Memo from Mayo 13 March 2020
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.
Fight for the Bight
Centre Alliance has welcomed the news that Equinor has abandoned its plans to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight, but notes the fight is not over yet.
"This is a win for our environment and the families and small businesses in our community who rely on the beauty and bounty of our oceans for their livelihoods. But now the Government must step up and provide greater protections for the Great Australian Bight," Rebekha said.
"We need National Heritage listing for the Bight because the oil is still there. If we do not have robust protections for this pristine environment it will be under constant threat from other companies seeking to drill there."
You can read the statement from Centre Alliance here.
Photo: Friends of the ABC in the ACT joined the gallery to listen to the debate on Rebekha's motion on ABC funding. They are pictured with Rebekha, right, and the Member for Indi Helen Haines, left.
Defending our ABC
Rebekha and her Centre Alliance colleagues in the Senate Stirling Griff and Rex Patrick are strong supporters of the ABC.
In the last sitting week Rebekha lodged a motion thanking the ABC for its bushfire coverage and calling on the Government to restore nearly $84 million in indexation cut from the ABC budget.
You can watch her speech here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2s0oZHDZz4&feature=youtu.be
You can read her speech in full here.
Centre Alliance will have more to say about funding for the ABC in the regions and for emergency broadcasting when the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Amendment (Rural and Regional Measures) Bill 2019 comes up for debate in the coming weeks.
Transport upgrades, improved health care and better outcomes for the local environment - including a dedicated research institute for the Lower Lakes and Coorong - were among the 2020/2021 Federal Budget priorities highlighted by Rebekha in Parliament recently.
Rebekha was speaking on Appropriation Bills, which is legislation that enables the Government to spend monies allocated in 2019/2020 Budget.
"I took the opportunity during debate to highlight just some of the needs of our community ahead of the Federal Budget in May," Rebekha said.
"Health, the environment, transport and infrastructure continue to be priority issues for Mayo and this speech is in addition to a detailed budget submission I sent to the Prime Minister and the Treasurer in late 2019.
"I am committed to advocating for our community, to make Mayo matter."
You can read the Hansard of Rebekha's speech here.
Disaster Minister needed
The South Australian Government must appoint a designated Disaster Recovery Minister to streamline the bureaucracy choking fire-affected communities across the state, according to Rebekha.
“NSW appointed Deputy Premier John Barilaro as the Disaster Recovery Minister in January to manage the assistance flowing to their bushfire communities. South Australia needs to do the same because it is States that have the task of administering the billions of dollars in recovery assistance,” said Rebekha.
Rebekha has written to Premier Steven Marshall, asking him to establish the position of Disaster Recovery Minister.
You can read more here.
Tax Offset Decision Unfair
The Federal Government's decision not to change the current regime of Remote Area Tax Concessions and Payments fails to deliver equity to Kangaroo Island, a remote region excluded from the benefits, according to Rebekha Sharkie.
“The Government’s decision to basically maintain the status quo when it comes to Remote Area Tax Concessions and Payments is completely unfair and won’t help Kangaroo Island’s bushfire recovery," Rebekha said.
“I have written to Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar to voice my disappointment and the disappointment of the KI community about this decision and I will be calling on him as the responsible Minister to make the existing scheme equitable and include the Island."
You can read more about the decision here.
Save the Date!
Rebekha is heading to Kangaroo Island during the first week of April and will set up a mobile electorate office in the meeting room of the Ozone Hotel in Kingscote on Wednesday, April 1.
Drop-in and say hello. If you'd like to book an appointment, call 8398 5566.
Potential NBN fix for Mylor
Rebekha met with the head of NBN Co's Government Relations Team in Canberra last week to discuss NBN's decision to change the technology allocated to households on the outskirts of Mylor from fixed wireless to satellite.
The decision was announced late last year after negotiations for a tower site stalled. Nearly 500 premises will be affected.
"NBN Co told me last week that technicians are investigating a new site for a fixed wireless tower for the outskirts of Mylor," Rebekha said.
"The site was put forward by a local resident through our office and, thanks to local pressure, NBN Co has agreed to examine the property.
"I was expecting an answer this week but my office had not received a response at the time this Memo was published. I will endeavour to inform Mylor residents of the outcome."
In addition to lobbying NBN Co and the Government, Rebekha is also supporting a parliamentary e-petition submitted by Mylor resident Susanne Koen which calls on NBN Co to find a better solution for her locality.
“The petition is available at https://www.aph.gov.au/petition_list?id=EN1351 and remains open for a few more weeks,” Rebekha said.
“After that, it will be my privilege to represent the views of our community and present formally to the Parliament.
“I encourage everyone to get involved because public pressure is what we need to get NBN Co to change this callous commercial decision.”
Aged Care Ratios
Rebekha is backing a call for staffing ratios in the aged care sector that has emerged from a recent hearing of the Royal Commision into Aged Care Quality and Safety held in Adelaide.
"I fully support the recommendations outlined by Mr Peter Rozen QC, the Senior Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission, especially the call for legally enforceable staffing ratios and making it mandatory to have a registered nurse on every shift," Rebekha said.
"The Government has been kicking the can down the road for too long when it comes to the aged care workforce. The time for real action to address low staffing levels is now."
You can read more about Rebekha's Private Member's Bill here.
Rebekha has welcomed the Federal Government's recent announcement to cut the deeming rates by 0.5 per cent.
The lower deeming rate will be cut from 1.0 per cent to 0.5 per cent for financial investments up to $51,800 for single pensioners and $86,200 for pensioner couples. The upper rate will decrease from 3.0 per cent to 2.5 per cent.
"The deeming rate affects more than a million Australian part-pensioners, including about 6500 recipients in Mayo, so this is good news given the current economic situation," Rebekha said.
"However, I am still of the opinion that the Government needs to set up an independent agency to set the deeming rate.
"Under the current arrangements we have pensioners out of pocket because the system relies essentially on a rate being set at the whim of a Minister."
Before the Government announced the cut, Rebekha raised the issue of deeming rates in Question Time. You can watch the exchange here.
You can read her media release here.
Photo: Channel 9 journalist Fiona Willan interviews Rebekha and the Independent Member for Warringah Zali Steggall.
International Women's Day
Rebekha recently spoke in the Parliament on a motion marking International Women's Day on March 8 and calling for gender equality.
Sadly, in the few minutes that it took for Rebekha to deliver her speech, the police would have attended three separate calls relating to family violence.
By the time all the speakers on this motion had concluded, that number grew to 30 separate calls for family violence related incidents.
You can read Rebekha's speech here.
You can also watch a Channel 9 interview on family violence with Rebekha and the Independent Member for Warringah Zali Steggall here.
Photo courtesy of the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Natural Resource Management Board.
Pygmy Possum Protection
Rebekha has secured $20,000 to protect and boost the population of the endangered Western Pygmy Possum in Mayo.
The funding is being provided through the Federal Government's Environment Restoration Fund thanks to the direct advocacy of Centre Alliance and will enable Conservation Volunteers Australia to partner with the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Natural Resource Management Board to roll-out a community Citizen Science Project on the Fleurieu Peninsula.
You can read more about the project here.
Stronger Communities Program
Rebekha has welcomed the Federal Government's final approval of all 19 grants shortlisted for Mayo under the Stronger Communities Program.
"This is good news for our electorate because these funds help grassroots organisations build up their communities and make them better places to live and work, which is what this program is all about," Rebekha said.
You can read more about the successful applicants here:
Photo: Stirling East Primary School students Indie and Maya take Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie and School Governing Council Chairperson Ben Dry on a tour of Cubby Lane.
Local School Projects
'Cubby Lane' - an innovative outdoor classroom for creative play and learning at Stirling East Primary School - was officially opened recently by Rebekha.
Cubby Lane was the first of 13 projects funded in Mayo under the Commonwealth's $30 million Local Schools Community Fund. You read more about the other projects here.
Photo: Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie is shown some of the work at Meadows Creek Reserve by Trees for Life volunteers Ben Stevens, left, Paul Rosser, Natasha Davis, John Edmeades, Hannah Jones, Michael Bartlett and Margaret Smith.
Funds Flow for Waterways
Trees For Life have received $85,000 to rehabilitate waterways at Lions Park in Currency Creek and at Meadows Creek Reserve thanks to the advocacy of Rebekha.
The funding, provided through the Federal Government's Environment Restoration Fund, will allow the conservation organisation to deliver two important environmental projects in Bush for Life sites in the Alexandrina Council.
You can read more about the projects here.
Photo: Willunga Environment Centre committee member Joy Forrest, left, Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie and YACCA Co-ordinator Saskia Gerhardy.
The Willunga Environment Centre has secured $40,000 to support a long-term rehabilitation project for the Aldinga Washpool thanks to the advocacy of Rebekha.
The Federal funding will allow the Centre’s Youth and Community in Conservation Action (YACCA) group to develop a plan for revegetation and rehabilitation of the nationally significant wetland through community engagement and education.
You can read more about the project here.
Saluting Their Service
Rebekha extends her congratulations to the Penneshaw Progress Association and the Military Historical Society SA on their successful Saluting Their Service grants announced last week by the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Darren Chester MP.
These grants will support local projects to restore the Penneshaw Honour Board to commemorate locals who served in WW1 and to publish a book commemorating the formation and legacy of the Australian Light Horseman Units.
Photo: Chief Executive Officer of Country SA PHN Kim Hosking, headspace representatives Rebecca Seal and Suzanne Fuzzard and Rebekha.
Rebekha said she was "incredibly proud" to be part of the official opening of the headspace Victor Harbor satellite service.
"The expansion of headspace services in Mayo - first to the Adelaide Hills and now to the South Coast with outreach to Kangaroo Island - is testament to the persistence of the amazing young people of our community and my youth advisory group Young Mayo. It has been a privilege as the Member for Mayo to support their campaigning with my own advocacy with the Government," Rebekha said.
You can find out more about the Victor Harbor headspace service here.
You can read about some of Rebekha's advocacy for headspace in Mayo here.
Climate Action Bill
Just a reminder that on March 23 when Parliament resumes Rebekha will be supporting her Crossbench colleague, Zali Steggall the Independent Member for Warringah, when she introduces the Private Member's Bill Climate Change (National Framework for Adaptation and Migration) Bill 2020.
This legislation seeks to establish a national framework for the transition. Rebekha is seconding the bill.
You can read more about the legislation here.