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Have your say on the housing crisis

It has been a busy few weeks for me in Canberra and in Mackellar. We’ve had 5 action packed weeks in Canberra already this year.

In this issue
• Mackellar People’s Jury on Housing
• Big win for integrity and my Jobs for Mates Bill
• PEP-11 Paddle for Change success
• Ban on vape sales coming
• Science labs for Narrabeen Sports High
• My budget submission
• Electoral reform update
• Paid Parental Leave win

As we enter April, I look forward to being out and about in the electorate meeting with community organisations and constituents on the issues that matter the most to you: cost of living, a robust economy that supports business, climate, integrity and health.

In June I’m hosting a People’s Jury on Housing to find solutions to the housing crisis that will work for our community.

Mackellar has some of the most expensive housing in the country (and the world) to rent or buy. Our young people and essential workers are finding it harder and harder to live here. As your federal MP I promised to listen to our community, which is why I want to hear from you.

The People’s Jury is a form of deliberative democracy. To learn more about how it will work, click here. In the meantime, I’m inviting all Mackellar residents to complete a quick 2-minute survey or submit a more detailed submission on your housing experience and ideas for policy solutions to address this crisis.

A summary of your views will be presented to the jury of 30 randomly selected local residents who will also be supported by a range of experts and other resources. You can register to watch the expert panel livestream here.

Quote of the month:
“Thank you for giving the people of this electorate hope and respect.

Top Canberra Moments

1. Jobs for mates win

After advocating hard on this issue since I was elected, I’m delighted to have a real win on this front.

As you know the Government abolished the Administrative Appeals Tribunal after it was heavily compromised with political appointments and cronies during the previous government. Following negotiations, the Attorney General has now agreed that it will be mandatory for independent assessment panels to be used when appointments are made to the new Administrative Review Tribunal.

This is a great step for our democracy and paves the way for other major public appointments to be made at arm’s length from the government.

2. New ban on the sale of e-cigarettes to children

The second round of vaping legislation to ban the sale of single use e-cigarettes has been tabled in parliament and is the subject of a short senate inquiry. This comes after the Jan 1st ban on the importation of non-prescription vapes. This is a win for our children’s health and the environment. I know this was a major concern for parents and constituents locally, and as a former GP, I have advocated hard for this. It should not be possible for our children to be sold e-cigarettes laced with high concentrations of nicotine from lolly shops where they get off the bus. Nicotine addiction has led to serious behavioural, concentration and learning issues for affected students. So thankfully the shutdown of vaping is well underway.

3. Budget should do more on cost of living

The upcoming Budget needs to address the cost of living stress that so many people across Mackellar and Australia are currently feeling. In my budget submission to the Treasurer, I highlighted measures to help families and businesses in the current economic environment. For example;
I called for the government to adequately fund the ACCC inquiry into supermarket price gouging;
• to lift the Medicare rebate for GP consultations;
• and urged the Government to offer energy price relief including offering more subsidies for batteries and solar panels to those on lower incomes.
I also support calls for HECS debts to be fairer for young people. Watch my speech here.

4. Continuing the fight to protect our precious water

In November, following my Private Members Bill to protect our precious water resources from gas fracking, the Government did pass a Bill to strengthen our national environment laws by introducing a mechanism called the Water Trigger. But now, just a few months later, the Government is proposing to create a pathway to dodge this strengthened law by passing the responsibility for approving gas fracking projects to the states and territories. I am deeply concerned this will mean the assessment of fossil fuel projects under our national environmental laws will be avoided. The fight goes on.

5. Tasmanian state candidates back my Forest Pledge

I was honoured that 57 candidates in the lead up to the Tasmanian state election signed my Forest Pledge to highlight the urgent need to end native forest logging. Save the date for May 25th as I will be in conversation with Professor David Lindenmayer from the ANU to discuss his new book ‘The Forest Wars’ at Bookoccino in Avalon. We’ll discuss the way forward to an economically smart and sustainable plantation industry – that both provides the timber Australia needs as well as protects our native threatened species.

6. Paid Parental Leave win

It was great to see the Government’s Paid Parental Leave (More Support for Working Families) Bill pass the House last month. It will increase the period of paid parental leave from 22 to 26 weeks and increase the reserved period for partnered claimants to 4 weeks. Paid Parental Leave is not only a critical equality measure but also key to stimulating our economic growth and productivity as more people will be supported to remain in work if they wish to.

7. Electoral reform update

The debate around electoral reform continues. There’s no doubt in my mind that the undue influence of big donors to political parties and candidates needs to be minimised. To achieve this there needs to be far greater transparency around political donations with real time disclosure of donations and a limit placed on the amount individuals and organisations can donate (read more here). In the meantime, Zali Steggall MP’s Stop the Lies Bill is gaining traction which is great news for our democracy, and Helen Haines has introduced her End Pork Barrelling Bill. Along with my Ending Jobs for Mates Bill and Monique Ryan’s Lobbying Bill 2023 the Community Independents are driving integrity reforms in Canberra.

Mackellar Matters

Our ‘Paddle for Change’ at Bongin Bongin Bay was a huge success with young locals calling for an end to PEP-11 and for future generations to be protected by a Duty of Care Bill. Thank you to the over 150 community members who showed up and paddled out. It’s clear that the people of the Northern Beaches care about climate action and protecting our coasts! It was wonderful to hear Anjali Sharma speak at the event. Anjali was one of the teenagers who took the former environment minister Sussan Ley to court for failing to consider the impacts of climate change on future generations when approving fossil fuel projects. She is now championing the #DutyofCareBill. This was a youth-led event organised by a group of young locals from my NextGen volunteers. It’s safe to say the future is in good hands!

A big thank you to Go Solar Mackellar group who provided the sausage sizzle on the day – all cooked and powered from their electric vehicles!

School upgrades:

Narrabeen Sports High science labs:

It’s fantastic to see that the renovations at Narrabeen Sports High are coming along, just under a year after I first visited and was shocked by the state of the building facilities. All students need and deserve a healthy and functional environment to motivate and support their learning and this has been demonstrated by the significant jump in senior students enrolled in physics at NSH since the renovations to their science labs were completed.

Narrabeen North Public-School hall:

In other good news for our local schools, the NSW Government’s building works for Narrabeen North Public School are progressing well and will deliver state of the art for facilities for local children including a new multipurpose hall, administration area, as well as 15 permanent new classrooms. Find out more here.

Mackellar Youth Partnership Programme:

It was a great pleasure to host the school leaders for the first round of the Mackellar Youth Partnership Programme for 2024. My team and I were so impressed with the thoughtful engagement of this articulate group of students.

The Programme is an opportunity for Mackellar student leaders to learn more about how our democracy works; to advocate to me about what is important to them; and to work with each other to develop ideas and solutions to address their most important issues. It’s important for young people to be involved in their democracy so that despite not being able to vote they too can feel heard.

The Northern Beaches community cares about whistleblower protections:

I was honoured to sit on a panel discussion in March with David McBride, Troy Stolz and Adele Ferguson hosted by Bookoccino at Mona Vale.

Whistleblowers provide a vital check within our society by calling out human rights violations, corporate malfeasance and political wrongdoing. Yet in Australia, instead of protecting and praising them for doing the right thing, they’re prosecuted and penalised and often lose everything. Our whistleblower laws are failing them, which is why I will continue to fight for stronger whistleblower protections.

Major Roads Update:

Both the Northern Beaches Council and Transport NSW are due to commence upgrades to the Wakehurst Parkway imminently. The Council’s work will focus on flooding remediation which it is projected will reduce the closure of the Parkway due to flooding from 7 times a year on average to around 1-2 times every 2 years. The Transport NSW upgrades focus on improving safety and capacity for this key link road. I will continue to pursue this pressing issue for the community.

Keep up to date

See my conversation with Pulitzer Prize winner Geraldine Brooks on why she is supporting The Forest Pledge here.

Catch up on my podcast with Women’s Agenda on the power of the independent movement here.

Or click here for my speech on how I am advocating on the cost-of-living crisis/ calling out supermarket price gouging.

Update on The Joey:

I am sure you have been following the local issue regarding The Joey’s request to operate after 4pm being rejected by council – after an independent assessor was contracted to decide on the issue. It appears that after a meeting with co-owners Ben May and Rob Domjen and Northern Beaches Council last Friday (see here), there has been an agreement to review the decision. During the consultation process, 132 residents expressed support and seven opposed the application. One of the key issues will now be to determine to what extent the sound from the waterfront venue will travel to the residential properties about 600 meters away. There is a fine balance between preserving our local environment whilst also supporting local business and our cultural attractions. I will be meeting with the Northern Beaches Mayor this week to hear more about the process. You can have your say here.

Mackellar constituents say thank you

“Thank you for such a comprehensive response. You clearly have a wonderful team behind you. I have never before received such a detailed reply in such a short period of time by any politician. Keep up the good work.

“Thank you for your work so far in representing me and the rest of our electorate. You have shown that you recognise and understand important issues and priorities. You have shown commitment to making a positive difference to our country.

“Thank you for giving the people of this electorate hope and respect.


Play Our Way program - Funding is available for local solutions and improvements that address participation barriers faced by women and girls. Successful organisations will use the grants to provide safe, inclusive, quality and sustainable facilities, equipment and initiatives, and help women and girls to remain involved in sport and physical activity for life. Applications close 29 April 2024. More information here.

Churchill Fellowship - Australian citizens and permanent residents have the opportunity to travel overseas for four to eight weeks to learn more about a topic or issue that they are passionate about. Applications close May 1st 2024. More information here.

Upcoming community events

April 24: Parenting in the digital age webinar presented by ReachOut. More information here.

May 4: 2024 Pittwater Boardriders Inclusive Classic Fundraiser at Mona Vale Beach. More information here.

Australian National Wheelchair Basketball League - From June, the Manly Wheel Eagles are proudly representing the Northern Beaches in the Australian National Wheelchair Basketball League. With seven home games held on the Northern Beaches, locals have the amazing opportunity to see current and emerging Paralympians battle it out for the national title. Manly Wheelchair Basketball Association is a not-for-profit charity and are looking for local sponsors for support. For more information on how to get involved click here.

Sophie in the Media

Tawny Frogmouth
March 28

The housing crisis, the people’s jury and having your say

A Current Affair
March 21

Sophie on the importance of assistance dogs

Sky News
March 20

The Forest Pledge

Pittwater Online News
March 17

A Call To End PEP-11

ABC Breakfast
March 13

Political donation caps

The Guardian
March 12

Bronwyn Bishop apologises on Sky News to MP Sophie Scamps

9 News
March 9

Northern Beaches Paddle for change

Womens Agenda
March 8

Ending 'jobs for mates': Teal Dr Sophie Scamps on IWD