Payne's Parliamentary Proceedings - March 2023

05 May 2023

National institutions, committee work and healthcare services. These are some of the big themes of April.

Canberrans suffered through a decade of the former Coalition government’s ideological attacks and cuts on the national capital, the public service, and our wonderful national institutions.

Ensuring the capital receives its fair share of funding has been a key part of my advocacy as the Member for Canberra.

The Albanese Labor Government has continued to deliver for Canberra with a number of pre-budget funding announcements that will secure the future for our institutions.

This includes:

  • $60 million in new funding over four years for Questacon.
  • $33 million over four years for Trove.
  • $535.3 million over four years for the Museum of Australian Democracy (Old Parliament House), National Archives of Australia, National Film and Sound Archive, National Gallery of Australia, National Library of Australia, National Museum of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery of Australia, Australian National Maritime Museum and Bundanon Trust.
  • Investment in the new National Seed Bank at the Australian National Botanic Gardens.

In more great news for Canberra, the Albanese Government is now giving more students from the bush and disadvantaged areas the chance to visit the nation’s capital through additional rebates.

For the first time schools within 150km, including Canberra schools, will also receive some assistance to visit Parliament and our other brilliant national institutions.

As the national capital, Canberra belongs to all Australians and is a city that everyone in this nation should be proud of.

The Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories, which I chair, is inquiring into ways to foster and promote the significance of Australia’s National Capital, including our national institutions and infrastructure.

This is an opportunity for all those passionate about the national capital to bring their vision, as well as challenges we face as a city, to the attention of the Federal Parliament through the Committee.

The committee is also holding an inquiry into Local Governance on Norfolk Island.

Norfolk Islanders want local democracy returned and Territories Minister Kristy McBain has asked the Committee to look into appropriate models of local government and equitable revenue sources to support those models.

The committee recently travelled to the island for a number of public hearings so we could hear directly from residents about the future of their beautiful home.

In exciting news, The Canberra Forum, my deliberative panel, has completed it’s final working session and drafted their findings on the housing crisis.

I was blown away by what this group of randomly selected community members achieved through the last few months and their level of altruism and passion for the people of our city.

The group are now pulling together the final report and I look forward sharing it with the Canberra community and the Government.

Inside Parliament, the Albanese Labor Government continued to deliver important legislation during the March sittings.

Labor’s commitment to taking climate action continued with the passage of the Safeguard Mechanism Bill.

This puts Australia so much closer to net zero by 2050 and will cut our emissions by 205 million tonnes by 2030 –the equivalent of taking two-thirds of the nation’s cars off the road over the same period.

I spoke in support of the Bill. Watch it here.

I was proud to be part of an important moment in Parliament, with the Attorney General introducing the legislation to allow the Voice Referendum to be held.

The Voice is about two things: recognition and consultation.

It's time to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our constitution and deliver a Voice to Parliament.

The National Reconstruction Fund also passed Parliament. This fund will deliver investments in renewable and low energy technologies, medical science, transport, defence capability, and value add in agriculture, fisheries, forestry and resources.

We also passed legislation to create transparency and action towards women’s economic equality.

The gender pay gap in Australia is 13.3% - this is unacceptable. I spoke in support of the Minister for Women Katy Gallagher’s work to deliver on these important reforms. You can see my speech here.

I also spoke about the closure of Hobart Place GP clinic, which has provided bulk billed services to our community for 40 years. Hobart Place has served vulnerable Canberrans for decades, especially students at the ANU. For many in central Canberra the closure of this service will be extremely stressful time for them. For too long GPs around the country have been under enormous strain.

Canberrans deserve access to affordable health care and Labor is focused on making Medicare more accessible. You can watch my speech here.

Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health and Community Services is a vital service based in Narrabundah that supports First Nations people, not just from the ACT, but from surrounding NSW.

I recently visited the Winnunga and saw firsthand how demand is outstripping the capacity of their dedicated staff to meet those demands.

I spoke in Parliament about the need for appropriate Commonwealth funding and assistance to be directed to ACT Aboriginal Community Controlled services. See it here.

I also spoke about the Canberra Innovation Network which brings together our world class education and research institutions to support local start ups to thrive and take on the world. You can see that speech here.

During the sitting fortnight, I also launched the Parliamentary Friends of Ending Poverty.

Liberal Member for Bass Bridget Archer and I established the group to encourage more discussion in Parliament about poverty and what can be done to address it including by increasing the rate of the JobSeeker payment.

The event included two magnificent speakers, one of Australia’s most respected economists Chris Richardson and one of Australia’s strongest leading voices for social justice Rev. Tim Costello.

Both spoke strongly about the need to increase the Jobseeker payment. I will be continuing to advocate for this change within government.

Outside Parliament, I was pleased to host an Environment Forum with Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek.

The questions and discussion were excellent and I’m so proud to represent such environmentally engaged and passionate constituents.

A huge thank you to Minister Plibersek for her time and the critically important work she’s doing to restore our environment.

I also joined Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care Ged Kearney as she announced the Albanese Labor Government will establish 20 Endometriosis and Pelvic Pain Clinics around the country - including one right here in Canberra at Sexual Health & Family Planning ACT.

The clinics will make such a difference to women and girls who have suffered debilitating pain for too long without diagnoses or treatment.

In sad news, Labor legend and my friend, John Kerin, passed away in March.

John was a minister in the Hawke and Keating Governments including serving as Treasurer and Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, but I knew him as an active branch member of ACT Labor right until the end.

It was an honour to know him, and his advice, encouragement and support on the campaign trail meant so much to me.

My thoughts are with his wife June and family. Vale John and thank you.

Parliament is back next week with Treasurer Jim Chalmers to hand down the Albanese Government’s second Budget.

This budget will be focussed on cost of living relief as well as getting on with the difficult job of budget repair.

You can watch Jim’s budget speech at 7pm on Tuesday night (9/5).

Thank you for reading. If there is anything I can do to help you, please get in contact with my office at [email protected] or (02) 6247 8475.