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Hi there! 

There's been a lot happening in the ACT Legislative Assembly.

As many of you know, I have been chairing the Select Committee on Fuel Prices in an effort to determine why Canberrans are paying significantly more for fuel than our neighbours across the border - and what we can consider doing to reduce these costs. The committee has handed down its final report, including five recommendations (more on this below). Thank you to everyone who lodged submissions or provided feedback in response to the committee's interim report. This information was crucial in developing the final report. 

Over the past few months I have passed several motions covering a range of topics including sexual health; sustainable products; and fertility preservation in the midst of a cancer diagnosis. I have included some information about each motion below.

I am also honoured to have been named Special Secretary to the Chief Minister; a new role that enables me to continue advocating for Territory rights, as well as a fairer go for consumers, among other duties. It's an exciting chapter and I look forward to engaging even more with the Canberra community. 

As always, please don't hesitate to get in touch if there is ever anything I can help with.

Until next time,

DRAWN TOMORROW! Win a dinner with Tara and the Chief Minister 
Do you have burning questions about Belconnen? Interested in ACT Labor's vision for Canberra? What makes the Chief Minister tick?

Tara and Chief Minister Andrew Barr

This Thursday, 17 October, I'll be hosting a private dinner in Belconnen with the Chief Minister. You and a friend have the chance to join us if you're the lucky winner of our raffle. Tickets are $5 each, or five tickets for $20.
Dinner will be at one of my favourite Belconnen restaurants and I'll be picking up the tab.
Proceeds from the raffle will go towards my 2020 election campaign.
The winner will be drawn tomorrow afternoon. You can buy tickets here.

I ❤️ Belco shirts
Love Belco? Tell the world about it with an I ❤️ Belco t-shirt.

Delivery is included for orders in the ACT. Proceeds from the raffle will go towards my 2020 election campaign.
You can order your t-shirt here.

A new role

Special Secretary 
I am delighted to have been asked to serve as Special Secretary to the Chief Minister.

It's an honour to have been asked to serve as Special Secretary to the Chief Minister. 

As part of this role I will be lobbying federal parliamentarians in a renewed push to restore Territory rights so the ACT can pass laws on voluntary assisted dying. It is unfair that we can't even consider legislating on this issue based on where we live. I look forward to taking the fight to federal parliament. 

Another priority of mine is consulting with the community to identify market failures that are leading to poorer outcomes for Canberra consumers. Do you think Canberrans are paying too much for particular goods or services? Please get in touch. My contact details are at the bottom of this newsletter.

Local matters 

Belconnen Bikeway
Construction of the 4.7-kilometre Belconnen Bikeway is underway! I was pleased to join Ministers Chris Steel and Gordon Ramsay at an official sod turning on 2 October. 

Tara with Minister Gordon Ramsay and Minister Chris Steel at the Belconnen Bikeway sod turning.

Making Belconnen more bicycle-friendly is key to an active, accessible and well-connected community. I hope that connecting the Belconnen Town Centre to educational institutions, such as the University of Canberra, and to Belconnen's eastern suburbs will inspire more people to commute by bike.

The Belco Bikeway was a key recommendation in the Belconnen Town Centre Master Plan and will include the planting of 200 trees and 4000 shrubs. Work should be completed within the next year.

Fuel prices 

Last month the Select Committee on Fuel Prices, which I chaired, handed down its final report. The following recommendations were unanimously agreed: 

  1. The creation of a fuel prices oversight body or position to continually monitor and report on the ACT market.
  2. That the Government proactively approach independent operators and consider offering them incentives to attract them to the ACT market, with the aim of enabling greater competition.
  3. Introduce a mandatory real-time price monitoring scheme, accessed through a website and apps. While private apps currently exist, we found that none provides a full picture of the ACT market, and they can be inaccurate. We have specifically recommended the Government seek to expand the NSW FuelCheck scheme into the ACT.
  4. Enhanced education. Myths, like the ACT having a price cycle, or the ACT Government imposing a fuel tax, continue to persist. The more educated consumers are, the greater agency they have in making informed decisions.
  5. A review of ACT service station taxes and charges, comparing like sites in other areas of the ACT as well as other regions, to determine whether changes need to be made.
The way fuel prices are determined is largely outside the ACT Government's control. Greater competition and transparency are key themes throughout the report. The committee believes better choice and more information, combined with changes to consumer behaviour, will create the greatest chance of paying less at the pump. You can find the full report here

Southern Cross Drive
Thank you to everyone who signed my petition calling for upgrades to intersections on Southern Cross Drive. Many of us know how challenging it can be getting in and out of Page, Scullin and Florey.

I'm pleased that the Federal Government has recently committed $1.8 million to install new traffic lights at two intersections: Ross Smith Crescent and Chewings Street. These upgrades will go a long way to improving safety in the area. I look forward to seeing more detail as it becomes available. 

Healthy milestones
In July we celebrated the Belconnen Walk-In Centre's fifth birthday and one year since the University of Canberra Hospital opened. Free, accessible healthcare should always be a priority and it is fantastic to see walk-in centres being established in every town centre across Canberra. I have always received quick, professional and compassionate service at the Belconnen Walk-in Centre, as have many others in the community. 

In other health news, the Calvary Public Hospital expansion is underway. The $6.7 million upgrade of the hospital's emergency department includes 22 additional treatment spaces, increasing the hospital's overall treatment spaces by more than 50 per cent. The recruitment of 40 new doctors, nurses, administration staff and other health professionals will ensure the hospital continues to keep up with population growth in Canberra's north. The project is set for completion in April.

In the Assembly 

Fertility preservation
If you're of reproductive age and diagnosed with cancer or another serious disease, the very treatments that can help you survive - things like chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery - can also render you infertile.

In September I moved a motion calling on the government to investigate the feasibility of establishing a Territory-wide fertility preservation service for Canberrans of a reproductive age diagnosed with cancer or another serious disease. There is an incredibly small window for patients to undertake measures to preserve their fertility prior to treatment, which is why it's important fertility preservation processes are clear, streamlined and as accessible as possible.

Thank you to the women who shared their personal experiences with me and the Canberra community. I would also like to thank my fellow MLAs for unanimously supporting my motion. Click here to watch one of my speeches in the chamber.
Sustainable nappy, sanitary and continence products
Disposable nappies, sanitary products and incontinence products can't be recycled, take hundreds of years to decompose, and millions end up in landfill each day. In July I moved a motion calling on the government to consider introducing measures to encourage more people to use environmentally-friendly alternatives including cloth nappies and pads. Possible measures include a rebate scheme, a cloth nappy library service, workshops and more education materials. 

These products might not work for everyone or only some of the time - and that's OK. This motion is about looking at what we can do ensure the community is better informed about the many sustainable products out there - and making them as accessible as possible. Click here to watch part of the speech.
Sexual health
Sexual health is a vital component of our overall health and wellbeing. In May I moved a motion in the Assembly, encouraging the ACT Government to work alongside sector leaders to establish a collaborative, community-based sexual health outreach model. With rising rates of STIs and BBVs in the ACT and across Australia, it is important to foster sexual health literacy and awareness by actively reaching out to at-risk communities and the broader public. You can watch my speech by clicking here.

Speaking of sexual health, August marked 40 years since the Canberra Sexual Health Centre opened. Congratulations to everyone who has worked at the centre over the past four decades to not only improve sexual health outcomes in Canberra, but to tackle the stigma that surrounds sexual and reproductive health. 

Crematorium investigated
Many of you will recall the story of Eddy, who discovered the ashes of his son, Timothy, were missing from Norwood Crematorium. After Eddy's story became public, two more families came forward with stories of lost ashes.

These stories sparked a formal investigation. A report into that investigation was released in June. The report found that Norwood has no documented policies or procedures for the management of ashes and that it's record-keeping database is out of date. Norwood has been ordered to fix this.

Thankfully, the two other families have since had the ashes of their children located. Sadly, Timothy's ashes are still missing. 

A new crematorium for Canberra 
Earlier this month the ACT Government announced the establishment of  Canberra's first publicly-run crematorium in Gungahlin. This comes off the back of a community engagement process held last year which found the needs of multicultural communities were not being met in the ACT. This process also identified a common view that cemetery and crematoria services are a public service and should be provided by the government. The ACT Cemeteries Authority will operate the new crematorium and the Independent Competition and Regulatory Commission will set prices. Early design work will begin soon. 

Rubbish Sizzle
Many thanks to everyone who took the time to come to my Rubbish Sizzle at John Knight Memorial Park in August. The event involved residents and passers-by retrieving rubbish in exchange for a sausage sandwich. It was fantastic to see how much the Belconnen community cares for and treasures its green spaces, including the park and Lake Ginninderra. Keep an eye out on my Facebook page for another Rubbish Sizzle event in the near future.

Active Aranda 
In June I had the pleasure of attending an Active Aranda meeting to discuss how our public spaces can be improved. Thank you to the Aranda Residents' Group for organising the meeting and continually encouraging residents to be more active. Community-run initiatives like this are a great way to bring residents of all ages together to discuss what they would love to see happening in their suburb. I would also like to extend my thanks to all those who attended the meeting and provided feedback on Aranda's play equipment and oval.

Extraordinary Belconnen residents

Collecting lids to help kids
Tara with Tim Miller's children and a Lids4Kids collection bucket.
Did you know plastic bottle caps are not recyclable and most end up in landfill? 
Tim Miller and his family are changing that.
The Millers, perhaps best-known for their Aranda Street Library, have created Lids4Kids. Lids4Kids collects plastic bottle caps and delivers them to Envision Hands, an organisation that turns the lids into prosthetic limbs for children with a disability.
My office in the ACT Legislative is one of a number of collection points across Canberra. 
I'd love to hear from you:
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Member for Ginninderra · GPO Box 1020 · Canberra, ACT 2601 · Australia

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