August’s Regional Wrap

Aug 31, 2020 | Newsletters

Monthly wrap-up

As we navigate our way through these trying times, the Nationals have been working to resolve a number of issues in regional Australia, especially the chaos caused by the recent border closures between states. While these border issues continue for us in regional communities, I’ll be sending out monthly updates on the progress we have made and what still needs to be done, so regional communities can return to a Covid-normality and get on with their daily lives.

BORDER ISSUES

Some of the rules and regulations of the border permit have not been practical for many border residents at both ends of the State and to the west where the South Australian Government has imposed some of the most draconian measures to date.

The Nationals have been lobbying for common sense and consistency to ensure our critical agriculture industries, education and health services can continue, despite border closures. 

Following lobbying by Nationals MP’s and Senators, the NSW Government allowed people

working in dairy, horticulture, livestock, cropping, beekeepers, ag contractors, biosecurity and cross border landholders, who live outside the current border zone but live and operate within 100km of the border can now apply for a permit. A week later the Queensland Government implemented an agricultural permit that allows people to cross the border to conduct work in agricultural industries.  And just this week John Barilaro announced he will expand the border zone out to 50Km again so people in that zone can go about their lives unimpeded.

I continue to lobby on behalf of boarding school students in border communities whose parents are unable to visit them or students are unable to make their way home.  Particularly with the upcoming school holidays.  We need to adopt a consistent approach so kids and their families, most of whom are already isolated, don’t feel forgotten by the system.

COVID Response  

I have continued in my role on the Covid Committee, which looks at the Australian Government’s response to the pandemic. Treasury has identified regional industries such as agriculture, forestry and mining will be key to driving our economic recovery.

The Committee has also heard about the importance of introducing and implementing Covid safe workplaces into the future, as well as how the Government is helping keep apprentices and trainees, through the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy.  This subsidy has been widely taken up in regional areas and gets young people into our vital trades to service our communities.

The Federal Government is continuing to deliver the economic lifeline Australians need to get through the course of this virus. The JobKeeper wage subsidy will now continue until March next year, and the JobSeeker supplement has been extended for another three months.

Water Market Reform Needed

The ACCC recently released their interim report into Murray Darling Basin water markets.

On the back of the Keelty report that outlined the operation of our river systems and the complexity of inter-state management, the ACCC review of the water market provides an analysis of how water trade is having an impact on operations.

Water trading does provide opportunities for farm businesses, but low availability and increased demand have led to price spikes with significant impacts to our productive industries. The flow-on- effects are devastating some of our communities.

Increased competition and a lack of transparency in the water market is hurting Basin Communities that have already been struggling due to drought.

The Nationals are seeking solutions that will provide better information about water availability, inter valley trading and real-time price data, which will go some way to addressing the justifiable community concerns.

While borders may be in lockdown, I continue my daily work for the people of NSW. Even though travel has been limited, I am willing and available to meet with constituents and stakeholders via any media- phone, zoom, skype or any other video conferencing platform.   Despite the uncertainty of the times, I am committed to working for all regional NSW.

I want to thank my staff who share my commitment to trying to help resolve issues for constituents across the State.