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NOVEMBER NEWSLETTER

Welcome to the November newsletter. We've just wrapped up the last Parliamentary sitting weeks of 2021 and I'm disappointed in the Government for failing to allow a vote on a Federal ICAC with teeth.

There's so much work to be done on integrity in politics, aged care and many other areas, but sadly the Government is trying to kick these issues beyond the next election.

But I won't be giving up. Read on to see some of what I've been fighting for.

 

Rex at Parliament House accepting a petition calling for a Federal ICAC with teeth.

 

WE NEED A FEDERAL ICAC
WITH TEETH

 

1086 days. That’s how long it has been since Scott Morrison promised Australians a Federal ICAC.

Twice in these last two weeks of Parliament I moved to have my ICAC bill debated but sadly, perhaps not surprisingly, the Government with the help of One Nation voted against it – they won’t even have the debate, let alone a vote!

I’m not giving up. We have a few weeks of Parliament next year before an election and I’ll keep pushing to establish a Federal ICAC with teeth. The Australian public deserve nothing less.

 

REGIONAL AUSTRALIANS DESERVE GOOD HEALTH CARE

 

Regional South Australians across the state are suffering with lack of access to health care. Wudinna are just about to lose their doctor. Kimba hasn’t had a doctor for 4 of the last 6 years. As the new year ticks over, there won’t be a single resident doctor in the 470km between Pt Augusta and Ceduna. Regional South Australians deserve much better than this.

So just what are the Federal and State Governments doing about it? Sadly, not a lot. I’m taking part in a Senate inquiry into access to health services in the regions and I’ll be making sure South Australians concerns are heard and acted on. You can follow the inquiry here.

 

AGED CARE RESIDENTS DESERVE OUR RESPECT AND DIGNITY

 

It's been over 10 months since the Royal Commission into Aged Care handed down its recommendations and yet the Parliament still hasn't implemented any of its recommendations.

According to Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner statistics, an elderly resident in aged care in Australia is harmed, on average, every hour, in every day, in every week. That's why it's unfathomable to me that we have so few days in Parliament next year when we have serious problems to deal with.

Abuse and lack of care for our elderly must be dealt with immediately. I’ve put up amendments to Government Bills and put forward my own Bill to legally require all aged care homes to have at least one registered nurse present in aged care homes 24/7.

This is one important measure, recommended by the Aged Care Royal Commission, that would help ensure that aged care residents get the care and protection they need and deserve.

The Government is unlikely to do right by our elderly in supporting this, so I’m calling on Australian Labor, One Nation and the crossbench for their support when we're back in Parliament.

 

ROBODEBT CRUELTY MUST END

 

A content warning, this section discusses suicide.

In 2017, South Australian man Corey Webb was issued a robodebt. Shortly after paying this robodebt, he took his own life. The robodebt turned out to be illegal and the family received a refund. Corey’s family have been seeking access to documents which would reveal the communications that Services Australia had with Corey before his passing.

Services Australia has refused to cooperate so far even after the family, assisted by me, made a Freedom of Information request. I will continue the FOI fight but have also gone directly to Minister Reynolds to get Services Australia to release these documents to the family. The loss of Corey is devastating and his family deserve answers. The Government needs to make sure robodebt and its associated tragedies never happen again.

 

MAJOR PARTIES VOTE FOR DONATION SECRECY

 

In 2021's last week of Parliament, the Liberals and Labor parties teamed up to vote down my amendments to an election related bill that would have:

1) Made it compulsory for political donations $1000 and above to be disclosed;

2) Made it compulsory for the disclosure of expensive dinners with ministers where ticket prices can be up to $14,300.

This is just another example of the major parties looking out for themselves, and leaving the doors open to political corruption. Bizarrely, Labor voted against their own policy to disclose donations $1,000 and above.

Regardless of who wins the next election, we need more independents in Parliament, working to keep both major parties honest.

 

 

WHISTLEBLOWERS STILL NOT PROTECTED

 

With just a few scheduled sitting days in Parliament next year, we are running out of time to set up laws to protect whistleblowers in the public service. It is shameful that the Government has not acted on something so important to the public interest.

The Government's only action on public sector whistleblowing over the past four years has been to prosecute South Australian ATO whistleblower Richard Boyle, former Army lawyer David McBride, Witness K and former ACT Attorney General Bernard Collaery.

Whistleblowers are crucial in a functioning democracy, they help to prevent and expose corruption. They deserve protection.

 

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION BATTLE IN THE FEDERAL COURT

 

I’ve taken the Australian Information Commissioner to court for the unreasonable delays in dealing with Freedom of Information requests from Australians. Some matters remain unresolved after 1000 days!

I’ve done this because it’s a battle in the public’s interest. Australians have a right to access information they have paid for as taxpayers.

But the first thing the Government has done is threaten me with legal costs of up to $150,000. They’re thugs!

I won’t be giving up, this battle is too important.

 

CENTRE FOR AUGMENTED REASONING OPENS IN SA

 

And now for some good news!

I was thrilled to attend the opening of the Centre for Augmented Reasoning at the Adelaide University's Australian Institute for Machine Learning.

Many of you will know I fought for $20 million in funding to establish this Centre so SA can be at the forefront of modern and high-tech advances in key industries like agriculture, manufacturing, medical diagnostics, research and creative industries.

Augmented reasoning is an exciting new field of AI which offers exciting potential for our workplaces through its elevated capacity for understanding human instructions and needs, and greater social acceptance.

The jobs of the future will incorporate AI, not be replaced by it. We need to embrace and command AI.