News

Federal parliament resumes

By James Bennett

After spending nearly a month with their feet up by the fire during the cold winter break our federal politicians have returned to Canberra.

News journalist James Bennett reports on what you might have missed.

They did visit Barmah

Federal Member for Nicholls Damian Drum confirmed in parliament he and Water Resources Minister David Littleproud visited Barmah last week.

Mr Drum and Mr Littleproud were reportedly inspecting the choke and forest.

However at the last minute the media was told the visit was cancelled, without any official explanation.

What appears to have happened, is that the visit went ahead, without the media.

The Barmah choke is one of the barriers to higher environmental flows and susceptible to damage from the flows which have become a problem for irrigators wanting water delivered at the right time, and for environmentalists who don’t want to see bank damage.

Speaking on Wednesday about the Water Amendment (Indigenous Authority Member) Bill 2019, Mr Drum confirmed the visit.

"Last week I had the opportunity to host Minister Littleproud in the Barmah Forest where we were able to see firsthand some of the damage that's associated with trying to run more water down the Murray River than what the Murray River can actually cope with," Mr Drum said.

Foreign-born workers are important

There needs to be a better understanding it's easier fill city jobs than it is in regional Australia, according to Mr Drum.

Speaking during an adjournment session on the Nicholls electorate, Mr Drum told parliament it's a lot harder for business to find the right workers in the country.

Mr Drum said a solution would be to have less restrictions on foreign-born workers.

"Our biggest problem in the region is that there is a whole raft of employment opportunities and sectors that are not able to get the labour that they are looking for," he said.

"We need people in Melbourne and Sydney to understand that in the regions, if we are going to drive our Australian businesses forward, we need to be able to access overseas workers."

Mr Drum said different options available for overseas workers including backpacker arrangements, visas for skill shortages and the Seasonal Workers Program had benefited the Goulburn Valley.

"We have to get away from the concept that if we bring somebody in from overseas to fill a role in a given sector that somehow or other we're taking away a job from an Australian.

"Already we have so many businesses that are advertising and advertising and trying and trying to get those jobs filled from within Australia, but to no avail.

"I'm asking the ministers, including Minister (Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services, and Multicultural Affairs) Coleman (David), to do everything they can to assist places like the Goulburn Valley, the Campaspe Shire, the City of Greater Shepparton and the Moira Shire," Mr Drum said.

Henderson defeats Mirabella

A familiar Liberal party face has won her way back to Canberra.

Sarah Henderson defeated Greg Mirabella - husband of former Federal Member for Indi Sophie Mirabella - for Liberal preselection for the vacant Senate seat to replace outgoing Senator Mitch Fifield.

Ms Henderson spent six years in the House of Representatives as the Member for Corangamite on the Victorian Surf Coast before losing her position at this year's federal election.

With the backing of Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Ms Henderson won the Liberal preselection 234 votes to Mr Mirabella's 197.

Tim remembered

Former Deputy Prime Minister and Member for Farrer Tim Fischer was officially farewelled in parliament.

Mr Fischer died last month and will be remembered as a vital member of John Howard's cabinet during his first term.