When I entered this role I wanted to use my platform to promote the regions. To support this last year I put together a calendar of regional events which I sent out across the State. Then 2020 happened!!! Most events were cancelled even as we look forward into 2021. So this year, for my calendar I still want to showcase the regions, but I need your help.
Do you want your region highlighted in my calendar? Send me a scenic photo of your area, with 150 words about why people should visit. I’ll be choosing 12 regions and the photos to put in my official 2021 calendar. Please ensure you tell me who the photographer is and if there are people in the photo I need their permission to publish.
Borders: As we approach a new sitting week in Parliament, there have been several positive developments in COVID restrictions for our border communities.
It has been another busy month, the Agricultural Workers Code has been written into health orders in New South Wales. I am now hoping Victoria, South Australia, and the two territories will also write the code into their public health orders as they agreed to do through National Cabinet.
I have also been urging the Queensland Government to re-consider its position and adopt the code, so farmers who have just lived through the worst drought on record and a global pandemic, can get on with the job and access and employ the skilled workers they require. The Nationals have been fighting for common sense on borders for months and it has been great to see the city centric rules changed to mirror what has been happening in the regions and to allow border residents to get on with their daily lives.
It has also been great to see boarding school students allowed to travel home for the school holidays after they were originally told they were unable to travel between COVID-free zones, in order to return home. I am still hoping we can get a firm commitment that NSW resident students in Victorian boarding schools will get firm advice as to how they will be allowed to travel at the end of term 4.
The Nationals have been are at the forefront of delivering a record-breaking $100 billion, 10-year infrastructure blueprint.
We’ve cut through decades of talk to build Inland Rail across the east of our nation, linking directly to the east-west rail and massive works are getting Australians home sooner and safer – not least the Pacific Highway duplication and the $10 billion Bruce Highway upgrade.
We’re also upgrading regional airports across the state and we’ve put 50 years of debate behind us with huge earthworks underway at the site of the new Western Sydney Airport.
Our dams, weirs, pipelines are coming online – specifically in NSW work has commenced on Dungowan and Wyangala Dams and we are doing a business case for a new dam on the Mole River.
This month has also seen a significant announcement for the Murray Darling Basin.
Water Minister Keith Pitt has announced there will be no more buyback or taking water from farmers and any future recovery will come from off-farm efficiencies.
Importantly, this leaves at least 200GL of NSW water on farm, the focus will now be on achieving real outcomes not numbers.
A total of $34 million has been allocated by Government across communities hit hard by water recovery to help increase economic activity, diversify economies and create jobs through the extended Murray-Darling Basin Economic Development Program
Also the Murray Darling Basin Authority will no longer be able to mark their own homework and will be split in two with the formal establishment of the office of Inspector General of the Murray-Darling Basin moving all of the compliance staff out of the MDBA and into the new office.
I am committed to working with my State and Federal colleagues in the interests of regional NSW. In Government the Nationals work to ensure regional industry and development is supported. As a team we have been able to effect change to ensure regional students have access to tertiary education, ensuring regional air travellers were not negatively impacted by new safety standard and the mandatory dairy industry code has been implemented. We continue to advocate for farmers to face less red tape, which will occur if the streamlining the EPBC amendment is passed.
Whether in public or in private, the Nationals will not take a backward step in standing up for Regional Australia.