Friday, April 1, 2011


Kelvin Thomson, MP
Friday 1st April, 2011

I agree with Brian Boyd, who said it’s all very well for the Labor Party Review to focus on our structures, but at the end of the day, what really matters is our policies. I also agree with Luke Foley from New South Wales, who said about the NSW result – we were a party formed to look after outsiders, but we have become a party that looks after insiders .
It’s true – we are looking after property developers, and big business, when we should be looking after workers, we should be looking after pensioners, we should be looking after students.
We have been accomplices in this high population, high migration, growth at any price strategy which pushes up house prices and makes housing unaffordable for workers, fits up students with sky high rents, and pensioners with rate bills so high so they can barely afford to stay in their own homes.
It is noteworthy that Barry O’Farrell’s victory speech said he was going to stop overdevelopment in Sydney, repeal Part 3A and rewrite the Planning Act – the point is we should be on the side of residents in planning matters – it’s their lives, it’s their neighbourhood, it’s their community.
Professor Garnaut has found that electricity distributors are gouging households, and profiteering from the distribution of power from generators to homes. He’s pointed out that from 2007 – 2010 electricity prices have risen 32%
I talked about this in Parliament last year – I pointed out that in Melbourne electricity prices have gone up by over 100% in the last decade, and by over 50% in real terms.  Ross Garnaut says electricity prices are going up with or without a carbon price.
We have to do something about this – I think electricity prices rises should be pegged to, for example, the rise in the pension – to give pensioners and ordinary households a break.  If the electricity companies say they need to build extra infrastructure, well the beneficiaries of that extra infrastructure – property developers and business – should be the ones paying for it – not ordinary households.
Ian MacFarlane fro the Liberal Party has come out and attacked Ross Garnout over this – it shows the Liberal Party is not on the side of ordinary people – the Liberal Party cries all these crocodile tears about rising electricity bills, but when  someone steps up and says yes, let’s do something about it, he gets attacked! Mr MacFarlane takes the side of the electricity companies, not the side of customers.
The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows Australia’s population growing at a rate likely to exceed Treasury forecasts of 36 million by 2050.
Net overseas migration in the year to September 2010 was 185,800. While this is significantly less than the runaway numbers we had for the last 2 years, it is higher than every number we had during the previous 30 and more double the numbers we had in years like 1995, 1997 and 1998.
It is higher than the net 180,000 Treasury has been using to calculate our population by 2050. Further the natural population increase – birth over deaths – is rising, and is now 160,000. So we have annual population increase of 345,000, which is close to 1000 new people every day or 40 extra people every hour.  We have to build a new home in Australia every 4 minutes just to keep up. No wonder we never make any impression on things like homelessness or indigenous housing. No wonder rents keep going up.
I am concerned about reports that employers are rorting sub-class 457 visa conditions – in the words of an email reported on ABC radio Wednesday morning, “creating phantom roles, providing false or misleading information to the Department,” then once the visa is gained, not using the worker in the way they said they would.
The number of 457 visas has skyrocketed in recent years – there is no cap on the number of 457 visas that can be issued, and I think that temporary entry work visas are a tool for undermining the wages and conditions of Australian workers, and a recipe for exploiting overseas ones.
I support the calls by the Manufacturing Workers Union for a National Skill Register, and by unions in Western Australia for a National Register of Workers who want to work in the resources sector.
Before we resort to sub-class 457 visas and bringing in overseas labour we should make absolutely certain that there are no Australians available to do this work.
We should cut back the number of 457 visas so, amongst other things, we can properly monitor that the conditions under which they came to Australia are being complied with.
Kelvin Thomson MP
Federal Member for Wills

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