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Independent Candidate for the Federal seat of Groom.

All content authorised by S.Holt Toowoomba

Question 20

Question 20

 

Question 20 Answer Content

Question 19

Question 19

 

Question 19 Answer Content

What is your position on Covid-19 Vaccinations?

 

What is your position on Covid-19 Vaccinations?

 

It is the role of government to meet the needs of their people during disasters. The COVID-19 pandemic required the federal and state governments, employers, health care services, schools, and other organizations to take actions to slow the spread of the virus and to gain time to prepare for a national vaccination scheme.

 

These actions were taken in good faith and in the best interests of the Australian community as a whole. Some people are unable to take up vaccinations for their own personal reasons and must make choices according to their needs. I believe people who can and want to be vaccinated should have ready access to the most appropriate vaccine according to their needs.

 

The pandemic’s impacts and costs — personal, financial, and social — have taken a toll, and we must ensure Australians have access to the health services they need.

How should Groom continue to support refugees and other new Australians?

 

How should Groom continue to support refugees and other new Australians?

 

Toowoomba and our region have an outstanding approach to welcoming refugees as new Australians who make significant contributions to our economy, culture, and way of life.

 

Again, we are watching war destroying lives. Ukrainians are forced to abandon their homes for safety. People of Afghanistan are needing safe haven. Many other countries are likewise suffering.

 

Religious and community leaders are calling upon the Australian government to increase our intake of refugees. It was wrong to politicise individual cases such as the family who long to return to their home in Biloela.

 

The people of Biloela exemplify that wonderful Australian spirit of giving people a “fair go”. We can offer that same spirit, safety, and new lives to people forced to leave their homes in Ukraine, Afghanistan, and other places.

What is your position on Covid-19 Mandates?

What is your position on Covid-19 Mandates?

 

I have been concerned about the impact of mandates on businesses. The rules were not uniform and had a big impact on people’s livelihoods. It makes sense that they are now reviewed and rolled back in accordance with the public health advice.

What is your position on the skill shortage and unemployment rates?

What is your position on the skill shortage and unemployment rates?

 

The March 2022 Recruitment Insights Report by the National Skills Commission report shows that 32% of enterprises surveyed aimed to increase staff but 64% had difficulty finding the right staff. Groom businesses being held back by lack of staff.

 

The five industries that employ 57% of people in the region — health care, agriculture, retail, manufacturing, and construction — need solutions to attract, retain, and grow a regional workforce. The challenge is that employers in other cities and regions are competing for the skilled employees in similar industry sectors.

 

In our current tight labour market, we need a regionally relevant strategy to ensure we can compete for staff. Our youth unemployment rate is 11% — double the national rate. Our underemployment rate shows there are people who want more work, including include older adults.

 

We need to bring VET, higher education, and workplace training together to ensure our region has a ready workforce. We have got to have systems in place to enable better access to training and to enable workers to reskill to keep up to date with industry changes, which are happening hard and fast.

Do you support an inclusive society?

Do you support an inclusive society?

 

An inclusive society celebrates and supports diversity of language, religion, political persuasion, gender, sex, race, colour and ethnic origin. Here in our community of Groom, my vision is to be a representative in Federal Parliament for everyone in our diverse region: I will listen to those who, for so long, have had no voice in our electorate.

 

We must remember that the damage done through discrimination and lack of acceptance affects not only individuals and their families, it affects the whole community. To be complacent on any issue which creates division is to passively accept discriminatory practices, and my team and I will not be complacent. We will strive to advocate for all who do not feel safe, welcomed and loved in our community.

 

We will work hard to protect the rights of everyone within our electorate and demand respect and acceptance for all. And we will do so through compassion, care and community work. Groom can and should be a vibrant, dynamic, welcoming, diverse and inclusive community, where every voice counts.

 

As Barbara Gittings, a prominent American advocate for lgbtqia+ equality, put it: “Equality means more than just passing laws. The struggle is really won in the hearts and minds of the community, where it really counts.” And it counts here in our region, in our community, among our families.

What is your position on the housing crisis?

What is your position on the housing crisis?

 

The housing crisis requires a national response. If we are serious about housing justice in Australia, the debate should be about more than social housing or increasing rent assistance. Housing was a central plank of Australia’s reconstruction program after World War 2.

 

It can play an equivalent role in helping us address the post-Covid economy. I will continue to work with the Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce, developers and Toowoomba Regional Council to resolve the housing crisis in our region.

What is your position on Health Services policy and funding?

What is your position on Health Services policy and funding?

 

Health care funding to our region is one of my core commitments. In my travels across our region, I have listened to stories of pain and neglect. While acknowledging that the health care staff in our region do an exemplary job with the resources they have, I am committed to raising the profile of our region and highlighting the lack of heath care resources in the Groom electorate.

 

I support the AMA’s call to increase the Federal:State funding ratio of our hospital system to 50:50. While this would be a 6.2% increase in federal health spending it would add 5 billion dollars a year, enough to pay for our hospital. First and foremost is the need for a new hospital and health precinct. While other regions in Queensland have received new public hospitals in the last ten years, Groom has been neglected by local members parliament.

 

They have not stood up in Canberra to fight for funding for our region. This is something I will do. I refuse to believe that a new hospital will take as many years to morph into existence as the Toowoomba Bypass. Federal members of parliament can work with state government to achieve a far quicker solution to a problem which affects all in our electorate.

 

By modernising healthcare services, we can improve access across areas such as maternity, mental health, aged care, emergency, chronic conditions, disability, all of which benefits everyone, including the more vulnerable in our community. Until we get our new hospital, a collaborative approach to addressing the health services and infrastructure gap in Groom is required. For the last year I have been working with local interests proposing a public private partnership (PPP) to grow healthcare in Groom.

 

This has the potential to deliver sooner, and for significantly lower cost, the health services that Groom requires NOW, not in ten years time. But it will not see the light of day unless we change our region’s member of parliament. I will advocate for the return of essential health services to our small towns.

 

Everywhere I go people are telling me their stories of being unable to access the services they need, especially primary health care, mental health care and suicide prevention. The Toowoomba region has a 6% higher suicide rate than the rest of Queensland. This shows that mental health should be a focus for the future.

 

I am determined to support our region’s largest employer, the health industry, by ensuring medical teaching becomes accessible locally. In line with my ‘Regions at the Ready’ plan which focuses on the liveability of Groom, my team and I are determined to attract people to fill critical job shortages. Upgraded health facilities will help to sway the undecided.

Do you support the Uluru Statement from the Heart?

Do you support the Uluru Statement from the Heart?

 

As a strong believer in self-determination, the words used by Carissa Lees in The Conversation on 2nd April sum up my position for the First Nations people in Groom. Ms Lees highlighted how the Aboriginal Tent Embassy was ‘keeping the fight for First Nations sovereignty visible to powerful figures in our nation’s capital”.

 

If I have the honour of being elected as your Federal member, I will work hard to listen to the community of Groom and extend an open invitation to any First Nations people who would like to bring local, state, and Federal issues to my attention. Issues already brought to my attention include: the need for urgent social housing reform, community engagement and employment; a greater number of trained Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection officers; reform in the Youth justice system.

 

Regarding support for Indigenous rangers and Indigenous protected areas, I have acknowledged the valuable social, environmental, and economic benefits that flow from the inclusion of Indigenous knowledge and land managers, including Indigenous Rangers in all environmental policies. I would work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in our community to ensure that we, as a region, benefit from such knowledge.

 

The recent work facilitated by the Traditional Owners across the many nations of Australia to produce the Uluru Statement from the Heart is a document of strength and incredible generosity. While I acknowledge that support is not unanimous amongst all, I would like to highlight that it is time to take First Nations voices on board in all aspects of Government.

 

Too many petitions over the decades have been ignored, dismissed or only partially heeded in a tokenistic manner. We need to listen to First Nations people.

What is your position supporting a strong policy on Domestic and Family Violence?

What is your position supporting a strong policy on Domestic and Family Violence?

 

We know that the rates of domestic and family violence (DFV) are higher in regional, rural and remote areas. Women often don’t feel able seek help because of shame and community gossip, especially when the perpetrators are well-known members of the community. Health, housing, social, and legal services are also more difficult to access. As a former social worker I am acutely aware of these issues.

 

I support the expansion of primary prevention strategies to tackle sexism and lack of consent, especially targeting higher risk groups. Community education and awareness are essential. I am committed to seeing properly funded and staffed services embedded in local communities. This includes safe housing and behaviour change programs

What is your position on Disability and NDIS policy and funding?

What is your position on Disability and NDIS policy and funding?

 

Disabled people across Groom have highlighted the continued lack of respect paid to their needs in our region. They have also said that their voices are not being heard by their current Federal member of parliament, a theme which is reflected nationally.

 

I recognize that the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), while brilliant in its concept, needs a great deal of fine-tuning and more accountability to work in a more equitable and practical way. This will allow participants to access the supports they need as it was originally designed to do.

 

I recommend that all voters read Queenslanders with Disability Network and People With Disability Australia’s open letter to all parties and candidates, calling for no Australian to be left behind during disasters and emergencies (https://qdn.org.au/open-letter-didrr-federal-election-2022/).

 

This letter has been endorsed by leading disability rights, advocacy groups and peak body organisations. Here in Groom, I pledge my support for the recommendations made in the letter and call on all regional bodies, political parties, and candidates to do the same.

What is your position on climate and the environment?

 

What is your position on climate and the environment?

 

Businesses across our region and Australia are moving ahead of the government to make investments in carbon neutral technology and practices because it makes good business sense.

 

In our own electorate there are examples of this in agricultural technology and clean hydrogen. Legislation supporting investment in renewable energy would give businesses certainty. Legislation to support carbon neutral practices in agriculture would provide incentives to one of our biggest industries.

 

Support for electric vehicles would revolutionise our transport industry. If we don’t get the broad policies of climate transition right, businesses will be struggling to be carbon neutral, meaning our economy will lose money. The Business Council of Australia and the National Farmers’' Federation support a net zero 2050 strategy.

 

It is well-documented that failing to embrace the opportunities of climate action will leave our economy in a bad position. Projects without direction can become expensive white elephants. Business needs quality policies that support them becoming carbon neutral by 2050 as a priority.

 

A failure to address these issues would contribute to worsening natural disasters and water insecurity. To move towards a carbon-neutral economy, businesses need certainty to allow them to further invest in industries of the 21st century rather than those of the past.

What is your position on arts funding?

 

What is your position on arts funding?

 

Long-term liveability requires long-term lifestyle options. If we are to retain and attract workers to our region, we need to have arts and cultural opportunities appropriate to all age groups.

 

We have some amazing organisations in our community, including the Empire Theatre (of which I am a Trustee). To fill the gaps that exist for younger members of our community, I have been working with SE QLD based arts promoters who are interested in investing in our region and bringing nationally significant music acts to our region.

What is your position on Aged Care policy and funding?

 

What is your position on Aged Care policy and funding?

 

We all want the best possible care for older Australians and that means we need a workforce that is qualified and appropriately remunerated. People working in Australia’s aged-care system provide essential services to not only their clients in residences and at home, but also to clients’ families and communities reliant upon their important work.

 

We must act now to build an aged care workforce that can meet present and future demands for quality care for older Australians. With my focus on community, I strongly believe in a system of aged care that treats people with dignity and respect. With this belief comes action, and I will use my voice in parliament to call for the Aged Care Act 1997 to be replaced by July 2023 as recommended by the Royal Commission into Aged Care as one of my top priorities.

 

I will sign the Queensland Nurses and Midwives' Union pledge to support the key areas of having at least one registered nurse on site, legislated staffing ratios, funding being tied to care, and improved staff wages and conditions. I am also committed to increasing local, state, and federal recognition for the work done by Carers in our region, and to reviewing the Carer Allowance.

 

By listening to carers in our community who face the daily challenge of navigating outdated systems, my team and I will identify what is most urgently needed here in our Groom electorate, and take region-specific information to Canberra.

Who is funding your campaign?

Who is funding your campaign?

 

Our campaign is a true community, grassroots effort that has been funded by family and many generous individual donations. It has been suggested that our campaign is being financed by Simon Holmes à Court’s Climate 200 lobby group.

 

This could not be further from the truth. Our campaign team has worked hard to engage with the community across the Groom electorate and, in doing so, has received funds through the generosity of community members.

 

Unlike the major parties who accept funds from large corporate donors, our campaign is based on widespread community engagement and grassroots support

How will you decide to offer your support to form government in the case of a hung parliament?

How will you decide to offer your support to form government in the case of a hung parliament?

 

I have always said that I will listen to the community and represent their interests in Canberra. We will not know the outcome of the election until all votes are counted and declared, and the expected high number of pre-poll and postal votes may mean we will not have a clear outcome on the night of the election.

 

If a hung parliament becomes likely, then first I will meet with community leaders and listen to their views prior to meeting with political parties and other independents. Also, I will take into account voters’ first preference votes for the runner-up candidate.

Will you support establishing a Federal Integrity Commission?

Will you support establishing a Federal Integrity Commission?

 

In my conversations with the people of Groom, I have heard loud and clear that they want a politician with integrity who listens to and represents them. People are sick of politicians manipulating the facts to suit their stories.

 

They are tired of politicians who toe the party line and care more about their donors than their constituents. If elected, I will faithfully represent the people of Groom above all other interests.

 

I will support a Federal Integrity Commission to ensure politicians and bureaucrats are held to the same level of honesty, transparency, and accountability as every other law-abiding citizen. Australians want a Federal Integrity Commission that is independent of government and free from political manipulation. I will work hard to make this a reality.

Will you be allocating preferences on your how to vote card?

Will you be allocating preferences on your how to vote card?

 

I will be asking voters to Vote 1 for Suzie Holt. Voters can make up their own minds about how to vote and allocate their own preferences. I will not be offering preferences to other candidates

Why should I support an independent over a party politician?

Why should I support an independent over a party politician?

 

Independents who stand on a “grass roots” platform based on local and regional issues are far better placed to understand and represent the needs of local people. A party politician must represent their party first and their constituents come second.

 

Party politics has served Australia well, but our needs are different now. People in our region have told me that they want a representative in Canberra who is in touch with and accountable to their local voters, not political party officials. I am a truly independent candidate who believes in people not parties.

 

I commit to supporting the most appropriate party to form government in the likely case of a hung parliament. I will guarantee supply to that potential government but I will demand a local perspective on each and every bill of legislation that affects the people of Toowoomba and the region.

 

The current member of parliament is a party politician who votes along party lines, that’s their rule and our region has suffered because of it. I will vote on what the people of our region have told me throughout our extensive “kitchen table conversations” and through local business and community forums.

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