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The Budget

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

On my daily walk to Parliament House through St James Station each morning, I am constantly reminded of how lucky I am and how much we take for granted. Every day we walk past homeless people on the street, avoiding their eyes and musky smell. We want to help, but we're a little afraid. They might be crazy; perhaps they will just buy more booze or drugs. We are all guilty of wanting more in life and there is no question that we are a very lucky country with many suggesting we are "spoilt". After all, we enjoy a plethora of wide open spaces, good quality foods, clean, fresh air and water, jobs for those who want to work, homes with all of the modern conveniences we've come to expect, a sense of community, freedom of speech and investment and business opportunities for the taking. But passing these homeless men who live in the corridors of St James Station makes me think of why we tend to focus on what we don’t have rather than what we do have. Now, while we all feel a little hard done by on occasions, would you really like to live in the likes of Pakistan's Karachi, the cheapest place to live and work? How about Mumbai and New Delhi- the Indian cities- where poverty and the rate of homelessness is huge. There is no question that for me that I live in the best place on this planet where I have so much to be happy about.
The majority of us, day in and day out, complain about something – either we’re late for work and fussing at the farmer on his tractor we just happened to get behind. But how often do we stop and be thankful that we have a job, we have healthy children, we have a vehicle we’re allowed to drive anywhere we wish in this great country. We are allowed to work for a living, we are allowed to live wherever we like, we can read what we want and we are allowed to express our creativity and our opinions on anything we wish. Not nearly often enough. As expected our first Liberal & Nationals’ budget was tough but there was still a lot of big wins for the Dubbo electorate including improved health services and roads. Rebuilding NSW means repairing what was left behind, improving services and building the infrastructure the people of NSW need. The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government is very conscious that if we don’t get expenses under control, there are no funds to fix the services people rely on every day. The Budget delivered 900 more teachers, 2475 more nurses and 550 police officers and a record infrastructure investment to address the building backlog left by Labor. Spending on hospitals and health capital works is $4.7 billion – 50 per cent higher than over the last four years. Locally Dubbo Base Hospital will receive $4 million this year towards planning for Stage 1 and 2 developments, which is due to be completed in 2014 at an estimated $79.8 million. This redevelopment will provide expanded surgical and renal dialysis services, additional inpatient beds, reconfigured maternity and paediatric services, ambulatory care services, an improved Emergency Medical Unit and more consulting space for medical specialist clinics. The Lachlan Health Service at Parkes and Forbes Hospitals will also receive a $3 million injection of funds this year towards planning for the upgrades. The Budget delivered a boost in funds for road improvements, including the Newell Highway, with $5 million allocated this year to construct passing lanes. The Dubbo Blood Bank has been allocated $3,000 for a heat sealer, Dubbo Western Plains Zoo will get $455,000 to implement master plan, for Parkes fire station there is $758,000 allocated for an upgrade and Parkes police station will have $6.8 million allocated for its upgrade, which is due to be completed in 2013 at a total cost of $12.8 million. The budget also includes a five-year $2 billion program for disability services. Locally this means that Dubbo receives $600,000 for a new five-bed group home comprising five beds for people with a disability as part of the redevelopment of the Riverside facility. In a difficult and tough budget the Dubbo electorate has done reasonably well. It’s a responsible budget and while it will go into deficit for this financial year, it will be in surplus after that. In hard economic times we have been fortune and I think that's something that we should be grateful for. Passing the homeless people camped out at St James Station as I make my way to work each day makes me ask myself what am I grateful for today?

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