Memo from Mayo March 27
This week's Memo from Mayo may well be my last chance to share my recent work before the nation heads into the 2019 election campaign. Next week I'm in Canberra for Budget Week. Then we wait and see if the Prime Minister will call the election or prepare his Government for Senate Estimates. Meanwhile, my office has been busy with Community Forums, constituent work and policy development.
Bight fight heads to Norway
Caption: Rebekha, middle, is pictured with Centre Alliance Senate colleague Rex Patrick, left, and other protesters at the recent Paddle Out for the Bight protest at Victor Harbor.
Rebekha has written to all 169 Members of the Norwegian Parliament to personally advise them of the "serious opposition" in her community to Equinor's proposal to drill for deep-sea oil in the Great Australian Bight.
"The Government of Norway is the majority shareholder of Equinor and in the past this company has stated they will not operate in our waters without social licence," Rebekha said.
"Despite all the polling and all the community protests, Equinor appears to be ignoring the overwhelming public sentiment across southern Australia.
"The time is right to bring our deep community opposition to exploration and drilling in the Bight to the attention of Norway's political leaders."
You can read a copy of the letter here.
Dental voucher campaign
Caption: Rebekha with Joel Pringle from the Benevolent Society and Ian Henschke from National Seniors Australia. You can watch Rebekha talk to Joel and Ian about dental care for older Australian here.
This month Rebekha announced she would advocate for a $1000 dental voucher for pensioners as part of her 2019 Federal Election campaign.
“Regardless of which party wins Government, I will be lobbying for people on the age pension to be able to claim up to $1000 for dental work in any two-year period,” Rebekha said.
“I’ve had the costings done by the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) and I know it will cost nearly $1.57 billion over the forward estimates to the 2021-2022 budget.
“But given the Australian Dental Association estimates the medical complications that result from poor oral health among older Australians costs the nation a billion dollars a year, I believe providing a dental voucher is a sensible, preventative spend and sound public policy."
You can read more here.
Drug rehabilitation funding
Drug treatment service providers working across Mayo have received a much-needed funding boost thanks to the $20 million funding package negotiated by Rebekha and her Centre Alliance Senate colleagues.
Nearly $800,000 has been granted to residential rehabilitation services in the Fleurieu and Onkaparinga areas, almost $1 million will go to youth programs and $150,000 has been allocated to workforce training.
“South Australia has one of the highest rates of methamphetamine use in the nation so it was incredibly important for Centre Alliance that we secure much needed extra funds for services in our State,” Rebekha said.
“That’s why we negotiated $40 million to address drug addiction issues part of the Government’s welfare reforms, as announced in the 2018/2019 Federal Budget."
You can read more about the package negotiated by Centre Alliance here.
Community Forums nearly over
Caption: Rebekha with some of the residents who attended the Community Forum at American River on Kangaroo Island.
Hundreds of residents have attended the Community Forums run by Rebekha over the past month.
Only two forums are still to be held and one of them is tonight at the Nairne Soldiers Memorial Hall starting at 6:30pm and running until 8pm. The last forum is being held Thursday night at the Stirling RSL Clubrooms near Apex Park on Merrion Terrace, also starting at 6:30pm.
More details are available here.
Mobile phone black spots
Rebekha has welcomed plans to build a mobile phone black spot base station along one of the most dangerous roads in the Hills, and another on Kangaroo Island, but she says the tally falls far short of the need in the electorate.
“Long Valley Road between Wistow and Strathalbyn is now a high traffic route and sadly, due to recent fatalities, one of the most dangerous roads in our region so I was pleased to learn that the Federal Government had allocated funds from Round 4 of the Mobile Black Spot Program to address the poor to non-existent mobile phone reception in this area,” said Rebekha.
“The eastern side of Kangaroo Island is also a well-known mobile black spot and given that the Island is on track to receive 300,000 visitors a year, a new base station in that area is a prudent public safety measure for locals and tourists.
"This is the first round of the program announced since I was first elected, and while these sites are welcomes we are still left with too many black spots across Mayo. I call on both the major parties to commit to yearly rounds and not just announcements near elections."
You can read more about the Mobile Black Spot Program in Mayo here.
Urgent upgrades for TAFE
Rebekha has called on the major parties to invest more than half a million dollars into urgent upgrades at TAFE SA facilities in Mayo.
Most of the work needs to be done at the Mount Barker campus to bring the construction, automotive, community services and hospitality facilities up to modern standards.
“TAFE and similar training organisations have been the poor cousin when it comes to investing in post-secondary education in the past decade, and nowhere is that more evident than in South Australia,” said Rebekha, Centre Alliance’s Education spokesperson
“University isn’t the only pathway to employment and we need the facilities to train the carpenters and mechanics of the future, not to mention building up the trained aged care and disability care workforce we are going to need."
You can read more about Rebekha's campaign here.
Ongoing funding for environmental groups
More than a million dollars’ worth of local environmental projects is being championed by the Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie in the lead-up to the 2019 election.
“We have so many committed not-for-profit environment groups in our community and thousands of hardworking volunteers so it’s important they continue to receive the funding support they need to keep successful programs running and to start new projects,” Rebekha said.
“In the past six months, I have approached seven organisations that are in regular contact with my office to ascertain the most pressing local environmental needs facing the electorate of Mayo.
“This process has taken place separately to the Communities Environmental Program announced on 4 March 2019."
You can read more about the announcement here.
Lobethal Community Bank meeting
Caption: Alison Burr, left, Bendigo Bank State Community Manager SA/NT; Lobethal businessman and meeting convenor Garry Hughes from GE Hughes Construction Co; Ron Logan, the Chair of Bendigo Bank’s Fleurieu Community Enterprise representing the Community Bank® sites of Aldinga, Willunga and McLaren Vale) and Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie.
More than 150 people attended the public meeting held in the Lobethal Centennial Hall on February 26 to discuss the concept of setting up a Bendigo Bank Community Bank® in the northern Hills, based in Lobethal.
The meeting was designed to be an introduction to Bendigo Bank’s Community Bank® concept with guest speakers Alison Burr, Bendigo Bank State Community Manager SA/NT and Ron Logan, the Chair of Bendigo Bank’s Fleurieu Community Enterprise representing the Community Bank® sites of Aldinga, Willunga and McLaren Vale.
"I was really encouraged by the turnout at the public meeting and I believe we should be able to attract sufficient interest in taking the next step," said Rebekha Sharkie, Federal Member for Mayo and one of the meeting hosts.
"That step involves community members interested in setting up a steering committee attending a meeting in April."
You can read more about the meeting and access a steering committee expression of interest here.