Helen Polley


From Helen Polley:

As a proud Tasmanian and passionate member of the Australian Labor Party it has been an absolute honour to represent the state as a federal Senator since 2005. I love my home city of Launceston and work hard every day to ensure that every corner of this beautiful island has a bright future. When I was appointed as Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Aged Care I knew that Tasmania has the highest percentage of older people out of all of the nation’s state and territories. I am convinced that we can do so much more to improve the lives of senior Australians through technological advancements in TeleHealth, by changing perceptions of ageing and by ensuring that older people feel connected to their community and loved ones.

It is my mission to make sure that the interests of Tasmanians are represented in the Senate Chamber. Our state has so much potential to grow and develop a more resilient economy and I will always listen to new ideas about how we can achieve this. I will stand up for Tasmanians but just as importantly I will always listen to what issues really matter to them and how I can help.

Helen comes from a proud Labor family, the Polley’s have been represented in local, state and federal roles in Tasmania including Helen’s brother Michael who served in the state Parliament for a remarkable 42 years.

Helen knew from an early age that she had a strong interest in politics and current affairs and held numerous positions within the party. She worked for two federal Labor Senators in the 1980’s before taking on key adviser roles to the late Jim Bacon MHA and Paul Lennon MHA, all the while learning about leadership and the values that underpin the Labor Party. Helen broke through the glass ceiling to become the first female President of the Tasmanian branch of the Labor party from 1992 to 1995 before successfully winning a Senate spot at the 2004 election.

In addition to her work in politics Helen has also worked in a number of other sectors including finance, transport and manufacturing. A member of the Australian Workers Union, Helen has always believed that Labor must do all it can to fight for the rights of workers across Australia.

Since assuming her position in the Senate in 2005 Helen has worked diligently to see the very best for her home state. She firmly believes that more can be done to assist Tasmania and isn’t afraid to stand up to Coalition Senators unaccustomed to having their born to rule mentality questioned.

Helen has served on numerous committees including the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Electoral Matters, Joint Committee on the National Broadband Network and the Law Enforcement Parliamentary Joint Committee. Helen has also appeared at hearings held by the Community Affairs committee, where she has engaged on a number of social policy issues such as homelessness. Her expansive committee work culminated in chairing the Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee.

In October 2013 Helen was appointed as Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Aged Care and has worked tirelessly alongside Shadow Ageing Minister Shayne Neumann to draw much needed attention to ageing and aged care issues. In particular Helen has strongly advocated for the expansion of TeleHealth services for older people using medical-grade Fibre-To-The-Premises broadband. It is her view that we can really transform the lives of older people and enable them to live at home longer (if they so choose) by embracing new technologies. However, this can only be achieved via Labor’s fast, reliable broadband model. Helen has written several opinion pieces and made numerous speeches on this subject and believes that the entire debate around the merits of different broadband policies needs to include the views of older Australians.

Helen has also played a crucial role working with Shayne Neumann to lead a concerted campaign against the Abbott Government’s decision to cease the Dementia and Severe Behaviours Supplement. This supplement, paid to providers who care for people with severe symptoms of Dementia, was axed with little fanfare in June 2014. By drawing attention to this decision Helen has sought to defend the position of aged care providers under enormous pressure to care for people who are no longer capable of caring for themselves.

In addition to her shadow portfolio and committee work Helen’s passions span across a range of policy areas. Helen believes that Labor’s superior NBN model is vital to Tasmanian households and businesses and has noted that “the NBN is the most important investment in Tasmania’s future.”

Helen has been a fervent supporter of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, which will affect some 20,000 Tasmanians living with a disability (the highest percentage of any state). Even before assuming her shadow responsibilities in the aged care field Helen has been recognised for her efforts to increase palliative care funding; she believes all Australians deserve better palliative care services so that everyone, regardless of where they live, can die with dignity and in comfort.