Parliament resumed sitting last week after the winter recess and I think it’s fair to say we came back with a bang.
There’s another huge week in store this week
A Duty of Care
I introduced my first Private Senator’s Bill, the Climate Change Amendment (Duty of Care and Intergenerational Equity) Bill 2023.
More than 5,000 people have signed up to support legislating a duty of care to consider the impact of climate harm on young people and future generations.
You can sign the petition and give support to the bill at adutyofcare.com.
You can watch the press conference here.
Thanks to all the young Canberrans and their parents who came along to show support of the bill.
You will soon be able to make a submission to the senate inquiry into the Duty of Care Bill. I’ll let you know how to do so in my next email.
We will also be running events in the community to hear feedback on the bill, and give everyone a chance to show support. Sign up at adutyofcare.com to make sure you’re kept in the loop.
I’m also be introducing my second private Senator’s Bill so stay tuned!
Day of Action Against Middle Arm - tomorrow
One of the main reasons we need a legislated duty of care is because, contrary to the advice of experts - whether they be climate scientists, the IPCC, the International Energy Agency, or even our health professionals - governments continue to approve projects that will cause material harm to current and future generations.
A perfect case in point is the Middle Arm petrochemical plant on Darwin harbour. Despite the government hype, this project will be used to enable fracking of the Beetaloo Basin. And it will be paid for in part with $1.5 bn of your taxpayer money.
I understand and respect the NT Government’s desire to deliver economic prosperity for the Territory. But a strong economy doesn’t count for much when where you’re living is uninhabitable, as scientists are warning much of the NT will become.
Locals are worried. Deeply worried.
And a project like Beetaloo - 500 trillion cubic feet of gas - will impact all of us. That’s the equivalent to over 3000 years of household use in Australia.
That’s why we are standing in solidarity and holding a day of action against Middle Arm tomorrow, Tuesday 8 August.
A grassroots delegation of almost 100 doctors and other healthcare providers from the NT, ACT and around the country will descend on Parliament House tomorrow.
Peak medical bodies are supporting the movement, including the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the Australian Medical Association ACT, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, and the Australian College of Emergency Medicine.
They will show politicians their open letter, signed by almost 2,500 health professionals and around 10,000 people in total, which details concerns that Middle Arm will create the world’s next “Cancer Alley” in Darwin. You can read more here and join us at the events below:
- Public rally, 8 - 9am Tuesday 8 May, Federation Mall, Parliament House RSVP
- Politics in the Pub, 7pm - 8.30pm, Verity Lane Market, Civic RSVP
A vision for Canberra
This week I launched a vision for Canberra. It brings together a year’s worth of consultation and research into what greater Commonwealth investment in Canberra could make possible for our city’s future. I released this ‘vision for Canberra’ in a speech to the Canberra Region Tourism Advisory Forum at the convention centre on Tuesday and launched an accompanying website that showcases these ideas.
Members of our local community and key organisations have been calling for more investment in Canberra and a long-term plan commensurate with both our status as the nation’s capital and also reflective of the fact that the ACT is the fastest growing jurisdiction in the country. We have suffered from decades of underinvestment and consistently receive below our per-capita share of Commonwealth infrastructure investment.
Two weeks ago, the Prime Minister and Chief Minister announced the Federal government would be partnering with the ACT government in a new partnership agreement, the National Capital Investment Framework. This new framework and partnership is exactly what we have been calling for and can go some way to addressing the historic underspend in Canberra. The consultation and research we’ve been doing – and now sharing on the visionforcanberra.com website – is about making sure it meets our community’s expectations and delivers on what our city needs.
This site is intended as a living document and I’d love your feedback, so please consider checking it out here and using the form on the website to share your thoughts.
We will incorporate all the feedback we receive into a big ‘ask’ in a pre-budget submission I’ll be making toward the back end of this year to inform decisions made in the 2024-25 Federal Budget.
On Tuesday I also hosted a briefing with 19 experts from frontline services and advocacy organisations across Australia, attended by 13 key members of the crossbench. We had an impressive lineup, with special counsel who’ve worked on groundbreaking strategic litigation, the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, frontline specialist services organisations, UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency), medical specialists and leading refugee protection lawyers. And of course, our very own Kathy Ragless AM from Companion House here in Canberra.
The way we manage people coming to Australia seeking safety and protection has been the subject of really politicised debate for many years. It’s complex, because we do need to have an orderly system - but we can’t keep doing things that break people, or that involve indefinite detention. We also can’t keep spending enormous amounts of taxpayer’s money in ways that aren’t transparent and accountable to Australians.
With most of Australia’s experts around the table (including quite a few with lived experience), we discussed the short term urgent policy actions that need to be taken to ensure a compassionate approach to people seeking asylum. We also went into detail about the longer term strategic approaches that our government must take to ensure people aren’t forced to cross our borders without visas to try to access protection. I plan to use this advice, along with the views of the Canberrans I hear from every day, to inform how I vote on this policy area as it unfolds.
Sexual violence on campus
On Wednesday I was proud to stand with university students from across Canberra to help launch the STOP Campaign’s #IDeserveSafety Campaign in partnership with End Rape On Campus Australia, Fair Agenda Australia, and the National Union of Students.
Students from across the country are calling on the Government to implement a national taskforce to hold universities accountable for their responses to sexual violence.
The 2017 Australian Human Rights Commission Change the Course report highlighted the seriousness of this issue, and yet according to the latest National Student Safety Survey data from 2021, 275 students are assaulted in university settings every week. This is unacceptable and demands an urgent response from government.
Following the media, Education Minister Jason Clare met with the STOP campaign delegation the following day and has established a working group.
There is huge scope to properly address this persistent and damaging issue as part of the University Accord process and it’s something I will continue to push.
Supporting the Restoring Trust Bill
Today I stood alongside the Member for Curtin, Kate Chaney MP and other crossbench colleagues as she introduced her first Private Member’s Bill about restoring trust in elections. It tackles donation reform and truth in political advertising.
Lieutenant Colonel Vivian Bullwinkel AO MBE Sculpture Dedication
Early on Wednesday morning, a sculpture of Vivian Bullwinkel was dedicated as the first woman commemorated with a sculpture at the Australian War Memorial.
Vivian Billwinkel was the sole survivor of the 1942 Banka Island massacre. After being shot and wounded, she survived three and a half years in captivity, before returning home to continue her work as a nurse.
I was privileged to attend the dedication ceremony and hear about her incredible resilience, selflessness and service.
Work experience at the office
Over the past couple of months, I’ve been lucky to have a few brilliant young people doing work experience in my electorate office, and in Parliament House.
A huge thank you to Isabel, Amelia, Ed and James. I enjoyed working with them on how I can better understand and connect with young Canberrans. Hopefully they had a great time too.
I look forward to welcoming more work experience students into the office in coming months.
National housing and homelessness week
In my role as Co-Chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Housing, I’m supporting a number of events across the parliament for National Homelessness Week.
In particular, I’ll be hosting a delegation of eight older women who will be meeting with parliamentarians to talk about their lived experience and the specific challenges this cohort faces when it comes to finding safe, affordable accommodation.
Our next Town Hall is taking place in Tuggeranong on Sunday 20 August at 3pm. The cost of living is consistently raised with me as the most pressing issue across the ACT - and the entire country - at the moment. People are overwhelmed and feel their emotional, mental and physical health deteriorating because of it.
So I’m looking forward to having Alan Kirkland, the CEO of CHOICE, joining me as our guest this time around to discuss what can be done to help support our community through this crisis.
As usual, we will open it up to questions and input from the floor.
Suburb Zero will put on a fundraising BBQ from 2.30pm - accompanied by Kirsten Duncan from Make the Switch with an induction cooktop demo - before proceedings kick off at 3pm. We’ll wrap up at 4.30pm. If you haven’t already,, don’t forget to sign the Suburb Zero Survey!
I’d love to see you there. You can find more details and RSVP on my website.
On 13 August 2023, I’m heading back out to Vince Heffernan’s farm, Moorlands, to help him and the others plant trees. Vince and his family have planted over 60,000 trees over the last few decades and he has been working with the ANU to plan plantings for superb parrots (a favourite to hear and see around Canberra!) that includes 5,500 trees over a few weekends.
I would love to see you out at the farm for what will be a great day out. We will start at 9am, and will keep planting until early in the afternoon. ABC radio will be coming and broadcasting at the farm from 10am to 12pm.
You can RSVP here. Vince’s farm is about 1.5hr from Gungahlin Town Centre, and the team is happy to try and arrange carpooling and other transport options. Get in touch by calling the EO on 6247 3177.
The referendum is going to be a defining moment in our nation's history. We are all responsible for understanding what is going to be asked of us later this year.
If you haven’t had the chance to watch the recording of my Referendum and Voice to Parliament Night with Aunty Pat Anderson, Professor Megan Davis and local Ngunnawal Elder, Aunty Violet Sheridan, you can watch it here.
If you’d like to attend an event in person, there are a number of different events you can engage with. If you would like to sign up to volunteer for the Voice, you can do so here.
University of Canberra Voice to Parliament Forum - Please join BGL's First Nations Team as we welcome Professor Kim Rubenstein, James Blackwell (ANU) and third year law student, Tara Sanderson, for our rescheduled panel discussion on the Voice to Parliament on 8 August 2023, Chaired by Associate Professor Cristy Clark. Learn more here.
Indigenous Voice to Parliament: A Panel Discussion - In this panel discussion by ANU Indigenous Alumnus 2020 Prof. Asmi Wood, Kim Rubenstein, Professor in Law at the University of Canberra, and Wiradyuri academic James Blackwell, they will share their knowledge and expertise about the Uluru Statement From the Heart and constitutional reform. Learn more here.
UC's Voice to Parliament Lecture Series: Closing the Gap with Pat Turner - Join us for the second lecture in UC's Voice to Parliament series, where Pat Turner AM will talk about the Voice and Closing the Gap.
Pat is the daughter of an Arrernte man and a Gurdanji woman and was raised in Alice Springs. As CEO of NACCHO, she is at the forefront of community efforts to Close the Gap in health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Learn more here.
Voice to Parliament Lecture Series: Ngunnawal Lecture with Thomas Mayo and Shane Howard - The 2023 Ngunnawal Lecture will be the third lecture in UC's Voice to Parliament Lecture series. Join us for a night of song and story! Featuring Thomas Mayo and Shane Howard, this lecture will bring the story and the significance of the Uluru Statement and the Referendum to life through stories, music and celebration. Hosted by Pro Vice Chancellor Indigenous Leadership, Professor Maree Meredith. Learn more here.
Voice Yarns with the Australian Education Union - Gungahlin - We’re excited to invite you to our Voice Yarns, a series of casual catch-ups starting on the 14th of August. As part of our campaign for a YES on a Voice to Parliament, we’ll be hosting these gatherings every Monday at different locations across all districts of Canberra. Learn more here.
Linked Hands for Yes - Yes23 volunteers are invited to be part of a unique Canberra community event aiming to bring 1500 people together to link arms along a 1.5km line on Saturday 26 August from 11.45am to show our support for YES to the Voice. A range of sporting, church, environment and community groups are participating as well as general members of the community. Yes23 volunteers from all over Canberra will gather together and participate as a group, wearing our T-shirts and holding corflutes. Learn more here.
And finally a shout out to the Matildas for tonight. We’ll all be watching them rip in.