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Safeguarding our children's health

This week in Parliament I tabled my Health Kids Advertising Bill 2023, which aims to protect children from junk food marketing by removing ads from TV and radio between the hours of 6am and 930pm. The Bill would also place an outright ban on junk food marketing on social media and other online environments. As a former GP and emergency room doctor, I am compelled to act due to the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity and chronic disease, with obesity estimated to cost the health system $11.8 billion every year. Many Mackellar parents have also raised concerns about the predatory targeting of their children by junk food companies. Read more below.

I welcomed the passage of The Constitution Alteration (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice) Bill 2023, which finalised the question Australians will be asked at the upcoming referendum later this year on establishing a Voice to Parliament, as well as the amendment to the Constitution, should the referendum be successful. View my speech on this. I’d love you to join the conversation at my Voice to Parliament Community Forum on July 26. Please register here to come along.

First hearing of the Diabetes Inquiry held this week

I have also joined the Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport to preside over the Inquiry into Diabetes in Australia, which aims to better understand the broader impacts of diabetes on Australia’s health system and economy, and recent advances in the prevention and management of disease. Diabetes is the world’s fastest growing health condition, currently impacting approximately 1.3 million Australians. For further information or to make a submission view here.

On Sunday I was honoured to host the President of the Tibetan Government-in- Exile Penpa Tsering (the Sikyong) along with the Australia Tibet Council. As many of you know, Mackellar is home to the largest Tibetan community in Australia. It was wonderful to welcome the Sikyong to Mackellar and hear how we can support the Tibetan community. Read more below.

Locally, there are many opportunities to take part in and have your say, including a Net Zero Expo featuring Saul Griffith, a forum on local bus services, and some wonderful initiatives to support our community. Read on to find out more!

Dr Sophie 

Canberra Matters

Healthy Kids Advertising Bill 2023

We know our children are exposed to over 800 junk food ads on TV alone every year, and that there is a direct link between those ads and childhood obesity. The current restrictions are not strong enough, and self-regulation is just not working. Right now a quarter of our children are already on the path to chronic disease because they are over the healthy weight range. If we stand by and allow our kids to be deluged by junk food ads every time they go on social media or watch TV, then we are failing them. It’s time to regulate junk food advertising, which is why I am introducing my Healthy Kids Advertising Bill. Approximately 40 countries around the world, including the UK, Ireland, Chile and Norway already have, or are planning to regulate junk food advertising. I want to see Australia join this list. View my speech here.

Calling for a Citizen’s Assembly on Housing

Housing affordability and availability is one of the biggest issues facing our country right now – including in Mackellar where many people, especially younger generations, are being priced out of owning their own home. We need new ideas and solutions, and that’s why I’ve joined my crossbench colleagues to call for a new way of dealing with this crisis, proposing a Citizens’ Assembly on Housing. The Citizens’ Assembly model has been used effectively around the world to address difficult issues. View my media statement here.

Stronger regulation on harmful product marketing

I’ve joined a team of crossbenchers who have united to push the Government to legislate stronger regulation on the marketing of harmful products. Whether you’re online or watching broadcast TV, Australians are being bombarded with promotions for products - such as gambling, junk food and alcohol - that are harmful to our health. All too often it is our children who are being targeted by these ads. My Private Member’s Bill to regulate junk food advertising sits under this umbrella and urgent action needs to be taken. View my media release here

Question Time: Whistleblower prosecution and migration report

I asked Defence Minister Richard Marles MP if he agreed that it is not right that whistleblower David McBride is the first person to face trial for Australia's war crimes in Afghanistan and not an alleged war criminal. View my question here.

I also questioned the Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil MP why the Government missed its promised deadline to release the Nixon Report into Australia’s migration system. When you have a system that the Minister herself agrees is being used for ‘human trafficking and sexual slavery’, it is critical that urgent steps are taken to fix it. Australians have a right to know the outcome of the Nixon investigation. View the full Q&A here.

Calling out rorting of health funds by the Morrison Government

The Morrison Government’s latest rorting of health funds shows how important integrity reforms such as my Ending Jobs for Mates Bill are to the transparency and effective functioning of our government. As a doctor, it sickened me to read the findings of the Australian National Audit Office review into the handling of the Morrison-era $2 billion Community Health and Hospitals Program, and how the former Government politicised healthcare for political gain. We need a legislated and transparent framework for the allocation of major grant funding programs. View media release here.

Mackellar Matters

Meeting with Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland MP

Progressing Cottage Point communications

I met with the Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland and spoke in Parliament to expedite the installation of the much-needed mobile phone base station for Cottage Point, which has been years in the making. On my request the Minister has spoken with Optus and Telstra executive leadership, including the Optus CEO and requested projects updates, to ensure the project happens as expeditiously as possible. The Cottage Point community has waited far too long for reliable mobile phone coverage and internet access. This is a matter of community safety. View my speech.

Supporting the Tibetan community

It was a privilege to welcome the Sikyong Penpa Tsering to Mackellar on Sunday along with members of Mackellar's Tibetan community. The Sikyong spoke of the challenges faced by Tibet, including the ongoing occupation and the environmental degradation. There's a population of around two billion people that are supplied by  river systems that flow out of the Himalayas, so reports that these rivers are being dammed with multiple megadams is an issue for water security for these people into the future. We also heard of Tibet's Stolen Generation, where around one million Tibetan children have been mandatorily removed from their families and are being raised in Chinese Government-run boarding schools. During his address, the Sikyong also discussed the importance of the passing of the Voice to Parliament for our First Nations peoples. 

Congratulations local recipients of King’s Birthday Honours

Wonderful news and huge congratulations to the Mackellar residents who received King’s Birthday Honours. You are amazing, your service and sacrifice to our community and the nation is greatly appreciated. The Medal of the Order of Australia was awarded to Julie Emerson, for significant service to the community through a range of roles, and Dr Dennis Sundin, for significant service to medicine and hockey. A Public Service Medal was also awarded to Daniel Leavy, for outstanding public service through improving vehicle and road safety across the NSW road network.

Out and About

Commemorating the 10 Baha'i women of Shiraz

The 18th June 2023 marked 40 years since the execution of 10 women of Baha’i faith by the Iranian regime - the women of Shiraz. I was grateful to be invited to be a part of this important commemoration service at the Baha’i House of Worship. It is important to never forget their sacrifice and also support today's women of Iran who continue to fight for equality, justice and freedom. Read my speech in Parliament

Local archer to represent Australia in Youth Championship

What a thrill to spend some time with Maja Kecskés, an incredibly talented young athlete from Dee Why who has been chosen to represent Australia at the World Youth Archery Championships in Ireland this July. It’s an incredible sport requiring physical and mental strength. Maja is relying on crowdfunding for her travel and accommodation. It’s young ambitious people like Maja that represent Mackellar with such pride so let’s help her out on her journey and get her on the plane to Ireland!

View Maja’s Go Fund Me page.

Celebrating anniversary of Independence of the Philippines

The Filipino community certainly knows how to celebrate! I was delighted to join our vibrant local Filipino community to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the independence of the Philippines. It was an uplifting celebration, thank you so much to the Filipino Catholic Organisations of Sydney North Shore for the invitation to celebrate with you.

BE Centre Foundation: Supporting families with Play Therapy

In the heart of Mackellar, Be Centre Foundation provides healing through play therapy, empowering children who are experiencing emotional, social or behavioural challenges or who have experienced trauma. Thank you to the Be Centre team for inviting me to learn about and experience the vital work you do in supporting children and families.

Upcoming Events

Voice to Parliament Community Forum - Register Now!

Please join me in a panel discussion to learn more about the Voice referendum. This is a great opportunity for our community to come together and understand more about the Voice, why it is needed, and how it will help improve lives. Join me in conversation with special guests: Rachel Perkins, Director & Producer of The Australia Wars, Director and Co-Chair of Yes23, Craig Foster AM & Jeff McMullen AM as part of the national conversation about reconciling our past and our future as a nation. The Forum will be held at Pittwater RSL on Wednesday July 26, 6:45pm – 8:30pm, register here to attend.

Net Zero Expo - Register Now!

Join me in conversation with scientist, inventor and author Saul Griffith at next month’s ‘The Life Electric’ event, as we discuss our journey to electrification and achieving net zero. Sponsored by the Avalon Palm Beach Business Chamber, the event will feature stalls with information on residential, multi-tenant and commercial solar, EV ownership, electric bikes, renewable energy and more exciting initiatives for living lightly on our precious planet. Also enjoy live music, a drink or afternoon tea on Sunday 30 July from 2:30pm-6pm at Avalon Recreation Centre. Register here.

Mt Everest climb for spinal cord research

In December this year Mackellar’s own Jay Stevens will be attempting to become the first paraplegic to walk 130km to Mt Everest Base Camp with leg braces and walking sticks. Despite being told he would never walk again after he was paralysed in a serious helicopter crash, Jay defied the odds and took his first steps again three and half years ago. He has now set his sights on Mt Everest to raise money for the Wings For Life World Run Project, whose mission is to support research to find a cure for spinal cord injuries. You can purchase tickets to Jay’s fundraiser at North Curl Curl Surf Club on Saturday 24 June or by making a donation via his website here.

Have Your Say

Community forum: Local bus services

Provide input to improve our local bus services at the Bus Passenger Forum at Dee Why RSL on Saturday 24 June. This community event is hosted by the Bus Industry Taskforce, a NSW Government initiative to make recommendations to improve the reliability, quality and effectiveness of bus services across NSW. Register your interest in attending the forum here.

Northern Beaches Draft Tree Canopy Plan

The Northern Beaches Council (NBC) has developed their Draft Tree Canopy Plan 2023 to guide future policy, planning and improvements in the management of the local tree canopy over the next four years. Our tree canopy contributes to the liveability of the Northern Beaches, providing protection from over-exposure to UV radiation, improves air quality, cools local environments and supports wildlife habitat. Submissions close Sunday 9 July 2023. For further information or to make a submission view here.

Inquiry: Artificial intelligence in the Australian education system

The House Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training is seeking input on issues and opportunities presented by generative AI and the potential impacts on the education system, from early childhood education and schools to the higher education sector. Submissions close 14 July 2023. For further information or to make a submission view here.

Push Up Challenge for Mental Health

Finally, I’m ‘pushing’ for better mental health as I join the crossbench team, ‘Not the Pushovers,’ in the Lifeline Push Up Challenge. Throughout June, myself, Allegra Spender, Zoe Daniel, Kylea Tink, Dr Monique Ryan, Kate Chaney, Dai Le and Zali Steggall. will be tallying up a total number of 3,144 push-ups each! All funds raised go towards mental health and crisis support services. If you can, please donate here. Check out our team’s push-up form here.

Sophie in the Media

ABC News

June 19

Junk food advertising aimed at children the target of proposed law designed to tackle childhood obesity

The Australian

June 19
Junk food advertising causing 'tsunami' of chronic disease


June 19

Teal push for new junk food advertising ban


June 16

Sophie Scamps' first year as the new doctor in the House

The New Daily
June 7
Morrison government grants are still providing shock and outrage

June 7
Independent federal MPs claim poor culture in the wake of review into Coalition government's health scheme

The Guardian

June 6
Alcohol industry lobbyists misrepresented evidence in bid to influence Australian policy, study finds

ABC Sydney Radio

June 5

Sarah McDonald interview:

World Environment Day & call to stop logging of native forests

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.