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Matters of State

Friday, April 13, 2018

I would like to offer Dubbo local Jillian Kilby my congratulations on her fantastic win at the AgriFutures Australia 2018 NSW-ACT Rural Women’s Award. I look forward to seeing Ms Kilby continue to shine a light on regional business and prosper as a leader in our community.

I was also pleased to make two major funding announcements last week. Narromine Council have received nearly $180,000 for CCTV cameras in the town centre, a great boost to security for the town and Minister for Racing Paul Toole and I presented $240,000 for the construction of an Adventure Playground in Gulgong.  This will be a great asset for Gulgong and the surrounding community.


In your letter boxes this week you should be receiving an Anzac brochure to celebrate the spirit of the Anzac.

Sacrifice, mateship, courage and endurance- they’re all qualities our soldiers forged on the battlefields a century ago and are still relevant today as Australia’s military personnel uphold the time honoured ANZAC tradition.

Last week I was privileged to join 14 of my fellow trekkers at the Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway in Sydney. It was a hugely moving event and put the size of the challenge and the contribution of our diggers who fought and died for our country into perspective.

Wreaths were laid to remember the sacrifices of the fallen and a moment of silence was observed. I have always held our diggers in high regard but my respect for those who served our country has only increased.

I’m looking forward to learning more about their incredible contribution and following in the footsteps of our courageous soldiers at Kokoda over the coming weeks.


Frontline staff caring for people in the community who live with severe mental illness will receive specialised training to improve the care experience for consumers and their families.

The NSW Government will invest $800,000 over the next two years in a new scholarship program for staff who work for non-government organisations (NGOs)

Expanding the availability of community based supports is part of the NSW Government’s commitment to a 10 year reform of mental health care, and a skilled workforce is essential to delivering this.

Our NGO network play a crucial part in helping people who live with mental illness experience a better quality of life by offering specialised assistance.

The Mental Health NGO Workforce Scholarship program will fund up to 300 scholarships to enable NGO staff to study either a Certificate IV in Mental Health or a Diploma in Mental Health.

NGOs in regional, rural and remote parts of NSW will be targeted to ensure staff everywhere across the State have access to mental health training.

Further information on the scholarship application process will be available to participating NGOs in the coming months.

Until next week


Matters of State

Friday, April 06, 2018

After a relaxing Easter weekend with the family, it was a busy week in the electorate which included the release of the first images of the new $70.2 million Mudgee Hospital, the design team have done a superb job on the plans for what will become a state of the art hospital catering for the health needs to the mid-western region into the future. Early works will start mid-year with construction works to kick off before Christmas.  I also spent a day in Wellington visiting the new Service NSW centre which opened last Friday and meeting the team, a great asset for the community.


The SafeWork NSW awards for 2018 are now open for nominations.

Now in their 15th year, the awards recognise individuals and organisations which have shown exceptional commitment to health, safety and return to work practices in NSW.

The awards cover six categories and are open to any NSW business, individual or not-for-profit organisation.

These awards give us an opportunity to recognise workplaces that are putting their employees first, and setting a great example for other organisations.

SafeWork does an outstanding job helping to protect workers across the state but at the end of the day, workplace health and safety is everyone’s responsibility.

This is a wonderful opportunity for anyone who has improved safety in their workplace through innovation, forward thinking and positive change to be recognised.

Winning a SafeWork Award can have a direct and dramatic impact on your business, clearly differentiating you from competitors and providing a real competitive advantage when seeking or retaining customers.

Award categories include excellence in workplace health and safety culture (small or large business), best solution to an identified workplace health and safety issue (small or large business), best individual contribution to workplace safety, excellence in recovery to work for business, recovery at work achievement award for injured workers and SafeWork NSW leadership in safety.

Visit for information on the entry process, award categories and prizes. Entries close Friday, 22 June 2018. Winners will be announced on 25 October.

For further information on the 2018 SafeWork NSW Awards, visit the website or email


Small businesses and their staff will now have access to free business skills training thanks to a new $30 million NSW Government initiative aimed at helping small businesses grow and thrive.

The new Skills for Business program meant local companies and their staff could undertake free TAFE NSW qualifications in subjects including digital and financial literacy, cybersecurity and general business management.

This initiative is all about giving small business owners the very best chance of not staying in business, but taking their business to the next level.

Running a small business can be incredibly rewarding, but also incredibly tough, and this is an opportunity for those small business owners and their staff to upskill in an area of need, for free!

For more information visit:

Until next week,


Matters of State

Friday, March 30, 2018

I hope everyone had an enjoyable and relaxing long weekend over Easter. Last week I had the pleasing task of officially opening the Lions Pride Land at the Dubbo Zoo with Minister for the Environment, the Honourable Gabrielle Upton. The $9 million joint investment between the NSW Government and Taronga Conservation Society Australia is the largest investment in an animal exhibit in the Zoo’s history, it is simply spectacular. I was also happy to present the 2018 volunteer awards to eight deserving locals recognising their service to the community.


I’m thrilled to announce that the NSW Government’s investment into recently completed or underway regional infrastructure projects has tipped over to $16 billion this financial year.

$16 billion is an enormous milestone and we are incredible proud to share what we have been working on to get here.

This is why the NSW Government have developed a new website called ‘Our Regions’ that will give communities across NSW, a chance to learn more about these projects and incentives happening in their own backyard.

With a simple click on the Our Regions interactive map, you can access details about projects recently wrapped up or about to get underway. Community members can click on this map to see where the project is located, which stage it is at and how much has been invested by the NSW Government.

This includes information about the $70.2 million redevelopment of Mudgee Hospital, the $10.1 million Dubbo specialist school and everything in between.

What’s more, the our regions website highlights other ways we are making a difference for communities in regional NSW through initiatives that aim to reduce domestic and family violence and services that aim to grow healthier communities.

I urge you to take a look and see for yourselves, visit


I am calling on residents to nominate local seniors, who make a positive impact in the community for a 2018 NSW Seniors Festival Local Achievement Award.

The awards are a wonderful way to showcase the talents and contributions of seniors living in the region, as part of the special 60th Anniversary celebrations of the popular NSW Seniors Festival.

Seniors make a real difference to local families, recreational groups, businesses and organisations and we want to celebrate them.

I am sure everyone knows an older person who deserves to be recognised, so I encourage you to nominate them and show them how much they are appreciated for all they do.

The NSW Seniors Festival Local Achievement Awards are a special way in which every community can thank local seniors for their hard work, skills and generosity.

Winners of the NSW Seniors Festival Local Achievement Awards will be announced on the 10th of April 2018.

For further details on how to nominate senior contact the Dubbo electorate office on 68823577.

The 2018 NSW Seniors Festival runs from Wednesday 4th to Sunday 15th of April. For more information on exciting events in the region, Sydney and across the state in the coming weeks, visit

Until next week


Matters of State

Friday, March 23, 2018

I would like to wish everyone a very Happy Easter and a safe and enjoyable long weekend. Double Demerits will be in place from the 29th of March until the 2nd of April, and with 88 people unfortunately having already lost their lives this year on NSW roads I urge everyone to please think twice before breaking the road rules this long weekend.


Minister for Early Education and Aboriginal Affairs Sarah Mitchell and I announced in Dubbo last week that Aboriginal children across NSW will benefit from a new program targeting the quality enhancement of Aboriginal early childhood services.

The NSW Government’s Quality Support program was developed following close consultation with the sector and aims to identify and address challenges faced by Aboriginal services across the state.

Minister Mitchell expressed that this program is delivering what the sector expects and children and families deserve.

The Quality Support program is yet another way the NSW Government is ensuring all families, regardless of their background, have access to top quality early childhood education services for their children.

This is also a fantastic opportunity for Aboriginal services to come together and discuss how Aboriginal culture has been embedded to everyday practice at their service. It is absolutely vital for Aboriginal children across the state to have a strong sense of culture and heritage and this program will support that.

Aboriginal services with exemplary ratings and compliance history will be delivering sessions to showcase how Aboriginal culture has successfully been integrated to pedagogy at their services. These sessions will then be translated into a series of guides for services to keep and refer to.

The NSW Department of Education will also work directly alongside identified Aboriginal services to ensure they are meeting quality standards. Support will include visits, training, online follow-up, telephone support and additional resources to boost quality.

Sessions will be held in Wellington as well as Sydney, Newcastle, Mogo, Lismore, Walgett, Griffith and Kempsey.


I also have the privilege last week to present some more Community Building Partnership funding to local community groups to help improve local facilities at Dubbo’s South Dubbo Oval and the Dubbo Model Railway Club.

South Dubbo Oval was presented with $15,440 for two new grandstands to be built for the viewing of junior, women’s and men’s sport with room to expand for more seating.

Whilst the Dubbo Model Railway Club accepted $10,517 which will be used to replace their kitchen including, sink, storage cupboards and benchtops. As well as replacing the floor coverings, sewer line and existing stormwater line to an external pit.

Congratulations to these two deserving groups that are putting this funding to good use. The applications for the 2018 round of the Community Building Partnership fund will be opening in May.

Until next week


Matters of State

Friday, March 16, 2018

It was an eventful week in State Parliament and the electorate where I had the opportunity to present cheques to Narromine Shire Council for over $1.5 million and Mid-Western Regional Council for over $1.7 million from round two of the NSW Government Stronger Country Communities fund. As well as attending the opening of the Impatient Unit as part of stage 3 of the Dubbo hospital and the launch of the NSW Local Health District Disability Inclusion Plan.


The NSW Government-funded whooping cough vaccine for pregnant woman has reduced the chance of infants with the illness being hospitalised by 94%.

A NSW Health study showed that the $6 million the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government has spent so far to provide free whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine since March 2015 had been a great success.

Not a single child has died from whooping cough since the NSW Government introduced a free whooping cough vaccine for pregnant women.

We have invested $22.75 million in NSW immunisation programs in 2017-18. We are committed to protecting babies and young children in this state from potentially deadly, vaccine-preventable illnesses.

The Australian-first study, published in the journal Vaccine, included 234 infants from NSW, half of whom had contracted the highly contagious respiratory disease.

I am urging all pregnant women to the whooping cough vaccine, which is free and easily accessible from GPs, antenatal clinics and Aboriginal medical services.

Whooping cough vaccines are given to children at six weeks, four months, six months and 18 months under the Commonwealth’s National Immunisation Program, followed by boosters at four and 12 years of age.

On average, 1500 children under 5 years have had whooping cough in NSW each year since 2009. This sadly includes four infant fatalities, the last in August 2014.


I applaud the major improvements in Dubbo crime rates following the addition of new crime squads and police in the region under the re-engineering of the NSW Police Force.

Although as a community there is still crime challenges, the latest Bureau of Crime and Statistics and Research report illustrates we are moving in the right direction.

I would like to commend the outstanding work of police in the Orana-Mid Western Police District for making inroads into a number of major offences, and praise the determination of officers.

Significant drops of up to 41% were recorded across a number of crime categories including break and enters, motor vehicle lefts and stealing from a dwelling or person.

The community should be more confident than ever the new policing structure for regional NSW will ensure high-quality, targeted services to our region.

Until next week


Matters of State

Friday, March 09, 2018

It was a great privilege to attend the 2018 NSW Women of the Year Awards on International Women’s Day last week. A big congratulation goes to Dubbo local Juliet Duffy who was named the REX Airline Regional Woman of the Year for her role as founder of consultancy Regional Enviroscience and her mentorship of young female science graduates, a wonderful achievement.


With the impact of pest animals on primary production and our environment having the potential to be so severe, I am encourage the community to have their say on the management of pest animals.

The draft regional strategic pest animal plans have been developed and are currently on public exhibition.

The plans identify pest animals risk present in each region, set regional pest animal management priorities and provide for the coordinated management of pest animals within and across Local Land Service regions.

The plans have been developed collaboratively through regional pest animal committees and alongside Local Land Service, to establish strategies and actions to achieve goals that focus on shared responsibility for pest animal management.

The current consultation period is an opportunity for land managers, organisations and interested community members to provide feedback on the management of pest animals in their region.

It is vital these plans are developed with the community to ensure a strong and responsive pest animal risk management that is outcomes focused and based on regional priorities.

Anyone who has a concern about pest animal management is encouraged to comment on the draft plans. Visit to read through your regional plan and submit feedback.

The plan will be on public exhibition until Friday 20 April 2018.


I am urging employers, group training organisations and vocational trainers in the region to nominate deserving apprentices for the 2018 NSW Training Awards.

I want to make sure our best apprentices are recognised for their skills and efforts and given a chance to compete at the prestigious NSW Training Awards in September.

Training an apprentice, trainee or student for their future career is both exciting and rewarding and nominating an individual or organisation for an award will show your pride in their achievements and your commitment to their training.

Students can be nominated if they complete or are due to complete their apprenticeship or traineeship between 1 October 2017 and 30 September 2018.

VET should be a front runner when it comes to student career choices as it allows graduates to get into work sooner, get higher pay in a shorter time frame, and train for jobs that are predicted to have the greatest growth over the next five years.

More and more students, parents and teachers are realising that VET is a credible alternative to university for securing a well-paying, quality job.

Lodge nominations now at

Nominations for the awards will close on Friday, 16th March.

Until next week


Matters of State

Friday, March 02, 2018

With NSW Women’s Week on the horizon it is with great delight I congratulate local Wellington Showgirl, Geena Purcell for making history, being the first showgirl candidate ever to be selected to represent Wellington at the showgirl finals at the Sydney Royal Easter Show in the coming weeks.


I am also happy to announce local Jillian Kilby from Dubbo is a finalist for the 2018 NSW-ACT AgriFutures Rural Woman’s Award. I am extremely proud that Ms Kilby who lives and works in our community, has been selected as a finalist in this prestigious award.

The award identifies and supports rural women who have the ambition, commitment and leadership potential to make a greater contribution to our regions.

Ms Kilby’s project is to improve the commercial success of start- ups by increasing the capability, capacity and confidence of regional business owners.

Ms Kilby said the bursary would go towards developing the business concept and include conducting a Regional Start-ups Insight Study. The project lives within a bigger eco system to develop more effective space and service for new and growing business owners within Dubbo and the wider catchment.

The award winner will be announced in April at Parliament House, Sydney.

The winner of the 2018 NSW-ACT AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award will receive a bursary of $10,000 along with the professional development opportunities. The three remaining finalists will receive a $1000 Department of Primary Industries Leadership Bursary for skills and leadership development.

The finalists will join a vibrant NSW-ACT Alumni group of over 40 past Award winners and finalists committed to making a difference to regional communities and primary industries.   


This week I have also had the privilege of presenting much needed funds to community infrastructure projects in Wellington, Stuart Town and Mumbil under the NSW Government Community Building Partnership Program.

The aim of the funding is to create more vibrant and inclusive communities and deliver positive social, environmental and recreational outcomes.

Wellington PCYC was presented with $5000 to build large storage cupboards for archery supplies and other equipment. Wellington Golf Club was successful in receiving $24,000 worth of funding for a new roof line.

The Stuart Town Advancement Association has received two grants under the NSW Government initiative. $6737 to construct a new disability approved ramp and construction of safety railings around the verandah, providing direct ramp access to the centre and $15,000 was presented for repairing and painting the exterior walls of the Ironbarks Creative Arts Centre.

The Mumbil Advancement Association was presented $32,208 for the construction of a fully furnished and equipped iron clad building at the existing oval.

Until next week


Matters of State

Friday, February 23, 2018

Thank you to everyone who lent a helping hand on Thursday afternoon in Wellington, resurfacing the local football ground at Kennard Park as part of the 2018 NSWRL Hogs for the Homeless Tour. Home of the Wellington Cowboys and many other key sports the new ground, that is also getting facilities upgraded will hopefully inspire many more kids to stare down social demons and participate in sport and community on a pathway out of the doldrums. Special thanks to everyone who came out it was a great effort made by all.


I am encouraging organisers of new and second-year events held between July and December 2018 to apply for the NSW Government’s 2018 Incubator Event Fund, which supports events held in rural and regional NSW.

The Fund offers a one-off grant of up to $20,000 to assist with activities such as marketing, public relations, venue hire and attendee research.

The Fund is one of three streams included in the Regional Flagship Events Program and is part our record $43 million investment aimed at increasing overnight visitation and expenditure across rural and regional NSW.

Applications for round two of the 2018 Incubator Event Fund are open until Sunday 18 March 2018.

To lodge an application and to view the criteria visit,


I am pleased to announce a trial of new coach services connecting Tamworth with Dubbo beginning next month.

The trial will start operating on Monday 12 March 2018 after strong interest from the community during consultation by NSW TrainLink.

The community was able to tell NSW TrainLink their thoughts on the new services through surveys, with more than 50% of Dubbo participants claiming they would use the service several times a year.

The overwhelming majority of survey participants said they would use the coach to visit family and friends in Tamworth and at stops along the route.

Interestingly, the Tamworth community indicated it was interested in travelling to Dubbo for holidays and recreation, which will provide economic benefits through tourism for our region

The purpose of the services is to better connect regional centres, to support economic growth throughout regional NSW.

The trials will run for at least six months and NSW TrainLink will continue to review the service and customer feedback to see if improvements can be made.


NSW will soon establish its first ever Productivity Commission to drive micro-economic reform and tackle burdensome regulation in NSW.

The Commission, led by the NSW Productivity Commissioner, will spearhead a reform agenda, focused on four core themes: including making it easier to do business, lowering the cost of living, making housing more affordable and finally making NSW the easiest state to move to.

An expert panel chaired by former NSW Premier the Hon Nick Greiner, commissioned to review NSW’s regulatory policy framework, recommended the appointment of a Commissioner to oversee regulatory quality in NSW.

The NSW Commission will be set up with the aid and advice of eminent Professor Gary Banks, former head of the Commonwealth Productivity Commission.

An online portal will follow the announcement of the Commissioner, allowing citizens and businesses to identify the most important regulatory roadblocks, and provide fresh ideas to reduce the burden.

Until next week


Matters of State

Friday, February 16, 2018

After a quiet and restful birthday on Sunday, this week was once again full of activity at State Parliament including the announcement for more state funding of the Dubbo Stampede, the city’s DREAM festival and for Flavours of Mudgee.


First homebuyers are flocking back into the NSW housing market with the number of people taking advantage of the NSW Government’s stamp duty concessions more than tripling since the Government introduced its housing affordability package in July last year.

The NSW Government last year eliminated stamp duty for first home buyers purchasing a new or existing property valued up to $650000 and $800000. The data released this week shows there was a strong take-up in regional NSW with above 180 first home buyers in Dubbo saving on stamp duty.

If you are still undecided about whether you can afford to buy a home I want the people of the Dubbo electorate to know about the stamp duty relief package and invite you to see if 2018 could be the year you can get into the housing market.


I am encouraging residents of the Dubbo electorate to get in quick and book their free tickets to the 2018 Premier’s Gala Concert, to be held in Sydney this April.

The concerts will be the highlight of the 60th 2018 NSW Seniors Festival and tickets are available from Monday 19th February to anyone aged over 60.

The theme for the Seniors Festival Diamond Anniversary year is ‘Let’s do more together’ - a great way to do that is to organise a group excursion to see some of the best musical talent Australia has to offer.

The Minister for Ageing Tanya Davies recently announced David Campbell and Marcia Hines will headline a suite of exciting performers at the music extravaganza, to be held at the International Convention Centre (ICC) Sydney on Thursday 5 and Friday 6 April.

This star-studded line up will be hugely popular so I encourage all local seniors to snag their tickets as soon as possible, they will no doubt book out quickly.

Other performers include country music singer Darren Coggan and X Factor Finalists Jess and Matt. Entertainer Susie Elelman has also been announced as this year’s official ambassador.

The NSW Government has provided $200,000 to support more than a hundred other events to be held across the state.

The 2018 NSW Seniors Festival runs from Wednesday 4 to Sunday 15 April and includes a two-day Expo alongside the concerts and the Comedy Debate, to be hosted by Jean Kittson at Sydney Town Hall.

For tickets to the 2018 Premier’s Gala Concerts visit Ticketek online at or phone 1300 130 613.

For further information about events in Sydney and across NSW go to .

Until next week


Matters of State 9 Feb 2018

Friday, February 09, 2018

I have had a busy first week back at State Parliament, having meetings with my fellow Ministerial colleagues and community members, implementing a new NSW Road Safety Plan and urging everyone to be prepared and remain vigilant to the ongoing threat of fire during this very dry season.  

Making the Regions Roads Safer

I am pleased to announce the Road Safety Plan 2021, which details priority actions to help save lives on NSW roads.

If you live in the country you are four times more likely to die in a road crash than if you live in a metropolitan area.

It will include a new Saving Lives on Country Roads safety infrastructure program, with an initial $125 million government commitment. Almost 8 in 10 fatalities on country roads (where speed limit is 100km/h or higher) involve the vehicle crossing the centre line (54%) or running off the road to the left (23%).

Under this new Saving Lives on Country Roads program, we will initially roll out an estimated 1600km of rumble strips and up to 300km of life-saving flexible barriers and other targeted safety works to help prevent run off road and head on crashes.

We will also have stronger penalties for thousands of drink and drug driving offenders, with police being given the power to issue on the spot fines and licence suspension for low range drink driving, ensuring swift and certain penalties.

The initiatives are in addition to ongoing programs, including our Safer Roads infrastructure program, safety around schools and mandatory road safety education for every child in NSW.

For more information, see:

 Remain prepared for bush fires with ongoing dry conditions

In my role as Minister for Emergency Services this week I met with NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons and senior firefighters at the NSW RFS Headquarters.

I had the chance to thank the firefighters and personnel from all of our emergency service agencies, as well as the support staff and volunteers, who have worked tirelessly this season and whose effort and dedication we will again rely on in the coming months.

I urge the public to help fire agencies by ensuring they remain prepared for fires.

Fires ignite and spread quickly, which is why it is so important that you discuss and have a written bush fire survival plan. This way the entire family knows what to do and where you will go in the event of an emergency.

Mowing the lawn, removing flammable items from around the yard, clearing gutters and ensuring hoses can reach all corners of your home can make all the difference in a fire. 

Until next week


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