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First two weeks of Parliament for 2023!

Dear Mackellar resident,

The first Parliamentary sitting fortnight of 2023 has just come to a close - and what a BIG few weeks it has been! From seconding Zali Steggall’s ‘Stop PEP-11 Bill’, to speaking out against vaping, and urging the Government to go further on integrity and tackling corruption in our politics, I’ve been busy representing you on important issues facing our community. 

In this newsletter you’ll learn more about the key legislation debated in the first weeks of Parliament, while I’ll also keep you up to date with important local issues and events, including where I’ll be popping up around the electorate in the weeks ahead.

So let’s get straight into it!

Dr Sophie

Canberra Matters

Fighting against PEP-11

Our community will never accept our coastline being used as an oil and gas field, and I am fighting on your behalf to ensure the Albanese Government cancels the PEP-11 licence so drilling off our beaches never happens. In Parliament I seconded MP Zali Steggall’s Stop PEP11 and Protect Our Coast Bill 2023 to rule out permanently any consideration of an application to drill for oil and gas off our coast. This is the time for focusing investment in clean, cheap, and reliable renewables. View my speech here.

‘Ending Jobs for Mates’ Bill

My ‘Ending Jobs for Mates’ Private Members Bill will soon be before Parliament. Working alongside the Centre for Public Integrity my Bill proposes a rigorous and independent framework for all Commonwealth appointments in a bid to end the ‘jobs for mates’ culture in federal politics for good. The longstanding culture of cronyism must stop, and a transparent, merit-based appointments process needs to be in place, so that Australians can trust the institutions that underpin our democracy. While the Government has recently announced a review into government board appointments this approach does not go far enough – we need a process that is independent from the government of the day, transparent, and covers all types of major Commonwealth Government appointments. News Release here.

Working towards banning junk food advertising

The last sitting fortnight saw our office host the ‘Unhealthy Food Roundtable’ in Parliament House with leading health experts exploring evidence-based approaches for tackling Australia’s chronic obesity issues. All of us, especially children, are bombarded with junk food advertising and evidence shows this has a large influence on our dietary choices. Around one quarter of our children and two thirds of adults are in the unhealthy weight range, putting them at higher risk of developing chronic health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. I am now in the process of developing my Private Members Bill to regulate junk food advertising and hope to table it later this year.

Future focus on younger generations initiative

I was thrilled to chair the first meeting of the Parliamentary Friends of Future Generations Group alongside my colleagues, Labor’s MP Zaneta Mascarenhas and Liberal MP Bridget Archer. Bringing together young and not so young representatives, including senators, academics and policy think tanks, we discussed how to better protect the future of the next generation and beyond by moving away from short-term policymaking. This group will look at building Australia’s resilience against large scale risks of the future such as artificial intelligence, biosecurity and biological warfare, and of course climate change. I’ll keep you updated as we advance our work.

Speaking out against e-cigarettes

During the Parliamentary sitting fortnight I also took the opportunity to speak out against e-cigarettes - otherwise known as vapes. As a former GP I’m alarmed at how this product is depicted as a safe alternative to cigarettes. It’s not. E-cigarettes can contain as many as 200 toxic chemicals, and can contain nicotine even if labelled nicotine free. Research suggests e-cigarettes are being used as a gateway drug to smoking, and with tobacco companies targeting youth-friendly media, the uptake amongst young people has exploded. Prioritising public health is essential, and putting our youth in harm’s way is not okay. Please see my speech here.

15th anniversary of Stolen Generations apology

Monday 13 February marked the 15th anniversary of the national apology to the Stolen Generations, who suffered trauma because of past government policies of forced child removal. It was a significant act of truth telling and a step towards healing. This year let’s embrace the opportunity to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our Constitution and listen to their voice on matters and policies that affect their daily lives. 

Mackellar Matters

Stronger Communities Programme

Expressions of Interest (EOI) are now open for the Stronger Communities Programme, which provides each federal electorate with $150,000 to fund small capital projects. For this round, grant funding will be up to 100 percent of eligible project costs except for local governing bodies where grant funding will be up to 50 percent of eligible project costs. A maximum of 20 projects will be funded in Mackellar. To find out more on eligibility and how to submit an EOI visit here.

Tour of Sargood on Collaroy

It was wonderful to tour Sargood on Collaroy, a purpose-built, world-leading facility for people living with a spinal cord injury as a place to refresh, learn and connect. People from all over the country and globe come to stay at Sargood. What is special is that this project was the direct result of true local community organisation and passion. It was imagined by a committed group of locals who drove the project, fundraised for it and saw it come to fruition.

Supporting inclusion at Mardi Gras 2023

On Saturday February 25 I’ll be celebrating inclusion and the diversity of the Mackellar electorate at Mardi Gras. I’ll be joining other Independent MPs for an inclusion float aptly named, ‘A Touch of Teal.’ This year the theme is Gather, Dream, Amplify and I’m thrilled to be standing with our LGBTQIA+ community alongside fellow independents Zali Steggall, Allegra Spender and Kylea Tink. I hope to see you there!

Upcoming events

Zoom in for Parliamentary Update – tomorrow night!

Don’t miss my latest update from Parliament. Tune into my Zoom chat tomorrow night at 6pm, and I’ll be live with the inside scoop on the latest sitting fortnight and how the legislation debated and tabled in Parliament could impact our community. It’s a two-way conversation so feel free to ask me questions in the chat. I look forward to talking to you. Register to get your zoom link.

Voices of Mackellar Q&A

There are still tickets available for my Q&A with Wendy Harmer on Tuesday 28 February at Dee Why RSL. I’ll be taking a dive deep into my ‘First 200 days as the Federal Member for Mackellar’ - so there’s sure to be a few stories, political insights and more. Attendance is free, register here.

Pop Up Politics Frenchs Forest - Sat 11th March

I’ll be at Lionel Watts Reserve in Frenchs Forest on Saturday 11th March from 9:30am-10:30am for our next Pop Up Politics. There's a lot to talk about, so grab a coffee and head to Lionel Watts Reserve to chat to my team and I about the issues that are important to you.

Have your say 

A Productivity Commission inquiry into Australia’s early childhood education and care (ECEC) system has been set up by the Federal Government with a call for submissions due in March 2023. The Commission will consider cost and availability barriers that affect access to ECEC services, and ways to support better outcomes for children and families. For further information, subscribe for updates or to make a submission visit here.

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

Teal MP wants to outlaw jobs for mates. Major parties will vote it down at their peril

Greens and teals give Labor the funding blues

Medicare reform too slow

Independent’s bill wants federal politics to end ‘jobs for mates’ culture

PEP-11 threat pops up again

Live interview re: junk food bill, The Voice and resignation of Lidia Thorpe

Junk food advertising causing ‘tsunami’ of chronic disease

Scott Morrison’s decision to stop controversial NSW gas field to be overturned