It has been a harrowing couple of weeks. The barbaric terror attacks by Hamas on innocent people in Israel have sent shockwaves of horror around the world. There has been an outpouring of grief and condolences from the people of Mackellar for the Jewish community in Australia and abroad. My deepest sympathy and love go out to all those in the Jewish community whose hearts are broken. First and foremost, we are praying for the safe release or rescue of all hostages.
There are also many people contacting the electorate office deeply concerned about the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza and the loss of so many innocent lives there. That loss of life is also heartbreaking and our love and prayers are with the innocent people of Gaza caught up in this.
As a doctor, I have always been driven by humanitarianism and I support our Government’s call for unimpeded and sustained humanitarian access to Gaza and a pause to allow safe passage for civilians.
Following the No vote in the Voice referendum, we need to continue to work towards closing the gap in practical ways. As a first step, I will be providing opportunities for local indigenous people to chat with me so I can hear from them what they feel is the best way forward.
New Private Members Bill to strengthen our national environmental laws to protect our water resources:
Last week in Canberra, I introduced a Private Members Bill to strengthen our country’s environmental laws (EPBC Act). The aim of the Bill is to protect Australia’s water resources from fracking for gas by expanding the ‘Water Trigger’ in the EPBC Act. It would ensure all gas fracking projects, like those proposed for the Beetaloo Basin, must be assessed for their impact on water resources and approved by the Federal Environment Minister in order to proceed.
Labor promised to strengthen the ‘Water Trigger’ before the 2022 election, but the reform has been repeatedly delayed.
It is important that these changes are enacted urgently as several shale gas fracking projects in the Northern Territory are due for approval imminently.
This Bill has broad backing of the crossbench, Traditional Owners, farmers and a range of climate and environmental organisations (including Doctors for the Environment). It is a straightforward change to the EPBC Act that could happen swiftly. You can view my speech here.
Standing up for Mackellar’s public health services:
During a grievance debate in Canberra last week, I expressed our community’s concern over the lack of public healthcare services in Mackellar. As somebody who worked as a GP and as an emergency doctor in the area for many years, I share people’s concern about the loss of public healthcare services across the Northern Beaches.
Eighteen months ago, the State Government announced that funding had been allocated for an urgently needed adolescent mental health ward at the Northern Beaches Hospital. Yet still there is not even a timeline for the establishment of this inpatient service. I am working with local State MPs and the State Mental Health Minister Rose Jackson, to press forward on this issue.
If you would like to add your voice to the call for the urgent establishment of the promised adolescent mental health ward - please Sign Petition here.
We have also lost important public health services from Mackellar including the newly completed public dental clinic and the drug and alcohol rehabilitation service which were both located at the old Mona Vale Hospital site.
As cost-of-living pressures bite, these public health services are more important than ever, so as well as delivering a speech in Parliament to highlight the issue, I also met with the Federal Minister for Health to relay our community’s concern about the loss of such important health services in our region.
Plastic pollution in our waterways:
When I meet with school kids, so often a major concern for them is plastic pollution in our oceans and waterways. After speaking with students from Pittwater House and Barrenjoey Montessori School during their excursions to Parliament House last week, I took on board the issues they raised and asked the Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek during question time, what action the Federal Government is currently taking to reduce plastic pollution on our beaches and in our oceans. You can watch it here.
As your community independent, I am answerable to you, the community. It’s crucial that I hear from you so I can raise your concerns when I am in parliament. Please call or email my office at [email protected] if you have an issue or question that you would like to raise with me.
Motion to help reduce the cost-of-living crisis by investing in the clean energy transition:
There’s no doubt cost-of-living is one of the toughest issues facing Australians today. Governments such as the US, UK, EU and Canada are taking bold steps to simultaneously tackle both the cost-of-living crisis and the great existential crisis of our times, climate change. I introduced a motion in Parliament urging the Australian Government to do the same.
The United States’ Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has attracted well over a trillion dollars in private investment and does a number of things. One is to subsidise the electrification of households and businesses so more people benefit from cheaper clean energy. The IRA also aims to take advantage of the ongoing global energy transition by investing heavily in high tech manufacturing and innovation in the clean tech sector, so that the US becomes a world leader in the industries and jobs of the future.
I am urging the Australian Government to follow suit as so many of our major trading partners already have done.
If the pandemic and the war in Ukraine taught us anything, it is that we need to invest in and build our capacity to manufacture and value add onshore. If we don’t act now to diversify and future proof our economy to benefit from the well paid high-tech jobs in the clean energy sector – we will simply be left behind. Urging the Government to respond to the US’s IRA will remain a top priority of mine going forwards.
View my speech here.
Fire Season Community Forum:
Emergency Leaders for Climate Action have warned politicians across the country to prepare for a severe bushfire season this spring and summer, including here on the Northern Beaches. See here.
On Tuesday 10th October, I hosted a community forum at Glen St Theatre to help inform the community to the increased bushfire and heatwave risk. The forum informed households how they can prepare for the summer ahead and what they can do to reduce their own impact on climate change by electrifying their homes.
I would like to thank the expert panellists who joined me for an informative discussion, Greg Mullins AO (Former Commissioner Fire and Rescue NSW), Dr Simon Bradshaw (Climate Scientist) and Tim Buckley (Energy Economist)
I would also like to say a huge shout out to the representatives from the Rural Fire Service, Fire and Rescue NSW, State Emergency Service NSW, Australian Red Cross, Sydney Wildlife Rescue, Electrify Mackellar and Go Solar Mackellar who held stalls on the night to answer questions and provide practical local advice.
Now more than ever critical volunteer run services such as the RFS and Emergency Services need your support. Consider signing up to volunteer and join a community of wonderful people.
You can catch up on the event here.
Read more about Emergency Leaders for Climate Action here.
Click here for The RFS Australia Fire Season Outlook 2023/24.
Sports Grants Presentation:
Congratulations to the over 80 young athletes from across Mackellar who were recently awarded Local Para Champion and Local Sporting Champion grants by the Australian Sports Commission. These grants assist with the financial costs of participating in state, national or international competitions, and we were delighted to host over 25 of these inspiring teens and their families at the presentation afternoon tea on Wednesday 27 September 2023 at North Narrabeen Surf Life Saving Club.
It was wonderful to talk to so many eager young sports people enjoying their sport and making great friends along the way. It was inspiring to hear of their dedication, drive and resilience.
Thanks again to North Narrabeen SLSC for generously allowing these young sports people and their families to enjoy their clubhouse on the beautiful afternoon for the event.
Raise Mentoring Program Graduations:
Whilst I was away at Parliament last week, members of my office represented me at several local schools for the graduation ceremonies of the 2023 Raise mentoring program. Raise is a volunteer programme that provides early intervention for young people to address social issues they face and empower them with lifelong skills and community support.
My team said they were blown away by the incredibly inspiring and emotional recounts given by both the young people and their mentors about how the programme had helped them. It’s clear both the students and mentors have benefited enormously.
Congratulations to all the graduates and thank you to the volunteer mentors who commit to and make such a difference to young people’s lives.
Raise is a great way to give back to young people in our community and has an extensive training program and established support system. So if you would like to get involved as a mentor please click here to find out more about it.
Small business grant application workshop:
October is Small Business Month in NSW and with small business and enterprises being such a major part of Mackellar’s economy we wanted to do something to directly support the sector. A grant application workshop was run by our Business Engagement Coordinator. Through the workshop, business owners gained insights into available grants and upskilled in grant application writing.
If you missed the presentation it is now available on our website along with supporting documents here and here.
In response to many requests, we will be hosting another grant application workshop, this time for community groups and non-for-profit organisations. It will be held Monday December 4, at 6.30pm. Register here to secure a spot.
Small business, big heart:
Last Friday I visited the Freshwater Farm soap factory in Cromer to celebrate the presentation of their $50 000 donation to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF). Freshwater Farm is a wonderful example of a local family business with a big heart.
Freshwater Farm collaborated with local Worimi artist Brittney Paulson to design a limited-edition soap range, all to raise money for this important cause. ILF is a grassroots, national charity that partners with remote indigenous communities across Australia to improve the literacy rates in a way that suits each individual community.
The Give Hub – Christmas Box Drive :
After great success last year, we are once again participating in The Give Hub Christmas hamper drive as a drop off point for boxes. We will be collecting them until December 1st.
For this coming Christmas, The Give Hub has partnered with 25 different charities to distribute boxes of non-perishable food and other goods to families in need. This year, as we face extreme cost-of-living pressures, this campaign is especially important.
You can contact my office to collect a branded box and an instruction sheet, which will have a list of recommended items to include. Simply fill the box with items on the list including some Christmas treats, then return it to my office (or any of the nearby locations listed).
I look forward to our community coming together again, to make Christmas happier for many families.
School Student Broadband Initiative:
To support students that do not have access to internet at home, the Australian Government and National Broadband Network (NBN) have introduced the School Student Broadband Initiative (SSBI). This initiative will provide up to 30,000 free NBN connections until the end of 2025 to families in need who have school age children and are not connected to the internet.
If you would like to apply for your family or know of a family who may be suitable for the SSBI please let my office know via email at [email protected] and our team can make a referral to the NBN to access this initiative.
Have Your Say
Mental health beds:
Thank you for the strong support of the petition calling on the Northern Beaches Hospital (NBH) to establish the promised 4 bed, acute adolescent mental health ward.
In 2022, the former NSW Government allocated $7.5 million to establish a specialised youth mental health ward at the Northern Beaches Hospital. This was a response to a growing community need. More than 18 months later, the beds are nowhere near being delivered. After reaching out to the hospital on many occasions our office has yet to receive a timeline for the establishment of the ward. It’s time to act as a community.
We have collected close to 1,000 signatures already. Please keep them coming.
To sign the petition click here.
Lizard Rock submissions:
The NSW State Government is now accepting public submissions on the Patyegarang (Lizard Rock) Planning Proposal. The proposal does not have the support of the Northern Beaches Council, local state MPs or myself as the Federal MP. I wholeheartedly support the intent of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act but I cannot condone this particular proposal due to the extreme risks and impacts it presents.
As the council states on their website ‘The proposed development will see the destruction of 45 football fields worth of bushland and the construction of 450 homes in bushfire prone land.’
Now is the time to have your say on the matter. Submissions are open until Tuesday November 7. Make a submission here.
Sophie in the Media
The Canberra Times
The Tawny Frogmouth
The Today Show