Merck Australia meeting

At Parliament House I was pleased to catch up with Stephen Coutts of Richardson Coutts, and Paul Lindsay from Merck Australia, and receive an update on Merck’s new medicine for Merkel Cell Carcinoma, a rare and aggressive skin cancer, and for Multiple Sclerosis.

I am always glad to learn about developments that will help people with severe medical conditions live a more stress-free life.

Senate Swearing In

This morning I was sworn in as a Senator for Tasmania for another six-year term.

I am honoured to have again been chosen by Tasmanian voters to represent them in the Senate. I am looking forward to continuing to work as part of the Federal Labor team on delivering for Tasmania, holding the Morrison Government to account and developing a positive Labor agenda for the next Federal election.

I will continue to provide practical assistance to my local constituents and community groups.

I also intend to keep pursuing the national causes that I have been active in promoting, and which I believe are important to many Australians:
● More investment in research into brain cancer and other cancers with low-survival rates,
● Better co-ordinated care for cancer patients,
More investment in palliative and end-of-life care, including community education about the importance of advance care planning,
● Better public awareness of how women can reduce the risks of stillbirth during pregnancy,
● Providing children with greater safety from abuse and harm, particularly in the online environment,
● Bringing our charity fundraising laws into the 21st Century, and
● More investment in early childhood education.

Labor Budget Reply

Last night, Bill Shorten MP delivered Labor’s Budget Reply.

While Scott Morrison and the Liberals are focused on the election, Labor is focused on the future. We have chosen hope over fear, the future over the past, to prioritise schools and hospitals over the big banks.

As a longstanding advocate for cancer patients, a cancer survivor, Cure Brain Cancer Ambassador, co-convenor of Parliament’s Brain Cancer and Tumour Action Group, and former chair of the Senate Select Committee into Funding for Research into Cancers with Low Survival Rates, I am especially pleased with Labor’s commitment to deliver the biggest cancer care package in Australia’s history.

Australians battling cancer should be able to focus on getting well without going broke.

A Shorten Labor Government will:
– eliminate out-of-pocket costs for up to six million scans for cancer services;
– provide three million free consultations with oncologists and surgeons for cancer patients; and
– list any drug recommended for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Other highlights from last night’s budget reply include:
– The most important investment in Medicare since Bob Hawke created it.
– The same or better tax cuts for 10 million working Australians.
– A massive new investment in TAFE, to rebuild campuses and restore the 150,000 apprenticeships that have been lost under the Liberals.

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Adjournment debate – Labor’s National Preschool and Kindy Program

As a former early childhood educator I understand and appreciate the value of early learning to children’s intellectual, emotional and social development. It also helps parents to balance work and family commitments and contributes to Australia’s competitiveness in the global economy.

Last night in the Senate I spoke about Federal Labor’s commitment to deliver 15 hours per week of preschool or kindergarten to 700,000 three- and four-year old Australian children if we win government. Our $1.75 billion National Preschool and Kindy Program will be a record investment in early childhood education in Australia.

This is in contrast to the Morrison Government, who in the 2018 budget cut funding to the National Partnership Agreement on Universal Access to Early Childhood Education, and only reinstated it in last night’s budget for one year.

A Fair Go For Schools

This morning I stood on the lawns of Parliament amongst a sea of names of public schools that have had their funding cut by this uncaring Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government.

Labor will fully restore the $14 billion the Liberals have cut from public schools. To find out how much your school will receive visit http://www.fairgoforschools.com.au.

Thanks to the AEU for organising this display. Continue reading

New CEO of Palliative Care Australia

It was my pleasure to meet Palliative Care Australia‘s new CEO Rohan Greenland and to discuss their Palliative Care 2030 vision.

Facing a future where Australians will live longer, there is an increasing need for access to high quality palliative care for those living with a life-limiting illness.

As co-convenor of Parliamentary Friends of End of Life I strongly endorse PCA’s message about the need for governments to invest in, and plan for, the future palliative care needs of our ageing population.

Stillbirth: Private Tragedy to Public Health Issue

It was an honour to chair the Australian Labor Party National Conference Fringe Program event Stillbirth: Private Tragedy to Public Health Issue.

Thank you to Senator Malarndirri McCarthy – Northern Territory & Kristina Keneally for outlining the report of the Senate inquiry and some of the issues that were covered. Kristina also talked about Labor’s $5 million package for a national strategy, public education campaign, and a foetal movement monitoring app.

Kate Lynch from thStillbirth Foundation Australia talked about the ways in which we can improve prevention, invest in more research and improve bereavement care.

I also thank Bree Amer-Wilkes for sharing the story of her son, Archie, and her personal experience with stillbirth. Bree’s story is typical of many told to the Senate inquiry and serves to highlight some of the ways we can reduce the risk of stillbirth.

Thank you to everyone who attended, listened to the presentations and joined in the discussion.

Mental Health Week

This Mental Health Week’s theme is ‘Stronger Together’ and it is a reminder of how we can support each other through inclusivity and understanding.

The aims of the week are to:

-raise awareness about mental health and wellbeing
-reduce stigma
-build resilience and foster understanding
-support wellbeing and self-care by promoting ways to maintain our mental health
-encourage individuals to seek help when they may need it

Please check out the wide variety of events happening across Tasmania at: https://www.mhct.org/events/