What does a Federal Member do?

As your Federal Member of Parliament, Bert has a number of roles to play. Bert can act as an advocate for you and residents in the community. If there is an issue of concern with a Federal Government agency or department, Bert can act on your behalf and make representations to the relevant Minister or Government Agency.

In Parliament, a Federal Member can debate new legislation that is being introduced and raise issues that are relevant to the Forde community in the Parliament. Bert also often highlights the many great community organisations and events in Forde in Parliament.

Each speech that Bert makes in Parliament is recorded by Hansard. You can read Bert’s contributions to the Parliament by visiting Bert’s Speeches page, or visiting Hansard

When does Parliament sit?

Federal Parliament follows an annual sitting roster which is available here. When Parliament is ‘sitting’, Bert is in Australian Parliament House in Canberra. When Parliament is not sitting Bert works out of his electorate office in Beenleigh. Bert is also often out and about visiting with community groups and residents in Forde.

Is the public allowed to visit Parliament?

Most schools schedule tours of Australian Parliament House as part of the school curriculum and the general public is more than welcome to visit Parliament House and watch Parliament in action. Question time is at 2pm each sitting day and all Members of Parliament are present at that time. Free and paid tours of Parliament House can be arranged.

What is the Government’s position on foreign aid?

As announced in the 2015-16 Budget, Australia will provide an estimated $4 billion in total Official Development Assistance (ODA) in 2015-16, making us approximately the 13th largest donor in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in dollar terms.

The 2015-16 aid allocations announced in the Budget were determined by analysis into the contribution that Australia’s aid makes to partner country GDP and global ODA inflows; and based on economic growth forecasts.

Based on the evidence, Australia’s aid allocations focus on the particular development challenges facing our neighbours in the Pacific.

Australia will continue to invest significant funds in Pacific island countries.  Our humanitarian and emergency relief funds will allow Australia to provide rapid assistance in respomnse to disasters, such as Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu.

Australia’s aid to fast growing Asian economies will be reduced in recognition of the region’s rising prosperity and capacity to provide services for its own citizens.  Australia’s assistance in these areas will focus on strengthening the private sector and economic growth.

In addition, Australia will continue to make a strong contribution to humanitarian efforts globally. The Emergency Fund will remain at $120 million.
We will also establish a competitive Gender Equality Fund ($50 million) to enhance women’s participation in decision-making and leadership, to promote women’s economic development and help end violence against women and girls in the region.

Australia’s aid program will reflect the different development and economic trajectories across the region and will continue the Government’s commitment to development in the Pacific and building economic partnerships across Asia.

What’s the Government’s position on the Renewable Energy Target?

The Australian Government supports renewable energy. We are committed to a RET that allows sustainable growth in both small and large scale renewable energy, so that at least 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity consumption in 2020 comes from renewable sources.

The policy challenge we face is that the RET is not operating as intended. Electricity demand has fallen since 2010 and there is now an oversupply of electricity generation capacity in Australia. Because of the oversupply, new large scale renewable energy projects are not being built. Without changes to the RET that support a sustainable level of growth, the renewable energy industry will continue to face an uncertain future and households and business will bear the growing cost of the scheme, even if no new renewable energy projects are built.

Since last year the Government has been negotiating in good faith with the Labor Party to reach a bipartisan agreement to put the RET on a more sustainable footing and provide certainty for long-term investment.

The Government has put forward a clear proposal that would see the amount of electricity produced under the RET scheme double between 2014 and 2020. The Government has also committed to maintaining the current level of support for household solar systems, reducing the burden on Emissions Intensive Trade Exposed industry and removing the requirement for a biennial review.

After abruptly walking away from the talks late last year, the Labor Party has returned to the negotiating table, but has yet to put forward any meaningful alternative to improve the RET.

Bipartisan support is necessary to recalibrate the RET so that it operates more effectively and efficiently to facilitate new investment in renewables.

However without bipartisan support the existing scheme, which no longer reflects market realities, will continue to operate.

The Coalition has a longstanding record of bipartisanship on the RET and we have been clear about our desire to fix the scheme to encourage growth over the next five years. The Government’s door remains open to work in good faith with all parties who wish to provide certainty for the renewable energy sector in a way which reflects the market need for new generation, restores competitiveness to industry and provides price relief to consumers.

What’s the Government’s position on live animal exports?

I understand that animal welfare is of great concern to the Australian community — no one supports animal cruelty, least of all farmers and all those reliant on the trade. But equally no one wants to see our farmers and others involved in rural industries suffer hardship because there is no market for their livestock.

The livestock export industry is a key agricultural industry for Australia. The trade is important for Australian farmers generally and more particularly for certain sectors, such as the northern Australia beef industry, and the government is absolutely committed to ensuring its ongoing viability.

Livestock exports are a small but vital part of our overall meat trade.  Australia processes significant volumes of meat onshore for export and the government is always seeking new markets for boxed meat, however, for some foreign markets, live exports remain the preferred or most practical solution and in some parts of Australia processing facilities are not commercially viable.

While many markets are now demanding more boxed or carcass meat as standards of living improve and access to refrigeration increases, there are still some countries that retain their preference for live animals. Australia’s livestock export industry is a key player in meeting this market demand.

A move to transition from livestock exports to onshore processing is a commercial decision for processors and the livestock industry more broadly. In the absence of a viable processing industry in the north and in the face of continuing strong demand for Australian livestock, a ban on live exports would have serious economic and social implications for farmers in northern and western Australia and the communities that rely on the trade.

Contrary to assertions by some, banning the live export trade does not increase demand for Australian boxed meat; rather, such a ban only forces our trading partners to source livestock from other nations with no animal welfare standards whilst also threatening thousands of Australian jobs in the process.

The live export industry provides more than 10,000 jobs across rural and regional Australia, and underpins returns back to the farm gate, domestic cattle and sheep prices and the sustainability of regional communities.

Australia has high animal welfare and production standards which are unparalleled by any other country. Very unusually amongst livestock exporting nations, Australia seeks to ensure international animal welfare standards are met throughout the entire supply chain.

The introduction of the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) has resulted in many overseas facilities improving their animal handling practices and upgrading their facilities. This regulatory approach has also resulted in improved animal welfare outcomes well beyond Australian sourced livestock. The Department of Agriculture is the regulator for the livestock export trade and investigates all complaints alleging breaches of the ESCAS. Information on investigations and their outcomes is published on the department’s website here.

The regulatory framework for livestock exports is designed to minimise risk and provides a mechanism to deal with issues when they occur. It also provides stability for the industry, and the families and communities that depend on the trade.

Ensuring the health and welfare of Australian animals that are exported continues to be a key issue for the Australian Government, and in line with the expectations of the Australian community we remain committed to ensuring that animal welfare outcomes are not compromised.

What is the Government’s position on Protecting the Great Barrier Reef

Our Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan is the most comprehensive plan ever developed to protect the Great Barrier Reef for future generations.

The Coalition has put in place an historic ban on capital dredge disposal in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park – ending a 100 year old practice.

$2 billion is being invested by Australian governments on projects that include improving water quality, reducing sediment and nitrogen run off, removing crown of thorns starfish and improving our scientific knowledge of the reef.

The Coalition is establishing a $1 billion Reef Fund focussed on the two biggest threats facing the Great Barrier Reef: climate change and improving water quality.

The Reef Fund will mobilise up to $1 billion in investment finance over 10 years for clean energy projects that help tackle these two key threats.

The Reef Fund builds on the $210 million Reef Trust which is delivering better environmental outcomes in Reef catchments by reducing sediment and nitrogen run-off and tackling coral-eating Crown of Thorns starfish outbreaks.

Our work to protect the Great Barrier Reef resulted in the World Heritage Committee declaring last July that Australia was a global role model for the management of World Heritage properties.