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WIN FOR FARMERS

Friday, October 19, 2012
In one of the biggest wins for farmers and livestock carriers in NSW in the past 20 years, the livestock loading scheme will now be brought into line with Queensland and Victoria, helping to drive the meat and livestock industry forward. Locally this change will create jobs, improve freight productivity and ensure farmers in NSW are on a level playing field with our interstate competitors. Industry estimates the old rules added 15 per cent to freight costs and resulted in extra truck movement. This is fantastic news for farmers and livestock carriers in the Dubbo electorate and complements the NSW Government’s Bridges for the Bush program which improves roads safety in country areas. Ten million dollars will be spent on the Warroo Bridge over the Lachlan River between Forbes and Condobolin to enhance road safety and provide better access for freight trucks servicing the region’s agricultural industries. This is yet another example of the common sense approach adopted by Duncan Gay whose time as Minister for Roads and Freight has been characterised by a series of solutions to problems facing road users in regional and rural areas.

Finding ways of saving money in the current financial climate is important. We have delivered on our election commitment to cut government advertising by 25 per cent. In fact, it’s been cut by more than 30 per cent, saving taxpayers $30.5 million. In another practical savings measure, the annual reports for 180 government agencies and other organisations will no longer be printed in hard copy. Last year about 50,000 copies of reports from organisations ranging from the Sydney Water Corporation to the Dental Technicians’ Registration Board were printed at a total cost of around $2 million. A further example of a common sense approach leading to good decisions.
It's distressing to learn that only 25% of NSW residents who live in bush fire prone land have a Bush Fire Survival Plan. Waiting until a fire hits could have tragic consequences. The $2.3 million NSW Rural Fire Service Prepare Act Survive campaign encourages people to take action and make a plan for what to do during a fire. Making a plan is not difficult and it could save you and your family this bush fire season. The old phrase 'failing to plan is planning to fail' comes to mind in this instance. Bush Fire Survival Plans and preparation fact sheets are available on the NSW RFS website at www.rfs.nsw.gov.au.

Smaller landholders and hobby farmers in the Dubbo electorate are encouraged to take part in shaping a new Biosecurity Strategy to safeguard NSW from plant and animal pests and diseases. While larger scale farmers are familiar with the biosecurity threats to the ‘clean, green’ reputation enjoyed by NSW, smaller landholders are often overlooked. Everybody who has rural lands – primary producers, hobby farmers, boutique livestock breeders and small scale flower and vegetable growers – has a role to play in managing biosecurity risks. The draft Biosecurity Strategy builds on existing measures to keep NSW pest and disease-free. A community meeting in Dubbo at the RSL Club at 4pm on November 15 to gather feedback on the draft strategy.

Like many of us I was concerned by unedifying behaviour engaged by some council candidates in the lead up to the Dubbo City Council elections and I made my concerns known to the Minister for Local Government Don Page. I was pleased to see the Minister take steps to address many of these issues with the announcement of a revised model code of conduct. The bill containing the code prescribes the ethical standards that apply to council officials and establishes procedures for dealing with behaviour that does not meet these standards. I am encouraged by the level of co-operation demonstrated by the recently elected Dubbo, Parkes, Forbes, Narromine and Cabonne Shire Councils, these measures will guide councils in dealing with errant councillor behaviour. Left unchecked this can threaten to bring a council into disrepute and render it incapable of functioning properly. Councillors should realise that their behaviour must conform with community expectations of transparency and probity.

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