Speeches

ADJOURNMENT DEBATE – CONSTITUENTS - MONDAY, 21 OCTOBER 2019

October 21, 2019

HANSARD

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA

MONDAY, 21 OCTOBER 2019

ADJOURNMENT DEBATE – CONSTITUENTS

I'd hazard a guess that most members here think that their electorate is the bee's knees. I certainly think that Cowan is one of the best electorates in Australia, and I want to use the incredible privilege that I have here to advocate on behalf of the people of Cowan. I know that many of us come here and find it's a great forum for us to celebrate the achievements of people in our electorates, but tonight I want to talk about some of those people who don't get mentioned—people who haven't won medals or any major competitions, but who, in many ways, probably need us to be talking about them more.

There are people like Belinda, who's a grandparent but also a single parent. She's working full-time and raising her two grandchildren. She was referred to my office by Grandparents Rearing Grandchildren after her nine-year-old grandson was rejected for the NDIS. My office helped her to appeal the case, and now her grandson is eligible for the NDIS and finally they are receiving the help that they need. I know that all members have cases like that of Belinda.

Then there is the case of Caroline. She owed $740.90 to Centrelink, calculated as an overpayment on family tax benefit. The debt was written off in February and they advised Caroline of this in writing, but then, just in August, they intercepted her tax return and took the $740.90 without notifying her. Her presentation at my office meant that she got that full refund back.

Then there is Sunali. She is a single mum and a survivor of domestic violence. Her son has just turned eight, so she has been moved onto Newstart, which means that her income is now smaller than before, but she is in her final year of undertaking a degree in speech pathology, and she has got some massive requirements to complete her degree. As a single mum myself, who did a postgraduate degree, a Masters degree and then later a PhD as a single mum, I understand how much the commitments of work and study can be, as well as the commitments of family, particularly when there has been family violence and particularly when, as is the case with Sunali, there has been trauma.

Then there is Sally. Sally is such a beautiful lady. She came into my office. She is 75 years old. Unfortunately, Sally is a victim of cybercrime. Unaware, she was duped by somebody in a $60,000 romance scam. She lost her house and $60,000. I often say to people, 'Nobody's ever won the Mexican lottery, and there are no Nigerian princes waiting to marry us, so be cyberaware and be cybersafe.' Currently we're helping Sally with the issues that she has from being scammed through this cybercrime scheme.

Gosh—Jason. He is 29 years old. He was born with some severe physical disabilities. A few years ago he was told he was no longer eligible for a disability support pension and he has been on Newstart since. Because he couldn't complete school because of his disabilities and being away from school so much, he really has no prospect of finding a job and he's finding it really difficult on Newstart.

Joy contacted me. She looks after her grandson who's nine years old. Her grandson's mum is a single parent on Centrelink benefits. Joy's grandson needs spectacles and she simply can't afford them.

Finally, I'd like to talk about Pat and Troy in my electorate who recently found out that their gorgeous son Lachie has type I diabetes. Of course I'm an advocate for the JDRF, the juvenile diabetes research fund, and I've been to visit Pat and Troy to help them through that transition of being parents of a child with T1.

So they're just some examples of people in my electorate, and I hope that their voices get heard too.