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Thursday, 5 December 2013
Page: 1827

Mr KELVIN THOMSON (Wills) (16:35): In my speech on the address-in-reply, I told the House I was going to establish a non-government organisation to campaign against rapid population growth and its attendant environmental and planning consequences. We had our first meeting last Sunday, 1 December, attended by over 100 people, at the Remington Community Centre, which was the subject of high-quality discussion about the shortcomings of rapid population growth.

I put forward an alternative to the direction we are going now, which I absolutely believe is the wrong direction. At the heart of this smart alternative is the idea of stewardship. I owe the word to my sister Jacquie, who is a strong Christian. You will have heard the phrase, 'We don't inherit the earth from our parents; we borrow it from our children.' I think that is spot on. We do not own the place; we have the privilege of managing it for a while. I have regularly finished speeches by saying that we have an obligation to hand on to our children and grandchildren a world in as good a condition as the one that our parents and grandparents left to us. I think 'stewardship' is a good word to express this fundamentally crucial idea. I have decided that I like it better than 'sustainability'. You could fill libraries with the work done on sustainability. Properly understood, it is indeed a powerful and useful idea. But, sadly, it has been so used and abused and prostituted, including by the forces of darkness, that it has become an Alice in Wonderland word—'When I use a word, it means whatever I choose it to mean.' So nowadays it is pretty meaningless. When people hear the word 'sustainability' in future, I encourage them to substitute for it the word 'stewardship', which I find works pretty well.

The second thing about my alternative is that it is very mainstream or middle of the road. I believe in giving the voters what they want. I know that people who believe in giving the voters what they want are at risk of being called names—for example, 'populist'—but the people who scream 'populist' are essentially trying to fool us into supporting ideas that are not in our own best interests. The people who scream 'populist' reveal a basic contempt for the people and their ideas and a lack of respect for democracy.

Some people will think that my ideas are radical because they are very different from the path we are on at the moment. Some will think them conservative because they place a lot of value on our heritage and value the past and are sceptical about the changes that are happening in our world. But at their heart they are giving the voters what they want, not what some billionaire or their media puppets think is good for them.

Another element of my ideas, again consistent with giving people a genuine say, is making things as small, local and self-sufficient as we can be. Globalisation has helped a lot of people but it has also harmed plenty, and in the world of the future we will be better off retaining as much independence, self-reliance and self-sufficiency as we can.

Given that, and because we have to start somewhere, I want to focus on Victoria First. Victoria has a greater population increase each year than any other state or territory, driven by having the largest migration intake. What on earth is the value of this? We are told that the big increase in Australia's migrant worker programs is to meet the needs of the mining boom and to find workers for remote and inhospitable parts of Australia that locals will not live in. That is the myth. The reality is that more people come to Victoria than anywhere else, and Victoria ends up with all the problems associated with this rapid population growth. Melbourne grows by 200 people a day, 1,500 people a week and 75,000 each year. In my view, Melbourne and Victoria are the archetypal examples of the folly of rapid population growth and for me, Melbourne and Victorian born and bred, it is exactly the place to start a fight back and to push back against this foolishness and short-sightedness.

Edward Kennedy said in the memorable speech he gave for his second assassinated brother, Robert:

Few are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change. And I believe that in this generation those with the courage to enter the moral conflict will find themselves with companions in every corner of the globe.

I encourage my fellow Victorians, many of whom I know are concerned by rapid population growth, to join my non-government organisation Victoria First.