Dr Sophie Scamps has given her first speech to the 47th parliament, sharing what she believes was the key to her success at the recent federal election.
“The power, I believe, was simply listening,” the new independent MP said. “Like my other crossbench colleagues, I listened to my community.”
“During the campaign, my team and I asked: ‘What do you care about? What type of representative do you want? How can your MP help to improve your quality of life? How can we work together?’
“The results of this new type of politics, of putting people first, and of listening first, were astounding.”
At the May election, Dr Scamps, previously a general practitioner, won what was once considered to be one of the safest Liberal seats in the country, Mackellar, on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. She was one of several female independents to take seats from Liberal MPs.
“The 2022 election was a watershed moment in our political history,” Dr Scamps said. “The unprecedented wave of grassroots democracy has resulted in the largest ever Lower House crossbench.”
“This Parliament now has more women representing their communities than ever. Politics in this country may never be the same.”
Dr Scamps used her first speech to call for urgent action on climate change, investment in renewable energy and for the government to recognise climate change as a health emergency.
“We have been warned repeatedly – by experts and scientists – that Climate Change is the greatest threat to our environment, our health, our security and our economy,” she said.
“And that opening any more coal or gas mines is inconsistent with the Paris Target and a liveable future. My question is – are we listening?”
She also spoke about her support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart, a strong anti-corruption commission and for greater transparency around political appointments.
Dr Scamps said the decision to put herself forward as a candidate for election was not easy, but said she decided to use what she learned during her time as an elite athlete to help her step outside of her comfort zone. Dr Scamps previously qualified for the Olympics as a middle-distance runner.
“Stepping up as a candidate wasn’t easy for me. I’ve always been pretty horrified by public speaking. I also gave up being a GP; a job that I loved. And I knew this role would take me away from my family,” she said.
“But I am thankful that my past as an athlete trained me to step outside of my comfort zone. As I had thousands of times before in my earlier life… I put myself in the race.”
She also mentioned the “pervasive concern” of youth mental health on Sydney’s Northern Beaches and promised she would continue to listen to the concerns of young people.
“Lastly I want to say to the youth of Australia. I am listening to you – and I have your back,” she said.
“I do feel that as politicians we have a duty of care for you. It is your future we are creating – so you deserve to be heard.”