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Early October 2022 Newsletter

Dear Jessica,


Hope this newsletter finds you well and enjoying the warmer weather. 

It's great to be back home after a fast and furious sitting week in Canberra. But I appreciate that everyone in Mackellar has busy lives so let me quickly bring you up-to-date with all that’s been happening both locally and at Parliament House.



Dr Sophie


Canberra Matters

You would have already seen my special ‘Budget newsletter’. Given the media focus it would be easy to assume that the Budget was the only important thing happening in Parliament last week. But of course, it wasn’t.

Like many others I’ve been inspired by the bravery of the millions of people protesting in Iran for women’s rights after the death of Mahsa Amini and called on the Australian Government to do more. You can watch my speech here.


Along with Kylea Tink and Zoe Daniel, I met with Georgie Dent from The Parenthood and heard about the challenges of providing cheaper childcare including ‘childcare deserts’ where there is just no childcare available for women, as well as the need for regulations to ensure the government subsidy is not negated by childcare services simply increasing their fees - as has happened before. I then supported the Government’s Childcare Bill but fully intend to stay focused on the obstacles. You’re welcome to view my speech


I’m also excited that my proposed Private Members Bill to regulate junk food advertising is continuing to gain support. First, the Australian Financial Review reported on my campaign to bring Australia’s regulations in line with other countries in the developed world that are battling an obesity epidemic. Then, it was supported by eighty-four experts in the Food Policy Index report, released just a couple of days later. The report makes it clear that Australia is falling behind when it comes to addressing obesity - a health problem that costs our health system $11.8 billion a year and is a major cause of chronic health diseases. Read what I had to say here


Mackellar Matters


The Big Mackellar Survey 

A big thank you to everyone who has already filled out the Big Mackellar Survey. What a wonderful response we have had - not just in surveys received but also the feedback my wonderful volunteers have been receiving at the Listening Posts that have been at shopping centres around the electorate. This weekend we’ll be at Dee Why Grand and Warriewood Square so please come and say hi. Or if you’d prefer, you can fill out  your survey online.


Pop-up Politics

I love meeting Mackellar residents and local business owners at my regular pop-up politics meetings. The last was at Collaroy on the grey, windy Friday morning before Budget week. It's still the best way to get in touch and chat with me about the issues that are important to you. Watch out on socials for my next Pop-up session. 


Restoring Integrity panel

It was such a pleasure to take a deep dive into our progress on restoring integrity in politics with Dr Helen Haines MP and Anthony Whealy KC. We discussed a range of topics including the power of the cross-bench to improve the long awaited National Anti-Corruption Commission Bill (NACC), the pros and cons of public vs private hearings, whistle-blower protection and how ‘jobs for mates’ perverts the decision making of governments. Most importantly, it was a fantastic opportunity to answer a range of insightful questions from our community ahead of launching my Private Members Bill Ending Jobs for Mates. You can view the webinar here.


Reverse Advent Calendar 

I recently met Cindy Lambert, the coordinator for Reverse Advent Calendar (RAC), who is part of a wonderful initiative to help those in need. RAC flips the idea of a traditional advent calendar. Instead of opening a window each day in the lead up to Christmas and getting a small chocolate, a Reverse Advent Calendar takes the focus off receiving and instead promotes giving. For 12 days in November, families, individuals, community groups, schools and businesses place one item of non-perishable food or toiletries into their box each day. When the box is full it is then donated to local food relief agencies to be distributed as they see fit to people in need.


The charities RAC Northern Beaches is supporting this year are:


Community Northern Beaches

Northern Beaches Women’s Shelter

Phoenix House Youth Services

Community Food Care

Women & Children First

Mary’s House

Gidget Foundation Australia


Cindy Lambert has left 60 boxes at my Electoral Office in Narrabeen for constituents to pick-up. When they are full, drop them back to us or to Cindy’s home in Forestville by 10th December. For more info contact Cindy at [email protected] or on 0417 279 294.

New Dr Sophie T-shirts

And if you’re wondering what to get your favourite Mackellar resident for Christmas, why not a new Team Sophie T-shirt? You can buy the updated design from the website for $23. 

What the Budget means for the cost of living

I’m sure many of you have been feeling the pinch of inflation through rising energy prices, grocery costs and increasing rent and interest rates. The Budget forecasts that inflation will peak at nearly 8% later this year, and energy costs could increase over 50% next year. We can and should be doing more to reduce the cost of gas by keeping more of our gas right here in Australia. There are, however, some fantastic initiatives to make childcare cheaper and medicines more affordable, which should help millions of Australians. 


What’s good:

·       $4.7 billion for cheaper childcare, helping approximately 5,800 families in Mackellar

·       Several measures to increase housing supply and affordability 

·       A commitment to cap medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to $30


What’s not so good:

·       No commitment to tackle rising gas prices through a price cap or export cap

·       No extra funding for rental assistance

What the Budget means for women 

This is a positive Budget for women. I support the Government’s plans for cheaper childcare as well as plans to extend the paid parental leave scheme. However, more can be done to close the gender pay gap, which has worsened in 2022, according to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency. The Government should include superannuation payments in the paid parental leave scheme to help close the super gap, while it should also support wage increases for female-dominated sectors such as childcare.


What’s good:

·       $4.7 billion for cheaper childcare

·       $531.6 million to extend the paid parental leave scheme from 18 weeks to 26 weeks

·       $42.5 million for the implementation of Respect@Work, including Working Women’s Centres


What’s not so good:

·       No commitment to include superannuation payments in the paid parental leave scheme

·       Lack of support for wage increases for childcare workers

·       Cut to the IVF assistance package

What the Budget means for the environment

Despite the Government’s promise to do more for the environment, this Budget does not do enough.  While the increased funding for the Great Barrier Reef and threatened species protection is welcomed, it is a drop in the ocean compared to what the experts say is needed. The experts say we need at least $1.7 billion a year in funding to stop the decline and degradation of our environment. I call on the Government to start phasing out fossil fuel subsidies and start phasing in additional spending to protect and restore our environment.


What’s good:

·       $9.8 million in funding for the Environmental Defenders Office and Environmental Justice Australia

·       $4 million over four years for an Inspector-General of Animal Welfare


What’s not so good:

·       Only $224.5 million over four years for our threatened species – experts say we need to invest $1.7 billion a year

·       Only $204 million for the Great Barrier Reef, including only $20 million for climate change adaptation

What the Budget means for health

The lack of support for primary health care, prevention, and Medicare – all currently in crisis – is concerning. This Budget does very little to address the crisis facing our GPs or public hospitals. It also leaves the National Obesity Strategy unfunded – we must prioritise funding preventative health measures in the next Budget. A positive, however, is the Government’s commitment to funding the National Climate, Health, and Wellbeing Strategy, which I support. The Government’s $314.8 million commitment to programs to help close the gap for First Nations people’s health and well-being is also welcomed.


What’s good:

·       $1.4 billion over four years to make medicines cheaper

·       $235 million for 50 urgent care clinics

·       $3.4 million to develop the Nation Health and Climate Change Strategy


What’s not so good:

·       No increase in Commonwealth funding for public hospitals

·       No increase in the Medicare rebate to alleviate our GP crisis

·       No funding for the National Obesity Strategy


As a GP, I am alarmed this Budget does very little to increase access to mental health services across the country, however, the $203.7 million allocated to implement mental health and well-being services for students is one positive. I’ll be pressing the Albanese Government to rectify this lack of support for mental health services in next year’s Budget and as a priority, pursue the Government's assessment of the Better Access Program and extend the 10 Medicare-supported psychology sessions beyond December 31.


What’s good:

·       $203.7 million to support mental health and well-being services in schools


What’s not so good:

·       No commitment to the additional 10 Medicare-supported psychology sessions 

·       Not enough funding to expand access to mental health services, particularly supporting the ‘missing middle’.

What the Budget means for small business

This Budget largely ignores small business owners. Despite many businesses struggling to survive throughout the pandemic, there is little direct support for small businesses, and many small business owners will be disappointed at the Government’s decision not to extend the instant asset write-off. In addition, it appears funding to tackle cybercrime has been cut. However, I do support the Government’s plan to invest $62.6m over three years to support small businesses to invest in energy efficiency equipment.


What’s good:

·       $62.6 million in energy efficiency grants for small & medium enterprises

·       $921.7 million for fee-free TAFE to address skills shortage


What’s not so good:

·       No extension to the instant asset write-off

·       Cutting of small business cybercrime program

·       No extension to the Future Female Entrepreneur program

What the Budget means for young people

As an MP who believes in genuinely representing their community and bringing young people into their democracy, I am delighted to see funding for the new Youth Engagement Strategy to ensure young people from a range of backgrounds are involved in policy development. This Budget has allocated significant funding toward climate change action and increasing opportunities for young Australians to go to university and TAFE. However, more could be done to support young Australians. There is significant money in the Budget for housing, but this will do little to help young Australians get on the property ladder as the Government’s Housing Accord commits to building the same number of homes over the next five years as has been built in the last five years – effectively business as usual.


What’s good:

·       $203.7 million to support mental health and well-being services in schools

·       $871.7 million for 450,000 fee-free TAFE positions

·       $485.5 million for 20,000 extra university places for disadvantaged Australians

·       $10.5 million to implement a new youth engagement policy


What’s not so good:

·       A commitment to building one million more homes over five years – this is not enough and the same as the last five years


What the Budget means for education

This Budget is a good Budget for education as it provides significant support for fee-free TAFE and university positions. However, in early childhood education, despite the commitment to make childcare more affordable and accessible, it does nothing to address the skills shortage in early education. 


What’s good:

·       $921.7 million for fee-free TAFE to address skills shortage

·       $485.5 million for 20,000 extra university places for disadvantaged Australians

·       $310.4 million to support high-quality teachers and improve student outcomes

·       $270.8 million to fund school improvements and upgrades


What’s not so good:

·       Lack of support for wage increases for childcare workers