The Alan Missen Award – THE HON KELVIN THOMSON 2017
The Hon. Kelvin Thomson entered Federal Parliament as the Member for Wills in 1996. He was re-elected six times, retiring at the 2016 election. He had earlier served in the Victorian Parliament for nearly eight years.
He worked to improve political standards of conduct throughout his long Parliamentary career and won the trust and respect of his constituents and colleagues across the political spectrum.
Supporting the principles and practice of transparent and accountable government
In the 44th Parliament he supported calls for a national Independent Commission Against Corruption, and for significant reform for campaign donations including a disclosure threshold of $1000, no indexation of the threshold, prohibition of foreign and anonymous donations, addressing donation splitting and faster and more regular disclosure of donations. He was a strong supporter of whistleblower protection, importantly co-signing a letter to the relevant minister and caucus to ensure that protection legislation proceeded near the end of the 43 Parliament.
Contributing effectively and constructively to parliamentary debate, committee deliberations and/or policy development in a way that promotes and/or supports good parliamentary practice and the institution of parliament
He was an effective and constructive contributor to parliamentary debate, committee deliberations and policy development supporting good parliamentary practice and the institution of Parliament.
He continued his commitment to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, of which he had been the longest-serving chairman, seeking change in the treaty-making process which would enable Parliamentarians to see more of treaties during the negotiation process, rather than being presented with a fait accompli at the end of it. This included working to build cross-party agreement on difficult issues like uranium sales to Russia and extradition and prisoner exchange treaties.
Pursuing a change in government policy or practice whether generally or in response to a constituency issue or injustice
He was also a strong advocate for a transition away from live animal exports, stronger environment protection, action on climate change including an increase in the renewable energy target, a national debate about Australia’s migration program, and action on multi-national tax evasion, and tax havens.
Protecting peoples’ political and civil rights
He was a strong supporter of individual citizens’ rights to have a say in their own destiny, campaigning against the inclusion of Investor-State Dispute Settlement clauses in free trade agreements which he believed were fundamentally undemocratic. This led him to oppose both the China and Korea Free Trade Agreements which contained such clauses, a position which was not a policy position of the Parliamentary Labor Party.
Throughout, he demonstrated a high commitment to the public interest in the performance of his role and with honesty, civility, independence and political courage.