Tasmanians urged to buy local and support our farmers

In light of the recent imported frozen vegetable recall across the country, Nationals Senator Steve Martin is urging Tasmanians to buy local and support our farmers.

“Our locally grown produce is some of the safest in the world and  I would encourage shoppers to keep buying Australian frozen vegetables as a result of this latest recall,” Senator Martin said.

“Now more than ever we need to be supporting our farmers and growers, and this is a timely reminder to buy local.”

“Unfortunately some Tasmanian growers and farmers have already been significantly impacted this year by the Queensland fruit fly incursion, so it is important that as consumers we continue to do everything we can to support our farmers.”

“We’re so lucky to have some of the highest quality produce on our doorstep and you know that any product that comes from Tasmania is going to be of the highest standard.”

“It would be great if every time we went shopping we all made the effort to ‘Grab a Tassie’  - purchase locally grown produce instead of produce that is imported from overseas.”

“With the recently released new food labelling that has been rolled out across the country, it is now even easier to identify food that has been grown, produced and packed in Australia, so I encourage everyone to do what they can to support our local agriculture industry.”

Coalition delivers landmark funding for Indigenous Protected Areas in Tasmania this NAIDOC Week

This NAIDOC Week, the Coalition Government will invest more than $3 million to support the Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation to protect biodiversity and cultural heritage through Indigenous Protected Areas in Tasmania.

Indigenous Protected Areas put land and sea country management into the hands of Traditional Owners, providing environmental, employment and social benefits.

Nationals Senator Steve Martin said there were eight Indigenous Protected Areas in Tasmania as part of 76 across the country that would receive Coalition Government funding to continue their work.

“Indigenous Protected Areas support First Australians to work on land and sea country, achieving significant conservation outcomes, connecting with country and culture and promoting Indigenous business,” Senator Martin said.

“The Coalition Government is making a record investment in ranger programs and is proud to have now invested $727 million since coming to office and I am proud to be announcing this new funding as part of NAIDOC Week 2018."

Senator Martin said combined with Indigenous Rangers, these programs employ over 2,900 First Australians across regional and remote Australia.

“I’m proud of the record support provided to Indigenous Protected Areas and Indigenous Rangers by the Coalition Government, including a $30 million project to build the capacity of rangers to pursue employment and business opportunities in biosecurity, fisheries and border protection,” Senator Martin said.

“The Coalition is able to invest in these critical environmental and land management programs because of our strong economic plan and responsible management of the budget."

Tasmanian Indigenous Protected Areas

Bass Electorate

·         Babel Island

·         Badger Island

·         Great Dog Island

·         lungatalanana

·         Mt Chappell Island

Braddon Electorate

·         Preminghana

Franklin Electorate

·         Putalina

·         Risdon Cove

Enormity puts call out for 730 more coats for homeless to reach 100K mark

Nationals Senator and Enormity Inc. founder Steve Martin has led the call for Australians to donate at least 730 more coats to help keep the homeless warm this winter as the charity closes in on the milestone of 100,000 donations since its inception.

Senator Martin said homelessness continued to be a growing problem as Enormity had made the initial goal in 1998 of getting 100,000 coats donated as that had been the number of Australians that had been estimated to be homeless at the time.  The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data estimates that 116,000 Australians had been homeless on Census night in 2016: a 4.6 per cent increase over the last five years

“Unfortunately homelessness continues to be a major problem throughout Australia and the work of Enormity is needed more than ever as it closes in on the milestone of 100,000 coats being donated since it was established in 1998,” Senator Martin said today.

“It’s pleasing to know that Australians through their past generosity do care about the homeless and that Enormity is doing something to help those in need. It was also encouraging to see mayors from around Australia do their bit last month when I attended the Australian Local Government Association’s National General Assembly and 70 coats were donated. We need just 730 more coats to be collected from caring Aussies to reach the 100,000 mark and keep the momentum of caring alive.”

Enormity President Emily Allardice said giving a coat can make a world of difference to a homeless person or someone in need.

“For people who can afford to buy their own clothes a coat may seem insignificant, but to someone who cannot, this small item could mean the world to them,” she said. “It could mean that they are more able to look after themselves, keep warm, help their children and even look smart for a job interview they may have. It’s something to help them out and that’s really important.”

It was fitting that Senator Martin was joined at Apex Park, in Ulverstone, by Enormity’s inaugural president, Anna Paice, former Central Coast mayor and inaugural patron Sue Smith, and the current mayor and patron, Jan Bonde, for the call for action to help the needy.

Founding President Ms Paice said Ulverstone was the right place for the latest call for coats to be donated as it was the site of the appeal being started 19 years ago.

"Enormity was a group of teenagers who got together for weekly meetings in 1996 in the hope of bringing young people's voices to the community landscape of Central Coast,” she said.

"We started Coat Day huddled on the streets of Ulverstone collecting coats from caring locals to be distributed through charity shops on the North West Coast. We even had one donated by former Prime Minister John Howard.

"It was a drive to get people actively thinking about the needs of others during the cold winter months, and I think it worked well. It's great for young people to step up and start looking out for others rather than focusing only on their own needs. 

"Over the years there have been impressive numbers of coats donated, and it's exciting to be part of this final drive for coats after 20 years.”

Ms Smith said it was encouraging to see the community-based Enormity grow from a movement supported by teenagers to one where donations have come from the likes of model Elle McPherson, AFL great Kevin Sheedy, Aussie pop group Killing Heidi, and politicians from all sides of the political divide.

“I urge all to not only be involved in a donation, but to encourage others within their sphere of influence to do the same so we can pass the 100,000 mark and go beyond it to show we are a caring community,” she said.

Mayor Bonde said donations of coats can be made at St Vincent de Paul Society centres around Australia.

“In its 20th year, Enormity, along with 3500 young volunteers nationally, have received and distributed more than 99,200 coats, including winter clothing to the homeless and needy of Australia,” she said. “It is pleasing to see great results when the community pulls together to help each other, and for an iconic organisation like Vinnies to be on board.”

Senator Martin said National Coat Day – using the social media hashtag #NationalCoatDay – will be held on Saturday, July 14. Collection points will be open between 10am and 2pm at Apex Park, Reibey St, Ulverstone, and at the Devonport Corporate Centre, on the corner of Best and Edward streets.

For more information and how to donate, visit www.stevemartin.com.au/enormity/ 

Additional funding keeps Australian icon flying high

The Royal Flying Doctor Service is making the most of the additional $84 million announced in the budget by extending its existing services and establishing a new mental health outreach program for Australians in rural and remote areas.

Minister for Rural Health, Senator Bridget McKenzie with Senator Steve Martin and Senator David Bushby, visited the Royal Flying Doctor Service base in Launceston today, and heard how the Coalition Government’s commitment is ensuring the iconic service continues to provide for regional Australia. 

“Through the Coalition Government’s Stronger Rural Health Strategy, the Royal Flying Doctor Service has received continued funding to provide essential aeromedical services,” Minister McKenzie said. 

“Spending time in Launceston today, I’ve had the pleasure of hearing firsthand how important the Royal Flying Doctor Service is to those living in beautiful rural and regional Tasmania and how much it is relied upon.”

Senator for Tasmania, Steve Martin said the Tasmanian branch of the Royal Flying Doctor Service is vital for those living outside regional centres. 

“The Royal Flying Doctor Service Tasmania provides reliable access to primary health care services, including dental for people living, working and visiting rural and remote areas of Tasmania and the Bass Strait islands,” Senator Martin said. 

“Thanks to the Coalition Government’s ongoing support, vital services like the outreach dental program will continue beyond March 2019 when previous funding was due to cease.

“From 1 January 2019, a new Mental Health Outreach Clinic program will provide professional mental health services to areas where there are currently few or none.”

This additional funding brings the Coalition Government’s four-year commitment to the Royal Flying Doctor Service to $327 million and ensures these essential services are available where and when people need them.

Minister McKenzie is no stranger regional Australia: “We know that Australians living in regional areas often have limited access to essential services and support that those in metropolitan cities take for granted,” Minister McKenzie said. 

Senator for Tasmania, David Bushby acknowledged the breadth of services and support offered by the Royal Flying Doctor Service across the country. 

“The Royal Flying Doctor Service is one of the largest and most comprehensive aeromedical organisations in the world, providing 24-hour emergency service to people over an area of 7.69 million square kilometres,” Senator Bushby said.

“Last year alone, the Royal Flying Doctor Service cared for 335,000 Australians in the air, on the ground, or via telehealth.”

The Government is also increasing its contribution to stand-by arrangements for Royal Flying Doctor Service bases to ensure access to ambulance services.

Six Royal Flying Doctor Service operational sections will directly benefit from this funding – Royal Flying Doctor Service of Tasmania (TAS), South East Section (NSW), Central Operations (SA and south of Tennant Creek), Western Operations (WA), Queensland Operations (QLD) and Royal Flying Doctor Service Victorian Section (VIC).

Mobile coverage switched on for Hamilton

Minister for Regional Communications Bridget McKenzie and Nationals Senator Steve Martin have welcomed the switch on of a new mobile base station in Hamilton, delivered under round 1 of the Coalition’s $220 million Mobile Black Spot Program.

The new mobile base station was completed by Vodafone and is the latest of 26 sites across the electorate of Lyons to receive new or improved mobile coverage under the program.

“The Mobile Black Spot Program is so important for our regions. This new infrastructure will enable those living in regional areas to participate in the digital economy and conduct business, as well as access important education and health services across the country,” Minister McKenzie said.

“It is delivering much needed new investment in mobile infrastructure across regional Australia to address mobile coverage issues.

“It’s fantastic to see that the program is reaching more and more communities across the country, like Hamilton.

“The Mobile Black Spot Program is enabling mobile carriers to service areas like Hamilton where it would otherwise not have been economically viable.”

“The Coalition’s rollout of more mobile base stations across Tasmania means wider access for businesses and private users in regional areas,” Senator Martin said.

“The wider access also brings with it improved access to emergency services and connects more people to vastly improved communication channels bringing with it social benefits.”

The Mobile Black Spot Program is delivering 867 new base stations over three rounds addressing black spots in every state and territory, bringing 21st century telecommunications to those living in regional Australia.

The Coalition is further delivering on its commitment to improve mobile coverage, with a further $25 million committed to a fourth round of the Program.

More information about the program and the rollout schedule is available at: communications.gov.au/mbsp

Free whooping cough vaccine for every pregnant woman in Tasmania

The Turnbull Government will provide the whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine to every pregnant woman in Tasmania from 1 July this year.

Nationals Senator for Tasmania, Steve Martin said the $39.5 million investment will mean the vaccine is added to the National Immunisation Program, guaranteeing its access, safety and availability for the first time.

“Whooping cough is a terrible disease that can cause life-threatening complications, including pneumonia or brain damage. Babies in their first six months of life are most at risk,” Senator Martin said.

“Newborns cannot be vaccinated until six weeks of age and the most effective way to protect a baby against the disease is vaccination of the mother during pregnancy.

“Whooping cough is a vaccine preventable disease and I urge all Tasmanian mums-to-be to get vaccinated.”

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the government will also undertake a national public education and promotion of the vaccine, targeting pregnant women with evidence based information on the benefits of this vaccine for mother and baby.

“According to the experts, getting vaccinated during the third trimester of pregnancy allows the mother to pass whooping cough antibodies to her baby, protecting them until they are old enough to receive the vaccine themselves,” Minister Hunt said.

Before listing this vaccine, medical experts from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation undertook an extensive investigation of this vaccine and determined it to be safe and effective.

The Government acted on the recommendations from both PBAC and ATAGI in making this vaccine available.

This is part of broader investment in immunisation. The Government has funded $460 million in vaccines and related activities through the National Immunisation Program this year alone.

New food labels provide more clarity for Tasmanian consumers

Tasmanian consumers will now have more clarity and less confusion about the food products they buy.

Consumers will now be able to look to the familiar kangaroo symbol for clear and accurate information on if the food was made, grown, produced or packed in Australia, or in another country, with the new country of origin labelling requirements for food now mandatory.

Assistant Minister for Science, Jobs and Innovation Zed Seselja said the Australian Government had successfully delivered on community expectations that food labelling should provide a true statement about the product’s origin.

“Australian consumers were rightfully concerned about unclear and confusing food labels. The Government addressed those concerns by implementing significant reforms to food labelling,” Assistant Minister Seselja said.

“Australian farmers and producers will see the benefits with consumers able to identify and choose to buy Australian products. I commend the many businesses that adopted the new labelling before the end of the transition period. This shows their willingness to provide consumers with more meaningful information about product origin.”

Nationals Senator Steve Martin said the new labels offer Tasmanian consumers the information they need to make educated choices about the food on their tables.

“The new labels provide consumers in Tasmania with accurate information and real choice. They will now find it easier to choose products that match their preferences,” Senator Martin  said.

The food labelling reforms commenced on 1 July 2016 after consultation with the Australian community and businesses. Australian consumers made it known that they wanted clearer and more meaningful food labelling, so they could make more informed choices about the food they buy.

Businesses were given two years to transition to the new arrangements. The transition period ended on 1 July 2018. Most food products sold in Australia must now meet the new labelling requirements. Stock in trade provisions minimise the need to relabel products labelled before 1 July 2018.

Consumer information can be found on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) website.

Businesses looking for more information should visit the ACCC and Business.gov.au websites.

Life-changing breast cancer medication for Tasmanian patients

A life-changing breast cancer medicine listed by the Turnbull Government on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) will be available for patients in Tasmania from July 1 this year.

Nationals Senator for Tasmania, Steve Martin said the investment of $703.6 million by the Government will mean that more than 3,000 Australian patients with inoperable or metastatic hormone receptor positive breast cancer will benefit from the 1 July listing of ribociclib (Kisqali®).

“Hormone receptor positive tumours are the most common form of breast cancer and account for most of the deaths from the disease,” Senator Martin said. 

“By inhibiting two proteins that drive the growth of tumour cells, ribociclib — used in combination with other drugs — will slow the progression of inoperable and metastatic breast cancers in some patients.

“This medication would otherwise cost patients around $71,820 per year but under the PBS patients will cost $39.50 per script while concessional patients will pay $6.40 per script.”

The independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) recommended the listing of Kisqali.

The Committee is by law and in practice, independent of Government in its deliberations.  By law the Federal Government cannot list a new medicine without a positive recommendation from this committee.

Minister for Health Greg Hunt said since coming into Government, the Coalition has helped improve the health of Australians by subsidising approximately $9 billion worth of new medicines.

“Unlike Labor, we are subsidising all drugs recommended by the PBAC,” Senator Martin said.

“Labor delayed the listing of seven vital drugs – leaving important medicines out of reach for many Australian patients.”

"The Coalition’s commitment to the PBS is rock solid. Together with Medicare, it is a foundation of our world-class health care system.”

Backing smart farming practices in Tasmania

Fishers in Tasmania are set to benefit from a slice of $27 million in Landcare grant funding aimed at developing and implementing the next generation of sustainable fishing practices.

Nationals Senator for Tasmania, Steve Martin said the Southern Regional Natural Resource Management Association would receive $1,590,936 over the next four years for the Tasmanian Smart Seafood Partnership, which will build a collaborative and consistent approach to support sustainable seafood production, NRM and effective conservation and restoration of Tasmania’s marine biodiversity.

“Tasmanian farmers, fishers and community groups have an intimate knowledge of the land they work and live on, so these grants are about helping them maximise and share their ideas,” Senator Martin said.

The Tasmanian Smart Seafood Partnership will provide a consistent Sustainable Seafood Pathways skills set package and associated accredited training for use within the Tasmanian aquaculture and fishing industries, community, landcare and Indigenous groups.

The Partnership will also deliver a marine biodiversity awareness package to seafood industry and community groups, as well as supporting on the ground activities with partners regarding conservation and restoration of Tasmania’s marine biodiversity.

“These multi-year grants of up to $4 million are about helping farming-focused organisations to put their ambitious projects into action.”

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud said almost $27 million had been granted through the Smart Farming Partnerships initiative.

“Aussie farmers have a huge job managing 61 per cent of this nation’s land which is why part of the Coalition Government’s $1 billion National Landcare Program is directed squarely at them,” Minister Littleproud said.

“The first round of funding was highly competitive. I strongly encourage those who missed out under round one to apply under future rounds.”

Fast facts:

Smart Farming Partnership Grants ranged between $480,000 and $4 million.

The National Landcare Program phase two is an investment of more than $1 billion to 2023.

Landcare was first launched in 1989 and has had bipartisan support for nearly 30 years.

Grants for volunteer organisations in Tasmania

Senator Steve Martin has called on community organisations in Tasmania to apply for grant funding to support the efforts of their hard working volunteers.

Senator Martin said the Turnbull Government was providing $20 million worth of grants valued between $1,000 and $5,000 to not-for-profit organisations.

“The grants can be used towards the cost of essential items that help make the work of Tasmania’s volunteers easier, safer, and more enjoyable, such as equipment, training, transport and background screening,” Senator Martin said.

“Volunteers are the lifeblood of our community and by continuing to help each other and work together, we are building stronger and safer communities throughout Tasmania.

“I encourage all not-for-profit organisations in Tasmania to apply for the Volunteer Grants round to assist our volunteers and encourage volunteering.”

The Volunteer Grants round is expected to open in August.For more information, visit the Department of Social Services’ Community Grants Hub website to subscribe to updates on the application process.