Following extensive sittings of Federal Parliament in Canberra and hours of debate, the Government’s Senate voting reform bill has finally passed through the Parliament.
These reforms were vital and are designed to empower voters to have their preferences reflected in any Senate election, by improving the transparency of Senate voting arrangements.
The reforms include the introduction of optional preferential above the line voting, with advice to the voter on the ballot paper to vote above the line by numbering at least 6 of the boxes in the order of the voter’s choice (with the number 1 as the voter’s first choice).
As a supporter of our democratic rights in this country, I fully support these reforms and I am very pleased that the relevant legislation has been passed by Parliament.
I have heard a lot of concerns from local residents about the impacts proposed tax arrangements for Working Holiday Makers will have on local agricultural industry.
I understand the significant contribution of working holiday makers to the agricultural workforce and the positive impact backpackers can have on our local communities.
After significant lobbying by myself and my Nationals colleagues, I am pleased that the Government has now decided that the proposed tax arrangements for Working Holiday Makers requires further discussions.
The Minister for Tourism, Richard Colbeck will work through a whole of government process in close consultation with the Agriculture, Employment, Immigration, Regional Development, Industry, Treasury and Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolios to prepare a revenue neutral proposal. The proposal will be presented to the Treasurer for consideration by Cabinet.
I am certainly of the belief that changing the tax rate for these workers to 32.5 cents in every dollar will have an adverse effect on program participation rates. The key issue is to ensure we have a balanced and equitable approach to the tax status for workers here on visas, and the current proposal was far from that.
Monday 21 March marks Harmony Day; the day when we our country celebrates its magnificent cultural diversity.
Harmony Day is about inclusiveness, respect and a sense of belonging for everyone with this year’s theme being ‘our diversity is our strength’.
The Federal Electorate of Parkes is made up of people from many backgrounds with numerous local residents either born overseas or have at least one parent who was.
We have a successful history of settling people from all over the world and our community is stronger because of it. Harmony Day creates the opportunity to think about, discuss and recognise how our differences make our communities a great place to live.
There are many ways people can celebrate Harmony Day and the benefits of our cultural diversity. Organisations and communities across our region will come together with an event to celebrate Harmony Day and how we, as a community, benefit from diversity.
At the core, Harmony Day is about respect for and learning about others in our community with the day coinciding with the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
I encourage everyone to take place in local harmony day events this year and to reflect on how lucky we are to live in multicultural nation.