Memo from Mayo, 17 December 2021
Welcome to my final Memo from Mayo for 2021! We've ended the year on a high with some much-needed extra funding for the redevelopment of the Mount Barker Hospital Accident and Emergency Department and the announcement of a post-harvest treatment plant for SA to help our fruit growers access new export markets. For me, a highlight was receiving a visit from Haris and Muzhgan (pictured), a couple from Afghanistan who have finally been reunited after years of waiting for a spousal visa. Please note, my Mount Barker electorate office will be closed on Christmas Eve and will reopen again on 4 January 2022, and the Victor Harbor office closes today and will reopen the first week of February. Merry Christmas everyone, and stay safe.
$3M for Emergency Department Upgrade
Rebekha has secured the extra $3 million needed to complete much-needed upgrades to the Emergency Department (ED) at the Mount Barker District Soldiers' Memorial Hospital.
"A growing community needs a hospital accident and emergency department that is fit for purpose," Rebekha said.
"Back in 2019, the Government promised $8.6M to expand the existing ED but it soon became apparent that the region was growing much faster than expected, more work would need to be done and there was going to be a $3M shortfall to fund it.
"The additional $3M was announced in this week's mid-year budget update and follows meetings with State health officials and urgent representations to the Health Minister Greg Hunt. I would like to thank the Federal Minister for listening to the needs of our rapidly growing community in the Mount Barker region."
You can read more on Rebekha's website HERE.
Fruit Fly Treatment Plan
Rebekha has welcomed the news that the Federal Government will fund a post-harvest, fruit fly treatment plant for South Australian growers.
"I have been advocating on behalf of local growers and working with both the South Australian Government and the Federal Government to create a business case for an SA treatment plant for some time so this week's announcement of a $30 million national fruit fly resilience plan is wonderful news," Rebekha said.
"A post-harvest treatment plant will provide growers with a program that satisfies targeted export market requirements and will have the potential to open up new markets."
During Question Time on December 2, Rebekha asked Agriculture Minister David Littleproud for an update on her advocacy on behalf of fruit growers in her region to build the treatment facility so producers can access overseas markets currently out of reach because of fruit fly and other biosecurity concerns.
Afghan Couple Reunited
“Like going from a horror movie to a place that is green”. That’s how Abdulhaq Bakhshi, known as Haris, described the moment his wife Muzhgan Marzi finally arrived in Australia after escaping Kabul and then finding herself stuck in Pakistan.
Haris spoke about the couple’s experience this week while visiting Rebekha to thank her for her advocacy with immigration and embassy officials so he could be reunited with Muzhgan after years of waiting for their visa approval.
“It’s a big relief and I would like to thank Rebekha Sharkie and the members of her team for their help,” Haris said.
You can read more about Haris and Muzhgan's story HERE.
Building Better Regions Fund
Applications are now open for Round 6 of the Building Better Regions Fund. Applications close 10 February 2022.
Round 6 is split into two streams - Infrastructure Projects and Community Investment.
The Government allocated $250 million in the 2021-22 Budget for Round 6 of the program.
You can find more about the grant program on Rebekha's website HERE.
You can access Rebekha's December Grants Newsletter HERE.
Stronger Communities Programme
Rebekha's independent panel has met this week to select the 20 projects to formally apply for Round 7 of the Stronger Communities Programme.
A total of 99 Expressions of Interest (EOI) were submitted to Rebekha's office from Mayo community groups, representing projects worth $1.3M.
The 20 shortlisted applicants have all been contacted by Rebekha's office and their EOIs submitted to the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities, and Regional Development.
The Department will contact the applicants to invite them to formally apply for assessment before the deadline of 19 January 2022.
Growth Models Broken
Rebekha has called on State and Federal Governments to put in place a better system of funding infrastructure in regional population growth areas.
In a speech to Federal Parliament, Rebekha said the current growth models were "broken" and Governments needed to adopt proactive processes for addressing infrastructure needs.
"Our electorate of Mayo has several regions of growth and I've worked tirelessly to advocate for greater expenditure in these regions," Rebekha said.
"Through my advocacy, I have successfully secured nearly $240 million worth of projects. But it's always about retrofitting, and we need a better way."
Rebekha also called for the return of rail services and more park n ride facilities.
The Mitochondrial Donation Law Reform (Maeve’s Law) Bill 2021 has passed the House of Representatives on a conscience vote and has been introduced to the Senate for debate at the next sitting of Federal Parliament.
Rebekha voted in support of the legislation. If passed by both Houses of Parliament, the Bill will allow for the use of permitted mitochondrial donation techniques under a specified mitochondrial donation licence for the purposes of certain research and training, and in clinical settings.
In her speech, Rebekha spoke about her personal family history with phosphoglycerate kinase deficiency, a rare condition within the mitochondrial disease spectrum.
Rebekha also took part in the final stage of the Mito Foundation fundraiser The Bloody Long Walk while staying in Canberra. You can support the work of the foundation HERE.
Rural Financial Counselling Extended
Rebekha has welcomed a 12-month extension of financial counselling services for farm and rural small businesses reeling from recent severe weather events.
The Co-ordinator-General of the National Recovery and Resilience Agency, Mr Shane Stone, announced the $8.6 million extension program in late November. The program will be rolled out nationally from January 2022.
The Regional Small Business Support Program builds on the successful Drought Communities Small Business Support Program that was due to wind up at Christmas.
You can read more on Rebekha's website HERE.
Hills Radio Signs Off
Hills Radio signed off as a community radio broadcaster after seven years of service to the Adelaide Hills at the end of November.
Rebekha paid tribute to the work of Hills Radio volunteers in a speech in Federal Parliament.
"The closure on 30 November was a day of great sadness for the 70 volunteers, who produced over 47 programs each week, and to all of us who listened," Rebekha said.
You can reach her speech HERE.