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END OF PARLIAMENT SPRING SESSION

Friday, November 23, 2012
This week marks the end of the Spring session of parliament. Like every other MP from around the state, I am looking forward to devoting more time attending to matters closer to home. I have said it before in this column, the best part of the job is getting around the electorate finding out what local people really think of the latest developments in government policy. I have found that one of the best ways of gauging community sentiment towards a recent policy announcement is to speak with constituents in their own surroundings. Admittedly there have been some difficult decisions taken in recent times, decisions that have been necessary to address a sluggish New South Wales economy. Some reform measures introduced this year involve substantial changes to the way services will be delivered in future. The recently announced initiative Local Land Services is one such reform. With any significant restructure there must regrettably be some job losses. It is equally true however that change often creates new employment opportunities. I have spent a good deal of time visiting other parts of the state hearing what those communities have to say about their water entitlements, how the native vegetation regulations work in practice, what timber towns are doing to deal with the reality of wood supply constraints. Each regional community is faced with its own unique challenges coping with economic and environmental change. The Dubbo electorate is no different in this respect. As I mentioned last week, many in the community were pinning their hopes of an economic revival upon the Cobbora Mine receiving the green light. I have no doubt that once the initial disappointment passes, most will come to realise that a decision to proceed with the mine at this time would have been financially irresponsible for the government to entertain. I know that budgetary constraints have forced some difficult financial circumstances upon both government and non-government schools from next year. Despite these recent difficulties, there are plenty of good reasons to feel confident about the future of region. This year we have witnessed the start of the near $80 million dollar redevelopment of Dubbo Base Hospital and significant progress with the Forbes and Parkes Hospitals. Upgrades along sections of the Newell and Mitchell Highways have undoubtedly improved driver and passenger safety. In fact the Dubbo electorate has fared pretty well with its infrastructure spend compared with elsewhere in the state. The next month will allow me to make a series of visits to different parts of the electorate to see for myself what else needs attention. It will also be an opportunity to tackle some fresh issues and to check on the progress of some perennial favourites. I expect that there might be a few school presentation days to attend along the way as well. Speaking of which, my most enjoyable task last week was choosing a winner from among 300 Dubbo electorate schoolchildren who had entered my Christmas card design competition. With so many entries it was a tough ask but I managed to narrow it down to the three best drawings, each of whom received a gift voucher. The winning design will feature on the front of my Christmas card which should be arriving in letterboxes in the next couple of weeks.


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