Fiona Phillips - 949 Power FM

Both sides of politics commit funds for Nowra Bypass

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Both sides of politics have promised money to plan for the Nowra Bypass if elected next month.

But the amounts they have promised differ greatly.

Last week Labor's Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Catherine King, pledged to spend $5 million to fund phase one of the bypass, completing planning studies and setting the stage for the start of construction.

As she stood beside Gilmore MP Fiona Phillips, Ms King said the money would be provided in the first budget handed down by an Albanese government.

"Fiona's been telling me for many years now just what an important commitment this is for this community - that each weekend, each public holiday, and as we head into the Easter break that Nowra becomes a gridlock because so many people want to get down to the beautiful South Coast," she said.

Mrs Phillips said the bypass was "something that should have been fixed long ago, and I've been out there deeply listening to members of our community, and that's why I'm really proud to help get this going, and get this Nowra Bypass moving."

But yesterday the Coalition pledged to spend $40 million to plan and prepare for the Nowra Bypass in an 80-20 split with the State Government.

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The funding was announced by Federal Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts Paul Fletcher, NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway, Liberal candidate for Gilmore Andrew Constance and South Coast MP Shelley Hancock.

Mr Constance said the $32 million from the Commonwealth and $8 million from the State Government would have the bypass shovel ready.

"What this means is that we will now be able to get on with the obvious business case work, planning approvals, establishment of a project team, reference design and get it underway, and with all major infrastructure builds, particularly with infrastructure that is likely to be in excess of $1.5 billion, it is really important to commence this work and the face that we have a strategic partnership between the state and federal governments is really important," he said.

Mr Constance said the funding and modelling had been in preparation for a while.

"This is a very serious piece of work, this is how we build infrastructure across our state and our country, and having been involved in the delivery of $110 billion worth I know how significant it is when you reach this agreement."

Mr Constance said the project would be similar to the Coffs Harbour Bypass that was under construction.

Images: Glenn Ellard, Shelley Hancock MP

 

Conjola Park heartbreak in long insurance battle

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While the Black Summer bushfires destroyed many Conjola Park houses, Jenny Tallon and Geoff Maxworthy thought they were among the lucky ones.

Their large barn had been destroyed, and their house had been damaged, but at least it was one of the few still standing.

That brought a healthy dose of survivor guilt, Jenny said, but worse was to come when it came to making a claim on insurance.

More than two years later as other houses are rebuilt around them, Jenny and Geoff's house is still uninhabitable amid ongoing wrangling with NRMA Insurance.

Jenny said there had been regular reports, inspections and now seven scope of works studies, but still nothing has been repaired.

"We're going around in circles," she said.

"We've employed a claims specialist who's helping us, but they're stalling all the time."

The problems started when insurance claims officers found a crack at one end of the house.

"They said that was a pre-existing building defect, therefore they weren't going to fix the house, they were just going to pay us out," Jenny said,

"We knew it was from the fires and we fought, and they eventually accepted after scope of works number three - they decided that yes, it was due to the fires."

But still there have been no repairs, instead there was first an offer of a settlement for the barn that Jenny said was clearly insufficient.

"We knew we couldn't rebuild for that, so that was a fight in itself. Where are you getting this figure from? 

After lengthy argument the offer was finally increased by 87 per cent.

"How many people out there took the money because they thought what their insurance companies were giving them was fair and reasonable, and are now in a situation where they have found, because of the escalating building costs and trade costs, they can't afford to replace what they had?" Jenny asked.

"This isn't just about us, it's about other people who are going through similar situations."

While the loss of the barn was settled, there are still arguments over damage to the house, which is getting worse over time.

"We've got two boarded up windows and two tarps on the roof and they didn't make safe our house," Jenny said.

"We lost our bullnose verandah in November 2020 because all the sides of the verandahs were burnt out, and then the tarps were wearing because it had been over 12 months and then we had water coming into the house in the loungeroom.

"My husband had to rip up carpet and drill holes in the floor to get the water to run away.

"Our loungeroom's full of boxes that we packed nearly two years ago, when we thought our house would be fixed before all these other houses were rebuilt."

After listening to their story yesterday Shadow Minister for Climate and Energy, Chris Bowen, said he would be speaking to NRMA Insurance.

But he said a minister or shadow minister should not have to intervene before an insurance company did the right thing.

Image: Glenn Ellard

Constance not going away anytime soon

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Former State MP Andrew Constance has confirmed he'll be contesting the seat of Gilmore again at the next Federal election.

Mr. Constance picked up almost 7000 more first preference votes than his opponent Fiona Phillips.

But Greens preferences helped Ms. Phillips across the line.

Mr. Constance said this is concerning.

"Fiona Phillips will no doubt carry out the Greens agenda,

"I think it's going to create some terrible issues, which we're already starting to see at council,

"We're seeing council already fail to hand over land for the Jervis Bay Road intersection,"Mr. Constance said.

After 20 years in state politics, Mr. Constance will be taking a break for a couple of months, before finding another job.

Image: Andrew Constance via Facebook

Constance promises a different approach in battle for Gilmore

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Andrew Constance has won Liberal Party endorsement to stand against Labor's Fiona Phillips in Gilmore at the next Federal election.

And the former Bega MP and State Transport Minister said he was taking a different approach to campaigning, with a focus on unity and a bipartisan approach.

"The last thing people are going to want is a mouthful of politics," he said.

"They're not going to get it from me.

"This has to be an important campaign in so far as being positive, it's got to be about bipartisanship that we can build across the region to deliver great outcomes," Mr Constance said.

Speaking in Nowra, the former NSW Transport Minister said the community was fed up with politics and he was instead offering unity.

He stressed the election was not about him or Labor's Fiona Phillips, but about the community.

"What's important over the next few months is the way in which I prosecute the case to change politics in our region in a way in which we bring back the unity," Mr Constance said.

And after many years is State Parliament, he said he still had a passion to serve the community.

"I'm going to bring to this campaign an energy, a unity, a passion that we've never seen before, so that we continue to ensure that our region is well served nationally, and continues to become the envy of Australia," Mr Constance said.

"I'm running nationally because I believe in our community, and what we stand for, and the values we uphold.

"We have a big job ahead of us in terms of where our community is at and the issues that the community is facing.

Labor's Fiona Phillips won the seat at the last federal election, and was the only ALP candidate to win a seat from the Coalition.

She holds Gilmore by a margin of less than three per cent.

Image: Glenn Ellard

Fiona Phillips confirmed as Gilmore MP

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The Australian Electroral Commission has today confirmed that Labor's Fiona Phillips has won the federal seat of Gilmore.

Surrounded by supporters at the AEC facility at Port Kembla this morning, Ms Phillips thanked her family, supporters and staff, as well as acknowledging the other candidates and their families.

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AEC officials confirmed the final vote count, following the distribution of preferences on a two candidate basis, with Fiona Phillips recording 56,039 with Andrew Constance recording 55,666.

The Federal Liberal Party is refusing to concede the seat of Gilmore, candidate Andrew Constance was expected to meet with senior party officials this morning to consider where-to-next after the AEC refused a recount in the closely contested seat.

Mr Constance has declined to comment publicly but in a statement said they'll review the Commissioner's reason and won't rule out lodging a case with the Court of Disputed Returns.

Image: Wave FM

Gilmore jobs survey to inform the federal government employment summit

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The Albanese Government’s Jobs and Skills Summit will play an important role in addressing Australia’s jobs and skills challenges over coming years.

The summit will be held in Canberra on 1-2 September and will bring together people who can speak to the unique labour market experiences of women, First Nations Australians, Australians with a disability, Australians from diverse backgrounds, youth and older Australians.

To ensure local voices are heard at the summit, Member for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips MP has today launched the Gilmore Jobs and Skills Summit survey.

The survey will gather ideas from local businesses, community organisations and individuals about the key jobs challenges facing the South Coast for consideration at the summit.

“As your local MP, I want to hear ideas from across our community about how we can address the jobs and skills issues we are facing here on the South Coast,” Fiona Phillips said.

“The Jobs and Skills Summit will look at how we can build a bigger, better trained and more productive workforce, as well as improve wages and seize opportunities for more Australians.”

“I want to make sure local voices are heard in this process, so I am encouraging everyone with ideas to share to participate in Gilmore’s Jobs and Skills Summit Survey.”

“I will be providing this feedback directly to the Taskforce for consideration at the Summit,” Mrs Phillips announced.

The survey is now open and submissions close on 24 August 2022. The survey can be found here.     

Further information on the Jobs and Skills Summit is available here.

Image: Facebook

Gilmore Libs won't concede

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Liberal Party sources are hoping outstanding postal votes could still swing the result of the election in Gilmore.

State Labor claimed the seat on Monday, and the PM Anthony Albanese declared a 77 seat majority in Federal Parliament.

Incumbent Labor MP Fiona Phillips has just a 301 vote lead over Andrew Constance, but the Liberal candidate has been favoured by most of the postal votes.

Outstanding votes must be submitted to any Australian Electoral Commission office before the close of business on Friday to be included in the count.

 

Gilmore MP angered that Kangaroo Valley was ignored

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Gilmore MP Fiona Phillips said the new government won't ignore the plight of small business impacted by the effects of flooding.

Ms Phillips used a speech to Federal Parliament to highlight the plight of Kangaroo Valley businesses that were cut off because of landslips and road closures this year.

The Labor MP said, " I told the Minister for Disasters and Emergency Management that our local small businesses were on the brink because their customers couldn't get to them.

"As these businesses were not directly flood impacted, there was no support.

"With access roads cut completely, they may not have been flooded, but their businesses were certainly going under," she said.

Ms Phillips said the Coalition rejected an assistance package leaving small business operators going under.

" I asked the Minister to help, to see the need for a specialised package of support, targeted directly to the small businesses of Kangaroo Valley.

"The Minister even visited the South Coast for a media stunt with my Liberal opponent, but she completely ignored Kangaroo Valley," Ms Phillips said.

Image: Fiona Phillips 

 

 

Help for woman and children fleeing domestic violence

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Each year across Australia, nearly 10,000 women and children seeking safety are turned away because there isn’t a bed.

For many women and children, this means homelessness – couch surfing, sleeping in the car, on the street or returning to the perpetrator.

Senator Jenny McAllister, Shadow Assistant Minister for Communities and the Prevention of Family Violence
and Gilmore MP Fiona Phillips have announced the Albanese Labor Government will establish the Housing Australia Future Fund to build 30,000 social and affordable homes across the country.

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This includes 4,000 homes for women and children fleeing violence and older women on low incomes who are at risk of homelessness, plus an additional $100 million for crisis accommodation.

Senator Jenny McAllister said, "We also know that an extra pair of hands can make an enormous difference.

"The services we talk to say that an extra person working on staff can help between 80 and 100 additional women and children each yearshe," she said.

The Senator said, "That’s why Labor will invest in 500 new workers across Australia to support people who are facing violence."

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Gilmore MP Fiona Phillips said "Here on the South Coast and Southern Highlands, Labor will provide $1.5 million for additional crisis accommodation.

"We expect this will help as many as 135 women and children to find refuge. We will also fund 13 workers to help 1,040 women and support them during the hardest time of their lives," she said.

Ms Phillips said, "Survivors of violence are strong, and they deserve our help to rebuild their lives.

"Over the past decade, the Liberal National government has failed to take this task seriously," she said.

Senator  McAllister said, "Labor will tackle the scourge of domestic violence with ambition and urgency.

Images: Newsroom 

 

 

Labor claims Gilmore after an arm wrestle with Constance

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Labor has claimed victory in the southern Illawarra seat of Gilmore giving Fiona Phillips a second term in Federal parliament.

The Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has congratulated Ms. Phillips on her return as the Gilmore MP.

The latest figures from the AEC has Phillips 242 votes ahead of Liberal opponent Andrew Constance with postal votes set to roll in until the end of the week.

Phillips said after a tense wait since polls closed a week and a half ago, she's comfortable claiming victory.

"Absolutely, look the trend is there and there's been a dramatic turnaround on Monday as I expected.

"It's a terrific win, I'm just really thankful to everybody that supported me to finally get there," she said.

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Constance is yet to concede while Phillips said her comeback victory gained momentum at the start of the week.

"When the absentee votes started coming in on Monday there was a significant trend back toward me that continued yesterday as well.

"Not that many votes to go.

"It's a wonderful position to be in.

"I've had a lot scrutineers and people analysing the data and things like that as well.

"I just want to thank everybody in the community, it's been a very long campaign," Phillips said.

Labor believes with Gilmore safe it's now secured 77 seats in the new federal parliament giving the Albanese government an absolute majority.

Images: Fiona Phillips MP and AEC

Labor's funding pledge for Australia-first birthing centre in Nowra

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A $22 million funding injection has been promised to help South Coast health service Waminda establish Australia's first Birthing on Country Centre of Excellence.

But the funding is contingent on Labor winning this year's federal election.

Waminda has been working for several years to establish the centre to better look after indigenous mothers and their babies as a way of closing the health gap between indigenous and non-indigenous people.

Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney, says Waminda's argument was compelling.

"I have seen the case put forward for the project, and it was just inarguable," she said.

"Waminda has been talking to me for many years about this aspiration, this dream.

"This is an absolute example of self determination, of governments saying 'You know what you need, you know what you want,' and it's about us trying to fulfil those aspirations," Ms Burney said.

The centre's cost has been put at $58 million over seven years, with the $22 million expected to cover the cost of a three-storey building hosting birthing suites and a range of allied services.

A site for the centre has yet to be chosen, however Waminda is looking to establish it around Nowra

In announcing the funding, Gilmore MP Fiona Phillips said the money would pay huge dividends in improved community health.

"We know that if we look after our indigenous people in all forms, all that wrap-around care, we know that we've got better health outcomes right throughout people's lives," she said.

"This birthing on Country Centre of Excellence will be here for generations to come, and will make a real difference for people."

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Mrs Phillips called on the Coalition to match the funding commitment.

"It would be my sincere wish that they would match that because they should, because it's the right thing to do," she said.

Waminda midwife Melanie Briggs said the centre would incorporate a wide range of services and facilities.

"Birthing on Country is a holistic wellness model, so we go all the way from conception to end of life, and part of the Birthing on Country Centre of Excellence will have the wrap-around services to support the women and their babies," she said.

Facilities included three birthing rooms, family waiting areas, support services, Aboriginal practitioners, allied health and clinical rooms for things including midwifery and child and family health clinics, along with speech pathologists and occupational therapists.

The Birthing on Country Centre of Excellence is the first is Australia, and comes on the back of Waminda already making great progress in improving the health of pregnant indigenous women and their babies, including reducing the rate or premature deliveries and increasing birth weight.

It's expected to be used as a template for other centres all over Australia.

Images: Glenn Ellard

New hope for extra doctors in Shoalhaven

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Hopes of attracting more doctors to the Shoalhaven under Distribution Priority Area changes have been boosted through personal contact from former Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis.

Shoalhaven Family Medical Centres practice principal Annette Pham said her practices had been unable to replace 12 doctors they had lost in the past two years, and mentioned this to Mrs Sudmalis while giving her a COVID vaccine.

It turned out Mrs Sudmalis was a close friend of the new Regional Health Minister David Gillespie, and she wrote to the minister including a copy of the latest approach by Mrs Pham.

She said Dr Gillespie's response was quick and positive.

"Last night I got a letter back from Dr David Gillespie, who's the minister for regional health, and he's just recently been appointed to that position, so we have fresh eyes, and it was a very positive letter," Mrs Pham said.

It included an assurance Dr Gillespie that he wanted the Distribution Priority Area criteria reviewed and reassessed.

"I have asked that the review be ambitious in its intent, open to innovative think and broadly consultative to ensure that concerns are addressed," Dr Gillespie wrote.

He expected the report to be finalised before the end of the year and, "I will move quickly to address any recommendations."

"He indicates that he's going to review the DPA system to consider our situation here in the Shoalhaven, but not just in the Shoalhaven, this will be a country-wide review and comes at the same time as the Senate inquiry into GP shortages," Mrs Pham said.

Several Shoalhaven medical centres have spoken about problems they face employing doctors under DPA restrictions, with one medical centre in the Bay and Basin area being on the verge of shutting its doors.

A petition organised by Gilmore MP Fiona Phillips recently helped secure a Senate inquiry into doctor shortages in rural and regional areas.

image: glenn ellard

 

 

 

No consultation but Nowra's Centrelink could be on the move

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Nowra's Centrelink office could be moving, and Gilmore MP Fiona Phillips asked why there had been no community consultation.

Shoalhaven Council has received an application to build a new 1200 square metre office in the south-western corner of the Stockland complex, to be leased to Centrelink.

The application also includes tree removal, drainage works, garaging, signage and landscaping.

Mrs Phillips said the new location on the Princes Highway would move the office away from Nowra's bus terminal and create traffic problems around Morton Parade.

“The community deserves to know exactly what is going on with the location of Centrelink,” Mrs Phillips said.

“The current location has good proximity to the Nowra Bus and Coach Terminal, something which is absolutely essential.

“Centrelink provides a vital service. We have seen how important Centrelink is for people, particularly during the COVID pandemic.

“Our Centrelink workers have been working around the clock to support people. We need to support local workers too,” Mrs Phillips said.

She has written to the Federal Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston, urging the government to provide an immediate update for the community.

"It's the least they can do," Mrs Phillips said.

Morton Parade resident Ian James has been quick to raise his concerns with council.

In a written submission he said the development would have a severe impact on his street and its many frail and elderly residents due to increased traffic.

"This is currently disrupted during the festive season and other holidays as people try to gain access to Stocklands shopping centre and park illegally on this cul de sac," he said.

"Because of the lack of foot paths, people walk on the roadway, there are a number of people on this street with disabilities due to age or other reasons, who have had injuries or close calls- due to irresponsible travel at speed on this narrow road."

"I do not believe that locating the new/proposed Centrelink office in this area would be beneficial to customers of Stocklands, Centrelink or this and surrounding streets," Mr James said.

"If this does go ahead, it would be beneficial to close off any access from Morton parade to the Stocklands site in order to mitigate the disruptions.

"I also suggest noise reduction measures be employed to reduce the disturbance to residents on this and surrounding streets."

Image: GLN Planning / development application

Nowra Bypass plans gain momentum

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The push to build a new Nowra Bypass seems to be gaining momentum, with Gilmore MP Fiona Phillips and now Kiama MP Gareth Ward both launching petitions in an effort to get work started.

Mrs Philips raised the bypass in Federal Parliament earlier this week, and on Wednesday morning Mr Ward announced he was also launching an online petition as part of his Back the Bypass campaign.

And Shoalhaven Council candidate Paul Ell pledged to raise the bypass at the first council meeting if elected.

Mrs Phillips told Parliament she had a petition on her website calling on the State and Federal Governments to get on with pre-planning for the Bypass.

"Unless the government looks to the future and gets on with the preplanning for the Nowra bypass it will be another 30 years," she said.

"Don't we owe it to our children, their children and everyone in the Nowra-Bomaderry area, and along the New South Wales South Coast, to ensure that people have safe passage through and into Nowra—that the town of Nowra can flourish, helping businesses, workers and jobs?"

Mr Ward said securing a commitment for the Nowra Bypass was his next major focus.

“My message to all levels of government is simple - don’t pass the buck, back the bypass,” he said.

"Since becoming your local MP, I have secured record funds for the region's roads.

"Never would I ever have thought we would secure the Gerringong Upgrade, the Berry Bypass, the Albion Park Rail Bypass, the South Nowra Upgrade, the Berry to Bomaderry upgrade, the Shoalhaven River Replacement Bridge and the Jervis Bay Road interchange.

"This represents more than $2 billion in State Government investment," Mr Ward said.

"I am proud of these achievements that have made a huge difference. But there is one project that now needs a focus.

"Nowra is a huge traffic bottleneck, in part due to poor management of developing the local road network by Shoalhaven City Council.  Doing nothing will mean things get worse."

Mr Ward said he would launch an on-line petition to give the community an avenue to support the call following his statements in Parliament in support of a Nowra Bypass.

And Shoalhaven City Council candidate Paul Ell pledged to move a Notice of Motion committing a future council to being part of a back the bypass campaign, should he be elected on the weekend.

“Whilst I acknowledge this isn’t a council issue, a Nowra Bypass would make a significant difference for the Shoalhaven community and I want to work with Gareth Ward and our local community to back the bypass,” Mr Ell said.

"This is all about people's lives.

"We want to return the roads, return the highway back to the community, and also create jobs at the same time, so there's no greater priority for me, there should be no greater priority for any level of government than getting the Nowra Bypass done," he said.

Image: Glenn Ellard

Senate inquiry to look at Shoalhaven doctor shortage

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The doctor shortage across the Gilmore electorate will be examined in a senate inquiry.

Federal Member for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips, was front and centre in Labor’s backing for the inquiry.

“We need practical, positive solutions to make sure Australians have access to quality health care regardless of where they live,” she argued.

“The GP shortage issue in my electorate is at crisis point.

“In the Bay and Basin area alone, we have seen seven doctors retire, with the one remaining doctor at the Sanctuary Point Medical Centre also retiring soon and no replacement in sight,” Mrs Phillips said.

“The shortage of GPs is certainly not limited to the Bay and Basin area, definitely throughout the Shoalhaven, particularly around Nowra and Worrigee there are increasing demands given the elderly population.”

“A lack of doctors and other medical professionals across Australia is not a new problem, but a series of government decisions and the pandemic means it really is time to spotlight this critical issue before people are left with no healthcare options in their community.

“We’ve seen, for example, one practice where they had 13 GPs go down to five, so this is a really huge issue, particularly with the elderly population that we have an of course the COVID pandemic as well,” Mrs Phillips said.

When medical centres in the Bay and Basin area were in danger of closing because they could not attract doctors, much of the discussion centred on priority distribution area declarations that could make it easier to attract new doctors.

Mrs Phillips said changes to the priority distribution area system were needed.

“The issue with the formula that they use is it doesn’t really take into account the demographics of the area, whether there’s public transport and things like that,” she said.

Submissions to the inquiry into the provision of GP services within regional, rural, and outer metropolitan areas are now open.

The inquiry will examine policies such as the Rural Health Strategy, reforms to distribution priority areas and the Modified Monash Model geographical classification system.

To make a submission visit: www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/PrimaryHealthServices

image: supplied

St Georges Basin meeting told of Labor's plans to stop scams

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Australians lost about $33 billion dollars in scams during the past year.

That's more than the Federal Government spend on Medicare, according to Shadow Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones.

He joined Gilmore MP Fiona Phillips to address a forum at the St Georges Basin Country Club on Friday to speak about how scams are increasing in number and sophistication.

And Mr Jones said no-one was immune.

"Over the course of the past couple of weeks I've spoken to a very senior, very experienced head of a bank who fell for one of these," he said.

"I've spoken to a very senior, very experienced person who runs one of Australia's very significant superannuation organisations, I have spoken to a range of people in all different walks of life who have fallen for these things or become victims of these scams.

"They thought they were interacting with a legitimate website and found out is wasn't, or thought they were dealing with their bank and they weren't."

He described it as "a tsunami of scams," ranging from small-scale puppy scams or second hand car scams through to large scale investment scams or identity theft.

And he was concerned the scammers were often targeting people with limited English, people who were busy and had little time to double check things, and the elderly.

"When I talk to young people, or people our age, they'll often say 'The thing that I'm most worried about is my mum or my dad or my aunt falling for one of these things - hitting a link, providing their banking details, or being unaware of the risks involved," Mr Jones said.

Better protections were needed, he said, and the ALP was looking  at what it could do.

"We propose the establishment of a national anti-scam centre set up in the Federal Government, bringing together the resources of the Federal Police, the financial regulators, but crucially the banks and telecommunications companies as well, and we want to ensure we can stop the scams at their source," Mr Jonmes said.

"We also need to do more to protect the people who have become victims."

Image: Glenn Ellard