Hello Northsiders,

I hope you and your family are staying safe and well.

We have just wrapped up the first fortnight of the Parliament spring sittings, so I wanted to give you a quick update on what happened in the House of Representatives.  There was lots on the agenda, with a very strong focus on aged care and JobKeeper.

The private aged care crisis has been on the top of Labor’s agenda for some time, and during this sitting fortnight we made sure it was on the top of the Government’s agenda too. I put a question to the Prime Minister during Question Time here, asking him why some aged care workers did not have appropriate access to PPE during a global pandemic.

 

The big-ticket item for the first week was the Coronavirus Economic Response Package (JobKeeper Payments) Amendment, which extended the JobKeeper program while also restricting the eligibility rules and reducing the payment for some workers.  You can watch my speech here. While there were aspects of the Bill that I did not agree with, I was not going to stand in the way of getting support to workers and small business who still desperately need it. 

Lilley is home to 6,600 aviation workers. We know from the recent job cuts at Qantas, Virgin, Brisbane Airport Corporation and dnata that aviation workers are being hung out to dry. I met with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack to call on the Federal Government to provide specific support for aviation workers. The Deputy Prime Minister agreed to take my message on board, and I hope to see this issue addressed in the October budget.

 

We’re so lucky in Lilley to have access to some of the best artists and entertainers in the country, but many of them are doing it tough this year due to COVID restrictions. I took the opportunity to speak in support of a motion recognising our fantastic local arts and entertainers here and called on the Federal Government to roll out support for the arts and entertainment industry as quickly as possible.

I then spoke against the Federal Government’s attacks on superannuation, sharing the stories of older Northsiders who have spoken to me about retiring with little to no super.  You can watch my speech here. I strongly believe that if we allow Australia’s superannuation system to be torn down and dismantled, it will leave permanent scarring and evolve into one of the greatest acts of intergenerational theft of our time.

The Family Assistance Legislation Amendment (Improving Assistance for Vulnerable and Disadvantaged Families) debate continued. Our current childcare system is broken, with childcare fees skyrocketing, too many families being excluded and early educators not receiving the pay and recognition they deserve. I spoke in support of this Bill here which aims to help vulnerable and disadvantaged families have better access to childcare.

I finished off the week on a lighter note by sharing some good news stories from the electorate. You can watch my speech here.  If you need assistance with a federal issue, please get in contact with my office - 07 3266 8244 or [email protected] 

 

Week two started with the appalling Migration Amendment (Prohibiting Items in Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2020. Amongst other things, this Bill sought to allow phones to be confiscated from refugees in detention. Federal Labor wrote to the Government outlining our concerns about this legislation and called on them to address those issues and ensure that the Bill does not impose broad sweeping measures that punish detainees. The Bill is now before the Senate.

The Federal Government gagged debate on the Higher Education Support Amendment (Job-Ready Graduates and Supporting Regional and Remote Students) Bill 2020, which will make it harder and more expensive to go to university. This was not only a slap in the face to democracy, but to the Year 12 students who have had an extremely stressful year dealing with schooling from home, cancelled extracurricular activities and assessment. They now have to worry whether they can afford to go to university.  Labor will continue to fight it in the Senate.

To finish off the parliamentary sitting fortnight, the Federal Government pushed the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Streamlining Environmental Approvals) Bill 2020 through the House of Representatives. I received hundreds of emails from constituents asking me to oppose this Bill, and I’m disgusted that debate on this extremely important Bill was shut down. Northsiders need stronger environmental laws to protect our precious coastal ecosystem, not weaker ones.  Labor will continue to fight this Bill in the Senate.

 

Finally, after liaising with local RSL sub-branches, I met with the Minister for Veterans Affairs Darren Chester to advocate for improved outreach services for Lilley veterans. I had a very productive conversation with Minister Chester, and I hope we can continue to work together to protect the health and wellbeing of our veterans.

I'm going to continue this community update email to keep you informed on what's happening at home and in Canberra. Let me know what you think about my first community update by emailing -  [email protected].