Update from the Member for Canberra
Welcome to the first Payne's Parliamentary Proceedings, an email I intend to send out at the end of each sitting period so Canberrans know what has been happening on the Hill and what I’ve been up to.
This sitting period started on 14 October with Girls Take Over Parliament, a fantastic initiative run by an organisation called Jasiri that brings Canberra women aged between 13-24 into the offices of Federal Parliamentarians. Raechel McKinnon from Merici College was assigned to my office for the day and I’m so happy she was. Raechel is in Year Eight but her speech writing abilities are well beyond her years! I delivered the brilliant speech Raechel wrote for me in its entirety in the debate on Shadow Climate Change Minister, Mark Butler’s climate change motion. In addition to being a really great speech, it was particularly important to me to read Raechel’s words in the Parliament after the Prime Minister belittled our student climate strikers a few weeks ago. Check out Raechel’s speech on YouTube.
Climate Change is one of the most important issues for Canberrans – if only it was so for the Morrison Government. Although all Labor policies are currently under review our values are not - Labor has made it clear that our commitment to climate action is unshakeable. I voted in favour of declaring a climate emergency and made this Facebook video with Mark Butler following the vote. I think we should join with 1,143 other jurisdictions around the world who have declared the need for urgent action on climate change and keep the pressure up on our Government who are in denial on the issue.
Anti-Poverty Week was another significant theme of the last fortnight. Advocating for government to address poverty is a key reason I’m in politics, and in particular talking about the important role of a strong social security system in this. Before I got elected, I worked as a researcher at NATSEM, at the Australian Treasury, as social policy adviser to Bill Shorten and as Jenny Macklin’s Chief of Staff. Australia’s social security system has a history of transforming the lives of disadvantaged Australians, but it’s not in a good shape under the Liberals.
I started the sitting period by praising the work of Canberra’s incredible community organisations and calling on the Government to increase Newstart. I also joined with Linda Burney MP, Shadow Minister for Human Services and my Labor colleagues to call on the Government to increase Newstart. I criticised the Government’s punitive plan to drug test Newstart recipients. At the end of Anti-Poverty Week I visited OzHarvest ACT and Vinnies Blue Door, two Canberra community organisations who make sure food gets to those who need it. Look, I even snuck in the call to increase Newstart in a speech about economic growth – it’s just that important and could also stimulate the economy.
Other issues I’m thinking about include territory rights in the context of the ACT Cannabis legislation, Press Freedom and childcare. I'm a member of the Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and am participating in hearings across the country - you can read the transcripts from Brisbane and Sydney here. There will be a committee hearing in Canberra on Thursday, 21 November and you can register to attend the public Town Hall session here.
If any of these issues or something else interests you, please get in contact by email or call the office on 02 6277 4168. We are still working with the Department of Finance on finding an electorate office. Until then, my staff and I are working hard from the Parliament House office, and I can meet with you there or come to you.
Alicia Payne MP
Member for Canberra
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