News from Murphy Street - 14 February
Posted February 21, 2014
Back in Parliament this week and what a hectic four days it turned out to be.
“Cathy and a few of the team were back in Canberra this week for the first sitting week of 2014. Parliament kindly eased them into it with a three day sitting week (a typical sitting week is four days) but that didn’t stop Cathy from making a big splash.
The first official function of the week was dinner for all parliamentarians at the Governor General’s house. Cathy reports that she had a nice time catching up with some of her parliamentary colleagues.
Tuesday started with an Ecumenical Service at St Pauls Anglican Church in Canberra to commemorate the commencement of Parliament in 2014. The rest of the morning was filled with meetings with various groups such as AGL, Australian Private Hospitals Association and the Future Farmers network.
Question time was pretty rowdy as usual with the opposition and government trying to blame the other for Toyota’s unfortunate decision to pull out of Australia in 2017.
One of the highlights of the week was attending the Prime Minister’s report on Closing the Gap.
On Thursday, Cathy gave her 10 minute speech in the Federation Chamber on the progress that organisations are making in Indi towards achieving the Closing the Gap targets. You can watch it here.
This fulfilled a commitment Cathy made during the election to acknowledge Indi’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Parliament.
Another important speech during the week was the constituency statement where she informed the house about the 2009 Fires Memorial in Kinglake last Friday.
(You can read Cathy’s remarks recorded in Hansard, the official transcript of the Parliament of Australia here.)
The highlight meeting of that day was with Caroline from the YWCA and the Equality Rights alliance and she came armed with stats specific to our electorate.
Catherine is trying to bring some attention to the big issue of the high number of single women in Australia who do not own the house they live in, and are at risk of homelessness, and Cathy is looking forward to working with her on this issue.
When we arrived on Monday a letter was waiting for Cathy, inviting her to attend Clive Palmer’s speech at the National Press Club on Wednesday, and she went along to hear Mr Palmer speak about electoral reform.
During Question Time Cathy that day, asked a question to Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce:
You can view it here and while he didn’t answer the question completely, he did confirm that this funding will be in the 2014/15 budget to be delivered in May. This is good news for the future of research and development in agriculture, a big area of interest and work for Cathy.
Wednesday also saw the house vote on a number of bills.
This week Cathy voted with the government on all balls except the Migration Amendment. This bill proposes that following:
- Any decision on review by Minister or delegate (Refugee Review Tribunal or Administrative Appeals Tribunal or other) in regards to visa refusal, visa cancellation or visa revocation is final from the moment it is made, not when it is communicated to the visa applicant.
- No one can reapply for a protection visa once rejected unless they leave the migration zone and return. Previously one could reapply under other criteria.
- No one will be granted a protection visa if ASIO assesses them as a direct or indirect security risk. This cannot be appealed. Previously could be appealed through Refugee Review Tribunal or Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
Cathy, Adam Bandt and Andrew Wilkie were the only members of the parliament to vote against this bill.
Finally, Cathy headed off to the British High Commission with her fellow parliamentarians to have a BBQ with the High Commission’s staff. She met with a number of staff there, who are keen to come and visit Indi soon. They are keen to go camping in the electorate so if you know of any good camping spots, let the office know.
Cathy also made a 10 minute speech in the Federation Chamber on the progress that organisations in Indi are making towards achieving the Closing the Gap targets. You can watch it here.
Anyway, this wrap up has gone on for way too long, but as you can see, even short weeks in Canberra are packed with lots of interesting stuff, and I don’t think I’ve even managed to include everything here.
Whilst it was my first week here and I was learning lots, Cathy has certainly settled into the busy, ever changing place that is the Parliament of Australia.
As we learn all the different facets of the parliamentary process, we also learn how we can best take advantage of these processes in order to get the best outcomes for the people of Indi.
In a change of pace this week, Cathy is back in the Wangaratta office and on Monday is meeting again with the Indi BlackSpots Local Government Committee to discuss this issue in dire need of solutions in the electorate.
Next weekend, Cathy is off to the NAB Cup match between Collingwood and Richmond and can’t wait to see the sea of black, white and yellow at Wangaratta Show Grounds, and is also getting a taste of the outdoors in North East with the Donate Life bike ride at Lake Hume and Fun Run in Wangaratta.”