Deep Trouble #6: The Hon. Kelvin Thomson
In conversation with the Hon. Kelvin Thomson, ex-federal politician and Shadow Attorney General for the Rudd Labour government, we discuss immigration, population growth, the Rudd-Gilliard-Rudd years, and Australia’s addiction to gambling.
Kelvin’s views on immigration address the common misconception that the Howard government was anti-immigration, when in fact the immigration intake increased significantly after the Tampa incident in 2004. On population, Kelvin contends that world population growth in the last century – which has increased from 2 billion to 7 billion, with no signs of levelling out – will eventually lead to a rapid decline in quality of life. Kelvin contends the need to stabilise the Australian population by limiting skilled migration whilst increasing humanitarian refugee intake.
On the Rudd-Gilliard-Rudd years, Kelvin talks through his overall disappointment in the process of governing after such a long time in Opposition. He is, nevertheless, proud of the Labour government’s stewardship of the country through the global financial crisis. We discussed the internal leaking and undermining which affected the Gilliard government and which resulted in a hung parliament and crippled the government politically. This resulted in Gillard having to make a deal with the independent MP Andrew Wilkie, who was advocating for the introduction of mandatory pre-commitment on pokies. Due to aggressive campaigning by the NSW gambling industry, however, the reforms collapsed, resulting in the installation of Peter Slipper as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
This leads into a discussion about Kelvin’s work with the Alliance for Gambling Reform, and his view that the gambling industry and state and federal governments all focus on the ‘personal responsibility’ of the gambler in a concerted public relations campaign aimed to place responsibility on people with a gambling disorder, whilst taking focus away from the industry’s highly addictive products.
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