Its been another busy fortnight, one week sitting in Parliament, and since Parliament rose, I have been in Canberra talking water and energy with federal actors.
I also managed to slip down to Eden-Monaro where Matt Stadtmiller is running for the Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party in the by-election.
Matt and I spent a couple of days talking to locals and looking at the impact of recent devastating fires.
We also turned to locals for advice on what needed to happen to prepare for the next fires.
In early July, I am heading out to Coonamble, Walgett and Lightning Ridge.
I hope to speak to plenty of people, and report back on the work we have been doing relevant to their communities.
Please keep your guard up on coronavirus, as we see people moving around more and more, social distancing and hand hygiene is our best defence to keep the virus at bay.
You have done an amazing job, hopefully in coming months we can see zero cases, and get back to a more normal life.
Stay safe, if you can, pay for something (coffee, sandwich etc) for the person lined up behind you, it will make their day!
Pavey effectively pauses the Plan
In the last few days, we have seen the NSW Water Minister take up yet another of the Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party’s Water policies – in effectively pausing the Basin Plan.
This is consistent with the 10-point Water Policy we took to the 2019 election.
The next phase is a Federal Royal Commission, something we have consistently called for, and recently the NSW Nationals agree to pursue. We now need the Premier to write to the Prime Minister with the request, something I will put directly to the Premier on the floor of Parliament when we return later this year.
Fighting for Wendy
Many people know Wendy Robinson’s story. Wendy has been championing for change after her parents, Ian and Margaret Settree, were murdered in their own home in Cobar by their son, Scott, on December 3, 2014.
The murder of Wendy’s parents thrust her into a world of legal argument and the courts for years as Scott was sentenced with the special verdict of ‘not guilty by reason of mental illness’.
Last week in Parliament we debated a Bill to change the special verdict to ‘act proven, but not criminally responsible’ a historic change to the legal system in NSW.
On behalf of Wendy I spoke about her challenges with the system and her push for change.
The passage of this Bill through the NSW Parliament is the start of series of reforms that are needed to assist people in situations like Wendy’s.
The sentencing of Scott was the start of Wendy’s struggle with the system. Under the Forfeiture Act, any person convicted of murder forfeits inheritance from the victim. But when a person is found not guilty by reason of mental illness this rule does not necessarily apply—it is at the court’s discretion.
I will be working with the Attorney General and Minister for Mental Health to review these laws to help people like Wendy who have been thrust into a legal battle during some of their toughest days.
You can read my full contribution to this Bill and read Wendy’s story at www.roybutler.com.au
Let’s talk about Jobs
Last week in Parliament I took the chance to talk about jobs in Barwon, something that I have been accused of being anti because of my stance on the Narrabri Gas Project.
My stance on the Narrabri Gas Project has always been about protecting groundwater and the communities and industries that rely on it.
But since the Government accused me of being anti-jobs there are some facts, I felt it necessary to remind them of.
FACT ONE: Of the 20 Local Government Areas, which experienced the greatest loss of public sector jobs between 2011 and 2016, six were located in the Barwon Electorate – Central Darling, Brewarrina, Bourke, Coonamble, Cobar and Warren. They collectively lost 205 well paid jobs
The Government slashed those jobs.
FACT TWO : Job losses due to drought were around 17,500 full-time equivalent in 2017-18 and more than 34,000 jobs in 2018-19. Those jobs are all still there, dormant, waiting for agriculture to kick back into full swing.
And thank goodness the industry has some get up and go because what’s the NSW Government done to keep them employed?
Jobs and economic growth are incredibly important to all of my communities, but not at the cost of the very thing that keeps them all going – water.
Have your say on the Narrabri Gas Project
I know there are a lot of people who are both pro and anti the Narrabri Gas Project who are keen to have their say about the project.
Commissioners Steve O’Connor (Panel Chair), John Hann and Professor Snow Barlow have been appointed to determine the application for the Narrabri Gas Project.
Five days of public hearings will take place from Monday July 20, 2020 to Friday July 24 2020, commencing at 9.30am AEST daily.
While I am still petitioning the Minister to hold these hearings in person in Narrabri, the current plan is for these hearings to be ‘Electronic Public Hearings’.
For those who cannot access technology there will be a studio set up in Narrabri.
The Commission will accept written comments on the Narrabri Gas Project up to seven days after the hearing via email, post or the online portal: www.ipcn.nsw.gov.au/have-your-say.
If you wish to speak you must register online by 5.00pm on Friday 10 July at https://www.ipcn.nsw.gov.au/projects/2020/03/narrabri-gas-projectTo order photos from this page click here