Every year on Australia Day, we can recognise people who have done great things for Barwon.

Among them are exemplary citizens who go above and beyond or work hard – and without fanfare – for the community. Sports people who excel in their field or do great things as a result of their profile, or people who have dedicated their life to a cause. These are just some examples, but you may know of people organisations, or events who deserve to be applauded.

You can help give these people some of the recognition they deserve. Nominations for the 2024 Australia Day Awards have opened in many council areas in Barwon.

You can nominate local heroes in various categories, including Citizen of the Year, Environmental Citizen of the Year, Sportsperson of the Year, Community Organisation and Community Event of the Year.

For more information or to nominate someone, call your local council or head to your local council website.

Public Education Awards

It was great to see staff and students from public schools in Barwon being honoured at the NSW Minister’s and Secretary’s Awards for Excellence in public education, 2023.

The awards ceremony was held at Sydney Town Hall on September 5, hosted by Jane Caro, with awards presented by the Deputy Premier, Minister for Education, Prue Car MP and entertainment from a marching band, a group of drummers and a saxophone quartet, it was a great showcase of public education.

Congratulations to Barwon students – Declan Eshman and Shafin Salim from Coonabarabran High School – as well as staff – Kevin Keeler also from Coona High and Kathryn Yates from Broken Hill North Public School – on their much-deserved awards.

APA conference

I spoke to delegates at the Australian Paramedics Association NSW conference at Bankstown Sports Club. We discussed some of the problems facing health workers and the delivery of medical services in Barwon and more generally in regional NSW.

Some of the issues raised were the shortage of accommodation for paramedics in regional areas, problems with ambulances having to leave communities and spend time doing patient transfers, some of the inequities with incentives, retaining more experienced and highly skilled paramedics, and getting more intensive care paramedics into regional areas to take pressure off doctors and hospitals.

I have already been discussing some of these issues with the health minister, but others I will be raising in parliament in coming weeks.

Clontarf dinner

I was pleased to be able to join Clontarf Foundation for its 2023 Ross Kelly Cup Dinner. With 1000 people in the room from all over NSW. Plenty of Barwon groups too. I was lucky enough to sit with a group from Coonamble.

Clontarf was founded over 20 years ago and helps Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island youngsters improve their education, life skills, personal discipline and job prospects. At the moment there are around 11,500 kids in the program.

I really like the work Clontarf does, and I think we should try to have more of them in Barwon schools.

Category D licences and “Authorised Campaigns”

There has been an explosion in the population of introduced species such as pigs in areas of Barwon. But a big concern for many farmers and pest controllers in recent times has been the difficulty in renewing category D licences under Local Land Services (LLS) laws that required access to five adjoining properties to be classed as an ‘authorised campaign’.

I have spoken to the Minister for Agriculture and the LLS about these concerns and was confident we would see a compromise.

The LLS has indicated it will modify the conditions and amend the definition of an ‘authorised campaign’ to require at least five landholdings within an LLS Zone to participate in a Local Land Services pest control program rather than five adjoining landholdings.

This means that when applying for or renewing a category D licence, the landholder needs to show they have participated in an ‘authorised campaign’ in the past 12 months.

Regional Flights into Sydney Airport

Regional flights are often lifelines for many of us folks out West. We use them to get to specialist doctor appointments, see family and loved ones, get to connecting domestic and international flights and many businesspeople rely on regular flights into regional centres and cities.

Protecting regional flight slots at the Kingsford Smith Airport is of the utmost importance so we can continue to grow our economies out west and keep the connection to Sydney.

There is a current review of the Sydney Airport Demand Management Scheme, with specific reference to regional slots, or “regional ring fence” slots for regional airlines. There is growing concern that our regional slots will be moved to a Western Sydney airport, once that airport has completed construction.

This could mean increased travel times, overnight stays, and an increase in cost to many people that use these services.

Although the allocation of slots falls on the Federal Parliament, I asked a question to the Minister for Transport, Jo Haylen, in Parliament, asking if the minister would advocate for regional NSW to keep the current slots at the Kingsford Smith Airport. This issue is far from resolved but I will continue to make representations to the minister, on behalf of the electorate.

CSG rally

Since first campaigning in 2018, I have always opposed coal seam gas (CSG).

There is nothing more important to western communities than water, especially in drought, and drilling for CSG endangers underground sources of water.

CSG does not stack up economically, socially, or environmentally.

A diverse range of people and groups rallied on Macquarie St, outside the Parliament of NSW, to send a message that we oppose CSG.

We cannot have our precious water put at risk.

Notice of Motion on water policy

What are my concerns with the federal government’s 450GL legislation?

I mapped that out in Parliament with a Notice of Motion.

Essentially, making a permanent decision without all the data is dangerous. Fish and rivers need water, no doubt, but infrastructure like fish ladders (that work) are just as important to ensure overall health.

The removal of European Carp from our rivers would be the most significant improvement in river health that could currently be made.

We still don’t know how much water will be recovered from existing State decisions – let’s get that information before making any changes.

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