Welcome to the February online edition of Crewther's Corner, keeping you updated with my activities both locally and in Parliament!
February has been an active month. We are already in the third parliamentary sitting week of the year, with lots of activity including a visit from the Prime Minister and the Minister for Health to Dunkley!
Throughout this time, I have been keeping up my regular opportunities for interaction with local residents, including attending train stations in the morning peak hour, knocking on doors, visiting a number of schools, and making several announcements about ongoing election commitments and new infrastructure projects.
Events in Canberra have been busy - the Liberal Party has welcomed new and returning Senators Lucy Gichuhi, Jim Molan and Richard Colbeck, as well as a new Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon. Michael McCormack MP, who not long ago visited Dunkley to host a small business forum and to talk with local small business owners.
I look forward to catching up with you all throughout the rest of the year, and continuing to work hard on your behalf as Dunkley's representative in Parliament.
If there is anything I can do to help you or your family, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Chris Crewther MP
Federal Member for Dunkley
Friday 9 February 2018 was another fantastic milestone for another of my key election commitments. The Safe Boat Refuge at Oliver's Hill will now be proceeding, in two stages.
The first stage has been signed off and has already started, with hydrological and environmental studies, plus planning and design for a breakwater, lighting and associated works, utilising just over half of the $500,000 funding. This will ensure the Safe Boat Refuge is built in a planned and tested way to ensure maximum environmental protection and even possible enhancement of our local beach.
The second stage will be informed by the outcomes of stage one, with the remaining funds going towards actual construction of the Safe Boat Refuge, using the other half of the federal funding. Currently the plans include - subject to the findings of the environmental studies - the construction of a breakwater, lighting, CCTV and space for moorings for two emergency vessels.
I was joined at the announcement by Mayor Cr Colin Hampton and representatives from Frankston City Council, the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard, That’s the Thing About Fishing, Police and Water Police representatives, Frankston Beach Association and Sweetwater Creek Representatives, and many local fishermen.
This project to plan and build the Safe Boat Refuge will benefit boat safety, coast guard, water police and surf life saving rescues and activities, the public, tourism, fishing and so much more.
Plenty has been happening on the local front in the Dunkley community, of which the following is just a snapshot. Early this month Frankston in particular was put on show, with the Waterfront Festival and the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton relay drawing crowds to central Frankston and down by the foreshore. I was immensely proud of our local ambassadors and thank all who participated.
Many of this newsletter's regular readers will be familiar with my enthusiastic support for local sporting facilities, particularly in helping engage local young people. Earlier this month I was excited to jointly open the new elite cricket training facility and nets for Frankston Peninsula Cricket Club at Jubilee Park, joined by Paul Edbrooke MP, Frankston City Councl Mayor Colin Hampton, players, coaches, club official and supporters. The Federal Government contributed $20,000 Federal funds towards the cricket facilities, and Frankston Peninsula Cricket Club is also one of the Clubs to benefit from the $350,000 Federal funding towards the Jubilee Park Masterplan (including the FDNA elite sports pathway programme). I was also able to formally announce another $2550 from the Stronger Communities Grant towards new sightscreens for the Club! I've spoken of the importance of investing in our local sporting infrastructure and attracting and nurturing local talent, and I’m pleased that Frankston Peninsula Cricket Club are able to be a part of this.
St Peter's Lutheran Church/Karingal Uniting Church this month also farewelled Pastor James Luk, who has given great service to the local Sudanese community, church and the wider community over many years. I was humbled to be invited to speak at the service, especially about the local Sudanese community in the Dunkley area and the Lutheran congregation. I noted that I was baptised in a Lutheran Church and did much of my primary schooling in a Lutheran school, and that this helped me appreciate the wonderful service of Pastor Luk.
Finally, last Friday I was delighted to attend the 25th anniversary of Vinnies Frankston, who marked the milestone with a celebration that drew people from as far as Box Hill! The Vinnies volunteers do so much for our local community, and they deserved every minute of the celebration. Thank you to all those who contribute every day to assisting those who need it!
The Committee for Greater Frankston recently hosted a lunch function, with Minister for Health, the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, joining us as the guest speaker. The discussion focused on our local health assets, including Peninsula Health and Monash University - Peninsula Campus.
We were joined also by Peninsula Health's new CEO, Felicity Topp, for an update on Peninsula Health’s expansion plans. All of this works into the vision of a major health and health education precinct, where Monash Peninsla and Peninsula Health work together in creating a key hub for health education, making Dunkley even more of a health and wellbeing heavyweight and a destination for medical courses, training, professionals and expertise.
This further ties in with the Baxter Rail Plan, as the train stations planned for Frankston Hospital and enahnced at Monash University (Leawarra) will help to connect these two major areas. Thank you to all involved for the engaging discussion about the health and education precinct and the Frankston rail extension.
I have been working closely with Minister Hunt on this project over the last year, and am looking forward to continuing to advocate for this vision over the short- and long-term future, and to announcing Federal funding - in conjunction with my State counterparts - to bring this project to fruition!
Now that school has gone back for 2018, I have been fortunate to visit a number of them and to speak to students about government and my role as a Member of Parliament.
Early this month I joined the grade five and six students at Mount Eliza North Primary School to speak about government, parliament and my role as a local parliamentarian. I was very impressed by the many intelligent questions asked by students, as well as their answers to my questions to them!
I was also able to formerly present the final Dunkley Shield to Lachlan Long from Woodleigh - a very well-deserving recipient! I think it’s important that recognition is given for all those who deserve it, especially for what many schools consider to be such a prestigious award.
The year five and six students at St Thomas More’s Primary School also invited me to speak to them about the role of parliamentarians and government, and we were able to exchange questions about politics. I was impressed to hear that the student captains were recently elected through their own election campaign and voting using the preferential voting system - and there were many very knowledgable questions and answers.
Toorak College have already hosted their Summer Festival and a Science and Tech evening, both of which I was also thrilled to attend along with my wife Grace. I was very impressed with the amount of work that had clearly gone into preparing for both, as well as the College's engagement with the local community.
Lastly, I was recently invited to join the official opening of the brand new classrooms at St Augustine’s School, along with the State Member for Frankston and representatives of other local schools and the Catholic Church. Thanks to Principal Jan de Koning for showing us around and Bishop Elliot for his blessing on the school - I was very impressed with the planning and diligence that clearly went into the project, and the final classrooms! I’m sure the students will put them to very good use, and the entire school community was clearly very excited to celebrate the official opening.
Last August I joined a number of Green Army participants in launching several new Green Army projects under two Green Army teams. This month, I had the privilege of attending one team's graduation, and the community celebration of their work and achievements. The Green Army projects that I secured Federal funding for help to rejuvenate and revitalise our local environment.
It was wonderful to be able to see and acknowledge the fantastic work that these groups have done in the last six months along Mornington Coastline, in Mount Eliza Regional Park, in Belvedere Park, along the Frankston and Seaford foreshore and more.
Thanks especially to Green Army team leaders Beric and Dilhan, and Green Army members Jake, Kirsten, Michal, Rian, Morgan and Ryan, who have done a huge service to our beautiful coastline and environment and gained invaluable skills!
Thanks also to all the friends groups and others who worked with the Green Army team and continue to do a great job looking after our local environment, including Friends of Williams Road Beach, the Dolphin Research Institute, community volunteers, Mornington Peninsula Shire, Landcare Australia, service provider Manpower and others.
Following the graduation and announcement of the extent of the work that the Green Army had completed, I was proud to be able to give them a shout out and promote the Green Army program itself. I spoke with Brendon Telfer from Radio Port Phillip about the various sites of the work and the commitment to our local environment that is uniform across all residents of the Mornington Peninsula.
I'm now pleased to see the work of the second Green Army project commenced, who have recently been working closely with the Kananook Creek Association along the Kananook Creek, and will also be doing work to help clean up after the fire at the Pines Flora & Fauna Reserve and elsewhere.
Since the resumption of Parliament, I have had many opportunities to speak on a number of local and national issues that affect my constituents and, conversely, to tell my colleagues in Canberra about what is happening in Dunkley.
I have spoken about:
See my full list of speeches in Parliament at the link below.
In between votes and debating legislation, one of the great things about sitting weeks in Parliament is the opportunity to engage with causes that affect many Australians, and which are championed by my fellow Members of Parliament.
I met with Emerge Australia to talk about Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the needs of people with ME/CFS. ME/CFS can range from mild to severe and can be very debilitating for those with it. These private meetings with organisations such as Emerge are incredibly useful in understanding conditions such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and advocating for the needs of sufferers. Frequently, through their interaction with people with the conditions that they focus on, organisations are able to tell me how many people in my electorate this condition may affect - from which I come away better able to understand the issues or barriers that many Australians - including my constituents in Dunkley - face when it comes to doing day-to-day tasks or more broader management of their lives.
Similarly, but on a much broader scale, my conversations with Prosecute; don't Perpetrate and Yazda helped focus my attention the plight of the Yazidis, who were targeted by ISIL in Iraq and Syria. The stories of the survivors are horrifying, but I was able to draw my colleagues’ attention to what they have gone through with a motion in Parliament just a few days ago.
As always, it was also fantastic to have students from Toorak College in Mount Eliza join Minister Hunt and me in Parliament House, Canberra, to speak about our roles as parliamentarians, the work of parliament and the politics of the day! Many schools in Dunkley have a visit to Parliament House over the year, and I always do my best to be able to speak with them. It’s great to see the ongoing commitment to the Canberra program by so many schools, ensuring that their students are well informed about how government works, and making the federal parliament and all its inhabitants accessible for students as young as primary school. I hope some of them now see themselves as future members of parliament, or even future Prime Ministers!
With my Victorian Coalition colleagues, I have also continued to advocate for BAE Systems to be awarded the contract for Land400 - a significant defence construction program shortly to be commissioned by the federal government. There is no doubt that such a contract would bring about many jobs and major investment in Victoria, including in Dunkley. This lobbying has primarily been driven by my colleague, the Member for Corangamite, Sarah Henderson MP, to advocate some of the great technology being produced, and that can be produced, right here in Victoria. We hope to hear the answer to our efforts soon.
In addition, February brought with it an awareness of women’s heath and wellbeing issues. International Women’s Day was marked at Parliament House by a breakfast, joined by many people from across Australian and parliamentarians. I was proud to join them. I find many people, wherever I go, are unaware of the origin of my electorate’s name. Louisa Dunkley was an incredible campaigner - a successful campaigner - for the right for women to obtain equal pay for equal work in the Australian commonwealth public service. Mindful of the goals that she strove for, on this day especially I felt an immense connection with our namesake.
Furthermore, I joined many of my parliamentary colleagues at the Teal Ribbon Breakfast - raising awareness for ovarian cancer. At this breakfast, Minister Hunt announced important Federal Coalition Government funding for the Traceback program at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne to help tackle Ovarian Cancer. This program will test tissue samples of 11,000 women diagnosed between 2001 and 2016 to see if they are carriers of the BRCA gene mutations.
Still on the subject of health funding, Sweetheart Day, held annually on Valentine’s Day, raises much-needed funds to provide support for kids, teens and adults affected by congenital heart disease all across Australia. I joined a very personal, touching event and announcement in partnership with HeartKids in Parliament, with Minister Hunt, Assistant Minister for Health, the Hon. Dr David Gillespie MP and Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, and Ambassador for HeartKids, the Hon. Stephen Ciobo MP. Minister Hunt announced Coalition Government funding for the National Childhood Heart Disease Action Plan, which will make a real difference to people's lives, guide our work and next steps to tackle congenital heart disease and, importantly, help to uncover new treatments and care options for the more than 64,000 Australians affected, including in Dunkley.
Lastly, but certainly not least, in my capacity of Chair of the Foreign Affairs and Aid sub-committee, I joined some amazing people at the Australian Volunteers International event at Parliament House. We had the opportunity to speak to some of the people who make the on-the-ground work possible, including Oaktree, with whom I have met previously. I believe that it is so incredibly important to always be able to speak to people and learn how government policy affects them, and what more we can do to assist those who need it, and convey our gratitude and recognition to those who assist those in need.