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Rural Schools

Friday, August 03, 2012
Rural schools need no longer fear the isolation that for generations has been a fact of life for its students. The tyranny of distance has to a very large extent been overcome by recent advances in technology, in particular the introduction of the internet and video conferencing tools. I had the opportunity to connect with rural schools in Ballimore, Yeoval, Wongarbon recently and was impressed by the very high standard of teaching on display and the enthusiasm demonstrated by the students. Last week was designated as Education Week across the state and I was privileged to visit Tullamore Central School to help celebrate the work of teachers, students and volunteers in the community. I was reminded of the important role that the Access Program plays in the development of student's education in rural schools. The program provides access to senior curriculum in small rural schools leading to eligibility for the Higher School Certificate. The number of successful students taking part in this program is positive proof that living in small communities is no obstacle to attaining academic achievement.

My tour of the electorate continued to Trundle, Eugowra and Canowindra last week where I witnessed some positive developments. I am always impressed by the community spirit that exists in Trundle and was proud to learn that the village's footy team the 'Boomers' have reformed. On my visit to Eugowra I took the opportunity to look over the town's murals a welcome addition to the town's rich history. Changes to the regulations governing Native Vegetation have been the subject of considerable discussion with constituents recently. Many of the concerns raised with me have already been canvassed with the Minister for the Environment who has carriage of this legislation and I look forward to working closing with her to improve existing arrangements for farmers and landholders. I visited Canowindra to see how funds through the NSW Government’s Community Building Partnership program will be used to improve facilities at the Memorial Park. Earlier this year NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell announced the roll out of $35 million for 1424 community projects throughout the state. The Canowindra Business Chamber Inc was awarded $60,000 for new disabled toilets at the Canowindra Memorial Park. Local construction and trades jobs and local businesses stand to benefit from the activity as community infrastructure is built, refurbish or enhanced. I look forward to seeing the benefits of this upgrade for the Canowindra community.

I was pleased to welcome news of planning approval for the development of a $65 million gold mine which will deliver jobs and investment to the Dubbo area. The Tomingley Gold Project, located approximately 50 kilometres south-west of Dubbo, comprises three open cut pits and one underground mine, as well as supporting infrastructure.
The Alkane Resources Ltd project is expected to generate up to 100 jobs during the construction of the mine and up to 90 ongoing jobs over the 10-year life of the mine.
Alkane’s project is a huge vote of confidence in the strength of our resources sector and I welcome the economic benefits that will flow to our region from such a significant investment.

I am constantly being asked about funding options for the various worthwhile sporting programs that exist within the Dubbo electorate. That's why I was pleased to learn that changes to the Sport and Recreation Grant Programs have been made, to create a system better suited to meet the needs of sporting organisations throughout the state. Last week NSW Minister for Sport and Recreation, Graham Annesley announced that the review of the Sport and Recreation grant programs has been completed and the overall funding pool has been maintained for 2012-13. The new Sport and Recreation Participation and Facility Program will be open twice per year to ensure applicants receive a quicker turnaround. The new guidelines will allow local members to provide comment on applications relevant to their electorates; however, the final decision will be made by the independent assessment panel based on the NSW Government ‘Good Practise Guide to Grants Administration’. Round One of the Sport and Recreation Participation and Facility Program is now open and will close on 3 September 2012. I urge applicants to make the most of this opportunity, but a second round of grants will be available in January 2013 if the timing better suits preparations. Details about the Sport and Recreation Participation and Facility Program including the Guidelines and the online application process are available at or phone 13 13 02.

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