05 July 2021
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You could be forgiven for thinking we’ve gone back in time these past few weeks. Right now, Australia is facing nationwide COVID restrictions reminiscent of the early days of the pandemic, and in Federal politics, we’ve seen the Nationals tearing themselves apart over the prospect of committing to net zero emissions by 2050 and the return of Barnaby Joyce, a man notorious for his climate denial (among other things), to the second highest position in the land.This past sitting fortnight has shone a light on the stark differences in priorities between Anthony Albanese’s Labor Opposition and Scott Morrison’s tired, visionless Liberal Government. While Labor was focused on the Australian people, the Government was evidently focused on themselves. We are now into the sixth leadership iteration of this Government in eight years, with the Nationals ditching Michael McCormack because he didn’t deny climate change hard enough. To me it seems clear that this coup was all about personal ambition rather than the good of the country.As I write this, 4 of 8 Australian capital cities have been plunged into lockdown. Every state and territory has reintroduced restrictions of some kind. We’ve now been living through this pandemic for 18 months - this is unsustainable. The only way we get through to the other side and start opening Australia to the world is by vaccinating our population. That’s why Labor has been laser-focused on holding this Government to account for its huge failures on getting Australians vaccinated and building fit-for-purpose quarantine facilities - the two key jobs that Scott Morrison had this year. Right now, we are dead last in the vaccination race amongst comparable countries. While the UK has almost 50% of their population fully vaccinated, Australia has less than 5%.
Climate change has been a key theme in the past sitting fortnight. To start with, the Morrison Government tried to force through huge changes to ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency). The changes were many and complex but the main ones were designed to 1) expand the remit of ARENA to force it to invest in non-renewable technologies and 2) give Angus Taylor broad powers to personally determine what technologies can be classified as ‘low-emissions’. What’s more, Liberal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells wrote to Minister Taylor expressing her concerns that these changes could be illegal. Thankfully, Labor was successful in voting these changes down in the Senate. The previous Labor Government set up ARENA and we will always fight to defend it in the face of Coalition attacks. I spoke on our disallowance motion in the House which you can watch here.I was happy to represent Labor and speak on the lawns of Parliament for the ‘Knit for Climate Action’ event held by ‘Common Grace’. I spoke about Labor’s commitment to strong, immediate climate action and outlined some of our plans which we will implement in Government. You can see our announced policies on my website here. (This page will be updated as we announce further climate change policies in lead up to the next election.) I was pleased to accept a hauntingly beautiful scarf knitted by Kelli Hughes, which used colour to illustrate the concerning rises in global temperatures over the past 101 years. I was also honoured to accept a mural painted by students from Radford College in the same style, which will be displayed prominently in my electorate office.I also had the privilege of joining Labor’s Shadow Climate Change and Energy Minister, Chris Bowen, to visit the SolarShare community solar farm in Majura. This is a great example of how Australians, and specifically Canberrans, are getting on with the job of tackling climate change in the absence of national leadership. I’m constantly in awe of our inspirational local community.
I also joined ABC host Jade Macmillan and Liberal MP Fiona Martin on the Capital Hill program. I spoke about the disturbing comments regarding childcare being 'outsourcing parenting' made by some men in the Coalition party room, the climate crisis and the failure of Scott Morrison to protect Australians through his bungled vaccine rollout. You can watch the full segment here.
I also spoke in Parliament about the need for more compassionate refugee and asylum seeker policies, Labor’s plan for cheaper childcare, the Government’s inadequate response to the Aged Care Royal Commission, the need to better look after our midwives and new mothers, the important role that carers play in Australia, and the need to improve our environmental protection laws. You can find all of those speeches on my website here.Finally, I’d also like to mention my visit with Anthony Albanese to the National Archives of Australia where we called on the Government to provide the less than $10 million per year required to ensure vital historical records can be preserved. I’m pleased to say that in response to pressure from Labor and the community, the Government has now announced they will provide this. The Archives are an incredibly important national institution. They tell our story – the good and the bad. They’re the home of some incredibly important records that detail Australia’s history - from Federation and the World Wars, to the horrendous Stolen Generation and White Australia Policy. Funding cuts have meant that the Archives will not be able to complete their digitisation process and some important documents will be lost forever. Myself and my Labor colleagues will continue to call on the Government to properly fund the National Archives and all of our National institutions. I'd also like to draw your attention to the fact that the Government is currently considering closing the Braddon Centrelink and Medicare Service Centre. After seeing an advertisement on Facebook advertising the Shopfront location for lease, I wrote to the Minister asking directly: Are you going to close the Braddon Centrelink? I have received a reply telling me that the Government is reconsidering the need for face-to-face services in the Inner North and that the lease for the Braddon Shopfront will expire in February 2022. This is unacceptable. Students in Turner and retirees in Campbell should not have to travel to Woden or Belconnen to access their Youth Allowance or Aged Pension. I've set up a petition calling on the Government to save the Braddon Shopfront, you can sign that here.If you haven’t already, please follow my social media to stay up to date with what I’m up to. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can also see all of my speeches on my YouTube channel and other news on my website.I’m also holding mobile offices and coffee catchups at Edgars Inn, Ainslie (10am, Tues 6 July) and Hackett Shops (9:30am, Sat 10 July). I add more dates frequently which you can find on my website here.I’d like to end by asking you to get vaccinated as soon as you’re eligible. The vaccine is our ticket out of COVID-19 and we need as many Australians as possible to get the jab.If you’ve got this far thanks for reading! Please stay safe and follow the health advice and guidelines.
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Authorised by Alicia Payne, ALP Canberra.