Welcome to my latest edition of Memo from Mayo.
I'm back in the electorate after an action-packed fortnight in Federal Parliament where I introduced seven Private Members' Bills, made 24 speeches, spoke at the inaugural Friends of the ABC Press Freedom Lecture and co-ordinated a press conference with Crossbench MPs and Senators and the Australia Institute on the importance of establishing a National Integrity Commission (also known as a Federal Independent Commissioner Against Corruption).
National Integrity Commission
PHOTO BELOW: Member for Indi Helen Haines, left, Member for Warringah Zali Steggall, Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie MP, Member for Melbourne Adam Bandt and the Member for Clark Andrew Wilkie were the only Lower House MPs to vote for the establishment of a parliamentary investigation into criminal and government corruption allegations levelled against Crown Casino. Rebekha's speech on the motion can be read here.
It was a bit lonely sitting with my Crossbench colleagues last week as our attempt to set up a Joint Select Committee to investigate the recent allegations against Crown Casino (including money laundering and fast-tracking of visas for Chinese high rollers) was defeated.
The Government's referral of the matter to the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity is not enough. This agency does not have the powers to investigate the breadth of the Crown Casino allegations, including any potential misconduct by Ministers and Former Ministers.
Every day I see more reasons for a National Integrity Commission with real teeth, which was why the very next day I stood with my colleagues Senators Stirling Griff and Rex Patrick, Crossbench members and retired Judge David Harper from the Australia Institute's National Integrity Committee to call for a National Integrity Commission.
My motion calling for a Commonwealth Integrity Commission is available here.
Defending Free Speech
PHOTO BELOW: A year ago, I became the first member of parliament to receive the Defenders Badge from ABC Friends National. It was presented to me by Sue Pinnock, the ABC Friends South Australia spokesperson (PICTURED CENTRE) in recognition of my support for our public broadcaster and for my advocacy for restoring the $334 million which has been cut from the ABC since 2014.
Freedom of expression and freedom of the press are fundamental to a healthy democracy.
Centre Alliance is of the opinion that the time has come for our nation to bring in a constitutional backstop to protect our free press and the right of all Australians to speak freely, which is why we have introduced a Private Member's Bill into the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Joining me were my co-convenors of the Parliamentary Friends of the ABC, Andrew Wilkie MP, the Independent Member for Clark & Dr Mike Freelander MP, the Labor Member for Macarthur.
I was also pleased to have the opportunity to talk about the need to increase funding for the ABC, particularly in regional Australia. The Government has recently introduced a Bill to mandate more coverage in rural and remote Australia, but they are not talking about extra funding to make that happen.
You can read my speech here.
Private Members' Bills
Besides constitutional recognition of press freedom, I introduced six other Private Member's Bills, including:
The Constitution Alteration (Water Resources) Bill 2019 which mirrors legislation tabled in the Senate this month by Centre Alliance. You can read my press release here.
The Banking Amendment (Rural Finance Reform) Bill 2019, which has been referred to the House Standing Committee on Economics
Repealing Medevac legislation
Centre Alliance is completely opposed to repealing the medevac legislation.
These laws remain a medical solution to a medical problem for ONLY those people on Manus and Nauru. The laws put medical professionals at the centre of decision-making but with an appropriate veto power for the Minister. These laws are working. The Minister has only chosen to use his power of veto on a few occasions.
The medevac laws have passed the Lower House but the Senate has referred the legislation to their Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee for consideration.
The reporting date is 18 October this year.
Regardless of the committee’s recommendations my Centre Alliance Senators will be opposing the repealing of these laws because these laws are working.
Veteran mental health
PHOTO BELOW: Macclesfield RSL President Dennis Oldenhove, left, and Vice-President Mark Stewart-Jones show Veterans’ Affairs Minister Darren Chester and Rebekha the ANZAC Memorial Gardens during the Minister's visit in January. The gardens have been established by the RSL sub-branch as a place of peace and contemplation for veterans.
Centre Alliance plans to improve veterans' access to psychological and psychiatric services by amending the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Bill 2019.
This includes making sure the Department of Veterans' Affairs rate of rebate is sufficient to entice psychologists and psychiatrists to provide services to the veteran community and veterans.
This is an important and necessary change. The DVA rate has fallen well below a rate that is sustainable for psychologists and psychiatrists to continue to provide services to the veteran community.
You can read my press release here.
Closer to home, I recently wrote to the State Environment Minister, David Speirs, to ask him to consider community requests to consolidate the 'Aldinga Washpool' sites into the Aldinga Scrub Conservation Park.
Three grant rounds now open
The Federal Government has launched three different grant programs for on-ground environmental projects, community building projects and small-scale projects for local schools.
The Stronger Communities Program and the Communities Environment Program provide $150,000 to each electorate in Australia to share among local groups.
Eligible groups can apply for grants between $2,500 and $20,000 from the Federal Government. Community groups applying for Stronger Communities Program grants are expected to match the project funds with their own finances or in-kind support.
The Local Schools Community Fund provides up to $200,000 for an electorate with eligible schools able to apply for grants for projects of between $1,000 and $20,000.
Only schools can lodge applications under this fund so pass on the word to your local school governing council. More information is available here or feel free to call the electorate office on 8398 5566.
Applications are now open for Round 5 of the Stronger Communities Program, more information is available here.
Applications open on August 12 for the Communities Environment Program, and more information is available here.
Welcome to my first Memo from Memo following the swearing-in of the 46th Federal Parliament.
It has been an eventful three days full of ceremony, condolence speeches for the late former Prime Minister Bob Hawke ... and we even found time for debate on legislation.
Caption: Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie is sworn-in to the 46th Parliament. She is flanked by the Independent Member for Clark Andrew Wilkie and the Independent Member for Warringah Zali Steggall.
Centre Alliance supports tax cuts
After lengthy negotiations with the Government to address concerns that Centre Alliance had about rising energy costs, and particularly the high electricity costs in South Australia, Rebekha and her colleagues Senators Rex Patrick and Stirling Griff this week agreed to support the Government’s personal tax cuts legislation.
Centre Alliance worked with the Government on both short and long-term reforms to deal with gas market concerns.
The full package of reforms will be announced by Government in the coming weeks.
Their negotiations on the Government's tax cuts legislation focused on these reforms.
However, separate to these negotiations, Rebekha is confident the goodwill generated by Centre Alliance's support for the Government’s signature election promise will lead to positive outcomes for the community of Mayo on many issues she has advocated for on their behalf.
You can read Centre Alliance's statement here:
You can read Rebekha's speech here:
Picture below: Rebekha fronts the media on Thursday with her Senate colleagues Stirling Griff and Rex Patrick.
Bring on a Federal ICAC
Yesterday Rebekha used her first Question Time of the 46th Parliament to ask the Government when they are going to establish a Federal Integrity Commission.
According to the answer from the Attorney General Christian Porter, the timing will depend on the 'stakeholder consultation leading up to December' this year.
"The AG says he wants to get it right. We all want that," Rebekha said.
"I have put forward a Motion listing what I believe are essential inclusions. That Motion is yet to be selected for debate."
The motion is shown below. You can watch Rebekha in Question Time here.
Independent body must set fairer deeming rate
Rebekha has called on the Government to set up an independent agency to set the deeming rate used to calculate the fortnightly payments for more than a million Australian pensioners, including about 6500 recipients in Mayo.
The call comes after two interest rate cuts by the Reserve Bank in as many months leading to many pensioners receiving cuts to payments that are not reflected by the worth of their investments.
It also follows a statement by Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Question Time yesterday when the PM said the Minister for Families and Social Services had made a submission to the Expenditure Review Committee to review the rate.
You can read Rebekha's press release here.
And in response to community alarm about the deeming rate and interest rate cuts, Rebekha lodged questions in writing this week.
The following are the questions lodged on the notice paper.
Freedom of the press AND fighting for the Murray
In the first week of the new Parliament, Centre Alliance introduced two bills into the Senate which call on the Government to hold a referendum to change the Constitution.
The first Bill, Constitution Alternation (Freedom of Expression and Freedom of the Press) 2019, seeks to amend the Constitution to include an express right to freedom of expression and protect the freedom of the press.
This change would ensure that everyone had the right to freedom of expression, including the ability to seek, receive and impart information through the media.
However, this right would be restricted in circumstances where it is reasonable and justifiable to do so.
More details about that Bill can be found here.
The second bill, Constitution Alteration (Water Resources) 2019, seeks to change the Constitution to give the Federal Government the power to make laws with respect to water resources that cross a state boundary, for example the Murray Darling Basin and the Great Artesian Basin, and ensure that any laws that do relate to water resources must not have a detrimental impact on the environment.
This would allow the Parliament to create a nationally consistent regulatory framework for use and management without interference from the parochial interests of the States.
More information about this Bill can be found here.
"When I return to Parliament at the end of the month I will introduce identical bills in the House to keep these issues at the top of the Parliament’s agenda," Rebekha said.
Community Energy Forum
One in two households in Mayo have rooftop solar, one of the highest rates in the country, but not everyone has the capacity to get involved.
Earlier this month councils and groups involved in Resilient Hills & Coasts hosted two Community Energy Forums on the South Coast and in the Adelaide Hills to outline a proposal to set up a regional Community Energy Foundation.
Rebekha was a guest speaker at the forums, and she spoke about the plan in Parliament this week.
You can watch her speech here.
Rebekha is also in the throes of re-establishing the Parliamentary Friends of Climate Action group to create a space for discussion
and learning for MPs and Senators.
Hello and welcome to my first Memo from Mayo since the 2019 Election.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you once again for placing your trust in me to be your Federal representative.
Please know that I will always put our community first and I will be our independent voice in Canberra because we have so much to achieve together to continue to Make Mayo Matter.
In the past few weeks my team and I have been busy preparing for the first sitting of the 46th Parliament which is officially sworn in next week.
While an official calendar of sitting weeks is yet to be released, we are expecting to work through a busy legislative agenda.
I would like to take this opportunity to state that I and my Centre Alliance colleagues Senator Stirling Griff and Senator Rex Patrick will not support any move by the new Government to repeal the asylum seeker medevac Bill.
This legislation addresses the concerns of national security and insufficient timeframes and it ringfences the legacy caseload of those people left on Manus and Nauru for more than five years.
A long-term solution needs to be found for those left on Manus and Nauru but, in the meantime, Centre Alliance rejects the political scaremongering surrounding this issue.
As pledged during the election campaign, in this Parliament I will be introducing a number of my own Private Member's Bills and Motions on Notice to address issues such as;
- Rural finance reform
- the phasing out of long-haul live sheep exports
- transparency in staffing ratios in aged care facilities
- a national screening program for aged care workers
- National Heritage Listing for the Great Australian Bight, and
- a Federal ICAC.
Remote tax offset review
Caption: Rebekha on the outskirts of Penneshaw. The cost of the 'water gap' adds significantly to the cost of living on KI.
This week Rebekha welcomed a decision by the Productivity Commission to visit Kangaroo Island as part of its year-long review into concessions for remote Australian communities.
The Island was not listed among the nine community forums scheduled across Australia between March and May until Rebekha wrote to the Commission earlier this month to ask for inclusion.
“The only forum scheduled for South Australia was in Andamooka, which I didn’t think was fair, especially since I felt it was the Island’s petition back in 2017 that kick-started the Commission’s review in the first place,” Rebekha said.
The forum is currently scheduled to be held at the Kangaroo Island Council Chambers on Monday, 8 July, 2-3.30pm.
You can read more about Rebekha's advocacy for the review here.
Freedom of the press
Centre Alliance will introduce legislation into the Senate to propose an amendment to the Australian Constitution to protect freedom of speech and freedom of the press along similar lines to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, but with an Australian flavour.
The legislation will be introduced by Centre Alliance Senators Rex Patrick and Stirling Griff in the Senate and by Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie in the House of Representatives.
"The Australian Federal Police raids on journalists and media organisations provide a salutary warning that freedom of the press, a pillar of our democracy, cannot be taken for granted, and indeed is under significant threat," Rebekha said.
You can read more here.
NBN tower upgrades
Users of NBN Fixed Wireless technology in parts of the Federal Electorate Mayo may experience some loss of service in the coming week as NBN Co continues its program of tower upgrades across the electorate.
The work is part of a national $800 million schedule of Fixed Wireless Tower maintenance and upgrades to increase cell capacity and ease congestion in peak times. Individual users are only likely to be affected on the day their tower is being upgraded.
“Congestion on certain NBN towers has been an ongoing problem raised not only with my office but in electorates across Australia, so I was pleased to learn that NBN Co is taking steps to address key sites in Mayo,” Rebekha said.
If customers experience ongoing and prolonged disconnections beyond the scheduled works, they need to call their retail service providers in the first instance in case there are other problems that need to be reported.
The following table was provided by NBN Co for publication.
NBN Fixed Wireless Tower Upgrades – Upcoming Works
Towers / Area
Potential Outage Window
Kangarilla, Scott Creek, Cherry Gardens
June 19-21, 2019 & June 24, 2019
Mannum, Harrgoate, Wattle Flat, Brukunga, Tungkillo
June 27, 2019, 7am-8pm
July 5, 2019, 7am-8pm
Cherry Gardens, Kangarilla, Clarendon, Longwood North, Meadows, Mylor, Scott Creek, Crafers West, Echunga South, Echunga North, Littlehampton, Oakbank, Chandlers Hill, Upper Sturt, Scott Creek
Welcome to an election campaign special edition of the Memo from Mayo. With pre-poll voting opening this week, I thought it was timely to provide an update on my announcements and the work of Centre Alliance.
On Friday Rebekha released a copy of her 'How to Vote' card. Once again Rebekha is running an open ticket and will not preference anyone. This is the same approach Rebekha has taken since the 2016 election and indeed this is the same approach taken by all Centre Alliance candidates both in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
You can read more here:
You can access details about the pre-poll venues and opening times here.
Rebekha has welcomed Labor's election announcement of a dental voucher for pensioners.
This is something Rebekha called on both the major parties to support quite some time ago.
"Now the Government needs to match the promise so our pensioners can address their dental health in a timely manner," Rebekha said.
You can read Rebekha's press release from back in March here.
Rebekha also spoke about Mayo's health needs (including on KI and the Hills) in parliament just before the Federal Budget was revealed which you can watch here.
Photograph: Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie with Port Elliot pensioner Sebastiano Consalvo who backs the local MP's bid for a dental voucher having experienced long delays with his dental health.
Weak on basin plan
Centre Alliance has called out both major parties as being weak on the governance and execution of the $13B Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
Rebekha and her Senate colleagues have labelled as "uninspiring" the Liberal Party's letter to the Auditor-General and the Labor Party's call for a limited scope Commission of Inquiry into the water buyback controversy dubbed Watergate.
"Only a Federal Royal Commission with broad terms of reference will have the jurisdiction and scope to look at all of the issues that have been raised in respect of the Plan's governance and execution," said Rebekha.
You can read more here.
Photograph: Senator Stirling Griff, Rebekha, Senator Rex Patrick, Centre Alliance Barker candidate Kelly Gladigau and Centre Alliance Senate candidate Skye Kakoschke-Moore.
Renewable future for Mayo
Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie has welcomed the ASX announcement that a Pumped Hydro Energy Storage (PHES) scheme will be developed at the now-closed copper mine at Kanmantoo.
Hillgrove Resources recently announced that it had entered into an agreement to sell the right to develop, own and operate the PHES project to AGL Energy Limited for $31 million.
If the multi-million dollar proposal progresses beyond the five-year development and building stage, the PHES could drive a 250MW facility capable of powering 100,000 homes from 2024.
“This forward-thinking project is exactly the renewable energy future our community Mayo can lean in to," Rebekha said.
"It underlines the real potential for our community to combat climate change whilst also meeting our energy needs and providing the jobs of the future."
Photograph: Rebekha receives a briefing about the PHES project from Dean Smith, AGL's Manager of Power Development.
Rebekha has called on both the major parties to commit to a $6 million Federal Government loan so a private operator can upgrade the Normanville Abattoir to an export standard facility.
The Centre Alliance MP made the call following a recent meeting with representatives from Ternakan Kamran Exports (TKE), the Malaysian owners of the abattoir, and a further visit to the site. You can read more here.
CAPTION: Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie stands outside the now-closed Normanville Abattoir off Hay Flat Road.
Upgrade Victor Harbor Road
Rebekha has renewed her call for the State Government to upgrade the Victor Harbor Road between Mount Compass and the popular seaside destination.
The local MP said the State Government needed to at least investigate the building of more passing lanes until a full duplication could be costed and planned.
“You only have to look at this section of this high-traffic road at Easter to see how easily a bottleneck develops at peak times,” Rebekha said.
“The Federal Government’s budget announcement of $73.6 million to complete the duplication of South Road to McLaren Vale is welcome but it doesn’t address the real problem we have in this section of the Victor Harbor Road.
“Further, we’ve since learned that the South Road to McLaren Vale project won’t start until late 2022 and isn’t expected to be completed until 2026/27."
Photograph: Rebekha stands at the Victor Harbor Road at Mount Compass on the Thursday afternoon before the Easter long weekend. You can read more about her call for upgrades to the Victor Harbor Road here.
Dementia friendly office
Rebekha and her staff have taken steps to become the first documented 'Dementia Friendly' Federal Electorate Office in the nation.
Green Army: Rebekha Wants You!
Today Rebekha Sharkie called on the Government to re-enlist the Green Army.
This skill training and environmental action program was rolled out by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott in 2014 and then axed two years later by former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
“Nationally the program delivered more than 1000 projects and engaged with over 11,000 young Australians while Mayo benefitted from 37 projects over four rounds of funding," Rebekha said.
Photograph: Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie, back row, attends a Green Army graduation ceremony at Woorabinda in Stirling in the Adelaide Hills in July 2017.
You can read more here.
The news today is all about the 2019 Federal Budget so I thought I would give you our first-glance perspective on what this might mean for our community.Read more
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.
Welcome to my first Memo from Mayo for 2019. It's been a busy few weeks following the Christmas break with a well-attended barbecue for supporters, a visit from the Minister for Veterans' Affairs Darren Chester and the official opening of our South Coast office.
I am also helping to facilitate a public meeting in Lobethal later this month to investigate a Community Bank® for the district and I extend a personal invitation to you to attend one (or more!) of the 21 community forums we have been busy organising for the month of March.
2019 Community Forums
Rebekha's 2019 Community Forums follow on from the first round of forums the local MP hosted across the region in 2017. These events and the thousands of community surveys returned by residents across the electorate resulted in the production of Rebekha's Community Forum and First Year Report.
Now, due to the Australian Electoral Commission redistribution in South Australia, Mayo is a much larger seat.
This round of community forums welcomes the input of more than 14,000 new electors and encourages all residents to contribute to an action plan going into a new election cycle.
We’ll be talking about the things that matter to you, including affordable and accessible health care, a secure retirement, improved aged care services, better education, nurturing our environment, taking action on climate and energy policy and supporting Australian jobs.
To find out more details and to RSVP please head to www.rebekhasharkie.com.au/forums
Mt Barker Hospital ED petition
CAPTION: Rebekha has launched a petition calling on the State Government to invest $15 million of Federal health funding into an urgent upgrade of the Mount Barker Hospital Emergency Department.
This week Rebekha has kick-started her campaign for an urgent upgrade of Mount Barker Hospital's Emergency Department (ED) which has outgrown its current home.
"We know the Federal Government has set aside an extra $1.3 billion for regional health services," Rebekha said.
"Our State Government needs to ask for our share for the Mount Barker Hospital so our medical professionals can work in a modern ED to meet the growing demands of the growing community it serves.
"Today I have launched a petition calling on the State Health Minister, Stephen Wade, to invest the $15 million needed to make the Mount Barker Hospital ED the type of facility our region deserves."
To sign the petition click here.
Medicare Customer Service Centre for South Coast
CAPTION: The new Medicare Customer Service Centre and Victor Harbor Centrelink office is located at 90 Victoria Street, Victor Harbor, and is open Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 4.30pm.
Rebekha is excited to announce that thanks to her direct advocacy a Medicare Customer Service Centre is now located within the Centrelink office in Victor Harbor to assist residents with all of their Medicare needs, including claims and rebates, or updating bank account details and other personal information.
Rebekha said the new Medicare Customer Service Centre would make life easier for everyone living on the South Coast.
“The Victor Harbor/Goolwa region is home to more than 25,000 people and is one of the fastest growing urban areas in South Australia so the population warrants the services of a major urban centre,” Rebekha said.
“However, it is also the oldest area in the State and I have advocated for this service because I believe our community needs special consideration.
“The more senior residents in my community tell me they need face-to-face service with government agencies, particularly when they are going through difficult life changes such as the death of a partner or a partner moving into an aged care facility."
The new Medicare Customer Service Centre and Victor Harbor Centrelink office is located at 90 Victoria Street, Victor Harbor, and is open Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 4.30pm.
You can read a copy of the letter sent to Rebekha from the Prime Minister in December 2018 confirming the centre agreement here.
Minister for Veterans' Affairs visits
CAPTION: Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Darren Chester with Rebekha at a roundtable at the Strathalbyn RSL.
Mental health services for younger veterans, cuts to advocacy funding and improving disability access at veteran facilities were some of the key issues raised by community leaders and veteran groups when the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Darren Chester, accepted an invitation from Rebekha to visit the electorate.
Rebekha organised a roundtable discussion on veteran support services for stakeholders at the Strathalbyn RSL followed by a morning tea for local RSL and veteran group representatives at the Macclesfield RSL.
“The Minister was extremely generous with his time and I know he appreciated the welcome he received from our veteran community as much as they appreciated the opportunity to raise their concerns directly with him,” Rebekha said.
You can read more in Rebekha's press release here.
Pre-poll voting centre for KI
CAPTION: Rebekha with some KI supporters at a thank you barbecue. The AEC did not provide pre-polling facilities during the 2018 by-election, prompting some complaints.
Thanks to persistent advocacy from Rebekha, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) has agreed to set up a pre-poll voter facility on Kangaroo Island during the 2019 Federal Election.
The centre will be based in Kingscote in the same facility that will be selected for use on election day.
“This is fantastic news for the Island and I’m glad I continued to push the AEC to revisit the issue when, after the 2018 by-election, they initially rebuffed the possibility of a pre-poll voting centre based on KI’s voter population,” Rebekha said.
“I wrote back and pointed out that Thursday Island in the Torres Strait, which has a similar voter population, was provided with pre-poll voting in the last Federal Election as was Phillip Island in Victoria, which has a bridge to the mainland."
You can read the letter from the Electoral Commission in Rebekha's press release here.
South Coast office officially opened
CAPTION: Rebekha with volunteer JP Rod Lovell at the official opening of the South Coast satellite office last Friday.
Several hundred people turned up last Friday for the official opening of Rebekha Sharkie satellite office on the South Coast.
The satellite electorate office is located at 26 Hindmarsh Road, McCracken, and is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9am to 5pm. A Justice of the Peace is available at the office on Monday mornings from 9am to 12pm.
“I have always believed that Mayo constituents needed a more accessible office on the Fleurieu,” Rebekha said.
“Unfortunately the Australian Electoral Commission ruled that Mayo wasn’t large enough geographically to warrant two full-time electorate offices but we have sourced sufficient funds within our budget to fund a permanent satellite office three days a week."
Lobethal bank meeting
CAPTION: Late last year members of the Lobethal community organised a petition protesting the closure of the ANZ branch.
Rebekha, local community leaders and representatives from the Bendigo Bank are hosting a public meeting in Lobethal on Tuesday February 26 to explore the option of a Community Bank® model opening in Lobethal.
This option follows the recent closure of the ANZ Bank branch in Lobethal which prompted local residents (pictured) to sign a petition and lobby their local Federal MP.
Merry Christmas and welcome to my last Memo from Mayo for 2018.
It's been a huge year for the electorate - but I believe we have achieved a great deal for our community.
The following items are just some of the more recent highlights.
Please note that our Mount Barker Electorate Office will be closed from 25 December 2018 and will reopen on 2 January 2019 while our new South Coast satellite office will be closed from 20 December 2018 and will reopen on 2 January 2019.
My team and I look forward to working with you in 2019.
Permanent South Coast office
Rebekha now has a permanent presence on the South Coast, opening an office at Victor Harbor.
The satellite electorate office is located at 22 Hindmarsh Road, McCracken, and will be open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9am to 5pm.
“I have always believed that Mayo constituents needed a more accessible office on the Fleurieu,” Rebekha said.
“Unfortunately the Australian Electoral Commission ruled that Mayo wasn’t large enough geographically to warrant two full-time electorate offices but we have sourced sufficient funds within our budget to fund a permanent satellite office three days a week.
“Given it is so close to Christmas, it was a low-key opening on December 10 but I will host a celebratory sausage sizzle for the community in late January."
Appointments with staff at the South Coast can be booked on scheduled opening days between 9am and 4.30pm by calling (08) 8398 5566.
Mental health funding boost
Rebekha, centre, attended a youth mental health forum in Victor Harbor during the recent by-election. During that forum, she discussed her campaign to bring a 'shop front' headspace mental health service to the Fleurieu with Eastern Fleurieu School Strathalbyn student Ebony Brackstone, left, Victor Harbor High School students Matthew Pajer and Jorja Hann-Barke and Investigator College students Isabella and Gabby Cook.
The Federal Government’s $3 million funding injection into ‘headspace’ mental health services at Mt Barker and Victor Harbor over the next four years is just what the doctor ordered for the young people of Mayo.
After many years of advocacy by Rebekha to improve mental health services for young people in the electorate, Health Minister Greg Hunt has now announced that $800,000 will be shared between the two regional centres this financial year to expand and set up satellite services with ongoing funding of $760,000 per annum for a further three years.
“This announcement means more young people will get the support they need, it means the expanded Mount Barker ‘headspace’ is better able to meet the ever-growing demand for its services and young people on the South Coast have much better access to youth-specific services than they ever had in the past," Rebekha said.
You can read more in Rebekha's press release here.
You can also watch Rebekha talking about the issue in Question Time back in October here.
Aged Care Bill update
A parliamentary committee has recommended the adoption of Rebekha's Private Member’s Bill to require the publication of staffing ratios in aged care facilities.
The Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport released its recommendation earlier this month saying there was a pressing need to increase transparency in the aged care system and the Aged Care Amendment (Staffing Ratio Disclosure) Bill 2018 was a “first step”.
You can read more about the announcement here.
Freeway slip lane
Rebekha has welcomed an announcement by the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack that work on a third lane on the freeway between Stirling and Crafers will be finished in 2019.
Mr McCormack, the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, was responding to Rebekha during Question Time when the Member for Mayo asked when the long-promised freeway upgrade would be completed.
Heritage listing bid for the Bight
Rebekha has introduced a Private Member’s Bill into the Parliament to grant National Heritage Status to the Great Australian Bight to protect this pristine environment from risky mining activities.
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Heritage Listing for the Bight) Bill 2018 was tabled in early December.
“I believe that my Bill strikes the right balance between sovereign risk and social, economic and environmental protection,” Rebekha said.
“In recognition of that balance, whilst my Bill does not outright ban oil drilling in the Bight, it does set a significantly higher environmental impact threshold when the regulator, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA), assesses offshore oil and gas activities in this biodiversity hotspot and major fisheries resource.”
Live sheep export update
The Federal Parliament has missed the chance to phase out long-haul live sheep exports in a 'measured' way with the House of Representatives recently voting down a Senate motion instigated by Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick.
The motion called on the Government to legislate a ban on long-haul live sheep exports.
“The Australian Livestock Exporters' Council’s recent self-imposed three-month moratorium on shipments during the Northern Hemisphere summer is just delaying the inevitable transition away from long-haul sheep exports to the Middle East," Rebekha said.
“In the last week of Parliament for 2018 we had a chance to debate the issue, the opportunity to have a vote on my Private Member’s Bill to resolve this issue, but the Government chose to kick the can down the road and put it off until next year."
UN Youth Representative
Photo: Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie, right, hosted Amos Washington, Australia’s Youth Representative to the United Nations, pictured centre, as he presented his 2018 Youth Representative Consultation Report in Canberra. The launch was attended by Parliamentarians and staff including Michael Cornish, pictured left.
In the last week of Parliament Rebekha hosted Amos Washington, Australia’s Youth Representative to the United Nations, as he presented his 2018 Youth Representative Consultation Report.
The report follows Amos' representation to the UN General Assembly in New York last month and summarises the findings of a six-month consultative ‘Listening Tour’ of young people around Australia.
Rebekha also tabled the report to the Parliament and spoke about Amos’s findings in the House of Representatives.
Fighting for road funding
In the last weeks of Parliament Rebekha called on the Government to continue Supplementary Road Funding so councils have the resources they need to upgrade local roads.
Centre Alliance negotiated $40 million for SA for the past two financial years to provide a stop gap for funding slashed in 2014 but more investment is needed.
"Road safety is everyone’s responsibility but we need to keep investing in the condition of our roads," Rebekha said.
You can read Rebekha's recent speech in Parliament here.
And you can watch part of her speech here.
Mayo service awards
Photo: Rebekha presents a Mayo Community Service Award to Ciel Schmarr from Mount Barker Waldorf School.
Mayo Community Service Awards have been presented to 18 senior students across the electorate by Rebekha and her team.
The award is conferred to a senior student who has demonstrated a keen interest in social justice and shown great community leadership potential.
"This is about hearts and minds coming together and I congratulate all recipients," Rebekha said.
"My congratulations also go out to all of our young community leaders in Mayo, and I'd also like to congratulate all of the students who are graduating from year 12 this year."
You can read more about the recipients here.
Local Sporting Champions
Photo: Trampoline gymnast Charlotte McAvaney was a recipient of a Local Sporting Champion grant in a previous round.
Rebekha is pleased to announce that the Mayo’s Local Sporting Champions for Round 2, 2018-19 have been approved by the Australian Sports Commission.
The Local Sporting Champions program is an Australian Government initiative which provides funding assistance to young sportsmen and women who are participating in a state, national or international sporting competition.
"I congratulate all of our recipients on their sporting achievements thus far. I am a strong believer in the value of sport to communities, and I wish all our Local Sporting Champions all the best in their competitive endeavours," Rebekha said.
You can read more about the recipients and how to apply for the next Local Sporting Champions round here.
Baring all for cancer support
Photo: Rebekha with the calendar girls Kathleen Moyle, front left, Judy Vallance, Pam Graham, Jan Moon, back left, Nola Ward, Kaye Steele, Janet Morgan, Marian Blewett, June Tuohy, Helen Miller and Bronwyn Herraman.
Rebekha attended the Riverside Retirement Village annual Christmas party at the South Lakes Golf Club at Goolwa where she met the lovely Riverside ladies who donned their birthday suits for a calendar to raise money to support those touched by cancer.
All funds from the calendars (which also include recipes!) will go to the Fleurieu Cancer Support Foundation, a group of dedicated volunteers providing services and support to members of the Fleurieu community affected by cancer.
The calendars are being sold for $12 and are available from the Riverside Retirement Village and Rebekha Sharkie’s offices at Victor Harbor and Mount Barker.