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Matters Of State - December 18

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

I watched on with interest last week when Dubbo Regional Council released the results of its survey into the River Street Bridge proposal.

Much has been said and written about the bridge concept since it was announced, and I feel it is time to correct some of the wrong messages that have been spread through the community.

I understand that politics is a tough game but, when it comes to this project, some people in the community have chosen to politicise the issue rather than just deal with the facts.

So, here are the facts.

Firstly, the River Street Bridge is not designed to ease the day-to-day congestion in West Dubbo.

Sure, it will be used on a day-to-day basis but its primary objective isn’t to mitigate the everyday issues. I will comment on that further in this piece.

River Street’s PRIMARY objective is to provide a second flood crossing for Dubbo to allow traffic to get from one side of a bulging Macquarie River to the other.

When the Serisier Bridge went under in 2010, the LH Ford Bridge was the only way to cross the river. It was utter chaos.

In the event of the next major flood that engulfs the Serisier Bridge, River Street will allow traffic to get into the northern part of Dubbo, and access the Newell and Golden Highways without having to divert through the CBD.

That is a win, and will alleviate the chaos we saw last time when every piece of traffic had to travel over the LH Ford Bridge and go via Cobra Street.

On the issue of congestion, the NSW Government and the Roads and Maritime Service have other plans that in no way, shape or form have anything to do with River Street.

Firstly, the proposed traffic lights at the intersection of Whylandra and Victoria Streets will allow the traffic flow to become much more structured.

When it comes to the concerns of some business owners in Victora Street, I am meeting with an RMS official this week to discuss those and hopefully find a solution that works for everyone.

The second part of our plan to deal with congestion is a ‘bypass’ from Tomingley to Eumungerie that will allow vehicles that don’t need to come through Dubbo to go around Dubbo.

Money was given to Narromine Shire Council to investigate what work would need to be done to upgrade the existing roads, and RMS officials have been researching the link as well.

It is believed that such a ‘bypass’ would drastically reduce the levels of highway traffic, heavy vehicles in particular, that enter West Dubbo and create the congestion.

Let it be said that neither I, nor the NSW government, are against the idea of a bypass or ring road and that is why we have spent money looking into the Tomingley to Eumungerie option.

The end result would be a significant amount of highway traffic not needing to come through Dubbo, a more structured process for local traffic getting through the Whylandra Street/Victoria Street intersection, and flood crossings that allow direct access into both North Dubbo and the Central/South areas in the event of that “once in a 20-year flood”.

No doubt a select few in the community will still look to find issues with the work being done by the NSW Government, but hopefully this gives readers an insight into why we are doing the work we are doing.

As I said last week, if Dubbo Regional Council doesn’t like the concept or believes its ideas are better, I would encourage them to investigate the costs associated with building its own bypass or ring road, similar to what Orange City Council did with the Northern Distributor.

With this being my last column prior to Santa’s arrival, I would like to wish all of my constituents in Dubbo a happy and safe Christmas.

See you all in 2019.

Matters Of State - December 12

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The early days of parenthood are being made much easier in NSW through some new initiatives announced over the past week by the State Government.

The development of the Milk Bank and the Baby Bundle is designed to help parents by providing not only some of the basic essentials needed when a newborn arrives, but also provide potentially life-saving breast milk in the event of a premature birth and complications.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard unveiled the Milk Bank idea last week, with the premise being very similar to that of a blood bank.

Human milk will be pasteurised in a purpose-built centre, run jointly by the Australian Red Cross Blood Service and NSW Health.

Around 1000 babies are born every year in NSW at less than 32 weeks gestational age, or of a very low birth weight and many need specialised care, and research shows human milk reduces the risk of the potentially life-threatening gut-disorder necrotizing enterocolitis and bacterial infections.

This initiative will help ease the burden on parents who may already be struggling with the premature birth and the ensuing complications.


The Baby Bundle announcement is also a major win for families in NSW, and will see a sleeping bag, play and change mats, thermometers and a first aid kit as just some of the practical items available to parents as they welcome their newborn into the world.

The NSW government is delivering on its promise to support families with a bag of essentials, valued at $300, to help take care of their precious babies.

This bundle of help for a bundle of joy will provide parents and caregivers with products and information to support the health, development and well-being of their babies.

To be implemented from January 1, 2019, the Baby Bundle is part of the NSW Government’s $157 million parenting package, and also highlights the offerings of Australian businesses.

All of the businesses supplying goods are Australian, with four based in NSW, guaranteeing parents receive top-notch essentials for their newborns.


It was also announced last week that further money will be poured into school maintenance, with 33 Dubbo electorate schools among the recipients.

The $100 million spend takes the total investment to $847 million over four years, making a mockery of Labor’s stance that we are not interested in schools and hospitals.

After years of having to dig NSW out a financial black hole left by Labor, this current  government has returned the state to a solid financial position.

The additional funding announced is a huge boost for the Dubbo electorate, and will ensure that students and teachers can work in the best possible conditions.

In addition to prioritising maintenance in NSW schools, the Government has also announced the first 900 schools that will receive air conditioning under its record $500 million Cooler Classrooms program, and it is undertaking a record $6 billion school building program over the next four years, which will deliver more than 170 new and upgraded schools throughout NSW.

This is the largest investment into public school infrastructure by any State government in Australian history.

An additional 900 full-time teachers will also be hired this financial year, building on the 5340 teachers that the NSW Liberals & Nationals has added to the public school system since 2011.


During my time in politics I have loved the annual Christmas Card competition, and the drawings offered up by the school children of the Dubbo electorate.

My final competition in office was decided last week, and congratulations to Zayden Berger from Narromine on his ‘Royal Christmas’ drawing that fit the bill perfectly.

The cards have been printed with Zayden’s drawing on them, and will be distributed across NSW, Australia and the world.

I’ll be sending one to Buckingham Palace in the hope it gets the attention of Harry and Meghan, and give them another fond memory of their visit to Dubbo.

Until next week,


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