A rollercoaster of a month and our COVID-19 recovery and border reopening, with highlights including celebrating the 101st birthday of the lovely Merv, right through to the lowlights of 4am finishes researching bill amendments in their hundreds during Parliament. Bleary eyed? Absolutely!!

This month we conducted two surveys via Facebook. The first on election signage, and there were no surprises with the results, though plenty of comments providing good food for thought!  With over half of respondents preferring to limit election materials, and 46% calling for a total ban, either way, there was a call for change.

The second was on voting methodologies, and this did have a moment of surprise considering the impacts of COVID, with 56% wanting ‘choice’ of a combination of traditional booth, postal, telephone and online voting options, with leaving booths out coming in a close ‘2nd’. With only 3% polling for ‘no change’, clearly the vast majority are not happy with the current system, and we will continue our ongoing efforts in this.

Thank you to the more than 680 residents who participated, with updates below and via 360  regarding both. A reminder that with a short ‘year’ due to elections, our annual Connect and survey will be coming out prior to October, and it is vital that you add your voice to the collective as part of identifying the priorities for 2021.

From the Chamber and Beyond

The last sitting saw great frustration, with two bills altered at the eleventh hour which included 229 amendments to one. Whilst it is encouraging and vital to have our governments respond to the challenges during COVID quickly, it is equally important that if amendments change the integrity of a bill, it at least is returned to Committee for clarifications to be obtained. With the Electoral Bill, these amendments saw an increase to the limits set initially for election signage, which saw our vote change from an original ‘aye’ to a ‘nay’. With my debate speech being caught in the ‘guillotine’, I have posted this ‘non delivered’ speech online at https://bit.ly/3dqSCaP.

The pay increase freeze/deferral for public servants was another example, which was a last-minute amendment added to essential legislation to give our community service workers much needed portable long service leave. It is always difficult to support any bill that sees a Government reneging on an agreement, however the COVID emergency has brought about many hard decisions, and this was one. I thank all those frontliners who through this time have put others first, and have continued to through their understanding of how the funds from this will assist those whom have lost their jobs and businesses through the creation or transition to new jobs.

The ‘takeout’s’ from this sitting? The need to reform the mechanisms used to reform, with speed of the essence. And the need to take forward a culture of ‘why we must’ versus ‘why we can’t’ into our recovery and post COVID world, which I spoke of in my Adjournment speech, available via www.sandybolton.com/parliament/speeches/

L-R: 4 generations celebrate 101 years;The Biggest Morning Tea goes online!; A treasured memory of calm?

From the Inbox

Many COVID-19 related queries continued to pour in including yes, ‘that’ one on border re-openings! At the same time, it is evident that ‘normality’ is returning with seasonal issues such as fire mitigation efforts and commercial fishing on North Shore being raised. Regardless of the ongoing debate surrounding netting in Noosa, these are legal businesses operating under permits. Our local Department of Fisheries officers are always on hand to investigate any concerns, which you can do 24/7 via the Fishwatch Hotline 1800 017 116.

As many may have seen, our new local Maritime Safety Officer, Jake, with the assistance of our police are making inroads into addressing river behaviours, with a blitz last weekend seeing some 80 intercepts, with a combination of education, fines and even home visits being utilised where appropriate. Just the beginning to efforts in not only making our river safer, but cleaner, with any moored vessels of concern currently in various stages of processing. This has been frustratingly slow, from legislation that needs an overhaul!

On the Homefront

There is so much to relay! Meetings (on and off line) with Tennis QLD, Sunshine Coast Environmental Council, QLD Conservation Council, Australian Childcare Alliance and Zero Emissions Noosa on the Environmental Upgrade Agreements, and that was just to start! Welcomed visitations and announcements including the renewal of the Noosa Hospital contract for a further 10 years ensuring delivery of public funded services and the ability to expand on these once the Clinical Service Plans are finalised. Watch this space in the coming months!

Minister Hinchliffe enjoyed ‘sangas’ with Councillors as part of the announcement that saw Noosa becoming, after 2 years of advocacy, eligible for Works for Queensland funding. This $1.8 million in addition to $2 million already received will fund a number of projects via Noosa Council including $250k towards safe and secure accommodation for women and children experiencing domestic and family violence.

The Noosa Trail Masterplan was unleashed in the rain, and it was definitely challenging for media to herd all of us into a photo! An initiative of Tourism Noosa in partnership with Noosa Council, Noosa & District Landcare and the Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation, the TN team will be heading to hinterland villages as soon as COVID restrictions are eased to run through the Masterplan and implementation strategy.

The hard part in amongst the month? Lots of interviews including one that incorporated a photo shoot – grey roots and all, for the COVID Flipside project! The fun one was a ‘welcome back’ clip to our Tewantin State School students, with some furry friends as a back drop 😊

L-R: With the Minister and Noosa Council; Noosa Trails Masterplan release; Noosa Hospital Announcement

Grants and Funding Announcements

We have had a wonderful response to our one-off ‘Restart’ Grant to help some of our fabulous community organisations and sporting clubs get back up and running.  Successful applicants have been advised this week. Again, thank you to all our amazing organisations and volunteers, you are the lifeblood of our community and I can’t wait to get out and see you all back in action soon!

For those waiting for further information on the new Home Builder Grant, this should be available soon at www.qld.gov.au/housing/buying-owning-home/financial-help-concessions/homebuilder

For other current government grant opportunities see the QLD Government Grant Finder or Grants Guru.

Parliamentary Speeches and Questions

All speeches can be viewed on our website here.  Recent Questions on Notice (QONs) can be found below:

Recent Questions Without Notice can be found here.

Have Your Say

Current government public consultations can be found at www.getinvolved.qld.gov.au/gi.
Current committee inquiries can be found here: www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-committees/inquiries

COVID-19 Recovery Assistance Links

L-R: Elia Hill from Tennis Qld at Parliament; catching up with fabulous businesses as they reopen

Mobile office  

It has been good to be back out on the road again and visit community organisations, residents and local businesses.  In the coming weeks I have 2 ‘roadies’ scheduled, and I will update via my Facebook page and hopefully see you street side! 😊

Office reminders

Our office is now open to residents with COVID Safe distancing and hygiene measures in place. Community organisations are welcome to use our photocopier for newsletters, etc.  Currently the marquees and trailer are still not available for use. However, as always, we are here to help, so please email us at noosa@parliament.qld.gov.au or phone: 07 5319 3100.

Connect

With so much ‘news’ to communicate, stay up to date via  NOOSA 360 ,  Facebook page updates or our monthly newsletters. Columns are featured in Noosa News , Noosa TodayCoolum Advertiser as well quarterly in the Forest Star and Cooroora Connect.

And Finally…

Like grains of sand, components of an MP’s day, week and month slip quickly by and through my hands. In the rush of efforts to ‘fix’ everything, these moments, or grains, can be lost. Including learnings from the ‘grains’, both good, and not so good.

It was during being interviewed regarding my COVID experiences as an MP, and a mother and grandmother, I suddenly realised that I had not had time to think about this. And it brought a rush of memories, and feelings that then triggered others. Walking and talking along the lineups outside Centrelink, and the grief I felt. To have those that I met on those lines, grab me on the street over the last month to let me know they are okay, turned that grief to enormous relief. And a realisation I have been holding my breath on behalf of our community, this whole time.

As we increasingly return back to our normal busyness versus the emergency ‘dash’, I want to take a breath and moment to reflect. On how much I have deeply appreciated every single one of you, what you have done for each other and how you have faced this time. How incredibly honoured I have been that you shared your moments with me, including tears of sadness, as well joy. Because in all the ‘missings’, including our loved ones and the hugs on the street, what we had was each other. If COVID has a ‘good’ side, it is that we became extra reliant on each other, connected more than ever through necessity, and opened up our streets and hearts. This to be treasured, nurtured, and never lost as we head into our future.

Warmest regards, and remember keep up the 1.5 and hand washing!!

Sandy 🙏