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Matters Of State - October 9, 2018

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

I was thrilled to see so many tradies take advantage of a free breakfast put on for them at Brennan’s Mitre 10 last Thursday.

Along with Bruno Efoti of Tradies Insight and the Dubbo Mens Shed, I was proud to make the event happen and it was terrific to be able to make a significant announcement on the day.

Bruno is the man behind Tradies Insight and is doing a great job, while we couldn’t have done it without the terrific support of the Mens Shed, who had their volunteers there bright and early providing the awesome sausage sandwiches and bacon and egg rolls.

The breakfast was the perfect place to announce that through our Better Business Reforms, the NSW government will save tradespeople from having to renew their licences every three years, which it is estimated will save the industry $52 million over 10 years.

This reform will reduce renewal fees from up to $605 every three years to just a $51 processing fee for tradies to update their details every five years.

To be able to make that announcement at an event put on for our local tradespeople was tremendous, as  that industry have been pivotal in helping this government deliver what has been a golden era for investment and infrastructure development in the Dubbo electorate

These reforms will provide significant savings to our tradespeople, and that filters into the work that Tradies Insight is doing because financial strains are one of the main contributing factors to mental health issues within this industry.

Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean will introduce the Better Business Reforms, which also includes reforms to increase transparency for consumers, into parliament later this month.


During the week I also had the pleasure of heading out to Narromine to announce $1.5 million worth of funding to the town’s council from the NSW Government.

The money comes from the Stronger Country Communities Fund, and Narromine Shire Council was successful in receiving grants for four significant projects within the local government area.

Almost $200,000 will be spent on enhancing Burns Oval at Trangie, a similar amount will be used for compliance upgrades for swimming pools in both Narromine and Trangie, and more than $265,000 will be dedicated to streetscapes in those two towns and also Tomingley.

But the big item was $900,000 for the council to spend on the Narromine Aquatic Park refurbishment and a splash park for the facility.

Congratulations to Narromine Shire Council for sourcing this funding, which will be of enormous benefit to the communities within its LGA


It was announced last week that NSW had once again topped the ladder when it came to tourism figures for the recently completed financial year.

That should come as no real surprise as NSW is a prosperous state moving forward rapidly, but the pleasing aspect of the figures was how much regional centres contributed to our overall statistics.

With facilities such as Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Wellington Caves, the wineries in Mudgee and the aviation sector of Narromine, the Dubbo electorate more than holds its own when it comes to being able to draw people to our region.

For the 12-month period 32.9 million domestic visitors (+9.3%) stayed 103.3 million nights (+6.7%) and spent $19.8 billion (+15.2%) across NSW.

Central NSW posted a 15 per cent increase in visitor growth, and across regional NSW as a whole visitor numbers grew by nine per cent.

The NSW Government has set the State’s first regional tourism target of $25 billion in visitor expenditure in rural and regional NSW by 2030, so that every corner of NSW gets its fair share of the record tourist dollars and we are working hard to make that become a reality.

Until next week


Matters Of State - October 2 2018

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

It was a pleasure to be at the announcement last week of a cricket tour being organised by the Baggy Blues, an organisation set up for past and present NSW players.

The organisation has teamed up with the Centre for Rural Remote Mental Health (CRRMH) to deliver life-saving mental health messages to multiple locations across NSW.

The tour will visit Dubbo on November 22 to hold a celebrity cricket match, a cricket clinic for 8-17 year olds, and deliver a mental health workshop.

“Cricket brings our community together, and these matches will not only be great day out for the whole family but an important way for our rural mental health teams to reach those who need support,” Mr Grant said. 

“If you notice changes in someone’s behaviour, either in yourself or those around you, reach out and encourage that person to take the first step and see their GP.”

Earlier this month the NSW Government committed $6.3 million over two years to boost rural mental health supports. Part of the funding will provide 20 new ‘farm gate’ counsellors and frontline mental health workers.

If you, or someone you know, needs crisis support phone Lifeline on 13 11 14, and for local mental health services call 1800 011 511.

To find out more about the Baggy Blues Tour contact your local cricket association or visit


Keeping with the sporting theme, it was tremendous to see so much activity at Apex Oval on the long weekend for the 48th NSW Aboriginal Knockout.

I took some time to head up and watch some of the action at the carnival, which is a brilliant blend of sport and culture.

Thanks to last year’s winners, the Newcastle Yowies, for electing to bring the event to Dubbo, and congratulations to all of this year’s winners.

I hope everyone from outlying areas enjoyed their visit to the Dubbo electorate and took in the fabulous things we have to offer.


I would like to congratulate Lucy White on her appointment as the new General Manager of the Destination Country and Outback NSW Tourism Network.

Lucy’s task will be to guide and assist the organisation’s board in the growth of the tourism industry in the largest of the six NSW Government Tourism Networks.
She replaces Rhonda Taylor, who has been the Acting General Manager while advertising for a permanent General Manager went ahead. 

For the past two years, Lucy has been the Bathurst Regional Council destination manager and is currently a board member of the peak tourism industry body, Australian Regional Tourism (ART). 

Lucy will commence in the Dubbo Headquarters of Destination Country and Outback on October 8 and brings 22 years of tourism industry experience from previous positions held in local and regional tourism organisations within the central west.
Destination Country and Outback Network covers 61.2 per cent of the State. 

It extends from Tenterfield in the north, to Oberon and Cowra in the south, and from Lithgow in the east out to Broken Hill in the west, and offers an incredible diversity of visitor experiences, precincts and places to attract visitors from across Australia and overseas.


It was announced during the week that $500,000 worth of grants are now available to combat illegal dumping in the local area through the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Combating Illegal Dumping Clean up and Prevention Program.

The program is available to councils, public land managers and community groups to establish illegal dumping baseline data, and to clean-up and prevent illegal dumping through the installation of gates, signs, surveillance cameras and fencing. 

This significantly contributes to the Government’s target of reducing illegal dumping by 30% by 2020.

More information is available at

Until Next Week


Matters of State

Monday, September 17, 2018

It was fantastic to be able to announce with the Deputy Premier $9.3 million in funding last week, for stage one of the $44.5 million Western Region Institute of Sport. This funding is amazing in realizing the dream to build a regional sports and wellness hub, which will have an indoor sports centre at its heart, giving local and elite athletes a premium space to train and perform. This will not only benefit Dubbo but the entire western district, it will mean kids will be able to stay in their country home and their country schools with their mates but still have the best of facilities and the best of coaching without having to move to Sydney.


Last week I welcomed the NSW Government’s landmark business incentive and support package that will ignite investment and create jobs in regional NSW.

The Investment Attraction Package for Regional NSW will boost the number of businesses moving to regional NSW towns by giving businesses incentives, cutting planning red tape and providing grants to skilled workers.

This is a great initiative that will proactively seek out businesses and showcase to them the benefits of moving to areas like the Dubbo, Mudgee or Narromine.

Increasing the number of businesses and skilled workers in the region means more jobs will have the beneficial flow on effect of creating more work for our local suppliers, tradies, retailers, restaurants and cafes as well as the opportunity to meet new friends and enjoy diverse cultures.

The Investment Attraction Package features region investment attraction fund of $20 million in grants and interest free loans targeted at offsetting government levies and duties, such as payroll tax to eligible business that want to invest and grow in regional NSW, which will lead to new jobs.

Skills Relocation Assistance of $10 million in grants of up to $10,000 per eligible skilled worker to help meet the cost of moving from the city to the country, such as furniture removal and temporary accommodation for up to three months.

Investment concierge supporting business investing in or moving to regional NSW, working with an appointed Regional Investment Coordinator to provide easy access to incentives, smooth the planning process, help lodge applications and liaise with government departments.

For more information about the Package contact the Investment Concierge service at


Event organisers in the region holding events between January and June 2019 are encouraged to apply for the NSW Government’s Flagship Event Funding, which is now open.

The 2019 Fund will be offered in two rounds per year and with just a single application process.

The NSW Government is continuing to reduce the red tape and for the first time, event organisers no longer have to submit an expression of interest when applying for the Flagship Event Fund.

The change means a more streamlined application process, making it quicker for events in the region to access vital funds and boost tourism in our local economies.

Events can apply for an annual grant of $20,000 or a triennial grant of $27,500 to help market and promote their event to visitors outside of their local area.

The Regional Flagship Events Program is managed by the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.

Applications for Round One of the 2019 Flagship Event Fund close on Monday 8 October 2018. To lodge an application visit

Until next week


Matters of State

Monday, September 10, 2018

Last Friday was Braveheart’s national White Balloon Day, Australia’s only national awareness and fundraising campaign dedicated to preventing child sexual assault. White Balloon Day is about breaking the silence and empowering children and young people to speak out and speak up if they feel unsafe. Braveheart’s offer specialised support, education and training services for children, families, schools, childcare centres and organisations. For more information on how you can support Braveheart’s go to


Farming communities facing pressure in the wake of severe drought conditions will have access to 20 new ‘farm gate’ counsellors and frontline mental health workers as part of a $6.3 million commitment from the NSW Government.

More people in Western NSW will now have access to additional mental health supports thanks to an injection of funding by the State Government.

Every day I am getting reports of grief and loss from within our farming communities in the wake of severe and ongoing drought conditions.

It is often difficult to seek help when living in remote and rural areas, and this new funding will link people struggling with their mental health into services appropriate to their needs.

Western NSW was successful in receiving $1.9 million over two years for a ‘farm gate’ counselling and support program as part of the NSW Government’s Emergency Drought Relief Package.

The program will enable engagement and counselling services to occur at the point of need, providing support for issues related to mental health, drug and alcohol use for those who live in drought-affected areas.

The support team will include a senior counsellor and peer workers and increasing peer workforce within rural communities will assist in reducing stigma associated with mental illness and provide hope to people, demonstrating recovery is possible.

Funding over the next two years will ensure individuals, families and businesses have access to 44,000 hours of crucial mental health support close to home.

For crisis support please phone Lifeline on 13 11 14. For more information on mental health services in your community contact the NSW Mental Health Line 1800 011 511 or visit for rural mental health information.


Community organisations looking to build new or upgrade current facilities are encouraged to apply for funding from the NSW Government’s Infrastructure Grants program.

This funding can make a real difference to the local community, either by providing new or improved sporting or cultural facilities, or by protecting local residents in emergency situations.

This year will see the NSW Government complete its commitment to invest $50 million into community infrastructure projects across NSW in four years.

The funding is provided through the Clubgrants Category 3 program, which receives a contribution from registered clubs’ gaming machine profits to benefit local communities.

Funding ranges are $50,000 to $200,000 for arts and culture, $100,000 to $200,000 for emergency preparedness and $100,000 to $300,000 for sport and recreation.

Applications for the current round of Infrastructure Grants are open from 3 to 24 September.

For more information including details on how to apply for grants, visit

Until next week


Matters of State

Monday, September 03, 2018

After months and months of waiting I was very pleased to hear that the Mudgee Return and Earn machine is finally up and running at Jubilee Park, thank you to the community for your patience. In Dubbo more than eight million containers have been returned to the two reverse vending machines at the Delroy Park Shops and Victoria Park and another two million to the reverse vending machine in Wellington. Return and Earn is the state’s largest litter reduction initiative and it already having a positive impact with the latest litter figures showing that eligible container little volume has dropped 33% since November 2017.


I am encouraging the community to apply for the enhanced multicultural grants program.

The NSW Government is investing more money into multicultural festivals and events that celebrate our local communities and bring us together.

One of the best ways to celebrate our diversity, experience new cultures and forge new connections is to attend the many festivals and events held in our local community.

Applications are now open for up to $10,000 to support our local festivals and events and I encourage all eligible community organisations to apply.

Multicultural NSW event grants have previously supported community Harmony Day celebrations, art, music and film festivals and sporting events.

Celebrating Diversity event grants are now open and will close 5pm Friday, 28 September 2018.

For more information about the Multicultural NSW Grants Program, and to apply for the events go to


Our emergency service workers are out there every day protecting and keeping us safe. Our police, fire fighters, ambulance officers, emergency and rescue volunteers do difficult and dangerous work for our community.

That’s why we announced a new road rule, in April, requiring all motorists to slow down to 40km/h when passing stationary emergency vehicles displaying blue or red flashing lights.

The new rule commenced on Saturday the 1st of September and will be trialled for 12 months.

The new rule applies to motorists when an emergency vehicle is stopped and has its red or blue lights flashing.

In addition to slowing to 40km/h, motorists will be required to give way to any person on foot in the immediate vicinity of the emergency vehicle and not increase their speed until they are at a sufficient distance past the vehicle so as not to cause a danger to any person in the vicinity.

Motorists who ignore the rule will face a $448 fine and loss of 3 demerit points.

A community education and communication campaign has been rolled out across NSW. The campaign includes television, radio, and social media advertising and will continue after to reinforce driver awareness.

The new rule provides certainty for drivers about how they should behave when emergency vehicles are stationary on the road and displaying blue and red flashing lights.

Until next week


Matters of State

Monday, August 27, 2018

What a fantastic turn out to the Dubbo Stampede on Sunday, where I had the privilege of presenting the first place winners of the Cheetah Chase and the Wallaby Wheel. Congratulations to all involved in organising the event and all the participants braving the much needed rain.


The Dubbo electorate will get its fair share of the State’s rapidly growing tourism pie with the NSW Government announcing the State’s first regional tourism target to double the current spend, last week.

The NSW Government would work with industry to reach an ambitious target of $20 billion in visitor expenditure in rural and regional NSW by 2025, rising to $25 billion in 2030.

A regional tourism target is great news for our local tourism operators and other businesses including accommodation providers, restaurants, hotels and retailers, who all benefit from more visitors coming to town.

This is a win for local economies across the region, especially during the current drought conditions where tourism is an important measure to keep the local economy stimulated.

We want international tourists flying into Sydney and heading out to rural and regional NSW, rather than flying to Melbourne or Brisbane.

A tourism target for rural and regional NSW is our commitment to local operators, business, pubs, cafes and hotels that the NSW Government will ensure everyone gets a fair share of the State’s tourism boom.

The regional target will be supported by a range of initiatives by the NSW Government to encourage greater visitation to rural and regional NSW.

This includes increased funding for marketing campaigns, more rural and regional events, improved tourism infrastructure and measures to address skills shortages in the tourism and hospitality sectors.


Consumers are set to save big on time and money, and have disputes with businesses resolved quicker thanks to new Fair Trading powers.

The fair Trading Legislation Amendment (Consumer Guarantee Directors) Bill, granting the new powers passed the NSW Parliament.

The Government’s reform will give the NSW Fair Trading Commissioner the power to direct a business to repair, replace or refund a good.

This means fair, quick and cheap resolutions for consumers and businesses, and will be alternative to the often costly process of courts and tribunals.

Consumers were often confused about their rights and disputes still accounted for more than 20% of legal programs experienced by people in NSW.

The 2016 Australian Consumer Survey also found 76% of people reported a problem within the first six months of purchasing a good.

If a resolution is still not possible, rather than the case going to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal or being dropped, consumers can now seek a direction that the trader repair, replace refund the good.

This is about enhancing Fair Trading’s existing powers to get the very best outcome for the region, consumers and give business certainty around their obligations under Australian Consumer Law.

This is a big win for consumers in the region, and will help ensure they get the fair go they deserve in the marketplace, with the reforms taking effect from January 1, 2019.

For more information on the criteria, visit

Until next week


Matters of State

Monday, August 20, 2018

The past two weeks were very busy back at Parliament catching up with my colleagues after the winter break. It was also great to get out in the Electorate last week, I had a chance to visit Lue and meet with the locals there.


The region will see four new officers patrolling the streets and attending to incidents, following today’s Police attestation parade of Class 334.

The four new probationary constables will soon begin duties and embark on their new policing career.

I attended the graduation ceremony last week and congratulated the new recruits on graduating from the Goulburn Police Academy after more than eight months of training and university- level education.

Community safety is of paramount importance and I am absolutely thrilled to welcome the new probationary constables to the region.

Becoming a sworn police officer is a tremendous honour. The mere presence of a blue uniform puts our minds at ease, however it also comes with enormous challenges.

As a community, we turn to police in our worst hour and expect them to stand in harm’s way to prevent and disrupt criminal activity.

I commend our newest officers on making the decision to put the community’s safety above their own and joining one of the proudest organisations in the state.

As the Minister fir Police I am proud the Liberals & Nationals Government committed to increasing the authorised strength of the NSW Police Force to a record 16,795 over this term, and we have achieved that and more.


Anyone who incites or threatens violence against people based on their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex or HIV/AIDS status in NSW will now face up to three years in prison, under new laws that came into force last week.

The legislation creates a new offence in the Crimes Act of publicity threatening or inciting violence against people on the grounds of race, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex or HIV/AIDS status.

These laws will send a strong and clear message to people who think it’s acceptable to incite violence against people because they belong to a particular group.

The new offence carries a maximum three year sentence and a fine of $11,000 or $55,000 in the case of a corporation. It replaces and improves existing offences in the Anti-Discrimination Act.


Tenants who damage public housing and those convicted of rental fraud will face new sanctions and eviction under a bill passed last week by the NSW Government.

The Bill, which amends the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 and Housing Act 2001, would lead to a fairer, safer and more financially sustainable social housing system.

The Bill also gives the Government the power to make tenants who have caused significant damage to their public housing property pay a rental bond. This will not apply to tenants who do the right thing.

Tenants that wreck their properties, or receive a benefit that they do not deserve are disadvantaging those genuinely in need.

This Bill will ensure that the Government can take appropriate action against the small minority of tenants who do not value their property.

Until next week


Matters of State

Monday, August 13, 2018

Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety are becoming increasingly present in our rural communities and households due to the drought creating uncertainty for the future, increasing the vulnerability of families across the region and NSW. So it was great last week to see some positivity around mental health when nearly 100 bike riders took off from Dubbo for the Black Dog’s ride to Darwin. This fantastic initiative is raising awareness of depression and suicide prevention present in all walks of life in the local communities that they will travel through between Dubbo and Darwin, congratulations to all involved.


I am encouraging local businesses to register their interest in mentoring and building vocational skills in young people to help divert them away from crime and into education and employment opportunities.

The new RISEUP program was developed personally by NSW Police Commissioner Michael Fuller APM and will run state-wide in partnership with Police Citizens Youth Club (PCYC) and local businesses.

The program is designed to help disengaged 15 to 18 year olds remain on the right side of the law and have a bright working future.

This initiative has the potential to make a real difference in a young person’s life.

The RISEUP program links young people with employers to receive real-life, on the job training in the workforce, and includes workshops on leadership, relationship-building, and practical education to boost numeracy and literacy.

As a community it is vital that we work with vulnerable teens so they can develop into thriving, civic-minded individuals.

I am delighted that out community has the chance to be involved in this extremely worthwhile initiative and help boost the employment prospects of our local young people.

As the Minister for Police I am proud the PCYC and NSW Police Force do such remarkable work engaging young people in sport and recreational activities and diverting them away from a life of crime.

RISEUP builds on this success, developing teenagers’ vocational skills, connecting them with business and increasing their self-esteem to take their life in a positive direction.

For more information, please visit


Reducing homelessness is a priority for the NSW Government which has committed $1 billion for homelessness services over the next four years to support new and existing initiatives.

This includes $61 million in new funding over the next four years to implement the NSW Homelessness Strategy, which features more early intervention and extra tailored support to help people to maintain their tenancies.

We are acting early to prevent homelessness, working hard to assist rough sleepers into family accommodation and providing the necessary support to address the underlying causes of homelessness.

Secure and stable accommodation is a key element to breaking the cycle of disadvantaged and helping people reach their full potential.

Providing a person with secure housing and tailored support which meets their needs can help to restore dignity and sets them on a positive path.

Until next week


Matters of State

Monday, August 06, 2018

With 99 per cent of the state now in drought and our farmers facing one of the driest winters on record, I welcomed the Government’s Emergency Drought Relief Package last week. This is the land of drought and flooding rains, and sadly this drought is taking its toll with many famers and the local rural communities facing extreme financial and emotional pressure.

A major feature of this package is the introduction of transport subsidies, this measure recognising the fact that many people have been forced to cart fodder, since the beginning of the year. Waivers will also apply on Local Land Services annual rates, fixed charges on water licenses, registration costs for class 1 agricultural vehicles and interest for existing Farm Innovation Fund loans.

The NSW Rural Assistance Authority will begin processing applications from Monday August 6.

For more information on drought relief visit


Farmers can now access grants for the construction of cattle underpasses beneath public roads and the installation of warning signs and flashing lights, to reduce the risk to producers and motorists.

Underpasses remove the need for cattle to cross roads, improving safety for farmers, the farmer’s family, employees and motorists, and lifting farm productivity.

This investment delivers on a commitment from the NSW Liberals and Nationals as part of a Memorandum of Understanding with the NSW Farmers Association to improve farm and road safety.

Along with the productivity boost for producers, the scheme will reduce hazards for motorists.

Every application received will be assessed against eligibility criteria listed in the Cattle Underpass Scheme guidelines.

Applications close on 31 October 2018 and will be considered in the order in which they are received.

For more information go to


Public school students in years 5 to 12 across the region will learn about the importance of resilience, service and inclusion as part of an initiative helping to share the spirit of the Invictus Games Sydney 2018.

The Invictus Games Sydney 2018 Education Project was launched by the NSW Government last week.

The Games are a unique educational opportunity to focus on inclusivity, mental health, physical health and resilience. The Games promote service to the community and they should encourage the community to think deeply about the service and sacrifices that defence personnel make every day.

The chance to secure tickets for students from stages three to stage six to attend the Invictus Games Sydney 2018 is available to all NSW public schools.

All students particularly those living in rural communities, will have the opportunity to take part in activities remotely via online curriculum resources, virtual excursions and other interaction opportunities for participation.

Not only will it allow kids in the region to be involved in the Games, but it will give teachers an opportunity to offer a unique learning experience as the state commemorates the Centenary of Anzac.

The initiative will promote NSW syllabus outcomes, completing the curriculum in various areas of study including PDHPE, English and History. It will include a new history resource aimed at deepening student appreciation of Australia’s military service.

Until next week


Matters of State

Monday, July 30, 2018

I was delighted that three businesses in the region have secured over $2.8 million in grant funding from the NSW Government’s Disability Sector Scale-Up program last week. Royal Far West, MacKillop Rural Community and the Centre for Disability Services received the funding to help them make the most of the NDIS rollout.


More local seniors will be set to hit the courts and sporting fields in the coming months, as a further three sporting codes offer modified rules for players over 65 years of age.

The NSW Government is investing an additional $100,000 to get Basketball, Softball and Table Tennis NSW on board with a modified program, whilst also expanding the successful pilot with Football NSW.

Sport has the power to create community spirit and it is important that all members of our community can join in, regardless of their age.

I encourage all seniors in our community to participate in a modified sport so they can enjoy the benefits of physical activity and social interaction.

Since May 2017, the NSW Government has provided $200,000 to six sporting codes to implement modified sporting programs for NSW seniors.

For more information or to register, please contact the sporting associations below or visit


Adolescents, adults and their families and friends in the region will have better access to mental health support for personality disorders, as staff in the Western NSW Local Health District are set to receive more training about the condition.

The extra training is part of the NSW Government’s further investment of $5.5 million in the Project Air Strategy.

This is great news for people in the region who live with a personality disorder and it is great news for those close to them who are often impacted and need support too.

There are young people in our community who need this specialised treatment and I’m very pleased that project Air will continue to help people with more booster training for our staff and the opportunity for them to join the newly established ‘Air Academy’.

The Project Air Strategy ensures earlier diagnoses of a personality disorder while also reducing the time spent in hospital due to access to more tailored treatments. Today’s announcement will help the strategy expand to all health districts in NSW.

The NSW Government’s overall investment in the Project Air Strategy will now be more than $11 million since 2011.

There are several types of personality disorders including borderline, antisocial, narcissistic and obsessive-compulsive, with treatment often involving evidence-based psychological therapy to help the person understand their feelings and improve their relationships.

People experiencing a personality disorder represent about 25 per cent of mental health presentations to emergency departments and admissions to the State mental health inpatient units.

If you or someone you know needs crisis support phone Lifeline 13 11 14. For more information about Project Air Strategy and for resources about personality disorders visit

Until next week


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