Memo from Mayo 5 July 2019
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.