Memo from Mayo 26 November 2021
Welcome to my latest Memo from Mayo,
I emerged from two weeks of quarantine into a busy week in the electorate with another Positive Ageing Forum followed by an extremely eventful week in Federal Parliament. That week culminated with Liberal MP, Bridget Archer, crossing the floor of the House of Representatives to support another attempt by the Crossbench to instigate debate on a Federal Integrity Commission. I also introduced legislation to ban the importation of goods produced by forced labour, advocated for extra funding for rural small business counselling and spoke about the importance of fuel security for Australia, calling for more support to transition to electric vehicles. I hope you enjoy reading about my work in our community and the Parliament.
Federal Integrity Commission
Yesterday the Crossbench made yet another attempt to make the Parliament debate legislation for a Federal Integrity Commission.
This time a courageous Liberal MP Bridget Archer, the Member for Bass in Tasmania, crossed the floor to support that attempt so the Crossbench and the Opposition could win the vote 66 Member to 64. Unfortunately, due to COVID restrictions limiting the number of MPs in the House of Representatives, they failed to secure the absolute majority of 76 votes needed to suspend standing orders and allow debate on a Federal Integrity Commission Bill introduced by Dr Helen Haines MP.
"You lose faith with the Australian people when you pick and choose the election promises you keep, and you erode faith in the democratic process when you use a technicality to stop the will of the parliament, preventing debate on the issue you want to avoid," Rebekha said.
You can access Rebekha's statement on the outcome and find links to her speech and a press conference HERE.
Assistance for hail-affected growers
Rebekha is advocating State and Federal Governments to provide more assistance for fruit growers seeking to sign up to the $7.3 million netting scheme the local Federal Member secured for Adelaide Hills horticulturalists back in 2019.
Rebekha's advocacy efforts come after visiting orchardists in the Adelaide Hills in the wake of the damaging hailstorm that ravaged the northern areas of the Hills and other parts of the State in October.
Growers have suggested a range of measures to make the current netting scheme, administered through the Department for Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA), more accessible and affordable.
"The Federal and State Disaster Assistance announced late last week for clean-up and counselling is welcome but we need to do more to help those growers devastated by yet another year of hail damage who simply won't have the financial capacity to access the remaining $3 million in the scheme," Rebekha said.
You can read more about the program and Rebekha's work HERE.
Rural Financial Counselling Extension
Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie has welcomed a 12-month extension of financial counselling services for farm and rural small businesses reeling from recent severe weather events.
The Coordinator-General of the National Recovery and Resilience Agency, Mr Shane Stone, yesterday announced the $8.6 million extension program, to be rolled out nationally from January 2022.
“I was deeply concerned that farmers and small businesses in rural communities in Mayo and across South Australia were going to be without support as they face another round of severe weather events on the back of drought, bushfire, and COVID-19 restrictions,” Rebekha said.
“It’s why I raised the matter in Question Time in Federal Parliament this week and followed up the matter with Agriculture Minister David Littleproud."
Better Comms For The Bush
Regional Australia needs targeted and ongoing assistance to improve inequitable mobile phone and internet access, Rebekha told the Parliament this week.
In motion introduced to the House of Representatives, the Centre Alliance MP tabled the latest action plan of the Regional, Rural, and Remote Communications Coalition (RRRCC) and outlined her own priorities as part of the 2021 Regional Telecommunications Review.
Telecommunications Advisory Group
Earlier this month Rebekha convened the first meeting of the Mayo Telecommunication Advisory Group with invitations sent to Local and State Government representatives, Regional Development Australia, and emergency services.
“Mobile carriers didn’t put in a single submission for the last round of the Mobile Black Spot Program and yet we have hundreds of mobile black spots in our community,” Rebekha said.
“There are issues with the design of the program which I understand the 2021 Regional Telecommunication Review will examine but I wanted to set up the advisory group so our community can work collaboratively on future Mobile Black Spot Program rounds and other opportunities that may arise to secure funding to improve telecommunications in Mayo.”
The first meeting discussed sites for the Peri-Urban Mobile Program (PUMP). A second meeting is scheduled for February 2022.
Fuel Security in Australia
The Crossbench chose one of the topics for Matters of Public Importance in Federal Parliament this week and elected to debate fuel security in Australia in response to COP26 in Glasgow.
"Fuel security is directly related to the sovereignty of our nation," Rebekha said.
"Australia has an obligation to maintain 90 days of net oil stock supply. We haven't met that obligation since 2011.
"Keeping fuel tickets in the US is not a solution. We need clear strategies that will remove our dependency on oil.
"One strategic approach within our control is to support a faster transition to electric vehicles."
Future Fuels Strategy Response
Rebekha recently published a response to the Federal Government's Future Fuels Strategy.
The Mayo MP refutes the strategy’s claim that reducing the cost of electric vehicle ownership does not represent value for money for the taxpayer because advances in technology will eventually make the cars cheaper.
"The Federal Government needs to do more than install 50,000 charging stations in Australian households if it wants to drive down vehicle emissions by incentivising the take-up of electric vehicles," Rebekha said.
You can read Rebekha's statement HERE.
Ban Goods Made By Forced Labour
Rebekha is keeping the pressure on the Government to introduce a global ban on the importation of goods to Australia that are produced by forced labour.
This week she introduced the Customs Amendment (Banning Goods Produced By Forced Labour) Bill 2021, to amend the Customs Act to impose an absolute ban on the importation of goods produced in whole or part by forced labour. The proposed ban is global in nature and does not specify a geographic area.
“Between 38 to 46 million people are subjected to forced labour across the world, of which more than 10 million are children, and this exploitation occurs in the private economy as well as under governments and military regimes,” Rebekha said.
"Australia needs to play its part and we can do so by making sure we do not become the endpoint for services and products, especially apparel, produced by forced labour."
Be Slavery Free Event
Rebekha has also recorded a video message for a panel discussion on forced labour products sold in Australia.
Organised by academics and Human Rights Organisations, the "Are You A Consumer of Slavery? We'll Help You Find Out" event is being held at the University of South Australia on December 2, 6.30pm.
The event is also being live-streamed and can be watched online. You can register for the event HERE.
Rebekha will be travelling back to South Australia from Canberra and is unable to attend the event.
Full house for Aldinga Age Care Forum
Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie hosted a full house for her third Positive Ageing Forum for 2021.
Held at the Aldinga Community Centre on November 15, more than 170 seniors from the local area enjoyed a morning program of guest speakers and an expo of stalls celebrating positive ageing in the community.
Among the special guests were broadcaster Graeme Goodings who spoke about his journey with bowel cancer treatment; Tim Donlan the Principal at Donlan Lawyers who discussed legal matters including Powers of Attorney, Elder Abuse and Advance Care Directives; and National Seniors Chief Advocate Ian Henschke who spoke about why seniors are an asset and the advocacy priorities for National Seniors Australia.
The program will be broadcast by event sponsor Channel 44 at a future date to be advised.