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History made in Parliament


Dear Mackellar resident,

It was a privilege to be in Canberra as your representative this week as history was made both progressing the Indigenous Voice to Parliament and passing the Safeguard Mechanism Bill. I was in the House of Representatives as the Attorney General introduced the legislation for the referendum on the Voice. It was a moment of high emotion and was welcomed with a standing ovation from almost all who were present both in the House and the galleries. You can hear the speech of the Attorney General as he introduced the legislation here.

Also monumental was the passing of the Safeguard Mechanism Bill. The Bill was significantly improved from what was originally proposed thanks to the work undertaken by the crossbench with the Government, and this legislation will now see big polluters forced to reduce their emissions. This is what the Australian people voted for at the last election – serious climate action and a collaborative and constructive way of doing politics.

Much has been happening locally, with the State Election seeing Michael Regan elected as the new Independent Member for Wakehurst and Rory Amon elected as the new Member for Pittwater. It was a hard fought campaign and my congratulations to both candidates. A big congratulations to my former campaign manager and Community Independent candidate for Pittwater Jacqui Scruby, who – with the support of so many within the community – ran a superb campaign that resulted in a huge swing that has now seen Pittwater become a marginal seat. I dedicated a 90-second statement in the House to the Community Independent Movement, to celebrate this reinvigoration of our democracy - you can listen here.

I also welcome the NSW Labor Government’s election commitment to provide $13 million to the Northern Beaches Council for targeted flood mitigation works for the Wakehurst Parkway. Having met with the former Roads Minister Natalie Ward and the new Labor Roads Minister John Graham and Infrastructure NSW prior to the election to discuss the flood mitigation needs, I am pleased to see that this additional funding will assist Council to undertake these works. Read more below and here.

The last two weeks in Canberra before the Autumn break were certainly jam-packed. I hope you enjoy reading about the highlights from Parliament and local initiatives in support of our community below.

My warm wishes for Easter.

Dr Sophie

Canberra Matters

Have your say – The Indigenous Voice to Parliament

With Parliament passing the Constitution Alteration Bill last week, the ground has been prepared for the Voice referendum to occur later this year. The referendum will ask Australians whether they would like to have our First Nations peoples recognised in our Constitution and whether to create an Indigenous advisory group, or Voice, to Parliament. This invitation from our First Nations peoples is to all the people of Australia, not just politicians, so I am eager to hear your thoughts on whether you feel you have enough information to decide. Please complete this short-three question survey and share this with family and friends in Mackellar to ensure everyone has their say. Complete the survey here.

The Safeguard Mechanism

The much-improved Safeguard Mechanism passed both Houses of Parliament last sitting after the Government agreed to strengthen the legislation following consultation and negotiations with the crossbench in both the Senate and House - including myself. I voted ‘yes’ because the proposed scheme is now in a state where it will genuinely reduce emissions from Australia’s heaviest industrial polluters. Critically, there will be an absolute cap on the total amount of gross emissions companies covered by the Safeguard mechanism can emit. That, together with the annual requirement to cut their emissions, means that the scheme will result in less pollution.

Another important change came from an amendment I introduced and argued for – which was to require all new fossil fuel facilities to be net zero at commencement. The government has listened and agreed that all new gas exporting facilities must be net zero for carbon dioxide from the outset. This is a big win, and a huge improvement on the previous legislation which was essentially a pay to pollute model without limit. View my speech.

Call for action on PEP-11

The threat of seismic testing and drilling for oil or gas off our coastline has been menacing our community for too long. Despite election promises by both major political parties last year that PEP11 was ‘dead in the water’ - it is again looming as a threat to our marine environment and wildlife. So last week I seconded Zali Steggall MP’s Stop PEP-11 Bill to end the possibility once and for all of exploration for oil or gas ever occurring off our beautiful beaches. The Government needs to act to give our community certainty that PEP-11 activity will never occur. Australia should join the likes of New Zealand and ban seismic testing and drilling for offshore oil and gas around our country and legislate to end this destructive practice once and for all. View my speech.

Helping students

On behalf of students I put forward a small but important amendment to the Education Legislation Amendment (Startup Year and Other Measures) Bill 2023. An objective of this bill is to create a new form of higher education loan program or HELP assistance, currently known in the bill as the SY-HELP loans—SY for 'startup year'. These loans help students build skills in an area of great importance to Australia and its future prosperity. My amendment proposes the loans currently referred to in the bill as 'SY-HELP' be termed 'Start-up-HELP.' This will make clear at a glance what the loans refer to and help make access more user friendly. The Government supported this small but clarifying amendment. View my speech.

Ending native forest logging

Earlier in March, I introduced a Private Member’s Motion to end the logging of our unique and beautiful native forests. Logging not only threatens our biodiversity, but contributes to climate change, dries out forests leading to increased risk of bushfire, reduces water quality in rivers and dams, and threatens regional tourism. Importantly, I am not calling for an end to the logging industry, but an end to the logging our native forests which destroys the habitat of so many of our iconic animals. Additionally, my motion called on the government to fund the transition to a plantation-based forestry industry, recognising the importance of forestry jobs in regional Australia and the need for sustainable wood products in the future. View my speech.

Speaking up for the Republic of Artsakh

When students from AGBU Alexander Primary School at Duffys Forest hand-delivered an important letter to me at my Electorate Office recently, I responded by speaking in Parliament on their behalf. The students’ letter highlighted the crisis in the Republic of Artsakh where an ongoing blockade of the Lachin Corridor in has closed the only road connecting Artsakh to Armenia. In place since December 2022, the blockade is described by Amnesty International as an ‘unfolding humanitarian crisis,’ leaving around 120,000 ethnic Armenian residents in this region now without access to essential goods and services, including life-saving medication and health care from Armenia. View my speech.

Mackellar students visit Parliament!

I love it when schools from Mackellar visit Parliament House. Last sitting I met with students from Bilgola Plateau Public School, the German International School, and Narrabeen Lakes Public School, and was delighted by the scope of their questions and their eager curiosity about how politics works. The next generation are our future and based on these kids, the future is looking bright!

Australian of the Year: Changing young lives for the better

It was inspiring to meet and hear from 'Australian of the Year' Taryn Brumfitt who brought her work on promoting a more realistic understanding of body image to Canberra. She revealed that 77% of children are reporting body image distress. Her mission to reach one million Australian children this year with her positive ‘Embrace Your Body’ message is exciting and important. Please see Taryn’s Embrace Hub for a collection of innovative and engaging image resources to support our young people.

Commemoration of the Smyrna Catastrophe

I had the privilege to attend the 100th Anniversary Commemoration of the Smyrna Catastrophe hosted by the Joint Justice Initiative, of the Armenian-Australian, Assyrian-Australian and Greek-Australian communities. It was a solemn occasion with speakers revealing how this event has affected - and continues to affect - their communities to this day.

Mackellar Matters

NSW Labor commits to $13M for Wakehurst Parkway

In Parliament I gave a speech expressing the community’s deep frustration at the recurrent flooding issues that have impacted the Wakehurst Parkway. During the recent State election the NSW Labor Government committed an extra $13 million in funding for the Northern Beaches Council to be able to undertake flood mitigation works on the Wakehurst Parkway that are acceptable to the community (election commitment). This road is crucial not only for the thousands of commuters who use the road daily but is also critical as the most direct route for many thousands to access the Northern Beaches Hospital. The Parkway closes on average six to seven times a year, sometimes for successive days. The flood mitigation works could reduce the number of closures to one to two times every two years – a huge improvement. Listen to my speech.

Manly Warringah Softball Association Grand Final

It was good fun to attend the Grand Finals of the Manly Warringah Softball Association Competition. It takes such passion and dedication to run these tournaments and the people involved at the Manly Warringah Softball Association work hard to ensure they run smoothly for our young people. Congratulations to all the winners and runners up! If you’re interested in playing softball next season, Manly Warringah are always looking for new players. Follow the link to register for a team.

Supporting and connecting women

I was delighted to be part of Pittwater’s annual networking event, Connecting Women at the Pittwater RSL Club, with the ever-inspirational Sarah Wilson as the guest speaker. It was doubly inspirational to hear from Simone Allan, founder of the Women’s Resilience Centre in Mona Vale. The Women’s Resilience Centre is a place of hope and healing for women who have suffered domestic violence, deep loss or trauma and need support in stepping forward to reset and rebuild their lives. The event was topped off with the wonderful announcement that Pittwater RSL will provide sponsorship to support the Centre’s ‘Caring Conversations’ program. Find out more here.

Volunteers needed: Grace City Community Foodcare

Grace City Care (GCC) needs volunteers to join their team and assist with their Community Foodcare program. This program enables low income earners and those who need support to access groceries at a low fee and to get bread, fruit & vegetables free of charge. Located at Dee Why, volunteers are needed to collect food donated from allocated supermarkets on Monday and Saturday mornings. To volunteer contact GCC via email or on their website.

Upcoming Events

Pop-Up Politics: Beaches Farmers Market

I’m hosting a stall at the Beaches Farmers Market at Rat Park, Warriewood on Friday 28 April. I’ll be there with my team from 8-9.30am to let you know how I can support you as your Federal MP and to hear what issues are important to you. I hope to meet you then. More information here.

For schools: Entries open for Anzac Day awards

Help your school make history! Entries are now open in the Anzac Day Schools’ Awards 2023. The awards recognise the work of students, teachers and schools who engage with veterans and commemorate a significant aspect of Australia's military history. This year, schools across Australia will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War. Find out more here.

Celebrate young local artists at Express Yourself

Don’t miss the exhibition Express Yourself, a showcase of over 50 HSC visual artworks selected from the 20 secondary schools across Sydney’s Northern Beaches. The exhibition features a broad range of expressive artforms exploring contemporary themes which matter to young people today. Featuring young local artists from the 2022 graduating cohort, these creative works reveal the quality of teaching in Northern Beaches secondary schools. Now open at Manly Art Gallery & Museum until Sunday 16 April. Details here.

Call to artists: Environmental Art and Design Prize

Submissions are open for the Environmental Art and Design Prize 2023. Run by Northern Beaches Council, there’s a prize pool of $42,000 and selected works will be exhibited from 4 – 27 August 2023. The call-out for creative works is open until Sunday 14 May and the categories range from film and sculpture through to wearable design and youth categories. More information here.

‘Have your Say’ on Australia Post

Australia Post wants to hear from the community about the postal services you want and need now, and into the future. They are seeking views on a range of options for the modernisation of postal services. ‘Have your say’ by making a submission or comment online, or by emailing or posting your feedback. A Discussion Paper is available online to guide your response. Submissions are due by Thursday April 27, 2023. To ‘Have your say’ 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

Australia finally has a climate policy after lost decade, but not everyone is making progress

Hung parliaments are terrible, but only for our fading political duopolyAustralia’s safeguard mechanism deal is only a half-win for the Greens, and for the climate

‘What’s happening tonight is really exciting’: Sophie Scamps

Northern beaches seat of Wakehurst falls to independent

This is the last chance to avoid climate catastrophe

Labor and Greens could agree to compromise on non-fossil fuel industries in safeguard mechanism

Labor’s Parkway promise