Issues with the Safeguard Mechanism
I spoke in Parliament on 21 March on the Labor Government’s Safeguard Mechanism (Crediting) Amendment Bill 2022 and made the observation that it all sounded very similar to around a decade ago with the Carbon Tax. Again, Labor is looking to use a tax system rather than innovation to reduce emissions.
The Parkes electorate is already doing the heavy lifting when it comes to emissions reduction and clean industry – not the capital cities. Regional areas are where the bulk of these industries occur, and where the bulk of the cost will be felt if this Bill goes ahead.
Pushing industry offshore to countries like Indonesia where they don’t have the environmental standards that we do here in Australia is not a solution if you’re serious about global emissions reduction. It is very frustrating to me that the Labor Government wants to push premature, punitive policies onto industry instead of taking a practical, measured approach.
Uncertainty around the Inland Rail
I took the opportunity to make a statement on the Inland Rail in Parliament to remind the Minister for Infrastructure to continue the push for completion of this project. She has had the independent review of this project, the Schott Report, for weeks now and there’s starting to be a level of nervousness in the community.
People across the Parkes electorate have put a huge investment into the Inland Rail, and the completed section between Moree and Narrabri is already in full use. In fact, this section of rail was the only piece of infrastructure between Moree and Narrabri out of the water during recent floods.
This project is a game-changer for the inland, and I will continue to work with stakeholders, state and federal levels of government to get this done. I call on the Minister for Infrastructure to give my communities confidence and finish this project.
Voice to Parliament developments
On Wednesday 22 March the Senate passed an amendment to Australia’s referendum machinery laws, meaning the rules are now set as to how the Voice to Parliament referendum will be conducted. This includes the provision to all households of one pamphlet containing both “yes” and “no” arguments, and a copy of the proposed amendments to the constitution. There won’t be public funding for either side of the debate.
The proposed question has also been announced, with Australians to be asked whether they approve altering the Constitution to “recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice”.
Aged care staffing requirements
I have called on the Labor Government to immediately address whether they will require struggling aged care homes to meet rigid staffing requirements by July or risk closure.
Following the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety the Labor Government announced its Aged Care Reform as part of their 2022 election commitments. This included a requirement that all aged care homes must have a Registered Nurse on-site 24 hours a day 7 days a week from 1 July 2023.
Aged Care Minister Anika Wells has now acknowledged that the Government’s legislated policy is not deliverable due to the impacts of the workforce crisis, however vulnerable aged care homes remain in a state of uncertainty about what will happen to them if they cannot meet the current or any future deadlines imposed.
I am calling on the Labor Government to make a clear guarantee to aged care homes in the Parkes electorate that none of our aged care facilities will be closed either now or in the future as a result of unrealistic policy requirements.