In the Rudd direction

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Cleantech Business Sector president Manoj Kumar talks about his plans for fighting the elections

By Shveata Chandel Singh

Manoj Kumar, president of Cleantech Business Sector at AIBC-Victoria, is all set to contest the upcoming federal election from Menzies division, which is currently a safe Liberal seat.

Hailing from Bihar and brought up in Kolkata, Manoj did his B.E from Maharashtra and then moved to the Middle East for better employment opportunities.

Manoj moved to Australia in 2005 along with his family from Dubai and since then has been working for the Indian community here.

He reveals his plans and strategies for fighting the election.

Tell us a little more about yourself.

I have worked in various capacities as an engineer before joining Labor party in 2009.

After moving to Australia in 2005, I started working as a service engineer in Ecotech, a company based in Australia. I was later promoted to international business engineer and since 2007 I’ve been working as international business development manager in this company.

Tell us about your role being the president of the Cleantech Business Sector at AIBC –Victoria?

My role is to promote the clean technology business sector through multilateral engagements between leading Australian and Indian manufacturers, researchers, service and technology providers and customers.

I am proud to be president of the Cleantech Business Sector at AIBC-Victoria. It includes over 300 companies employing more than 19,000 people with annual revenue of over $3.5 billion.

Being a representative of the Indian community, what initiatives have you taken so far?

I have always been keen on working for the welfare of the Indian community. I took up various issues of ‘Little India’ with the government. My most recent success was the six months waive off in rent as a relief.

Because of the government’s constructional work in ‘Little India’, more than 38 shops were affected as the customers had to pave their way through the construction site. This resulted in great losses to the business community, which was later compensated by government with the six months’ rent relief.

Also while working with Vinayak Temple I helped in getting a $150000 grant from the government for the developmental work of the temple.

What are the chances of the Labour party coming back to power?

Hope sustains life and we are hopeful of better results. It all depends on Kevin Rudd. People are happy with his leadership and it was mainly on the people’s choice that he came back to power.

What have you to say about change in leadership in the Labor Party — Kevin Rudd taking over from Julia Gillard? What will be the outcome of this internal outrage in the party?

Julia Gillard did her best to run a smooth government and her contributions are several. But change in leadership is something which is not new to politics.

Kevin Rudd was the demand of the time and people, so change in leadership a step in the right direction. Every change has a good side and a bad side associated with it, so let’s wait and watch.

Tell us something about your constituency?

It is a multicultural area. People from different cultural backgrounds reside there with a countable number of people from the Indian community as well.

Party gave me an opportunity to contest the election from this seat and I will try my best. My main aim is to convey Labor values to the people of my constituency and the rest depends on them.

If I get elected , my priority will be to provide education to every kid of my constituency, to provide better health facilities, a national Broadband facility, good disability reforms and to make an effort to create better job opportunities for the individuals of my constituency.

What you have to say about the stand of the Labor party on the refugees issue?

Whatever stand the Labor party has taken, I feel it as satisfactory. The outcome is still to come. This was a requirement as the number of the asylum seekers is mounting every day.

Kevin Rudd has taken this step only to ensure that no more asylum seekers should sink in the sea. The boat mafia, which is into the business of smuggling people, will at least now be aware that what they are doing is not fair. Even the asylum seekers will come to know that besides facing so many odds to reach Australia they have to live in PNG, so I think it will decrease the number of asylum seekers. We can’t expect results in one day, although I am hopeful that in the long run it will prove to be a good initiative.

Small businesses are facing the heat of the economic instability. What do you think needs to be done?
As I will say about ‘Little India’, the shopkeepers there have to adapt to the need of the hour. In modern times, people prefer to shop online, so small business owners should also take a step ahead and move with technology. They have to be innovative.

They need support and monitoring to revive and sustain the economic situation. Small businesses are like engines and we should make a strategy to help them revive and sustain the current economical situation.

Menzies division is a safe seat of the Liberal party. What is your action plan for the upcoming election? How will you get a 6% swing to win the election?

In democracy nothing is predetermined. You never know what will happen. I am ready for the result, whatever it may be, but my aim of contesting the election is to change the perceptions of people about the Labor party.
At the moment, my action plan is not different from the Australian Labor Party plan. I will try to mitigate the problems of the people in my division and will work for the betterment of my constituency. There is a long way to go; I have just stepped into it.

What you have to say about Kevin Andrews as an opponent?

He is a good leader and has been in Parliament for a long time. But I personally feel that his way of working and taking action without prior information is not a quality of good leadership.

He was in the news in 2007 when he was the Immigration Minister. During that period, Kevin Andrews announced the cancellation of Dr Muhamed Haneef’s visa immediately on a ‘character basis’ but Haneef was later granted bail by Brisbane Magistrate.

Haneef was released when the Director of Public Prosecutions withdrew its charge and then he departed Australia voluntarily. In December 2010, Haneef returned to Australia to seek damages for loss of income, interruption of his professional work, and emotional distress.

He was awarded compensation from the Australian government and all this happened due to instant action plan of Kevin Andrews.

After facing as this, Kevin Andrews could have resigned and provided an opportunity to some other young leaders to take over, but nothing changed and he continued.

Now it is up to the people of Menzies as to whether they want to continue with the same leadership or they want a change.