Senator Linda Reynolds was sworn in as a Senator on 1 July 2014 and is proud to represent Western Australia in the Senate.
Linda has over 20 years’ experience working for Ministers, Members of Parliament and the Liberal Party of Australia. She has also worked in the defence industry and food and grocery industry. Linda is deeply humbled and honoured to represent the people of Western Australian in the Senate.
A fairer deal on GST
West Australians have always understood what it takes to be competitive and productive; it is the enterprising spirit of West Australians which underpins the state’s economy. Unfortunately for Western Australia our economic success has seen our GST share fall over recent years.
Fiscal equalisation is an important principle which is integral to the function of our federation, however the revenue sharing arrangements as determined by the Commonwealth Grants Commission (CGC) are broken. There is no way to describe how the CGC calculates the fiscal capacities of each state. Presently, the data the CGC takes into account comes from a time when the price of iron ore hovered well over $100 per tonne and the state was in the peak of the construction phase of the resources boom.
“Today, we find ourselves in a very different position, the distribution methodology was never developed with the prospect of this situation arising,” Senator Reynolds said. “We now have a system which doesn’t provide the incentive to reform because the worse a state performs the more grants it receives, as a result the more competitive, productive and innovative a state is the more it is penalised.
“I am proud to have been appointed as Western Australia’s representative to the Coalition Taskforce on the Reform of the Federation White Paper. “It is through the Reform of the Federation White Paper and the White Paper on Reform to Australia’s Tax System that we will have the opportunity to remedy the grossly inequitable situation.”
Towards a Competitive Federation
The Reform of the Federation White Paper is aimed at ensuring the state level of government has the appropriate resources to handle the issues and deliver the level of services Australians have come to expect. Most importantly it is about removing costly duplication to ensure better utilisation of taxpayer’s funds.
As a nation, Senator Reynolds believes we must celebrate and encourage the diversity of our states and territories and must approach reform to our federation with a new respect and a new maturity. Great opportunity lies in embracing competitive federalism. Long term, this will provide our states with the incentive to encourage smaller local industries, diversify our nation’s economy, and as a result, reduce our susceptibility to volatile external forces such as the price of commodities.
Healthy competition is always a good thing. Senator Reynolds believes competition between the states will lead to development of best practice; better social and economic outcomes; and smaller de-centralised, nimble economies which are best placed to respond to the demands of Australians more effectively. “We have a very real and exciting opportunity to secure long-term structural reform to our nation’s federal framework and the process under which it operates,” Senator Reynolds said.
Our state has always understood the importance of pursuing reforms which make us competitive and deliver economic prosperity. Change is never easy to achieve, particularly when it requires the federal government and the states and territories to come together to find common ground. It took our founding fathers decades of talk, persuasion, compromise, persistence and resilience, and together they left us a wonderful legacy. Now, over 100 years later, we have another opportunity to engage in the re-shaping of our nation for the 21st century. This is an issue which transcends party politics.
These reforms will not happen through constitutional reform but through rebalancing and reforming the processes which support it.
Senator Reynolds is a passionate champion for gender equality and female empowerment in politics and in society more generally. Despite major advances in women’s rights there is still a long way to go on the path towards real gender equality as evidenced by nearly all social, economic and political indicators. Women continue to participate in labour markets on an unequal basis with men, are paid less than men and bear disproportionate responsibility for unpaid care work.
A landmark report conducted by the Committee for Perth dubbed “Filling the Pool” was released in June this year and found WA has the largest gender pay gap in our nation, a staggering 25.3%. The report recommended, amongst other measures, an increase in meaningful equality targets and better access to childcare. It also found a wide range of factors were responsible for the inequity including “systemic bias” which hampered equality in the workplace.
Senator Reynolds will continue to fight for gender equality in both our state and nationally to ensure equal representation of women in business, politics and wider society.
Younger Australians in Nursing Homes
Upon entering the Senate in 2014, Senator Reynolds made it her mission to draw national attention to the plight of nearly 6500 younger Australians living in aged care. In November 2014 she led a Senate inquiry into the adequacy of existing residential care arrangements for younger Australians with physical, mental and intellectual disabilities through her involvement in the Community Affairs Committee.
“Nursing homes are no place for a young person,” Senator Reynolds said. “It’s important we support younger Australians living with disabilities and their families by ensuring they have access to the appropriate care, support and services required to match their needs.”
A more people focused approach and better coordination between government agencies is needed to ensure younger Australians with disabilities are kept out of unsuitable accommodation. Younger Australians with complex support needs often exist in a bureaucratic ‘no-mans-land’ between the aged care, disability, housing and community services sectors due to a lack of coordination between agencies. Federal, state and local governments must also find a way to work together at the grass roots level to ensure young people with disabilities are seen as the individuals they are and receive tailored support.
You can read the findings of the inquiry here.
Accountability and transparency in agricultural levies
As WA’s second major export industry, Senator Reynolds recognises the important contribution made by the agricultural sector to the state’s economy.
In 2012–13, the gross value of agricultural production in Western Australia was $6.7 billion and accounted for approximately 14 per cent of the total gross value of agricultural production in Australia to the value of $48 billion. Senator Reynolds’ extensive background in organisational governance and accountability led her to co-sponsor a Senate inquiry into the collection and disbursement of agricultural levies in September 2014. Agricultural Levies are a compulsory payment contributed by primary producers to fund marketing and research and development organisations.
Senator Reynolds initiated the inquiry after hearing the concerns of WA growers about the perceived lack of accountability and transparency in the process. It is important growers across all commodities have their say about how agricultural levies are collected and spent, and it’s vital industry research, development and marketing bodies are accountable to both growers and the tax payer. “I will continue to work on behalf of farmers to ensure WA farm businesses remain competitive, productive and profitable in a dynamic and global and domestic marketplace into the future,” Senator Reynolds said.
You can read the findings of the inquiry here.
Innovation in WA
Research and innovation are vital to the future of Western Australia’s economy. Western Australia is a highly innovative and productive state which understands the importance of commercialising research and innovation as a future pillar of our economy. Senator Reynolds hopes to help researchers and innovators share their experiences and identify what more can be done across all sectors to develop the industries of the future, which is why she helped form a Parliamentary Alliance for Research and Innovation.
“This initiative will help to raise national awareness and highlight the importance of research and innovation for Australia,” Senator Reynolds said.