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Matters of State

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Small communities consistently punch above their weight. My tour of the electorate continued this week with a visit to the vibrant communities of Wongarbon, Ballimore, Yeoval, Garema and Corinella. Enormous pride exists within many of these small communities. That pride can be attributed to the collective attitude of its residents whose sense of ownership over their village's future direction and prosperity is a privilege to witness. I had the opportunity to catch up with the locals in these communities, finding out what issues matter to them most and be updated on progress with work to a number of projects that received funding under the State Government's Community Building Partnership Program such as the Wongarbon Hall upgrade and Ballimore amenities development. Small communities should not be apologetic about their size. I commend the residents of Wongarbon, Ballimore, Yeoval, Garema, Corinella and all small communities in my electorate for their dedication to pursuing excellence.

While on the subject of small communities now would be the ideal time to consider nominating a local for the NSW/ACT Regional Achievement & Community Awards. There are many worthy businesses, organisations and individuals within the Dubbo electorate so I encourage you to nominate. Winners could see themselves $5,000 richer. Categories range from community of the year, business development, events and tourism, environment and employment regional service. Visit www.awardsaustralia.com to nominate.

Working through your way through the maze of planning instruments can be a developer's nightmare. That's why I welcome the NSW Government’s bold vision for a more transparent, effective, and efficient planning system on the back of Planning Minister Brad Hazzard's visit to Dubbo last week. The Minister's visit could not have been more timely given the release of the Green Paper – A New Planning System for NSW. The paper reinforces the NSW Government’s vision to give communities a greater say in planning for their future growth and development within their local area.

I was pleased to announce that Parkes Swimming Pool will get a two million dollar upgrade thanks to a generous loan subsidy from the NSW Government’s Local Infrastructure Renewal Scheme. The $70 million scheme provides councils with a four per cent interest subsidy over 10 years on loans to allow infrastructure projects to go ahead. The Parkes project included upgrading the 50m and other pools, a revamp for the concourse, shade areas, tiered concrete seating and a supplementary plant room. As part of the scheme, North Dubbo's struggling stormwater infrastructure will get $1.5 million boost. The local project will provide trunk drainage infrastructure in North Dubbo which will support other drainage initiatives such as improving kerbs and guttering so that stormwater can be discharged to receiving areas. Yeoval will also receive funding for a sewerage project.

Last year I attended the Rural Women's Gathering in Gloucester which enables opportunities for rural women to come together to network, share experiences, support each other and gain access to information, decision-makers and service providers. This year the event is in Parkes on October 12-14th and registrations are now open by visiting www.parkesruralwomensgathering.wordpress.com. The Parkes Committee has developed a weekend program to reflect the unique culture, industry, tourism and environment of Parkes.

I was encouraged to learn that the Central West region contributed $798 million to the State’s visitor economy in 2011-12. It's clear that many tourists choose this part of the state to spend their holidays. I was pleased to welcome an initiative that aims to boost tourism figures further, grow confidence in the sector and create jobs. The 'Make Some Our Time' campaign aims at enticing potential visitors to the regions with the offer of $1 million worth of $200 discount accommodation vouchers. Shoppers over 18 years of age, who purchase items valued at $30 or more have the chance to win a $200 discount accommodation voucher towards accommodation for a short break in regional NSW.



Matters of State 21/5/12

Monday, May 21, 2012
Don't we all just love a good country show to evoke nostalgic feelings of happy childhoods? Country shows have a real charm about them. Some equate show time with fast rides, sideshow and Dagwood dogs.

But for many the local show honours the agricultural scene. I spent the weekend on the back of the horse assisting the ringmaster during a range of events at the Dubbo Show. It's been a while since I rode a horse but I was honoured to take part in what's known as one of the major agricultural shows in the state. I took pleasure showing the Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson- who officially opened this year's show-how successfully the Dubbo Show combines traditional elements with exhibits and entertainment that draws people to the show year after year. 

For 139 years the Dubbo Show has been a focal point of community activities within the district. From humble beginnings in 1872, the Dubbo Show is currently recognised as one of the top five shows in NSW and the premier inland show. The Dubbo Show Society has a long and proud tradition and members should be impressed with the weekend's event. 

This year Olympic qualifying showjumpers showcased their skills and team penning, one of the fastest growing sports was introduced to the event program.  As mentioned, the show is a place that plays tribute to the agricultural scene. It's important that agriculture is recognised and appreciated for the vital role it plays in the health and wealth of our country. The local show is an avenue in which we can celebrate excellence in agriculture displayed through the many exhibits, animals, machinery and competitions such as wood chopping, sheep dog trials and cooking displays on show.

Promoting agriculture ensures that rural communities and agricultural industries continue to thrive. Shows are also places where traditional crafts like spinning and weaving are demonstrated in an effort to keep these historical skills alive. There are many successful show staged throughout the Dubbo electorate; but country shows only survive thanks to hardworking volunteers. Earlier this month the Yeoval show took place and this year the Parkes Show Committee will celebrate its 131st year. I attended the Parkes Show last year and was taken aback by the dedication of hardworking volunteers. 

The Parkes Show Committee has some 75 voluntary members supported by approximately 150 stewards and a membership of 1200 families.  Did you know that in its long history there are only two times that the Parkes show been cancelled, once in 1942 because of World War II and secondly in 2007 due to the outbreak of Equine Influenza. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank show society volunteers in the Dubbo electorate. I'm proud to be a part of a community that supports its local show and I encourage anyone who wants to give back to the community to get involved with their local show society. I look forward to following the show circuit in Forbes, Narromine, Tullamore, Trundle, Peak Hill and Parkes towards the end of this year. 

Dubbo: No longer out of sight or out of mind

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Long recognised as the geographical heart of New South Wales, Dubbo is fast establishing a reputation for itself as the preferred location for staging Ministerial events and announcements. In recent months Dubbo has played host to 13 Ministers who have chosen this electorate to spend time outlining important initiatives within their respective portfolios. Whether it is to announce the arrival of more doctors and nurses or the delivery of new services to the community Dubbo has been blessed with choice when it comes to Ministerial announcements. It can no longer be said that Dubbo does not appear on the Government's radar. Long gone are the days under Labor when the Government of the day paid lip service to the interests of this community. The NSW Liberal/Nationals are serious about delivering better outcomes for the people of the Dubbo electorate. I share a long standing passion with many other local citizens in wishing to see Dubbo and the surrounding region realise its full potential and cement its reputation as the true regional capital of this state.

The process starts in earnest this week while we play host to the Ministers for Sport and Recreation, Aboriginal Affairs, Health and Mental Health. Minister Graham Annesley was in the electorate on Tuesday to meet and offer his congratulations to touch football stalwart Neil Webster, a recent recipient of Dubbo's 2012 Service to Sport Award. The Minister was impressed by the high standard of facilities on offer in Dubbo no doubt contributing to its success in hosting the NSW Touch Country Championships for the past 21 years. On the same day Aboriginal Affairs Minister Victor Dominello was in town to convene a meeting that gave local residents a say in the new Aboriginal affairs strategy for NSW. This formed part of the NSW Government’s Ministerial Taskforce on Aboriginal Affairs. On Thursday both Jillian Skinner and Kevin Humphries will be on hand to chair the Rural Health Forum, established to tap into local suggestions, ideas and innovations that will improve health services and patient care in Western NSW. To top it all off it was my great privilege to chair meetings in Dubbo and Forbes as part of the NSW Governments community consultation process in response to the draft Murray Darling Basin Plan. These meetings followed those I attended in Finley and Leeton last week, with further meetings scheduled to take place in Narrabri and Moree.

No one should underestimate the magnitude of the task ahead turning around this state's finances. The legacy we inherited from Labor means that we will not be able to proceed as quickly with funding as many of the worthwhile infrastructure projects the community has long wished for. However the undertaking given upon our election that our commitments will be honoured in their entirety remains in place.

I look forward to working closely with Ministerial colleagues and local stakeholders to help realise this Governments vision for our community.

 


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