To submit a THUMBS UP OR DOWN or Letter to the editor please CLICK HERE.


Lessons of Cold War being ignored

The geopolitical tensions of the decades of the Cold War have come to the surface once more as Russia attempts to claim its sovereignty over Ukraine.
Tensions have long boiled over between the two nations during the last three decades, following the collapse of the previous Soviet Union.
The Soviets longed to be the global superpower, vying to unseat the United States as the world’s most powerful nation.
In the process of staking their claim on power, the Soviet Union created enemies with the democratic nations which saw the Russian muscle-flexing as a slap in the face to transparent, free government.
Millions died as a result of the micro-wars which took place around the world as a result of the conflict.
Soviet countries were repressed from transformation and progress as the democratically-elected countries which opposed the regime surged ahead during the many economic, scientific, industrial and technological advancements that took place in the last half of the century.
These sobering lessons that emerged from decades of conflict have largely been ignored.
The latest deterioration in Russian-Ukrainian relations signals an alarming push in Russia to regain its glory days as the powerful Soviet bloc.
It marks another chapter in the long-running saga of President Vladimir Putin putting the days of new Russian democracy in the last years of the 20th century to an end.
Putin has firmly shifted the powerful nation from new-found democracy to authoritarianism with his jailing and repression of political opponents, attacks on free press and an aggressive attitude towards military and sovereignty.
An executive order to amend the Russian constitution in July 2020 effectively allowed Putin to remain as commander-in-chief of the nation for his lifetime.
Similar to America, the Russian president was only able to serve two consecutive terms.
A loophole in the law saw Putin return to the role following his one term as the nation’s second-in-charge.
Many world leaders and academics would argue that Putin was truly in charge in his one term as Prime Minister.
Putin’s history as a former KGB agent and published remarks which indicate support for the Soviet-era spark alarm in a world where dictatorial regimes are few and far between.
It’s a red flag for Europe which long remembers the hard and brutal years of the Cold War and has established itself as a continent of economic prosperity.
However, Russia’s latest moves to reclaim Ukraine are of no surprise given the previous annexing of Crimea and the continued fallout between the two nations.
The attacks on Ukraine come from a nation wielding its extreme force over a smaller nation with less power – both militarily and economically.
Ukraine is ill-equipped to deal with such a conflict against a global power that wants to relive the glory days of extreme influence.
Understandably, Australia and other nations will use sanctions rather than armed forces to address the situation, however, the world needs to maintain a close watch on the conflict and its potential ramifications.





Your Say

Health inquiry paints damning picture of system in regional NSW

The Regional Health Inquiry wrapped up earlier this year, and on May 5, they finally handed down their report.
It was a damning picture of how the health system in regional areas has been allowed to deteriorate and a look at some of the inherent ongoing problems that are making health outcomes worse for people in rural, regional and remote areas.
It has brought about a decline in the quality of life in the country and even caused life expectancy to go backwards.
The report makes 44 recommendations, none of which are unreasonable.
The 44th recommendation asks for the government to adopt a Health In All Policies (HiAP) framework, which is something I proposed in my submission to the inquiry.
This means that all government decisions should be made with reference to how they will affect health, it will require a major shift in thinking and significant structural change.
The report recommends “a whole-of-government ownership of health outcomes for people living in New South Wales”.
In the coming days, weeks and months, I will be doing all I can to make sure that the recommendations of the report are adopted.
In a private members’ statement I made in parliament, I quoted journalist Liz Hayes, whose father died as a result of problems with the regional health system. She said that in two years’ time, when the implementation of the recommendations is scheduled for a review, if they have done nothing, it shows “they just don’t care.”
Inland Rail
The Inland Rail project is something that will be of huge benefit to agriculture in Australia. The line, which will run inland across parts of three states – Victoria, NSW and Queensland – will bring cost reductions for transporting produce across the countryside. It will also create hundreds of jobs during the construction phase, as well as ongoing jobs for the running and maintenance of the line.
But there are problems with the project, particularly on the Narromine to Narrabri stretch of the line. Many concerns have been expressed by communities regarding route selection within the Narromine to Narrabri section of the railway.
While the project proponent is an entity of the Australian government, importantly, the consent authority is the NSW government. I have expressed concerns regarding the route selection at Narrabri and passed on residents’ concerns to the NSW Minister in face-to-face meetings and in correspondence.
As part of the review process of Inland Rail, the Department of Planning Industry and the Environment has called for a Preferred Infrastructure Report from ARTC.
When that is presented there will be an opportunity for the community to present their objections.
Lake Cargelligo railway line
On a recent trip to Lake Cargelligo, I met with the Railway Action Committee who are seeking to have a section of the Lake Cargelligo to Ungarie railway line upgraded.
The line, built in the early 20th century, has come to the end of its economic life.
It is not rated for 23-tonne mainline trains, so they can’t carry full loads of grain. Instead, it has to be carried by trucks on roads that were not built to take that kind of heavy traffic.
Rail is a safer, more cost-effective way to transport the grain, but only if the line is upgraded.
I have written to the relevant minister about the community’s need for this vital infrastructure, and I will keep you posted about the response.
Support for teachers
On my travels around the electorate, I stopped at Broken Hill to lend my support to teachers in their efforts to achieve better working conditions.
At a meeting held at the Musician’s Club, I spoke to several teachers who told me stories about the excessive workload, the lack of resources, and the strain on the education system due to the shortage of staff, which is driving many out of the profession forever.
I also talked about some possible solutions to their problems, road testing them with those who would have to implement them.
Our teachers have an incredibly important role in teaching our children, and to do it to the best of their ability, they deserve better support and conditions.