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Allan Thomas talks about what he hopes to achieve if elected as a NSW Senator for the JLN
What convinced you to join the party of your choice?
I was born in Fiji but I’m an Australian citizen. I have Uncles and Aunties who are of Indian origin and Hinduism has always been a part of our family setup. In the 1970s I migrated to Australia with my parents. They saw opportunities for us here. I joined the Jacqui Lambie Network (JLN) because I can see how her policies have a benefit to my family and our country. We celebrate Fiji Day and all the major Hindu festivals, I’m all for multiculturalism, it’s one of the biggest values in this country. Jacqui Lambie’s policies are about celebrating our differences but not imposing on Australia.
Being an Australian citizen, I want to see jobs remain in Australia, I want to stop the FTAs and impose heavier foreign taxes to reduce the deficit. I have no disputes regarding immigration, as long as people’s values are genuine and they want to be part of the Australian way of life.
I spent 14 years in the Australian Defence Force. Since I left the army I have helped provide resources to help those veterans receive adequate benefits. I have seen a lot of changes in legislation to the financial benefits of veterans. These soldiers put their lives forward to protect this great country and they should be significantly rewarded and not have to justify their benefits given the rigours of defence force life. I have been lobbying at a Ministerial level to help lower and middle class people who are finding it hard to make ends meet. There’s no rewards for them, no trying to get ahead. It’s about helping people by keeping Australian jobs in Australia.
The campaign trail is a rough and challenging one, which certainly needs the benefit of strategy to reach out to as many voters as possible. How are you dealing with this?
I have been getting out there and talking to people. I have gone to the Australian Workers’ Union members at Port Kembla (in NSW) to talk about the South Australian submarine announcement. We have a manufacturing plant in New South Wales making steel, so why aren’t we using that in the production of Australia’s submarines? Why are we using foreign resources? I have been speaking with them about their issues. Jobs will be lost. Money is going overseas and we’re losing out. I have also spoken with NSW Maritime Engineers about environmental protection and their issues.
I have been using social media to reach out to people and attending rallies all around Australia for veterans’ affairs.
I live in Ballina (in regional NSW). I am a member of a minority trying to get my name out there.
Why should people vote for you?
We need to elect people with good values who are not from the major parties. The Senate is about individuals, especially those from regional areas, pushing the concerns of their community.
What are the three key issues facing people this election?
Firstly, employment and how we go about solving this problem. We need to back ourselves and impose heavier taxes on foreign companies. We have great tradespeople in Australia and we need to invest in upskilling and put greater investment into our resources, for example, the food industry.
The second issue is use of our prime agricultural land. Over the decades we’ve seen the loss of our land to foreign investors. We need to put more money into researching how we can protect our prime agricultural land and develop our crops. We should be providing subsidies to farmers to help them through drought and to develop their crops into resources to be used by Australians.
We need to back ourselves and protect the vulnerable. The pensioners, the unemployed need to be helped. Politicians are getting regular pay increases and we can’t afford to help those who need it most and that needs to change.
What is your opinion on preference deals?
The current coalition has backed itself into a corner. They want more seats in the Senate, but the independents will get more seats in this election. The independents will have more of a chance to change things and make things right.
What is your understanding of issues concerned with the multicultural community in Australia?
I don’t think racism is actually a big thing in this country. As someone of dark colour in the Australian Defence Force, I would have felt it up front, but the dynamic of this country means we provide assistance to people who need it most. We need to embrace and accept people from other countries just as foreigners need to accept they have a duty of care to abide by the constitution of Australia and have an understanding of English. Australians are a very embracing people and new migrants are rewarded by people celebrating their cultures.
How can we better encourage new Australians to become involved in politics?
I would encourage people to see how open parliament in Australia is. When working on veterans issues, I took time to read parliamentary reports and the more I read of government reports and parts of Hansard, the greater understanding I had of politics in Australia. I think you have a better understanding doing that than reading what (Rupert) Murdoch and his newspapers want the community to see. It’s also important for more multicultural members of the community to get involved. Watch debates on television, get a better idea of what it is you’re voting for.
What do you enjoy most about politics?
Being in the Australian Defence Force, I really experienced a sense of camaraderie that I have also found in the JLN. Senators are there to take your issues on, they’re genuine people and having worked with them in the past, being part of that group would put me in good stead.
What might people not know about you?
Speaking to me on the phone, people wouldn’t know I’m Fijian. I was born there but was brought up in Australia. Looking at my name people wouldn’t guess.