Liberal senator James McGrath makes radical call for GST rise, privatisation of 'left-biased' ABC

An incoming Liberal senator has set out a radical libertarian program in his maiden speech, calling for the GST rate to rise to 15 per cent, federal health and education departments to be abolished and for the immediate sell-off of youth radio station Triple J, with the rest of the ABC to also be privatised if it fails to address perceived left-wing bias.

Former Liberal Party deputy director James McGrath also defended people's right to make homophobic comments, as well as "hurtful and bigoted and stupid and dumb things".

Senator McGrath also flagged plans to introduce a private member's bill that would "bring back true voluntary student unionism" as he argued the GST should rise to 15 per cent and include items that are currently excluded, such as fresh food.

He vowed to argue for lower regulation and smaller government as he took aim at the federal health and education departments, which had thousands of staff but had no patients, ran no schools and did not teach students.

"Bureaucracies have become more bloated, more process-driven and more out of touch," he said.

"The states run hospitals and schools - why do we need to be involved? I'm calling for the abolition of the federal departments of health and education, and for universities to be run at a state level."

Turning to the ABC, Senator McGrath said he had grown up listening to the ABC in country Queensland but that the broadcaster had "left people like me and my constituents behind".

"I want to support the ABC. I like the ABC.

"Yet while it continues to represent only inner-city leftist views, and funded by our taxes, it is in danger of losing its social licence to operate.

"I'm calling for a review of the charter of the ABC and if they fail to make inroads to restore balance then the ABC should be sold and replaced by a regional and rural broadcasting service."

Youth broadcaster Triple J should be sold immediately, he added.

Senator McGrath also set out his support for unrestricted freedom of speech, a proposal the government has been grappling with in its now-stalled attempt to repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

"Freedom of speech should never be restricted by government because when freedom of speech is regulated in any manner, speech is no longer free," he said.

"People will say hurtful and bigoted and stupid and dumb things, people will make racist and sexist and homophobic comments. The views are wrong but the right to express them is not.

"If you believe in democracy, you cannot cleanse it of the view you disagree with. The best way to deal with those with whom you disagree is not force them into the dark shadows but let the sun shine, let the disinfectant of light and public scrutiny judge those offensive views."

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The story Liberal senator James McGrath makes radical call for GST rise, privatisation of 'left-biased' ABC first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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