After a week of debating some big issues in Canberra, I think it's safe to say that the new year of parliamentary sittings is well under way.
Earlier in the week, I wrote to Treasurer Jim Chalmers, asking him to allocate funding in the 2024-25 Federal Budget to our community's priorities. Based on the many conversations that my team and I have had with local councils, community groups, organisations and residents, I have asked for federal funding for the maintenance and improvement of local reserves and vantage points; investment in local research institutes and performing arts venues; and development of much-needed sporting facilities to meet demand as our population grows.
I have also made the case for the government to fund organisations that provide help to those who need it, including women and children impacted by domestic violence (via Mary’s House and the Staying Home Leaving Violence Program), and young people right across North Sydney (via youth mentoring organisation Streetwork). And I called for investments in reducing both carbon emissions and household costs, such as clean energy incentives and the introduction of Fuel Efficiency Standards. You can read North Sydney's pre-budget submission in full here.
The Stage 3 Tax Cuts continue to be a key focus in Canberra and on Wednesday, I once again raised the need for holistic reform, including potential alternatives to personal income tax. Australia's over-reliance on income tax hampers productivity and is unsustainable as the population ages. It's time for us to challenge the status quo and pursue better outcomes for all Australian people by winding back fossil fuel subsidies, taxing windfall gas profits and ensuring big businesses are paying their fair share.
Many in our community have expressed concern for animals on the MV Bahijah, a live export ship that has been stranded at sea for the past month with 15,000 sheep and cattle on board. Based on your feedback, I supported a motion by Member for Clark, Andrew Wilkie MP, to bring the animals onshore into quarantine and commit to a timeline to ending live exports. We can and must act to reduce animal suffering now, while also ensuring that this doesn't happen again.
Whilst in Canberra I also had a number of important discussions about the ongoing conflict in the Gaza, including with the PM, the Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. In each instance the conversations not only focused on the provision of humanitarian aid, but also on the welfare of those still being held hostage by Hamas, the innocent lives lost as a result of the conflict, and the urgent need to do all we can to offer protection to those under direct threat and advocate for peace.
The polarisation of views across our community is of huge concern to me and I am particularly worried about the increasing reports of racism in all its forms. While I will continue to push the Government to prioritise humanitarian outcomes in Gaza, I would ask everyone to please be mindful of the impact our words have on those around us. Spreading hate helps no one. Everyone — regardless of faith, racial background, sexuality or gender —deserves to feel safe and respected here in North Sydney.
I will be back at home in North Sydney this weekend and am looking forward to participating in Lunar New Year celebrations in Lane Cove this evening, and getting out and about this weekend. Happy Lunar New Year to all celebrating. May the year of the dragon bring joy and prosperity to you and your loved ones.