Welcome to my latest edition of the Memo from Mayo. We've had some difficult times with the bushfires and now we're facing the threat of COVID-19 but I remain positive about our community's resilience and confident that our Governments are working constructively to manage this rapidly developing international pandemic and its economic fallout.
On a positive note, this Memo seeks to share some great news for the environment - including Equinor's decision to abandon plans to drill in the Great Australian Bight, funding for various local environmental projects and my support for Zali Stegall MP's Climate Change (National Framework for Adaptation and Migration) Bill 2020.
I have also asked questions in Parliament about the deeming rate, highlighted some of my Federal Budget priorities and called for more funding for the ABC.
I hope you enjoy reading about my work in the Parliament and in our community.Read more
Welcome to our first edition of the Memo from Mayo for 2020 after what has been a traumatic summer for many in our community following the Cudlee Creek Bushfire on 20 December 2019 and the outbreak of the Ravine Bushfire on Kangaroo Island early in the New Year. Our office has been busy helping residents access the recovery assistance they need and I have been persistent in my advocacy for our community to ensure our farmers, small businesses, householders and local councils receive the financial assistance they require. Federal Parliament has also resumed and the task of debating legislation has begun. With the spotlight back on Canberra, I have joined my Crossbench colleague Zali Steggall, the Independent Member for Warringah, in pushing for action on climate change. Read on for more information.Read more
Welcome to our last edition of the Memo from Mayo for 2019!
It's been a big year for our community and we're signing off with more than $2.75 million in additional funding commitments from the Federal Government that are the direct result of the advocacy of Centre Alliance. These commitments include $2.26 million for the Aldinga Sports Complex, $220,000 to rebuild the tennis courts at Gumeracha, $200,000 to upgrade the Treetop Playground at Craigburn Farm, $75,000 to resurface the tennis courts at Woodchester, $13,550 to purchase rescue and training equipment for the Aldinga Bay Surf Life Saving Club, $10,000 to build a shelter at the ANZAC Memorial Garden at Macclesfield, $10,000 to kit out the new kitchen at the Yankalilla Men's Shed and $6,000 to install memorial plaques at the HMAS Hobart Memorial Lookout near Normanville.
I also have some news regarding Centre Alliance's response to the approval of Equinor's environment plan to drill an exploration well off the South Australian coast and the NSW Government's announcement that it will not contribute to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan’s 450GL efficiency measures.
Finally, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support this year and to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Our offices at Mount Barker and Victor Harbor will be closed from Christmas Day with Mount Barker re-opening on January 2 and Victor Harbor re-opening on January 20.
Stay safe on the roads and in our waters over the holiday period, and may you enjoy the peace and joy of the season.Read more
Welcome to the latest edition of my Memo from Mayo.
The last two parliamentary sitting weeks of 2019 have been incredibly busy for Centre Alliance. We have introduced a number of Private Members' Bills and some of our legislation has been referred to Parliamentary Committees for inquiries. Unfortunately, despite our steadfast support, the Medevac laws were repealed and we are bracing ourselves for a battle to ensure water continues to flow for the environment in the Murray-Darling Basin. Please read on to learn about some of my work in the parliament and the community.Read more
$7.3M to future-proof orchards in Mayo
Welcome to my latest edition of Memo from Mayo where I have some exciting news. Today Centre Alliance can announce that we have successfully negotiated a $7.3 million scheme to help apple, pear and cherry growers in Mayo future-proof their orchards with environmental covers. The dollar-for-dollar scheme will allow orchardists to apply for up to $300,000 in funding to offset the cost of netting. We believe this will help our growers manage a changing climate and recover from two successive seasons of severe hailstorms. The funding is part of a $14.6 million trial for orchard netting across South Australia. In the feature photo I am pictured with Hills apple growers Susie Green, left, Matthew Flavell and Jody Schultz at a netted Ceravolo Orchard at Nairne prior to the Apple & Pear Growers Association of SA annual meeting last month. You can read more here.
In other news, I am hosting grant writing workshops in January next year. And so far this spring we have hosted five successful NBN information sessions and three bowel cancer awareness sessions with the Jodi Lee Foundation with media personality Graeme Goodings. The first nine of 20 grants selected for the electorate under the Stronger Communities Program have been announced and Round 4 of the Building Better Regions Fund is now open. Please read on to find out more.Read more
Welcome to our latest edition of Memo from Mayo.
It's been a busy fortnight in Parliament and a busy month in the electorate with the spring show season in full swing. If you haven't had a chance to visit one of our show stalls, we are at the Callington Show and the Houghton Fair this Sunday, the Kingscote Show on November 2 and the Uraidla Show on November 3.
I am also hosting NBN information sessions at Mylor and Meadows and a telecommunications scam awareness session at Victor Harbor in the coming weeks. And together with the Jodi Lee Foundation, we are hosting bowel cancer awareness presentations at Aldinga, Victor Harbor and Littlehampton in early November.
In late January 2020 I am planning to run a series of grant writing workshops. More information will be released later in the year. If you are looking at avenues for grant funding, please take the time to read my latest grant newsletter.
Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy reading about some of my work in the Parliament and our community.Read more
Welcome to another edition of our Memo from Mayo.
It's been a busy fortnight where I was able to re-establish the Parliamentary Friends for Climate Action and introduce two Private Member's Bills, one on political donations and another on payday lending reforms.
I was also able to use Question Time to quiz the relevant Ministers regarding an environmental review of the accommodation project approved in Flinders Chase Nation on Kangaroo Island and a more definitive timeline for delivering portable defibrillators for our Men's Sheds, and I spoke on a number of pieces of legislation relating to military rehabilitation, housing finance incentives and the Emergency Response Fund.
Federal Member for Mayo
Payday lending reforms
Last week Rebekha introduced a Private Member’s Bill on payday lending reforms to push for protections for vulnerable Australians. The Bill reworks the Coalition’s own proposed legislation and was put forward to force some action from the Government.
Photo: Alycia & Patrick from the Consumer Action Law Centre met with Rebekha in Parliament to discuss her Bill.
Political donation reform
Last week Rebekha introduced a Private Member’s Bill requiring political donations to be reported in “real-time” – that is, no later than five business days after receipt. At present, Commonwealth law provides for financial year annual donation disclosures. This has meant some donations have not been publicly released until 19 months after being made.
You can read more about the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Real-Time Disclosure of Political Donations) Bill 2019 here.
Rebekha's speech is also available here.
Friends for Climate Action
Rebekha and her crossbench colleagues, Independent MPs Dr Helen Haines and Ms Zali Steggall, have re-established the Parliamentary Friends of Climate Action in the 46th Parliament.
The group is Co-Chaired by Rebekha and Helen with Zali as Deputy Chair with the aim of providing a non-partisan forum for Parliamentarians to hear from experts on climate change science and policy.
You can read more about the group here.
Photo: Parliamentary Friends of Climate Action Co-Chairs Rebekha Sharkie, Member for Mayo, left, and Dr Helen Haines, Member for Indi, and Deputy Chair Zali Steggall, Member for Warringah, met last week with UNICEF Australia Young Ambassadors Lachlan Arthur and Steve Muan who presented the UNICEF Australia Young Ambassadors 2019 report ‘A Climate for Change’. Climate change and its flow-on effects on wellbeing and safety were key topics in the report.
Flinders Chase National Park
Rebekha used Question Time to ask the Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley – for a second time – to step in and review a controversial plan to build accommodation and roads in sensitive areas of the Flinders Chase National Park on Kangaroo Island.
You can read Rebekha's response to Minister's Ley's answer, and access their letter exchange here.
Photo: Friends of Parks KI Western Districts members Bev Maxwell and Colin Wilson and KI Eco-Action's John Hodgson at the Flinders Chase information stall in Kingscote. Photo supplied by The Islander.
Child Care changes for the better
Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan gave a shout-out to the Woodside Primary School Out of School Hours Care (OSHC) last week when he introduced amendments to the Government's child care reform package.
Earlier this year Woodside OSHC presented Rebekha with a petition signed by 20 parents calling for changes to the timeframe for enrolment so families who only use the facility for school holidays didn't have to go through the stress of re-enrolling every term.
Thanks to the advocacy from Rebekha and other parents, the Government is looking to change the enrolment timeframe.
You can read Rebekha's press release here.
Yankalilla Men's Shed
In April this year, the Federal Government announced funding to equip every Men's Shed with a portable defibrillator.
There are more than 900 Men's Sheds in Australia and about a dozen are in Mayo, including the Yankalilla Men's Shed which recently contacted Rebekha to find out when they would finally get this lifesaving equipment.
In the last sitting fortnight, Rebekha asked the Health Minister, Greg Hunt, to provide the House with an accurate timeline of when the government will make good on its promise.
According to the Minister, it should be early in the New Year.
Photo: Rebekha recently visited the Yankalilla Men's Shed where members supplied morning tea and asked for an update on the Government's promise to provide portable defibrillators to men's sheds around the nation
Support for veterans
Rebekha attended a fundraiser for Operation K9, Assistance Dogs for Veterans, held at Echunga on Sunday.
It was a full house at the High Tea & Fashion Show which raised about $5500.
The event also promoted the K9 Assistance Dogs for Veterans calendar.
To purchase a calendar contact Jenny via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Rebekha with Checker, who was named after the late Major Peter Checkley.
In other veteran news, Rebekha recently spoke in the Parliament on the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment (Single Treatment Pathway) Bill 2019.
The bill seeks to streamline medical treatment for veterans without the need for claim forms, up-front costs or financial disadvantage caused by long waiting times for reimbursement.
Centre Alliance believes there is more that needs to be done to improve care for veterans, and that is why Senators Rex Patrick and Stirling Griff intend to move an amendment in the Senate when Parliament returns next month.
Emergency Response Fund
Rebekha also spoke in Parliament on the Emergency Response Fund Bill 2019, Emergency Response Fund (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2019.
Centre Alliance supports the principle of the Bill but is concerned by the source of the funds used for the initial credit and the fact a large sum of money has sat in the now-dormant Education Investment Fund.
Centre Alliance also wants to ensure that an appropriate portion of the annual distributions is allocated to preventive measures to lessen the impact of natural disasters on our communities.
Rebekha used the speech as the opportunity to thank local CFS volunteers who have gone interstate to help fight the fires in NSW and QLD, and she mentioned the CFS awards ceremony she attended at Mount Compass.
Aldinga Surf Life Saving Club
The Aldinga Bay Surf Life Saving Club suffered a devastating loss after the demolition of their clubrooms due to severe storm damage last year.
Since that time members have been working hard to rebuild while still serving the community, clocking up nearly 2,500 patrol hours last summer.
Rebekha was recently invited to the official opening of the club's new Operations Centre.
"Aldinga Bay Surf Life Saving Club is a great example of the community spirit that is alive and well in Mayo," Rebekha said.
"Their new Operations Centre looks great and I was pleased to learn the club has been short-listed for a Stronger Communities Federal grant to build a pop-up barbecue/kitchen area for the coming season.
"Since demolition of the clubrooms, members have not had a space for social gatherings or to raise funds through catering.
"I am also looking forward to working with the club to ensure that the volunteers have the extra equipment they need to serve our community during the summer season."
You can listen to a speech Rebekha made in Parliament about the club here.
Photo: Rebekha is pictured with City of Onkaparinga Councillor Simon McMahon, left, Aldinga Surf Life Saving Club Vice-President Simon Rothwell and Club Patron Lorraine Rosenberg who is trying out the new Sand Cruiser. This piece of equipment was donated by the Lions Club of McLaren Vale for free use by people who use walkers or wheelchairs but would still like to swim in the sea.
Push for netting
Apple, pear and cherry growers in Mayo have done it tough in the last couple of seasons. Successive spring hailstorms have caused immense destruction.
Rebekha used an allocated Constituency Statement in the Parliament to talk about a dollar-for-dollar scheme for netting infrastructure she has been advocating for with the Federal Government.
You can watch her speech here.
Photo: Rebekha Sharkie discusses the Hailstorm Heroes local produce marketing campaign with Ashley Green at his Hillview Fruits apple and cherry orchard at Lenswood. Inset: An example of some of the hailstorm damage that appeared on apples.
National housing legislation
Rebekha has spoken in support of the Government's measures in the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation Amendment Bill 2019 but says much more need to be done to turn around the decline in Australian homeownership.
You can read her speech here.
Welcome to an exciting edition of our Memo from Mayo where I am pleased to announce that I and my Centre Alliance colleagues Senators Stirling Griff and Rex Patrick have successfully secured $2.77 million in much-needed funding for sporting infrastructure in Mayo including:
- $2 million to finish Stage 1 of the Mount Barker Regional Sports Hub;
- $550,000 has been committed to upgrading facilities at the Encounter Bay Sports Complex;
- Summertown Community Centre has received $130,000 to build a new toilet block for both the public and local sporting clubs to use;
- $60,000 has been granted to Mount Compass Community Sports & Social Club so it can finally address an urgent council directive to meet new fire safety standards;
- Clarendon Netball Club can now lock up their equipment in a secure shelter thanks to a $30,000 grant.
This funding commitment by the Federal Government through the Community Development Grants Programme is wonderful news. We want an active and connected community and sport plays an important role in building healthy and happy communities.
But rest assured sport is not the only sector in our community that I am advocating for with Centre Alliance lobbying for better health services; upgraded road and transport infrastructure (including an upgraded freeway interchange at Verdun and more overtaking lanes on the Victor Harbor Road); and support for our farming industry, our local environment and our community organisations.
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.