The Hon. Kelvin Thomson, former Federal Member for Wills, is joining the Sustainable Australia Party. Mr Thomson served as an Australian Labor Party Councillor for the City of Coburg from 1981 to 1988, Member of the Victorian Parliament for Pascoe Vale from 1988 to 1996, and Federal Labor Member for Wills for over 20 years from 1996 until the 2016 Election. Mr Thomson will be advising Sustainable Australia’s first elected Member of Parliament, Mr. Clifford Hayes, who was elected as a Legislative Councillor for the Southern Metropolitan Region at the recent Victorian election.
Mr Hayes said, “Kelvin Thomson’s knowledge of all three levels of government, his campaign experience - he stood for public office 12 times in his career and was successful on each occasion - and his policy development expertise, having been a Shadow Minister for the Environment amongst other Shadow Ministries, Parliamentary Secretary and member of many Parliamentary Committees during his parliamentary service, will make him an invaluable asset to me, my office and to the Sustainable Australia Party.
Mr Thomson said, "I first joined the Labor Party in 1975. It was an honour and privilege to represent the Australian Labor Party in two Parliaments and three levels of government for a total of 35 years. To say the Labor Party has been my life is putting it mildly. So I have submitted my resignation from the Labor Party with a very heavy heart.
“For a decade now I have set out what I believe to be the myopia, greed, vanity and ecological illiteracy that drives Big Australia, Australia's policy of rapid population growth. I have arrived at a point where there are irreconcilable differences between the course I believe Australia and the world needs to chart, and the course that the Australian Labor Party is charting. I set out in my Valedictory Speech my great appreciation of the support I received as an MP from ordinary members of the Labor Party, and those sentiments remain true. I retain a hope that in time the Labor Party will embrace views about Australia's population that are more in keeping with the needs of this generation, the needs of those who will come after us, and the needs of the many other species we have the good fortune to share this ancient, beautiful and fragile country with.
"What this world needs now is not more people, but more courage."
Sustainable Australia Party Founder and President William Bourke said, "Kelvin Thomson played a key role in kick-starting the population debate in Australia 10 years ago, with a speech he gave in Parliament in August 2009, and with a media release he put out in September 2009, in response to Treasury figures showing that Australia's population would be 35 million by 2049, a massive jump from the previous projection of 28 million by 2049, made just a couple of years earlier. He described this as a recipe for environmental disaster and called for population reform."
"The Sustainable Australia Party, formed in the wake of that debate, is a party of the political centre, and Kelvin and other mainstream, like-minded Australians are very welcome here."
Kelvin Thomson's letter of Resignation from the Australian Labor Party 13 January 2019
Victorian Branch Secretary
Australian Labor Party
438 Docklands Drive
DOCKLANDS VIC 3008
This is a very hard letter for me to write. I first joined the Australian Labor Party in 1975.
Within a few years I had become a Branch Secretary, then Branch President, then delegate to the Victorian State Conference and President of the Wills FEA, Policy Committee member, and member of a number of local, State, and Federal Campaign Committees. I was later elected as a member of
the Public Office Selection Panel and served for a time as its President.
In 1981 I was elected as an endorsed Australian Labor Party Councillor for the City of Coburg, and reelected in 1982 and 1985, serving until 1988. In 1988 I was elected as an endorsed Australian Labor Party Member of the Victorian Parliament for the electorate of Pascoe Vale. I represented Pascoe Vale until 1996 and served as a Shadow Minister and Manager of Opposition Business during that time.
In 1996 I was elected to the Federal Parliament as the Labor Member for Wills. I was re-elected in 1998, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2010 and 2013, serving for over 20 years until I retired from Parliament in 2016. I served as a Labor Shadow Minister from 1998 till 2007. When Labor was elected to Government I became Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, and later on served as a Parliamentary Secretary under 2 Labor Prime Ministers.
It was an honour and a privilege to represent the Australian Labor Party in 2 Parliaments and 3 levels of government for a total of over 35 years. To say the Labor Party has been my life is putting it mildly. As you know, I received my 40 Year Membership Medallion a couple of years ago. Since retiring from Parliament I have continued to provide assistance and support to Labor MPs and candidates in my area.
So I am writing this letter of resignation with a very heavy heart. There are many things I could talk about, but I accept this is always going to be true of any large political organisation. The one thing I cannot overlook is this. The world is undergoing unsustainable population growth – it has more than doubled in the last 50 years. I can’t do much about that, but Australia is one of the worst offenders. So too Victoria. So too Melbourne. The Australian Labor Party of the 21st Century has embraced Australia’s 21st Century rapid population growth, known by the shorthand expression of Big Australia. The 55,000 annual net overseas migration of the Whitlam years, when I joined, has turned into over 200,000 annual net overseas migration. Here in Victoria we have embraced Big Victoria
and Big Melbourne.
For a decade now I have set out what I believe to be the myopia, greed, vanity and ecological illiteracy that drives Big Australia. I won’t insult your intelligence by repeating my arguments. Suffice to say that I have arrived at a point where there are irreconcilable differences between the course I believe Australia and the world needs to chart, and the course that the Australian Labor Party is charting.
It is true that neither the Liberal nor the Greens Parties have any more enlightened approaches to the issue, but there is a Party – Sustainable Australia – which does get it. As they say in the US, everyone has the right to the pursuit of happiness. It is well established that an important ingredient of happiness is the opportunity to spend your days doing something you believe in. What I believe is that exponential population growth is not merely a problem, but that it is the problem that reinforces all others. I agree with David Attenborough – “I’ve never seen a problem that wouldn’t be easier to solve with fewer people, or harder, and ultimately impossible, with more”.
I have been given an opportunity by the Sustainable Australia Party’s Victorian MLC Cliff Hayes to do something I really believe in. It is an opportunity too good to pass up. Obviously that is not consistent with my remaining a Labor Party member, hence this letter.
I set out in my Valedictory Speech my great appreciation of the support I received as an MP from ordinary members of the Labor Party, and those sentiments remain true. I retain a hope that in time Labor will embrace views about Australia’s population that are more in keeping with the needs of this generation, the needs of those who will come after us, and the needs of the many other species we have the good fortune to share this ancient, beautiful and fragile country with.
The Hon. Kelvin Thomson
11 January 2019
Kelvin Thomson's resignation letter as pdf file - click here.