who want to use the government to force their will on others.
Smaller government, lower taxes, greater personal freedom.
These are not just slogans.
It is the idea that we, as adults, have the right to make choices for ourselves and it doesn’t matter whether you approve of our choices or not – they are ours to make.
“If you take away our freedom to choose, you have turned us into slaves – tax-paying drones for your grand government projects.
That is the totalitarian future that we fight against.
I am not, as it is now the custom to say, a member of the political class.
I never expected to be standing here, making this speech. I am a mild mannered accountant from the bush.
If things were right in Australia, in Victoria, I would never have run for parliament but things are not right.
Make no mistake, I plan to make waves, throw grenades and ruffle feathers on behalf of the people of northern Victoria.
The voters of Victoria strain under the weight government presses upon them.
We are tired of your taxes.
We are tired of your rules and your red tape, strangling innovation and growth.
Regional Victoria is sick of rules made in Melbourne, for Melbourne, that press down with undue force on the regions, on the towns, on the farms.
There was a time when country people could just ignore silly rules made in the cities but now Melbourne foolishness is enforced everywhere.
I am here to demand you take your foot off our necks.
You see the cross-bench sitting here, increased to 11.
I know that some of you believe this is a one-off, a blip, that next election will return things to what you are used to, but this is no blip.
The voters are tired of business-as-usual.
They are looking for change.
This is not a problem to be solved by tweaking the Electoral Act – change, or the voters will deliver Cromwell’s verdict upon you: “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately... Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”
I was not born a Victorian – I moved to Wodonga around 7 years ago.
I come originally from a farm near Adelong, a small town in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains in southern NSW.
Although I do have family ties to Northern Victoria – my grandfather was born and raised near Violet Town, and, as I have recently discovered, my grandmother on the other side was born in Corryong.
Her ancestors came from small communities around Wodonga – Yackandandah, Eldorado, Nariel, Walwa.
So in a way, my move to Northern Victoria was a home-coming.
I spent a little time tracing my family tree recently.
The bulk of my heritage is Celtic – Irish, Scots, Cornish and Manx.
I attribute my stubborn nature – some would say bloody-minded pig-headedness – to a long line of contrary Celts.
People who would not do as ordered.
I have no doubt that this is what makes me a libertarian.
I will not do as I’m told.
And I am far from alone in this among regional Victorians.
On one side, my boys are the 8th generation of my family born in Australia.
There was a long line of people - starting with nothing, each generation achieving a little more, making a platform for the next generation to stand on.
On the other side, my boys are first generation.
While I have no stories of fleeing tyranny of my own, when my sons study their family history they will find family tales of suffering under communism.
I hope it steels their resolve to oppose government tyranny in Australia.
Growing up in NSW in the 90s – Sydney was Australia’s premier city and Victoria was an economic basket-case, with people fleeing across the border.
Now the tables have turned - Melbourne is again the leading Australian city - Sydney is choking under the weight of its own boredom – and people are migrating back to Victoria.
Competitive federalism in action - 25 years of truly incompetent government in NSW has squandered the lead and allowed Victoria, with merely bad government over that same time, to edge back ahead.
I am certainly now a true Northern Victorian.
Wodonga is a 31⁄2 hour drive north of here – or about two weeks if you catch the train.
Luckily the trip to my electoral office in Seymour is shorter – only a two hour drive.
But Seymour, Wodonga – same-same if you’re from the big city; all beyond the smashed avocado curtain.
Regional Victorians can be forgiven for sometimes wondering whether the people of Melbourne know anything of the regions – or whether they care.
Most people who live in the capitals seem to have no idea about life outside their cities.
Which would be fine if they didn’t try to meddle in our lives but they do.
Country Victorians are tired of being treated like children.
Every law that comes out of the Victorian parliament applies equally across the state, but Victorians are not all the same.
So often legislation is designed by and for people who would only ever be seen north of Coburg if they fell asleep on a tram.
Let me give some examples.
Rule-makers in Melbourne cannot understand the need to increase speed limits, because they never spend long hours keeping their eyes open with matchsticks on country roads – when you don’t get over 30km/h in your morning commute, you cannot understand the empty, open road stretching ahead, hour after hour.
City people want to send water down the Murray to evaporate in the lower lakes of South Australia - while with their irrigation rights removed, our own small country towns wither and die.
They want to ban hunting, a pass-time with a 60,000 year tradition in this country, and ban noise suppressors on firearms - a policy that contributes to farmers going deaf.
New national parks, decreed by city based “environmentalists” who have never gotten their shoes dusty - or muddy - will lock country people out of our land – end the livelihoods of farmers and timber-workers, the hobbies of prospectors and campers.
Our children are driven out of our towns because there is no work.
People who are at no risk from bushfires and simply don’t understand what it’s like in the bush make up the rules to stop clearing and controlled burning.
Decisions around national parks and controlled burning are made by city-based Greens who will never go near the scorched devastation and death that follows directly from their policies.
If some of the decisions from this place weren’t so serious for us, they might be funny.
Getting advice from the Greens about managing northern Victoria is like getting advice from someone from Yackandandah about organic cold-pressed latte.
If the people of Wodonga, Bendigo, Mildura, Wangaratta and Shepparton dictated the lives of Melbournians the way that you dictate our lives, there would be riots in the streets.
Imagine if we blocked off a section of Melbourne and said you could not work there because of a rare and attractive pigeon?
What if we decided to regulate latte art patterns?
Imagine if we decided your leaf blowers should not have any form of noise suppressors?
The ultimate solution to the problem might be Rexit – the regions of NSW and Victoria separating from their city-based overlords and forming new states.
I am happy to nominate Wodonga as a brand new regional state capital, a place governed by people who actually know about the community they live in.
Until we build a new parliament house on the banks of the Murray, we can convene at the Wodonga RSL.
Now if seceding the region of northern Victoria from this state sounds a bit extreme, the reason behind the idea is not extreme: the people of northern Victoria want their voices to be heard.
We won’t stand by any longer while city people – who know nothing about us - try to destroy our economies, our culture and our way of life.
I understand that some of you here will not agree with my politics, but my message for you today is above politics.
My message from the people of northern Victoria is please listen to us.
We know and care about the place we live in just as passionately you care about the place you live.
Listen to us.
In the meantime, I am here to be a voice for the regions, for country people, for rules that will fit our regional lives, not just your urban ones.
I will stand up for law abiding firearms owners, and support sensible, evidence based firearms laws.
I will oppose new National Parks, I will fight for farmers and the regions.
I will push to decentralise public service jobs and put government money back into the regions where it comes from.
I will fight for sensible speed limits and for the rights of car enthusiasts, for drug law reform and the end of prohibition.
Everywhere the government steps on the right of individuals to choose, I will speak out.
For each law and regulation, I ask you to take it into your hands and ask yourself – “Does this spark joy?”
If not, throw it out, and let us live in peace.
At this point I want to take a moment to apologise to my family.
While I am having this adventure, they will be the ones paying the price.
My wife Olga, having followed me halfway around the world, has already had to put up with quite lot from me in 14 years of married life.
She has allowed me to spend my time tilting at windmills instead of doing something useful, and has been picking up my slack.
She is now going to be carrying even more of the weight.
To Olga, I’m sorry, and I love you.
And my two boys, Fred and Misha.
My two little freedom fighters, my biggest supporters during the campaign, delivering leaflets to mailboxes all over the neighbourhood, handing out how to vote cards at pre-poll – the “More Freedom” cards as they called them.
In the mornings Misha would ask me “Papa, are we going to give out More Freedom to people today?”
That is what we are here for, boys.
The two of them are not yet really aware yet of how much their father is going to be absent - for the days and weeks as they grow up – a process that has already begun.
So, boys, sorry, and “Freedom!”
Thank you to my parents - who are here today – it hasn’t been smooth sailing, but having my own children has helped to bridge the gaps.
I also wanted to mention a number of people who have helped and supported me over the years.
Senator Leyonhjelm, who has joined us here today – he’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but I consider him a friend.
And I will also thank WA Liberal Democrat MLC Aaron Stonehouse for his support.
John Humphries, who recruited me into the party back in 2003, Duncan Spender, Terje Peterson and I’m sure there are many more of the party old guard.
Gabe Buckley, our recently retired National President – the vegan anarchist.
Our Victorian election team – Nathan, Les, Kirsty, Lachlan, Louise – our hard-core Libertarian conscience, Adam, Robert, Brenton, Rob, Iain King my Northern Vic running mate, Sonia Buckley up in East Gippsland, and all the rest.
And of course David Limbrick, my new comrade in the fight for Liberty.
Some others who deserve mention - my former work colleagues – who managed to at least give a good impersonation of being sad to see me go.
I’ll miss you too, sort-of, and I cherish the T-shirt.
The cast of characters from the Wodonga pre-poll: a two week endurance challenge that pitted the canvassers against the elements – boiling sun, freezing cold, wind and rain; overly officious local government parking inspectors and indifferent passers-by...
A scene repeated across the state.
All the people passionate enough to give up their own time to the thankless task of making our democracy work.
All the minor parties that were a part of getting us here, though they are not here themselves this time.
All representing disaffected voters.
Let me speak also for you.
Maybe after the next election the cross bench will be even more diverse.
Let me conclude by repeating myself.
The right of the individual to make their own choices is fundamental to human dignity.
Get out of our way, and let us live our lives as we choose.