A warm welcome to those who are receiving this newsletter for the first time. I write every few weeks to share what I’ve been up to in Parliament, in the electorate office and in our community.
I also share opportunities for you to get involved in the work of the Federal Parliament - such as giving me feedback on upcoming bills or making submissions to parliamentary enquiries - and in our Kooyong community.
The Upcoming Budget
This Tuesday the Albanese government will deliver its first Federal budget. That afternoon, I’ll join other members of parliament and staff in the “budget lockup”, which is precisely what it sounds like... we’ll be locked in with the embargoed budget papers for up to 5 and a half hours, getting a head start working through what the government has prepared.
As it's an election year, much of what we expect to be in the budget has already been announced as the government’s election promises; higher subsidies for childcare and rebates medicines, investment in energy infrastructure and transition and new tax reform for multi-national corporations.
I’ll be hosting a post-budget briefing next Wednesday 26th at 1pm over Zoom, in which I’ll share with you my initial analysis of the budget and its implications for Kooyong and the nation. I’ll do my best to answer any questions you might have - and take the others on notice (!). Register for the session here.
My role as an Independent and your representative will be to scrutinise the budget papers on Tuesday and beyond, to support the good and challenge the suboptimal. I’ll particularly be keeping my eye out for any new, ongoing or cleverly disguised subsidies for fossil fuel projects and for the allocation of any taxpayer money to discretionary funds that lack transparency or oversight. I’d like to hear your thoughts on what you’re looking out for in the budget, anything you feel I should raise in Parliament and on legislation that’s scheduled for next week.
I have also been advancing work in our key policy priority areas. In the climate space, I’ve been
- Preparing for the budget, focusing on climate-specific areas which will need careful scrutiny.
- Working on a submission on the government’s Electric Vehicles strategy. You can also make a submission to the National Electric Vehicle Strategy: consultation paper, which I encourage those among you with a keen interest in this area (and I know there are many of you!) to consider doing. A submission doesn’t have to be long or technical, and it’s a great way to be part of the consultation and decision-making processes.
- Last weekend, I visited the Toolangi State Forest, where native forest logging continues. These native forests are the most dense carbon stores on our planet. Logging them threatens our water supply, contributes to global warming increases the risk and severity of bush fires, and increased the risk to endangered species such as the Leadbeater's Possum. Victorian taxpayers are subsiding the logging of native forests. I’ll be speaking on this issue in Parliament in the weeks to come and moving a motion to have native forest logging included in the next iteration of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
- Requested briefings on the NT Middle Arm project- I have significant concerns about this proposed new petrochemicals and gas carbon capture and storage hub to be sited in the Darwin Harbour. I’m keen to hear constituents’ views on this proposal.
It’s been lovely to be back in Kooyong for the last couple of weeks. One of the best things about becoming your MP is the opportunity to hear from constituents about their really varied lived experiences and shared visions for our electorate and for the nation, and to find ways to represent those views, experiences and hopes in Canberra.
In the last couple of weeks, Kooyong residents have contacted me or met with me about a variety of issues, which I have been able to act on.
Many constituents have contacted me about the ongoing and distressing issues in Boroondara around the provision of aged care services; I've been working with Council and have contacted Minister Anneka Wells to request clarification of how we’re going to restore appropriate support for older citizens of Kooyong.
When the National Cabinet announced an end to COVID mandatory isolation and pandemic leave, every phone in the office started ringing off the hook with constituents worried for their loved ones, their businesses, aged care residents, and the childcare and health workforces. I quickly put out a media statement to amplify the concerns of Kooyong constituents in the national media, and wrote a piece for The Age calling on the Labor government to release the health advice underpinning this decision. This still hasn’t happened- the National Cabinet has not released the minutes of its recent meetings, or the Halton report on COVID management. I remain concerned about the lack of transparency around this issue and will continue to hold the government to account on COVID preparedness. Unfortunately, it seems likely that we’ll continue to experience further waves of new variants in the months to come- we need to be ready for them, and to continue to protect the more vulnerable members of our society.
I’ve also been attending meetings of the Parliamentary Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport, which is undertaking a study on long COVID. There’s a lot we don’t know about this condition - what causes it exactly, why some people get it and some don’t, how to diagnose it and treat it; but we do know that it affects as many as 5% of people who’ve had COVID, and that it can be quite disabling. Information about making a submission to the enquiry can be found here.
I also submitted a detailed response to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters’ call for feedback about the 2022 Federal Election. In that submission I discussed my concerns about truth in political advertising, the abuse of taxpayer-funded advertising, the enrolment and voting process itself, enfranchisement of vulnerable sectors of our society, and the disincentives to potential candidates associated with Section 44 regulations. I’m not yet able to share that submission with Kooyong residents but will hopefully be able to do so in the next newsletter.
Many Kooyong residents remain concerned about the plight of Julian Assange, who remains in Belmarsh Prison in the UK. In my capacity as a member of the Parliamentary Friends of Julian Assange, I attended the National Press Club this week to meet Jennifer Robinson, an Australian human rights lawyer representing Mr. Assange in the UK. I’ll continue to work with that group to advocate for Mr. Assange’s release.
Last week I also met with constituents about the distressing situation in Iran, then wrote to Senator Wong about this, in collaboration with a number of other members of Parliament.
In The Community
- It’s a really big few weeks for all the Year 12 students of Kooyong as they finish school and start their VCE exams. Congratulations to all these graduates - I wish you the very best of luck as you undertake these exams, and enjoyable and safe well-deserved holidays once you’re done with them!
- I’m pleased to congratulate Kooyong resident Christopher Howlett who has been awarded a Churchill Trust Fellowship to investigate creative and sustainable approaches for a digital arts platform.
- A big congratulations to local group Carry On, which recently received a $10,000 grant to publish an e-book about its history. The book coincides with the 90th anniversary of this notable humanitarian organization, which has been providing housing, advocacy, education, and financial support to veterans since 1932.
As part of the government’s Saluting Their Service Commemorative Grants Program, Certificates of Appreciation are now available. The certificates are a way of expressing the nation’s gratitude to those who served overseas in Australia’s Defence Forces from the Second World War and subsequently, and to those who served on the home front during the Second World War. Guidelines for eligibility for a certificate, details of how to apply, and the application form are available here. Those who served – or family members of deceased eligible persons - can apply. Please visit the Electorate Office at 145 Camberwell Rd, Hawthorn East, if you would like a paper copy of the guidelines and the application form.
Doing Politics Differently
Thanks to those who have filled in the community survey. So far almost 60% of you have listed Climate Change in the top three federal issues of concern, and more than 67% of respondents have let me know that they want to receive facts about key political issues so they can have more productive conversations with family, friends and co-workers. To ensure that I hear from as many Kooyong residents as possible, I’d like to ask you a favour. Can you please share the link to the survey and ask your neighbours to take the survey?
With over 50% of you wanting to receive updates or attend town halls, I’m hoping that many of you will sign up to join the post-budget briefing next Wednesday 26th at 1pm over Zoom.
I’m also keen to hear from anyone who might be interested in joining the Special Advisory Committee on Integrity in Government; this group met for the first time this week and will be helping me assess the report of the committee reviewing the NACC legislation once it’s available in early November. We’ll also be working on revision of legislation around whistleblower protection (slated for early 2023), preparation for the establishment of a Judicial Commission, concerns about appointments to statutory offices, and a number of other integrity and transparency issues.
We’re looking forward on starting up other advisory committees in December/ the new year and will put out a call for them in the coming weeks.
You can always watch parliament live at aph.gov.au, and follow my social media accounts for daily updates.
We’re finalising a date and location for an end of year party, which I’d love to see you at. More details to follow!
Stay well and avoid the spring hayfever if you can- I’ll be back after Budget week!
P.S. I greatly value the opportunity to share with the Kooyong community what I’ve been up to and to hear your feedback on the work I’m doing on your behalf. If you have family or friends who you think would like to receive this newsletter from me, please ask them to sign up at www.moniqueryan.com.au/join