Dear Mackellar resident,
I hope you’ve enjoyed a relaxing summer break. The year is well and truly underway and it is shaping up to be another busy and exciting year. 2023 will be crucial for laying the legislative groundwork for the next decade and beyond for our climate, biodiversity, health system and restoring integrity in politics. It is also our opportunity to build a stronger relationship between First Nations people and non-Indigenous people - one that is based on respectful listening through the enshrinement of a First Nations Voice in our Constitution.
In the summer break I revisited Papua New Guinea (PNG), this time as part of a multi-partisan Parliamentary delegation with Pacific Friends of Global Health and Save the Children Australia. PNG has some of the poorest health outcomes globally despite being a mere 4km away from our own coastline. We were there to learn how Australia can best support improved health outcomes in PNG and to strengthen ties with our nearest neighbour.
I’m looking forward to heading back to Canberra next week for the first sitting week of the year. There’s a lot to achieve in 2023, and I plan to introduce two Private Members Bills in the first half of this year. In progressing these, this week I briefed the Attorney General on my ‘Ending Jobs For Mates Bill’, which aims to ensure a transparent and independent process is followed for all significant Commonwealth Government appointments; and next week I will be hosting a roundtable discussion with policy experts on my bill to regulate junk food advertising on TV and social media.
We also have some exciting community events and initiatives that you can be part of in 2023. Join the conversation at a Q&A event hosted by Voices of Mackellar on Feb 28. Pop Up Politics will resume across the electorate and we hope to commence Politics in the Pub nights this year. We’ll also be launching the Mackellar Youth Partnership Program for high school students. Watch this space for more announcements in the coming weeks!
Political sponsorship of Iranian protestors
I have announced my political sponsorship of three young men, Saeed Yaghoubi, Ebrahim Narouei and Kambiz Kharot, who have been sentenced to death after participating in protests calling for women's rights in Iran. Each of these young men were subject to sham trials, abduction & torture. Democracy is precious and it’s crucial we stand up when it is threatened anywhere in the world. You can read my letter to the Iranian Ambassador to Australia here.
Parliamentary Friends of Future Generations
I am pleased to announce the launch of the Parliamentary Friends of Future Generations group, which I will co-chair alongside my colleagues, Labor MP Zaneta Mascarenhas and Liberal MP Bridget Archer. We’ll be working with the not-for-profit youth group Foundations for Tomorrow, with the aim of exploring major issues that future generations will face such as artificial intelligence, climate change and global biosecurity risks. We will explore the imperative for Australia to overcome short-term policy development in favour of long-term governance and how an intergenerational lens can be inserted into policy making.
Climate Integrity Summit
I’m honoured to be one of the key speakers at the Climate Integrity Summit to be held at Australian Parliament House, Canberra, on Wednesday 15 February. Coordinated by The Australia Institute, the summit will explore the ethics and economics of net zero claims and the potential for overreliance on carbon offsets rather than real decarbonisation as Australia aims to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
New National Cultural Policy funds Arts and Culture
As a parliamentary spokesperson for the music industry, I welcomed this week's announcement of $286 million in funding for Arts and Culture as part of the new National Cultural Policy, and the establishment of new organisations, including Music Australia and Writers Australia. We all benefit from the creativity of our artists, writers and musicians and they have done it extremely hard during the COVID years.
I really think there must be something special in the water on the Northern Beaches because we punch way above our weight when it comes to music, arts and creativity in general. In addition to major names such as Angus and Julia Stone, there were so many local bands featured in this year’s Triple J’s Hottest 100 including songs from Lime Cordiale, Sons of the East, Rions, Ocean Alley and Flume, who took out first place!
I welcomed last week’s decision by Northern Beaches Council not to become the planning approval authority on the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council’s (MLALC) proposed housing development at Lizard Rock.
I share both Council and the community’s concerns that this proposal is environmentally destructive, an unacceptable fire risk and will put pressure on strained local services. I will continue to advocate against this proposal on behalf of the community and work to find an alternative solution to support the MLALC’s mission to generate income to secure the financial future of First Nations peoples across Sydney. You can read my full statement here.
Community Battery Opportunity for Mackellar!
Great news Mackellar! Warriewood has been chosen as an eligible location for a community battery under the Federal Government’s Community Batteries for Household Solar Program. This project supports an organisation to deliver community batteries, offering grants between $100,000 and $500,000 per eligible location. This grant is currently open and closes 24 February 2023. To find out more information, including eligibility and how to apply, please visit here.
This Australia Day I was proud to attend the Australia Day celebration at Newport, support the annual Ride with Aboriginal Peoples, attend a special Citizenship Ceremony and also the Northern Beaches Council’s Australia Day Awards Ceremony. It was incredibly moving and inspiring to hear from our local award recipients for 2023. Congratulations to Northern Beaches Citizen of the Year - Rachael Leah Jackson (Domestic violence advocate), Senior Citizen of the Year - Judy Elias (ComputerPals) and Young Citizen of the Year - Noah Smith (Youth Parliamentarian of the Year) To read more click here.
Northern Beaches Hospital
Last week I met with Northern Beaches Hospital CEO Andrew Newton to discuss Healthscope’s agreement with HCF, increased youth mental health services and capacity of the hospital’s haemodialysis unit.
As you may know, I met with executives from both HCF and Healthscope to convey our community's disappointment at the stalemate that could have left thousands of residents facing steep out of pocket expenses, so I am pleased to see an agreement has been reached. It's important that both HCF and Healthscope ensure we do not see a repeat of the saga in two years time when the new deal runs out.
Following the State Government’s allocation of funding in June 2022 for the establishment of four dedicated acute paediatric specialist mental health beds and a full-time child and youth psychiatrist, I’m happy to report that a full-time psychiatrist has been appointed and recruitment is underway for another psychiatrist. A working group is currently organising the establishment of the specialist paediatric beds, and I’ve asked for a timeline on this. My team is also working with the hospital to investigate the current capacity of the haemodialysis unit after hearing from constituents who have been on the waiting list for a couple of years.
It was wonderful to be a part of the Northern Beaches Big Ocean Swim series this summer. Thank you to Newport, Bilgola, Mona Vale, Warriewood, Palm Beach and Whale Beach Surf Clubs. These are fabulous community events with competitors coming from far and wide including hundreds swimming to raise money for cancer research with the Can Too Run and Swim. A huge thank you to the clubs, volunteers, organisers and sponsors for running these amazing events!
On the water with Marine Rescue
Thank you also to Marine Rescue Broken Bay for showcasing the vital work you do. They are a dedicated team of 100+ local volunteers who keep our community safe on the water 24/7. Thank you to Unit Commander Jimmy Arteaga and the team for having me on board and your for your hospitality.
Voices of Mackellar Q&A
Join me on February 28 for a Q&A hosted by Voices of Mackellar on my First 200 days as the Federal Member for Mackellar. The event will be moderated by Wendy Harmer at Dee Why RSL Oaks Room, doors open at 6:30pm. To register visit here.
Mackellar’s BIG survey – results out next month!
Exciting days as my team and I finalise the results of Mackellar’s BIG Survey. During the election I promised to genuinely represent the people of Mackellar on the issues that matter most to our community. Mackellar’s BIG Community Survey gave locals the opportunity to have their voices heard. Thank you to the over 3500 participants who took time to provide genuine and open feedback.
Get in touch
If there is an issue you would like to raise with me or something our electorate team can help you with, please email [email protected]. Also don’t forget to follow me on social media via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Sophie in the news
Sophie one of only a few MPs with perfect parliamentary attendance record
Teals to compete to see who can get the most Yes votes for the Voice
Council: Thanks but no thanks on Lizard Rock
Teal backs voice, even if it fails referendum
PNG health system facing big challenges
Australia looks for PNG health partnership
Campaign to save Iranian man with family in Australia from execution
Live interview on news of the day with Liberal Stuart Robert MP