Memo from Mayo September 28
ANZ branch closures
ANZ's announcement that it plans to close its branches in Goolwa on 15 October and in Lobethal on 20 November has been met with anger by the local communities.
Since then Garry Hughes, the Managing Director of GE Hughes Construction, has organised a petition in Lobethal where he has collected more than 1200 signatures.
This week Garry and Rebekha met with local ANZ managers and asked them to postpone the closure of the Lobethal branch for 12 months to allow the Northern Hills community to demonstrate their level of support for an ANZ branch and for the ANZ to collect data about usage rates.
As part of that request, Garry has offered to purchase the existing branch building in Main Street Lobethal with the view to leasing the property to the ANZ for the trial period, and beyond if required.
We haven't heard back from the ANZ but we will let you know how our negotiations progress.
Rebekha has discussed the closure of the Goolwa branch with the Alexandrina Council. She will support members of the Goolwa community if they chose to pursue a petition or a similar action.
MRI bulk-billing for Mount Barker
Rebekha has welcomed the Federal Government's recent announcement that it will fund a Medicare-rebatable MRI licence for Mount Barker but she will continue her advocacy for a licence for Victor Harbor.
Mount Barker is one of 30 extra MRI licences promised by the Government as part of a $175 million commitment announced last Sunday.
There are currently no Medicare-subsided MRI machines in the Hills or South Coast and locals who do not want to pay the full cost of the scans usually travel into Adelaide to access a Medicare-funded service.
Rebekha first raised this issue back in September 2016 with the then Health Minister Sussan Ley and then Greg Hunt when he was appointed Health Minister.
During the by-election, Labor promised to provide Mount Barker with an MRI licence if it won government and Rebekha secured a commitment for that pledge after she won office.
"After the by-election, I also obtained costings from the Parliamentary Budget Office and last week I met with the Minister who recognised this was an important issue for Mayo," Rebekha said.
You can read Rebekha's press release here.
Nominate your mobile black spot
The Federal Government has announced Round 4 of the Mobile Black Spot Program, making $25 million available to telecommunications carriers to target regional and remote locations.
At this stage, the Government is not seeking direct nominations from the public. However, Federal MPs have been invited to recommend locations for consideration before mobile network operators take part in a competitive assessment process later in the year.
Under previous rounds, Mayo secured funding for sites at Montacute, Stokes Bay, Parawa, Gosse and Ashbourne but 44 priority sites identified by the community still need coverage.
Nominations can be made here. The deadline is October 5.
"This week I met with telco representatives and learned that the Round 3 sites in the Gosse/Stokes Bay area and at Ashbourne were either in the planning stage with the relevant local council or close to it, and they expect construction to begin before the end of the year," Rebekha said.
"The Round 2 sites at Parawa and Stokes Bay have been delivered but unfortunately, the Round 1 site at Montacute has been held up by a planning objection.
"I was also excited to learn that as a result of my advocacy regarding my Private Members Bill, the Telecommunications Amendment (Guaranteeing Mobile Phone Service in Bushfire Zones) Bill 2017, all new macro tower sites will now have at least 12 hours of battery back-up.
"It's not 24-hours but it is certainly better than four hours or less and will make our communities more resilient during the fire danger season."
Rebekha recently spoke in Parliament about the Government continuing its commitment to regional telecommunications. You can read Rebekha's speech here.
Aged pension waiting times
Last week during Question Time Rebekha asked the Minister for Social Services for a review into the ridiculously long waiting times to process aged pension applications.
You can watch the Minister's response here.
Rebekha spoke about this issue in more depth in the Parliament just recently.
"Frankly I believe contacting the Social Service Minister with individual cases on pension applications is unsustainable, and we need more than an assurance that the Government is 'working on it'," Rebekha said.
An 'Island' welcome
Rebekha finished off a week in Parliament with a three-day trip to Kangaroo Island to catch up on island business.
Besides meetings with the Kangaroo Island Council and Business KI, Rebekha presented a new Australian flag to the Penneshaw Progress Association for their refurbished war memorial and went on a tour of renovation work at the Penneshaw Town Hall.
A highlight of the weekend was the 'thank you' barbecue for island supporters at the Kangaroo Island Yacht Club, which followed on from previous 'thank you' events for volunteers in the Adelaide Hills and the South Coast.
Rebekha also dropped in to see Jon and Sarah at KI Spirits ahead of a meeting of Mayo craft distillers she is hosting next month to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing this growing industry.
Rebekha also visited the Kangaroo Island Brewery to catch up with some truly ancient island critters - trilobites - and some of the volunteers and academics digging them up at Emu Bay on the island's north coast.