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Monday, 15 June 2020
Page: 4447


Ms SWANSON (Paterson) (19:30): The last few months have been some of the toughest we as a nation have ever faced. I want to take a moment to thank each and every Australian but particularly those in my community who have gone about their lives in a way that has cared for us, assisted us, toiled for us, stayed away for us and turned up for us. I want to assure them: I am here for you and so is my team. Since early March, we have sent out 72,000 information flyers on COVID-19 to the electorate. We've written to 5,839 households that have a person aged 80 or over to tell them about the pandemic and offer a hand. We have made 23,080 phone calls in my electorate to let people know my office is available to help. My office has had one-on-one interactions with more than 1,362 individuals since March.

When constituents get in touch with my office, it's often to ask how we can help deal with a government department. Public servants do their best, but the chronic underfunding by this current government of the Public Service has meant that sometimes it's inevitable that there are gaps in this service. My office attempts to bridge those gaps. They talk to Centrelink on behalf of constituents to help get their payments sorted. My office is right beside Centrelink, so we get lots and lots of traffic. We have wept about the queues as they've snaked down the road and around the corner. When the elderly have issues with their pension and can't leave the house, get through on the phone or—woe betide!—get some internet, it is my office that helps them. My office talks to the ATO to get specific answers on behalf of constituents and businesses for their circumstances. My office talks to Home Affairs on behalf of people who are stuck overseas or here in Australia but unsure how they can lawfully remain. My office has talked to hundreds of people who were confused about how to access jobseeker and/or JobKeeper and the few now hoping to get HomeBuilder. For some, my office provides them information about their rights at work and how they can engage with the Fair Work Commission.

We are currently organising a virtual town hall meeting for the entire electorate to talk about jobs and infrastructure with shadow ministers. The town hall is on next Wednesday at 10.30 am on Zoom. You are more than welcome to join. You can phone in. You just have to register with my office. We're planning two more town halls in July, one for seniors and one for our young people, because they've both been critically impacted by COVID.

Creating a business survey for business in my electorate to let me know what they think of the government's COVID response has been really important and has helped businesses. We've created a map of ones that are open so we can encourage people to shop locally. We've hosted a Zoom meeting with childcare providers in my electorate and shadow minister Amanda Rishworth. It was concerning to hear how they were impacted by this government's foray into free child education and what a folly it was for so many.

My team also helps to shape and improve the laws that are made in this place. We bring the issues that my community faces to parliament, to this place, and we let people know what needs to be fixed—like PFAS contamination. When the government wants to introduce new laws, we look at those closely, too. Then there's the work that my office does to help and serve my community in these strange times, like speaking to the local supermarkets to find out about their supplies of toilet paper and other essentials, so that we can help people get these products; organising home delivery of groceries for an elderly woman who didn't know how she was going to get them; or giving advice to the lovely lady who phoned and said she was a bit on the elderly side and she had a thermos and she just really wanted to go for a drive with her husband so they could get out of the house. I said, sadly, if they weren't going to the doctor or the pharmacy or to get groceries, they could not.

Why am I talking about this? It's because we know that we are all made lesser when politicians are seen in a dim light. I am here and I am working for you. (Time expired)