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Newsletter February 2022

FEBRUARY NEWSLETTER

Welcome to the February newsletter. We're approaching the end of the 46th Federal Parliament with an election likely to be called in the next month. Watch out for the spin and the scare tactics!

With just a few days left of Parliament this month, I'm disgusted we still haven't seen recommendations of the Aged Care Royal Commission implemented, nor have we seen the PM honour his commitment to establish a Federal ICAC.There's so much work to be done but sadly the Government is trying to kick these issues beyond the next election.

Read on to see how you can help me help South Australia by getting me back into the Senate.

Enjoy the newsletter.

Rex with former Navy power, electronic and communication technicians at the Port Adelaide Naval Association.

 

WE BEAT THE TREASURER!

 

The first thing I want to tell you about is the huge victory we had over Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. Over the Christmas break, Frydenberg sneakily introduced some legislation that would have stripped the rights of proxy advisers to provide their services to superannuation funds.

Proxy advisers advise superannuation funds on how to vote on issues impacting the re-election of company directors.

Board and directors are increasingly being taken to task by superannuation funds and other big institutional investors on a broad range of issues from CEO pay and climate change to sexual harassment and money laundering.

With the support of the Senate, my disallowance motion to overturn this dodgy regulation was successful. It was a great example of what the Senate can achieve, with the interests of everyday Australians at heart.

I hope this serves a lesson to Treasurer Frydenberg and the Liberal Party to stop making laws that benefit their big corporate mates and start governing for the little guy.

AGED CARE RESIDENTS STILL BEING NEGLECTED BY OUR GOVERNMENT

It's almost unbelievable that one year since the Royal Commission into Aged Care was tabled in Parliament, we still don't have its recommendations implemented. The Government has had ample opportunity to do this. They could have legislated my bill to have at least one registered nurse present in aged care homes 24/7, but they still refuse to act. This is just one important recommendation that would help ensure that aged care residents get the care and protection they need and deserve.

Meanwhile, the Aged Care Minister thought it appropriate to spend his time at the Ashes Test in Tasmania instead of attending an important Senate COVID-19 Committee hearing during one of the worst weeks in Australia’s aged care history.

Our elderly deserve better. I'll keep pushing for this in the remaining few days we have of Parliament, but getting these recommendations implemented must be an election issue that both major parties commit to. I'm committed to seeing the recommendations brought in, and will fight for this if elected in the next Parliament, no matter who is in Government.
 

NO FEDERAL ICAC LIKELY BEFORE THE NEXT ELECTION

In the most recent Senate session, I tried to get the Senate to debate and vote on a Federal ICAC bill put forward by myself and Independent lower house MP Dr Helen Haines. Disgracefully, Pauline Hanson's One Nation party sided with the Government to vote against the Senate even discussing such a bill! 

Given all the scandals we've seen over the last Parliament - sports rorts, car park rorts, dodgy water buybacks, blind trusts - I'm not surprised that the Coalition Government is against having a strong Federal ICAC. But it's disgraceful that One Nation would side with corruption. We need minor parties and independents that are committed to keeping the bastards honest, not ones that help them avoid transparency.
 

CUT THE FUEL TAX

Fuel prices are skyrocketing thanks to the Russia-Ukraine crisis and our Government's failure to implement a fuel reserves policy. Every time Australians fill up the bowser, 44 cents per litre goes to Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg.

I’m calling on the Government to give temporary relief to everyday Australians and businesses by immediately cutting the excise by 23 cents per litre and keeping that reduction in place through 2022-23.

How can we afford this? Well, the PM has a huge secret election war chest of $16 billion in the budget allocated to decisions ‘taken but not yet announced’. That’s $16 billion that will be directed at specific electorates or groups to buy votes. That pork barrelling money could be used to help battlers right across the country, especially in the regions where petrol prices are always higher.

Our economy will benefit from Australians not struggling under crippling fuel prices and rising inflation that will occur if relief is not provided.

Our local businesses are still recovering from COVID and need more money flowing to them to reduce their costs when using a vehicle to run their business.

John Howard enacted an emergency fuel excise measure when he was in government which had a profound and positive impact. The current Labor and Liberal parties are too busy trying to win an election to listen to your pain. That's why I need you to add your voice to my petition.
 

PAY SUPERANNUATION ON PAYDAY

Australian workers lodging unpaid superannuation complaints with the Tax Office are waiting an average of eight months for their case to be closed. It’s never acceptable for people to be shortchanged on their retirement income.

Of the 16,400 reviews of employers based on employee complaints the ATO completed in 2020-21, 11,500 employers were found to have owed around $790 million in unpaid superannuation. This is unacceptable.

Super contributions should be merged with pay days. This would make it administratively simpler for business and would ensure small payment issues are solved before they grow into large payment issues.
 

TAXPAYERS MAY FOOT THE BILL FOR ST KILDA MANGROVES DISASTER

Documents I obtained under FOI have revealed that the South Australian taxpayer could end up footing the bill to remediate the huge environmental damage done to the St Kilda Mangroves from the salt leaks that caused significant dieback of the protected salt marsh.

Right now, the responsibility for management and remediation of the site rests with the owner of the salt ponds operator, but documents I obtained reveal there’s no financial bond in place.

We could very well have a situation where the miner simply doesn't have enough money to remediate the site and, without a bond, that responsibility and cost will fall back onto the SA taxpayer.

Serious questions need to be asked about how the State Government granted the miner approval without a bond in place.

VICTORY FOR CINEMAS

And now for some good news! After putting some public pressure of the Government, I’m pleased to say local independent cinemas finally got some much needed support.

We know that cinemas play an important social role in communities, particularly in regional areas.

Cinemas did it really tough through COVID. Yet the Government, who had thrown around JobKeeper cash to businesses that didn’t need help, were reluctant to assist them.

As JobKeeper funding ceased I pressured the Government to set aside $20 million dollars to help independent cinemas around the country. $10 million was unspent.

When the Delta variant came along in the second half of last year and NSW and Victoria locked down, the movie companies stopped releasing movies. So, even though independent cinemas in non-locked down states were open, they had no new blockbuster movies to attract cinema goers.

Port Augusta, Port Lincoln’s and many other independent cinemas, including Wallis cinemas, have now received some of this support which they will use to retain staff and keep the doors open.
 

PODCAST CHATS

I took some time out this month to chat with the team at The Chaser podcast. We talked all things FOI, submarines and why we need a Federal ICAC.

You can check it out here.
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JOIN THE TEAM

In a month's time we're likely to be in an election campaign and I need all the support I can get. There's a tough battle ahead to get re-elected to the Senate, and I'm up for the fight, but I need your help.

If you can support me by volunteering to stand at polling booths handing out how to vote cards, making a donation, sharing my work with your South Australian family and friends, that will go a long way. 

Contact my office on 8232 1144 or email [email protected] to get in touch about how you can help.