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Labor MP details flaws in Burke's population strategy

Inside also link to Kelvin Thomson's blog response to Government's Population Strategy (Have your Say).

Kelvin Thomson is the Labor MP who continually calls his party to issues of democracy and environment. You can also comment on Mr Thomson’s Blog, "Response to the Government’s Population Strategy (have your say)"

The video linked to below records Thomson's reaction in an ABC interview to Minister Burke's shameless exercise in using public money and social capital for a pretend inquiry. Thomson's words are relatively restrained. Others think that Burke has no right to remain in parliament for selling the Australian public out so badly.


Placing the Economy and its needs ahead of the needs of the people, the citizens of Australia, is an abandonment of duty of care. People are more than economic units to be collected for economic growth. Human societies have many dimensions, and by only considering the economy, Tony Burke has shown himself to be inadequate for the job.

Multiculturalism has been used in the past to support ongoing immigration. Australia is already represented by many nationalities, so this ideology is already "tired". The big "skills shortage" and employment gaps ignores that we already have many unemployed that need to be included into the workforce. If we have "skills shortages" why are are universities and TAFEs focusing on foreign students instead of skilling our nation? The shortage of skills is being touted now to support more immigration. It's still full-steam ahead for a "big Australia".

Kelvin Thomson is right. The strategy ignores the massive costs of infrastructure needed for our cities, and the regional areas that will also need theirs boosting. Humans don't live in a vacuum of needs!

Tony Burke's population strategy has actually revealed who is running this country - big corporations and multi-national businesses! The welfare of voters, their needs now and in the future, are being sacrificed for the big end of town - those with mega-dollars.

How is it that Kelvin Thomson is the only politician with courage enough to say the obvious - that a population strategy without a target is no strategy at all. "Sustainable" population minister has done nothing to make any strategy - except to distribute more growth - or make it sustainable - as his delegated ministerial role. He failed to make a policy that limits growth and cap our population because it would limit the Government's ability to use the migration program to deal with skills gaps and labour shortages.

If there are skills gaps, why are our universities and TAFEs so heavily outsourced and reliant on foreign students? If there are skills gaps, we need to invest in our human resources and direct students and graduates to where the shortages are. How many unemployed would like to be employed but can't find suitable positions? Bypassing Australians to add more people to regional areas by using immigration is a betrayal. Why is our government pimping to those overseas? They are elected to represent the people of Australia.

How many regional areas are closely-knit communities. It's hard to be accepted even for Australians, but for people from other cultures and ethnic groups to be integrated and accepted, there could be a lot of disharmony. Economic needs may be quite contrary to human needs and environmental capacity. People are more than economic units - they need food, water, affordable housing, social networking, security, ability to support their families and all the health and educational services.

Politicians are paid well to make balanced and holistic decisions, not narrow and shallow ones based one aspect of existence - ie economics.

Kelvin Thomson has stuck his neck out to actually represent the interests of Australians - something needed but lacking today is patriotism.

Am I losing my memory?
Ten or 15 years ago AESP used to promote zero-net immigration.
AESP used to attack refugees, arguing that $100 spend overseas went much further than $100 spent here on a few lucky (manipulative) few.
AESP used to ridicule the media disaster-pornography pointing out that the human plague is occupying every square maeter of the planet and so, when natural events (aka natural disasters) happen, of course the human plague suffers. D'oh.

Now Kelvin Thompson calls for a permanent intake of 70-thousand, and an ever increasing refugee and cruise ship intake. And everyone call him a hero.

Please explain?

As far as I know, SPA still promotes zero net immigration as an ideal, pointing out that this still allows quite large numbers to exit and enter, for, if 100,000 people leave the country permanently, zero net would mean that 100,000 could come in with the intention of staying permanently.

I don't think that it has ever 'attacked' refugees. It has suggested that Australia's intake of refugees could be increased and the other sources of immigration - family, skills, business - could be vastly reduced - and still come out at zero net.

Immigration averaged out from around the 1960s (to my recollection) came to 80,000 or so net until the huge jumps caused by the Howard government's policies. Labor was always trying to push the numbers up too. So, 70,000 net would be a reduction on that earlier high average.

Kelvin Thomson's suggested 70,000 would also be a huge reduction on the organised invasion of business, skills, students and family reunion immigrants that the government is currently conducting against its own people, which it leaves with poor education, lousy job opportunities, no homes, and a social security system that makes poor people use up their limited savings and sell off their homes.

70,000 allows the population to grow some more to about 26m as I recollect, which is, I agree, too much. For safety's sake we should stop growth as soon as possible, since we have already overshot our resources and the inertia of embodied population growth will carry our numbers up anyway. There is, however, a rational basis for the 70,000 number which entails reaching and staying at 26,000,000, whether you agree with them or not. I cite them from Kelvin Thomson's 14 point plan for population reform at this source: "Kelvin Thomson unveils population reform plan at Royal Park Protection Group AGM"

"To bring the train back under control we need to return to a net overseas migration number more in keeping with previous practice. Net overseas migration in 2007-08 was 213,461. I believe this should be reduced to 70,000. If we cut net overseas migration to 70,000, and the fertility rate was maintained at 1.8, according to Professor Bob Birrell, of Monash University’s Centre for Urban and Social Research, the population would reach 26 million by the year 2050 and stabilize at about this level for the rest of the century.
The age profile of the population would also remain relatively constant."

Kelvin Thomson does really seem to be a hero though, because, if you compare his party's policies, which are abjectly compliant with the wishes of a corrupt land-development and banking sector that is driving up the cost of living and doing business in this country beyond what the average person can bear, then he is showing immense bravery and a respect for democracy, human kind, nature and science which appears to be absent among the rest of Labor and Liberal and the Greens politicians.

You surely would admit that Julia Gillard would do far better to throw out Tony Burke's shameful effort on a sustainable population strategy and switch Australia onto Kelvin's 14 point policy?

I hope that someone from SPA will answer your comment as well as me.

I forgot to say above that I think that 50,000 for family reunion is too high.

Family reunion is a problem child of the ALP, which used it for moral one upsmanship on the Libs years ago and now wears it on its back like an albatross.

Family reunion has a track record of runaway growth, known as 'chain migration', where I import my wife, she imports her relatives, they import theirs etc. Australia's 'balance of family policy' mitigated this somewhat in earlier days but I am not sure what the policy is now.

In addition to the above, the fact that temporary immigrants and overseas nationals can purchase Australian land, buildings and businesses with almost no restrictions is a recipe for disaster and the disaster has been served up to us annually in unaffordable and small business wrecking land prices for housing and rents for homes and business premises and in many other structural problems - such as no room for locals at universities - now for years.

However the biggest problem of all is that Australians are being treated like a colony by big business and we really have no democracy. Tony Bourke's and John Howard's immigration policies show that our governments and big business simply do not consider Australia to be a nation with electors who have real democratic rights. They do not care that the cost of living is driven up by their way of making profits (land price inflation and rents on everything including road travel) and that the price of labour is driven down by the mass import of workers in conjunction with the loss of our Federation constitutional agreement to protect wages and conditions.

If we keep on this way our freedom is simply doomed. It is a tragedy that in the recent inquiry into Human Rights the so-called 'Australian treasure' Father Brennan looked to international rights of an airy fairy nature and did nothing to shore up the rapid erosion of legally undefensible rights to shelter, work, and land in Australia.

We really need a code of laws to detail citizens' rights as they have throughout Western Europe - a legacy of Napoleon. Few people in the Westminster system realise that Napoleon was actually very inspired (and used excellent legal assistants) in adapting the 1789 human rights to real rights for citizens in France and within the entire Napoleonic Empire. None of those codes he instituted has ever been overturned and all the germanic and scandinavian countries later adopted them, even though they had not been part of the Napoleonic conquest.

Australians should get their own Civil code based on those that Europe has.

Kelvin Thomson is a politician. His 14 point plan to stabilize Australia's population at 26 million by mid century allows for immigration rates that Australia has in fact experienced in recent years. He is not suggesting a plan that involves an enormous diversion into the unknown yet his very moderate plan brings us to a very different situation mid century from the trajectory we are now on. Kelvin Thomson's stand on population puts him at odds with others in his party. I don't hear any of his parliamentary colleagues supporting him and I would bet this is not because he does not go far enough! Of course Kelvin Thomson is a hero! Unfortunately his plan since it was not implemented at the time - about one year and a half ago would, if implemented now bring us to a higher mid century population than it was aiming for but it would still be vastly better than where we are in fact headed.
In "the best of all possible worlds" Australia would not increase its population at all since we are already living at the expense of our environment. We are now living in environmental deficit. Much as some say, "it is not the number of people but the way we live..", I don't see any improvement in the "how" and I see a constant increase in the "how many" so our environment is in the process of further decline. A politician works within what is do-able and the rest of us need to articulate what is needed. Of course we urgently need zero net migration.

Kelvin Thomson is striking a compromise. To head for a slow decline in population numbers - as would happen without immigration due to our fertility at 1.9 - would be too much of a "shock" to our economic system that relies on constant population growth. It would be unacceptable politically. However, most of our immigration is due to economic immigration - students, skills "shortages" and family re unions. Less than 2% is from refugees, according to Amnesty. They are being used as a smoke-screen to hide the real immigration numbers, and consume the debates.

Eventually we need to stabilize our population but there has to be some sliding into it, and Kelvin Thomson does not want to commit political suicide and isolate himself entirely from Labor policies. He's still a hero, and doing what politicians are paid to do ie. represent the interests of the voters!