Thursday, July 16, 2015


I've read plenty of silly articles in my time, but the naive nonsense from the President of the Australian Population Institute (wonder who funds it?) just about takes the cake.

Ms Jane Nathan says in today's Age 16 July 2015 that Melbourne is headed for eight million by 2050, and goes on to describe what it will be like in the most wildly optimistic tones imaginable. She says "our social harmony, kaleidoscopic culture, clean food, innovative education systems and greatly reduced crime rates are the envy of the world. Our neighbourhoods are artistic, green and pristine".

Sounds like paradise. The problem is, there is no evidence to support it. Indeed all the evidence points in the opposite direction. Rapid population growth in Melbourne has produced higher crime rates, with domestic violence and the ice epidemic blighting our city. Education for our young people has more costly and less valuable, with increasing graduate unemployment and alarming reports of dodgy private training colleges and cheating at universities. The risk of terrorist attack is higher. And as for green and pristine, just this week it was reported that even common Australian birds, like the Willy Wagtail and the Kookaburra, were being sighted much less frequently. The reason for this is that the streets of mature gardens that used to give our birds food and shelter have been replaced by multi-unit developments and high rise. The vegetation has been destroyed, and the birds have died out.

And the evidence from cities overseas which have got to eight million and more is pretty clear too. Terrible traffic congestion, lousy housing affordability, poor quality open space, big gaps between rich and poor, and an underclass of poverty, drugs and crime. Ms Nathan can endeavour to talk up eight million and sell it as an exciting future all she likes, but there is absolutely no evidence to warrant this "she'll be right" approach to rapid population growth.

Kelvin Thomson MP

Monday, July 13, 2015

More criticism of Trans Pacific Partnership Investor State Dispute Settlement provisions

More criticism of Trans Pacific Partnership Investor State Dispute Settlement provisions.

There is mounting criticism of the proposed provisions in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) which would give foreign corporations the right to sue Australian taxpayers over Australian government decisions that affect their business interests.

A week ago Reserve Bank Board member Heather Ridout said Australia would rue the day it lost control of its ability to make legitimate public policy decisions that might affect the way firms in Australia operated. She said "Mark my words, we will regret it, if we sign away our rights".

Ms Ridout joins a long line of critics of the investor state dispute settlement, or ISDS, provisions. The Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, Robert French, the Productivity Commission, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), and the Harper Competition Inquiry have all criticised the proposed provisions.

The Australian Government needs to be focused on the best interests of all Australians, and focused on the best interests of future generations, rather than the immediate financial interests of its corporate backers, when it engages in trade negotiations.

Kelvin Thomson

Federal Member for Wills

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Emissions Reduction Targets

News that our electricity sector carbon greenhouse gas emissions are again on the rise underline that this problem is not going to take care of itself, and that we need to adopt serious and scientifically based emission reduction targets to take to the Paris Climate Change Conference later this year.

I support the recommendations of the Climate Change Authority, which proposes that we reduce our emissions below 2000 levels by 30 per cent by 2025 and by 40 to 60 per cent by 2030. Authority Chairman Bernie Fraser says such a target would constitute a credible package to take to the Paris Conference.

For over 5 years I have advocated that we should have stabilised our emissions in 2010 and cut them by 2 per cent each year, that is 20 per cent each decade, after that. This would have given us a 20 per cent cut by 2020, a 40 per cent cut by 2030, a 60 per cent cut by 2040, an 80 per cent cut by 2050, and a completely decarbonised economy by 2060.

The Climate Change Authority proposals are entirely consistent with that timetable. It also fits well with the action being taken by other countries – for example Canada has said it will aim to reduce its emissions by 30 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030, Japan has proposed a 2030 cut of 26 per cent below 2013 levels, and the United States is proposing a 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025.

We will obviously need to transition to renewable energy big time to achieve this, and the Federal Government's undermining of the renewable energy industry has been most unhelpful. But hopefully that has now stopped. And the news about renewable energy technology is encouraging – for example the developments in battery storage which will enable people to use their solar panels to power electric vehicles, or to use their solar power at all times of the day and night.