08 November 2022

I'm pleased to present a petition by concerned Australians on the issue of helium filled balloons. Petition EN4351 was signed by 3,354 citizens and has been considered by the Petitions Committee and found to be in order. It calls for the prohibition of the release of any number of helium filled balloons and calls for the regulation of the sale and use of helium to inflate balloons and to stop the release of helium filled balloons into the environment.

I would like to thank my constituent Karen Joynes from Bermagui, who has tirelessly campaigned on this issue for many years. We all love balloons, but when they're used outdoors they can escape into the environment and end up in our oceans or waterways and can cause harm to our precious wildlife. In 2019 CSIRO found that seabirds are up to 32 times more likely to die when they swallow balloons than any other form of hard plastic. In 2017, when I was mayor of the Bega Valley shire, we successfully moved a motion to ban the release of balloons at council events and on council managed reserves. At the time, I committed to council to advocate for the banning of the release of balloons at the regional, state and national levels. I am, therefore, pleased to table this petition today.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Stevens):

Has the petition been approved by the Petitions Committee?

Ms McBAIN: Yes.

Ms McBAIN: The Raise our Voice in Parliament campaign was open to all young people in Australia. I received a letter from Oscar, from Bega, who wished to raise this issue in parliament:

My name is Oscar (14), and I am a high school student from Bega, which is located in the Eden-Monaro Electorate. Today I am asking our new parliament to accomplish the critical task of improving rural healthcare.

People living in rural and remote areas are not getting the adequate health care they deserve. Arguably, the biggest contributing factor to this is a lack of staffing. The Bega District news reported in 2021 that there were 200 unfilled nursing shifts over a four week period. This puts patients, doctors, and nurses at risk. Improving staffing in rural healthcare is important as it will improve health outcomes.

Living in a rural area is truly a blessing, so I believe that our parliament could introduce strong incentives, such as monetary and educational benefits, to boost the amount of doctors and nurses providing health care in rural areas. The Bega Valley is a beautiful location, but health care professionals should receive adequate support so they can work here long term.

Needless to say, our new parliament must accomplish the task of improving rural health. Health care is a human right, no matter whether someone lives. This has been an issue for a long time, and I ask that our new parliament act.

Oscar, we are doing just that. There were over 70 budget measures in the regional budget statement.

Just quickly, I'll give a shout-out to the Robo Rebels, the Narooma High School robotics team. They were 2022 Duel Down Under winners at Macquarie University, quarter finalists in the March 2022 FRC Southern Cross Regional in Wollongong and winners of the breakthrough award at the Wollongong Regional FLL competition in November 2021. Well done to the students of the robotics club at Narooma High School.