Huonville High School Renewable Energy Projects

It was wonderful to attend Huonville High School today to meet with members of the student-led Zayed Huon Energy Team that won $100,000USD for the school for renewable energy projects.

The team have transformed a school building into a ‘renewable energy hub’ that shows off renewable and energy efficiency technology as well as installing solar panels that meet a significant portion of the school’s energy needs.

Through their efforts they have increased the school’s use of renewable energies and have learnt important skills in project management, science and technology, and media amongst others. They’ve also encouraged 62 of their fellow students to get involved with the project, sharing their skills across a large portion of the student population.

Congratulations to all involved.

Entertained at Taroona High School

Thank you Taroona High School for inviting me to the annual musical production. This year the show was Chicago and once again THS has excelled itself. It was a fantastic night of entertainment. The brilliant cast was supported by the amazing THS Production Band and other talented students including those involved as stage crew, actors, dancers and singers. It’s hard to believe the students on stage were only grade nine or ten they had such a wealth of talent.

I’ve known Taroona High School turns on wonderful productions since my own children attended (both were involved in the band and productions) and I was not disappointed tonight.

Meeting with Screenrights

This morning I met with James Dickinson, acting Chief Executive and head of regulatory affairs at Screenrights, and Virginia Gordon, public affairs advisor. Screenrights is a non-profit organisation that administers the provisions allowing schools to copy television and radio for educational purposes. The photo shows Virginia and James introducing me to EnhanceTV, a wonderfully innovative service that enables schools to capture, edit and share any free-to-air or subscription television or radio broadcasts. A very user-friendly way to help our kids engage in their learning, another fine example of Australian ingenuity, and a great way to bring educator and film-makers together and support the growth and diversity of screen production.

BILLS;Treasury Laws Amendment (Putting Consumers First—Establishment of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority) Bill 2017;Second Reading – 06 Dec 2017

The bill we’re debating today, the Treasury Laws Amendment (Putting Consumers First—Establishment of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority) Bill 2017, arises from the Turnbull government’s policy to set up a one-stop shop for consumers’ complaints about financial services. In doing so, the bill combines three existing external dispute resolution schemes, the Financial Ombudsman Service, FOS; the Credit and Investments Ombudsman, CIO; and the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal, SCT. The new body will be known as the Australian Financial Complaints Authority, AFCA. For the FOS and CIO, this is simply a merging and rebranding of the two existing services.

We, of course, welcome higher monetary thresholds for disputes that can be heard. But the government is not proposing any new or additional powers that the existing dispute resolution bodies don’t already have. The bill also purports to copy the powers of the SCT into the AFCA. However, as the AFCA will be a private company limited by guarantee, this bill will result in reduced consumer protections for superannuation disputes. The chair of the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal, Helen Davis, said:

I don’t think it would be true to say, in relation to super, that it’s a rebranding exercise. Arguably, it’s quite a significant change for superannuation, specifically in terms of the external dispute resolution. It goes from a statutory body to a non-statutory body. It moved from a specialist body to a one-stop-shop body.

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Meeting the Ambassador of Ukraine

As Co-Convenor of the Australia-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group it is always a pleasure to catch up with Ambassador of Ukraine, His Excellency Mykola Kulinich to discuss Australia-Ukraine relations.

Thank you Mr Kulinich for the wonderful gift of a picture submitted for the Where I Am-There is My Flag art competition. The artists, Stephania and Sophia Mandziy, are members of the Ukraine diaspora in Australia and the picture features native Australia flora and fauna. A larger version of this picture is on display in the Mariyinsky Palace – the President of Ukraine’s ceremonial residence.