Battle for Batman: George Souris

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Liberal candidate George Souris discusses issues facing constituents and his policy priorities 

George Souris.Indian Link
What convinced you to join your party?
George Souris: I joined the Liberal Party in 2007 because I believe in the inalienable rights and freedoms of all peoples and wanted to support a party that works towards a lean government that minimises interference in our daily lives and maximises individual and private sector initiatives.
I believe in government that nurtures its citizens through incentive, rather than putting limits on people through the punishing disincentives of burdensome taxes and the stifling structures of bureaucratic red tape.
I joined the Liberal Party because I believe in individual freedom and free enterprise.
What has the campaign trail been like so far?
George Souris: This campaign, like all election campaigns, involves winning the trust of the Australian people to govern in the nation’s best interests over the next three years. In an inner city, cosmopolitan seat like Batman, it involves getting up early and meeting with as many constituents as possible, community groups, handing out election material and, of course, seeking the views and opinions of locals.
As a culturally and linguistically diverse community, Batman is made up of a wide variety of people from many different backgrounds. It is particularly important that we communicate with the entire electorate and take on board all views and opinions.
What are the three key issues facing the people of Batman?
George Souris: In this very uncertain world, Australia needs political stability and a strong economic plan for jobs and families as we transition from the mining construction boom to a new and more diverse economy. The Coalition’s plan for a strong new economy is supporting this transition.

Our Plan will provide growth, jobs and a secure future for families here in Batman: Backing hardworking small businesses, helping working families, cracking down on tax avoidance, a transport plan for Victoria, more funding for schools, and hospitals and backing young Australians.

How do you plan to improve employment opportunities for people in Batman, particularly the youth?
George Souris: To get more young Australians into work, the Turnbull Government has created a new Youth Jobs PaTH (Prepare-Trial-Hire) Program.
Youth Jobs PaTH provides young Australians with intensive pre-employment skills training followed by an internship placement.  Up to 30,000 job seekers each year will gain a four to twelve week placement in an industry of their choosing.
Employers who hire an eligible young job seeker in an ongoing job will receive an accelerated wage subsidy of up to $10,000, paid over six months.
With the Coalition’s proposed budget, over 75% of people within the Batman community will not receive tax cuts. What is your view on that?
George Souris: The Coalition is committed to helping Australian families to get ahead. Middle income Australians are bearing a growing tax burden. Without action, the average full time wage earner would face the second highest marginal tax rate this year and nearly half of all taxpayers would be in the top two brackets in ten years’ time.
The Turnbull Government is giving hard working Australians greater incentive to earn more without being taxed more.
The Government is increasing the 32.5 per cent tax threshold from $80,000 to $87,000. This will stop around 500,000 taxpayers facing the 37 per cent marginal tax rate.
Small business is the engine room of the Australian economy, employing 4.7 million Australians.

The 17,985 small businesses in Batman are driving jobs growth in Australia and must continue to do so.

The company tax rate will be progressively lowered to 25 per cent by 2026-27 for all companies.
We will not remove or limit negative gearing – that would increase the tax burden on Australians who are just trying to invest and provide a future for their families. Negative gearing is used by over one million Australians, two thirds of whom have taxable incomes below $80,000. Here alone in Batman, 7900 taxpayers use negative gearing, as a way of investing in the future of their families.
What is your opinion regarding preference deals in the election?
George Souris: The Liberal Party has a long-established and proven method for deciding its preference recommendations to electors in national campaigns.
Preferences are decided when nominations have closed and all the parties and other candidates and their views are known to us. No decisions have been made regarding preferences.
What is your understanding of issues concerned with the multicultural community in Batman and how are you best placed to address them?
George Souris: The electorate of Batman would without a doubt be one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse electorates in Australia. We have people living here from just about every part of the world. People who have taken risks to leave their homelands to make a decision to come and make a new life in Australia and enjoy the freedoms and opportunities our nation has to offer. Having come from a migrant family myself, I understand the challenges and sacrifices involved in coming to a new land.
In Australia, we welcome 13,750 refugees a year – the world’s third largest permanent refugee resettlement program in proportionate terms – because our borders are secure. Strong borders are the foundation of our high-immigration multicultural success.
In fact, Australia has settled more than 850,000 refugees since World War II. Our refugee programs have not succeeded by accident. We make considerable investments in settlement services – teaching English and helping bridge what, for many, is a very difficult transition.
How can we better encourage new Australians to become involved in politics?
George Souris: The wonderful thing about living in democratic society is that there are no restrictions on who can participate in the political process. The Liberal Party represents Australians from a wide variety of different culturally, linguistically and religiously diverse backgrounds. It is not owned by any particular interest group. We actively encourage the participation of Australians from migrant backgrounds to join our party.
Have you had any dealings with the Indian community? Have you travelled to India?
George Souris: The Coalition strongly values the contribution the Indian community in Australia makes to our successful multicultural society. Indian Australians have contributed much to the economic, social and cultural life of Australia. The Indian community is renowned for its commitment to hard work, enterprise, community spirit and building strong families. I have travelled to India numerous times and have set up a successful exporting business with strong support. I’m also fortunate to have met people over the years which I now call friends and keep in touch with regularly.
What do you enjoy most about politics?
George Souris: I enjoy that I meet people from all backgrounds and that I can actually make a difference to their lives.
What might people not know about you?
George Souris: I have a young family with two children and live in the Batman electorate. I have travelled to over 42 countries, introducing and launching my brand to the world, including India which would have to be a favourite. By visiting all these countries I have embraced multiculturalism which I believe is what sets Batman apart.
Read Labor candidate David Feeney’s responses HERE
Read Greens candidate Alex Bhathal’s responses HERE

Preeti Jabbal
Preeti Jabbal
Preeti is the Melbourne Coordinator of Indian Link.

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