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A floor, not a ceiling? The flaw is our lack of ceilings.

I’m back in Kooyong after a busy sitting week in Canberra - heading back this Sunday. Here's an update on all we've done in the last fortnight.


Indigenous Affairs and the Voice to Parliament


Yesterday the Prime Minister announced the wording to be put to Australians in the Voice to Parliament referendum. I took some time to reflect on the great opportunity that we have before us to make a once-in-a-generation change for Australia. The emotion expressed by the First Nations representatives in the press conference yesterday reminded me how important it is that we, as Australians, are compassionate and sensitive in our discussions about this issue. With the referendum only a few months away, there is still much work to do. If you would like to join the Kooyong Says Yes campaign team, please sign up online
During the week I was able to meet with members of the Salvation Army and Baptcare. We discussed how faith-based social services providers can work as advocates in support of the Voice to Parliament. The organisations represented provide a range of social services including poverty alleviation, emergency management, family and domestic violence support, homelessness services, alcohol and other drugs support and aged care; First Nations people are over-represented in almost all these services. I believe the Voice offers Australia its best opportunity to address this disadvantage and injustice.


Last Friday we held our first Youth4Voice meeting for young people in Kooyong who want to get involved in the campaign. We'll be holding these regularly on Fridays in the office; please do share with any young people who might be interested. 


Out and about last week in Kooyong (and surrounds)


Last weekend I caught up with a number of you at community events including the Tackling Leukaemia donor drive for the Australian Bone Marrow Disease Registry, the 25th anniversary of the Boroondara Farmers'  Market, and the Grand Finals of the MacGibbon and Dunstan Shields, the premier senior competitions of the Eastern Cricket Association.  It was great to be out and about in the early autumn sunshine.  




Then, off to Canberra! During the week I attended many different forums including one marking the start of Multiple Birth Awareness Week, which was a personal highlight for me (being a twin myself, and happy for any opportunity to hug a baby).



The rest of my week was busy with briefings, debating legislation, attending committee meetings and a few social events. Along with other members of the crossbench I've received several briefing on the government's proposed nuclear submarine purchases. The management of Australia’s strategic interests is one of the Government’s most important responsibilities.  The Albanese Government’s proposal for expansion of our submarine program includes many moving parts, including a need for ongoing trilateral commitment to a really complex program over three decades from the Australian, US and UK governments, in addition to development of extensive infrastructure, training of an expanded naval workforce, and a very significant financial commitment.  It’s not yet clear how this proposal will affect other components of our armed forces or how its financial and opportunity costs might impact other government programs. I’m supportive of our need to effectively protect our country’s interests, and will assess the details of this proposal as they become available.   






My office and I have heard from many of you who want to see more done to protect our native forests from further decline. On Monday I spoke in the Chamber about the importance of ending native forest logging as Australia strives to meet its 43% emissions reduction target by 2030. I highlighted the significant harms caused by native forest logging including those to health, rural communities, tourism, the economy, and our unique and precious wildlife. 
On Tuesday evening I spoke in the House about the Safeguard Mechanism (Crediting) Amendment Bill 2022. I made clear my concerns that the proposed new Safeguard Mechanism settings do not go far enough in ensuring Australia makes real progress in reducing its emissions. I urged the Government to stop new fossil fuel emissions - this is the most effective way to begin to decarbonise the economy – and to set limits on carbon offsetting. The use of offsets is the least effective option to lower our emissions. The government has said repeatedly that its 43% target for emission reduction by 2030 is floor, not a ceiling - the biggest flaw in this important Bill is its failure to set ceilings - caps- on our carbon emissions. 
In Question Time on Wednesday, I asked the Hon Chris Bowen, Minister for Climate Change, about the lack of ceilings provided by the Safeguard Mechanism 2.0. Later that afternoon, the Australian Institute called to inform me about research they released subsequent to my question, poking holes in Minister Bowen’s response; according to their data, cement and steel account for less than 4% of emissions.
During the week, the crossbench met with the Investor Group on Climate Change and discussed how to work cooperatively to accelerate transitioning to net zero emissions, addressing the challenges posed by the climate emergency, looking at policy settings to improve innovation in a competitive economy responsive to the challenges of accelerating the pathway to a cleaner, more sustainable future.




Health Care


In Canberra last week I attended the Parliamentary Friends of Arthritis group which is supported by Arthritis Australia. Arthritis affects more than 3.6 million Australians of all ages, including children. It’s a leading cause of disability, chronic pain, and early retirement, with people facing mental health impacts and expensive out of pocket costs to control their condition. We heard from speakers about the importance of prevention where possible, as well as ways to better support children and families when childhood arthritis is first diagnosed.


I also attended the Hearing Health forum, had my hearing checked, and learnt about the cost disparity to the Government of aids and support comparing access though the NDIS (approximately $8300 per person) and the Government’s own Hearing Support Program (approximately $650). Significant savings can be made, while simultaneously reducing strain on the NDIS by redirecting participants via the HSP. Currently, Australians are no longer able to access the HSP once they turn 27.



I spoke to Helen Haines’ Matter of Public Importance on Wednesday, addressing the negative impact of depleted healthcare staffing on our hospitals, primary health and aged care networks.  These shortages are affecting the quality of care, and the ability of the workforce to care for themselves.

On Thursday morning I attended a breakfast briefing with the Parliamentary Friends of Endometriosis Awareness; approximately 11% of females experience this life-impacting disease. Endometriosis Australia Board and Clinical Advisory Committee Member Associate Professor Anusch Yazdani spoke to the clinical concerns faced by women including the delays many face receiving diagnosis of disease. Later the same morning I participated in the Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme meeting to discuss the ongoing work of the committee. Our first Interim Report will be released next week. 


Integrity / Human Rights


On Monday I was able to fit in a short visit to the Parliamentary Friends of Refugees launch, to celebrate the important role that refugees play in our community, with a multi-party group of Parliamentarians who share a vision of creating a country that is more welcoming to refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia.



On Wednesday attended the Women's Economic Security, Safety & Certainty forum, organised by the Parliamentary Friends of Women and Work. Speakers included Anne Summers AO, Sam Mostyn AO, Professor Kay Cook and Terese Edwards, discussing issues that continue to discriminate against women and single mothers, including domestic violence and current consequences of the Australian Child Support Scheme framework, as well as suggestions for ways to make a difference in the May budget. I look forward to seeing what proposals are in the May budget regarding health and welfare at a time when many of our most vulnerable are doing it tough.



I'm looking forward to moving a couple of amendments to the Safeguard Mechanism legislation next week - it needs improvement. I'll also be supporting Helen Haines' Cheaper Home Batteries Bill. Next week's legislative schedule is not yet finalised, but I'm sure there'll be a lot to do. After that, I'll have a full month back in the electorate. I look forward to seeing you soon on the streets or parks of Kooyong- or please make a time to catch up with us in the office, if there's something my team and I can help you with.   

Until then, stay well. 



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