$500,000 proposed for Condobolin Hospital upgrades

Members of the United Hospitals Auxiliary Condobolin Branch outside Condobolin Hospital's dilapidated nursing quarters. L-R: Mary Glen, Jill Broadley, Dawn Thomas, Francis Gavel and Joan Jamieson. DG

By Dominic Geiger

Member for Murrumbidgee, Adrian Piccoli, has announced $500,000 has been proposed for much needed upgrades to the Condobolin Hospital.

The upgrades will allow for improvements to be made to the hospital’s wards including painting, floor coverings, soft furnishings and air-conditioning.

The announcement comes after members of the United Hospitals Auxiliary Condobolin Branch established contact with Mr Piccoli earlier this year with a number of letters voicing the group’s concern about the existing problems affecting the hospital.

Last Friday, Mr Piccoli made representation for the group to the NSW Health Minister, Jillian Skinner.

“I am very hopeful that we might see some funding flow to the works that are so desperately needed at the hospital shortly,” Mr Piccoli said.

“The concerns of the Auxiliary have now been examined and the Minister has responded.

“I was informed that Condobolin has recently had $145,000 in expenditure to upgrade duress alarms for patient and staff security.

“In addition, Condobolin has been listed with another 18 facilities on the current Asset Strategic Plan for future capital investment.”

Hospital Auxiliary treasurer, Francis Gavel, said the group was incredibly grateful Mr Piccoli had helped bring the problems at the hospital to Ms Skinner’s attention.

She also said however, that the group had been raising concerns about the hospital for the past ten years and that one of the group’s principal concerns, the state of the hospital’s nursing quarters, looked as though it might miss out on funding.

“The auxiliary sent a letter [to Mr Piccoli] in March which was mainly in regards to the poor condition of the nurses’ quarters,” she said.

“There have been various replies over the months and in the latest development there has been money allocated but not to the nurses’ quarters.

“The trouble is that maintenance has been left over the years and things that should have been done haven’t been.

“There are five single nurses’ complexes in the nursing quarter which are very shabby and very neglected.

“The hospital will never get staff if we don’t have decent accommodation facilities to offer them.

“It’s difficult to get nursing staff in the country as it is; we won’t get people from other areas if there’s no where to stay here.”

Minister Rudd to open study centre amidst DA controversy

WCC project management team: Reginal Saddler, Rebecca Merritt, Donna Johnson, Neil Ingram and John Spencer. DGBy Dominic Geiger

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has confirmed he will officially open the Wiradjuri Study Centre in Condobolin on September 27.

C.E.O of Wiradjuri Condobolin Corporation (WCC), Percy Knight, said Mr Rudd had been chosen as a result of the former PM’s apology to the stolen generation in 2008.

“In that speech he mentioned a new beginning for all Australians,” Percy said.

“He mentioned that phrase three or four times, and that’s what we’ve been trying to achieve with the study centre since 2003.

“The WSC makes a statement about this new beginning and about the stolen generation and says let’s now move forward; let’s make sure that never happens again.

“The study centre takes into consideration how we as Aboriginal people see things and how we learn; it’s a learning centre first and foremost, but it’s also a cultural centre.

“With it, we’re closing the gaps on employment opportunities on a local level.”

Percy said there had been some initial concerns Mr Rudd wouldn’t be able to attend the ceremony given his recent heart operation, but since his recovery the green light had been given for the minister’s visit.

“Of course he could also be called overseas, given his high profile, but we’re going to take a gamble on it,” he said.

Despite a date having been set for the official opening of the centre, WCC is yet to meet all the criteria for the Lachlan Shire Council (LSC) imposed development application on the building.

As such, WCC is yet to be granted full occupancy of the building and is currently occupying the building as a management team.

General Manager of the Lachlan Shire Council, George Cowan, said council was working with the management of WCC to resolve the issue.

“These issues have been ongoing throughout the course of the buildings construction,” he said.

“Council is hopeful these matters can be addressed and the building can be put to use, though these are not insignificant issues.”

Percy said the bureaucratic arm of LSC had been needlessly picky in its scrutinising of the development application.

“I have no problem with the councillors, however the bureaucratic element of the council has been very needlessly pedantic with its due diligence,” he said.

“We are doing our best to deal with these issues, though we feel these issues are not OH&S.

“I have said that if the council continues to be pedantic there is a mood within Wiradjuri people that this day could be a day of celebration or a day of protest.”

Flo Grant, from the Wiradjuri Council of Elders, said it was very exciting to see something which had come from nothing bloom into fruition.

“I’ve been there from the beginning, watching people make their own bricks and build with them; it’s been quite exciting,” she said.

“There are, however, a few issues, mostly from the bureaucratic side, affecting the project.

“We do not accept people not giving back what belongs to us.

“This centre has been independently earned; it’s ours and we’re not going to let it go.”

Minister Constance speaks at Yawarra

Minister Constance listens to concerns from locals. DG

By Dominic Geiger

The NSW Minister for Ageing and Disability Services, Andrew Constance, held a public seminar at Condobolin’s Yawarra Aboriginal Corporation last Wednesday to discuss ways the state government could improve services for Aboriginal people with a disability.

Condobolin’s Googar dancers welcomed the minister to Yawarra with a song and dance performance.

The seminar, which was organised through the Aboriginal Disability Network NSW, was part of Mr Constance’s ongoing tour of a number of Western NSW towns during which he hopes to gather community feedback on the best way to implement reforms to state disability services.

Mr Constance said the focus of the reforms was to put disability funding in the hands of the individual with a disability, their carers and family.

“What we’re doing as the new Government is reforming disability support so rather than funding disability services, we’re going to provide the funding on an individual basis,” he said.

“This will mean [the person with a disability] can pick and choose their services rather than be dictated to.”

Mr Constance said the seminars would also help him gain an understanding into the needs of disabled people living in rural and remote areas of the state.

“Our aim is to put people back at the heart of decision making and to try and drive greater services available to particularly those living in Aboriginal communities and those who are in rural and remote areas.”

“I’m at Yawarra to hear from the Aboriginal community directly about the needs of people with disabilities around Condobolin as well as the Western Plains and Central West,” he said.

While speaking to the crowd of approximately 150 people, Mr Constance said the current state of disability services in NSW was “stuffed” and there “are a million and one issues you probably want to bend my ear about.”

Despite this, he said the situation was improving.

“With the new Government we have the opportunity for $20 billion of growth funding which we’ll be rolling out over the coming years to try and better meet the needs of people with disabilities living in rural and remote areas,” he said.

After announcing the proposed reforms, Mr Constance fielded questions and concerns from the audience.

Currajong disabilities Manager, Ann Hunter, said while the proposed individualised funding might work in metropolitan areas, it may create difficulties for people in remote areas.

“It may not be enough for servicing one family if the person lives on a farm and has to travel large distances for treatment,” she said.

“We have only one client in Lake Cargelligo and it’s difficult to provide her with services because it costs so much.

“The lack of numbers [of disabled people in certain rural areas] will create problems; one model doesn’t fit all.

“We need to work together in the country.”

Coordinator at Yawarra Aboriginal Corporation, Brian Clemson, said it was a privilege for Yawarra to host the seminar.

“There are a lot of carers here to talk about the gaps in disability care that exist in Condobolin,” he said.

“One of the main things we’re trying to achieve is emergency overnight accommodation in the town.

“We are also trying to establish full time, culturally appropriate accommodation for elders and people with disabilities under an Aboriginal banner.”

Left: Condobolin’s Googar Dancers. Right: Representatives from Condobolin’s Yawarra Aboriginal Corporation and the Aboriginal Disability Network NSW. DG

Ten thousand signatures needed to put road safety first

NRMA Motoring & Services and the Police Association of NSW are calling on motorists across the state to sign a petition to get the NSW Government to put all revenue raised from speed cameras back into funding road safety measures.

NRMA Director Graham Blight said the NRMA would need at least 10,000 signatures so that the issue of directly linking speed camera revenue to road safety funding – known as hypothecation – is debated in Parliament.

“For years we’ve been calling for the revenue raised from traffic fines, in particular enforcement cameras, to be hypothecated to specific road safety measures such as funding road improvements, road safety education and more highway patrols across the state,” Mr Blight said.

“We want the NSW Government in its first term to legislate the hypothecation of the more than $140 million collected by speed cameras each year. The best way to make this happen is to get the 10,000 signatures we need to get this issue debated by Parliament.

“If the Government is serious about reducing the road toll then there is no reason why this revenue can’t be used as extra funding for road safety.”

The NRMA is proposing an independent panel of experts be brought together including the NRMA and the NSW Police Association to ensure that the hypothecation of traffic fine revenue is adequately allocated and expended on road safety measures and that this information is made publicly available.

“We also want the NSW Government to commit to an annual audit of all camera sites across the state to ensure they are only used in places where they make the roads safer,” Mr Blight said.

Willow Bend at risk of flood devastation

CEO of the Condobolin Aboriginal Land Council, Rebecca Shepherd, surveys Willow Bend's broken flood gates and substandard levee while a concerned village resident looks on.

By Dominic Geiger

Revelations Willow Bend Village’s levee bank is at least one metre too low to protect the community in the event of a serious flood have emerged following last Wednesday’s council meeting.

It has also been revealed one of the community’s flood gates has fallen into the river while the other one is in a state of serious disrepair.

Despite having recently passed a motion to participate in the Aboriginal Communities Water and Sewerage Program for Willow Bend Village, administered by the NSW Office of Water, Lachlan Shire Council (LSC) is not responsible for the water services provided at Willow Bend.

“[These issues] are the Willow Bend Aboriginal community’s responsibility, as it is privately owned, [however] the shire has been trying to aid the community as much as possible in their attempt to acquire funding for the project,” Director for Technical Services at LSC Kevin Smith said.

CEO for the Condobolin Local Aboriginal Land Council (CLALC), Rebecca Shepherd, said the estimated cost of raising the kilometre long levee and replacing the flood gates was somewhere in the region of $800,000.

“The CLALC is confident the NSW Office of Water will contribute towards some of the funding, however we are unsure where the remainder will come from at this stage,” she said.

“During last year’s floods we were forced to sandbag the area to protect everyone who lives in the village.

“Since then, the NSW SES has conducted priority rankings of the most flood prone Aboriginal communities in NSW, with Willow Bend coming in at number two.”

Rebecca said in the event of a significant flood the community would be forced to evacuate.

“We have lots of elderly people and little children living here, so it would be difficult in an emergency,” she said.

“Because the shire is integrated into the whole process, they have been really supportive.

“Hopefully someone might help to sponsor those repairs which won’t be funded by the NSW Office of Water.

“It could be an opportunity for any major companies looking at setting up in Condobolin and working with the local community.”

International officials warmly welcomed to the Lachlan

L-R: Local business owner David Carter, Mr Pan, Lachlan Shire Mayor Des Manwaring and Mr Jung.  DG.By Dominic Geiger

Lachlan shire council has recently played host for two senior South Korean Government officials, Mr Pan and Mr Jung.

During the visit, the officials were given tours of the surrounding area including Lake Cargelligo and were treated to a number of celebratory dinners.

Mayor of the Lachlan Shire, Des Manwaring, said the visit to the shire came about due to the sister city relationship between Lachlan Shire and Penrith City Councils.

“The agreement with Penrith has allowed us to not only engage in local exchanges, but gives us access to international exchanges as well,” he said.

“It’s been a meet and greet visit which allows us to exchange contacts more than anything,” he said.

“Mr Pan and Mr Jung have been visiting different business people, councillors and they went to a sheep and pig farm.

“We had a bit of a drive around the lake and had a look at some of the facilities there.”

Mr Pan said he found the rural scenery of the Lachlan Shire very beautiful.

“In my country it is very densely populated and is very small,” he said.

“Condobolin and Lake Cargelligo have a very large area.

“When I came to Australia, I had two hopes; that I would see the [Penrith] Panthers play, and I would get to see gorgeous rural scenery.

“I saw the Panthers play some weeks ago and now, after having visited the Lachlan shire, I can say both of these hopes have come true.”

While in Australia, Mr Jung is researching Australian local government, its funding and devolution from the Federal government while Mr Pan is researching telecommunications policy and the National Broadband Network.

Coulton’s Catch-Up

MARK COULTON MP FEDERAL MEMBER FOR PARKES

25th July

The presence of mining coal and coal seam gas exploration in the Parkes Electorate has increased in recent years. A large section of my electorate has been identified as containing either coal or coal seam gas resources. While the potential for these resources is enormous, it is essential that this is balanced against the ongoing ability for this area to continue as a major food producer.

The communities of Bellata, Moree, Tooraweenah and Narrabri are facing significant exploration and development in coal seam gas. Many primary producers in these areas have contacted me regarding their concerns about the mining of coal seam gas. There is a lot of uncertainty of the risks associated with mining coal seam gas, especially in terms of agricultural productivity and the potential adverse effects on underground aquifers.

There is much misinformation circulating in these communities, and that combined with a lack of reliable information is adding to growing anxiety.

The Senate Committee for Rural Affairs and Transport is conducting an inquiry into the management of the Murray-Darling Basin and in particular the impact of mining coal seam gas in the Basin.

The inquiry will investigate the economic, social and environmental impact of mining coal seam gas and will focus on the sustainability of water, property rights of landholders, prime agricultural land, associated health impacts and impacts on regional communities.

This inquiry will provide the opportunity for people to raise their concerns and issues directly with the Government through written submissions and also public hearings that will be held by the committee in areas where coal seam gas exploration is taking place.

I have made a submission to the inquiry encouraging the committee to hold public forums in the communities of Narrabri and Tooraweenah. People in these areas have been looking for factual information in order to make reasonable and educated decisions in relation to water management, agriculture and coal seam gas.

I believe it would be useful for this committee to fully investigate any links between mining and coal seam gas activities with any possible adverse effects on underground aquifers. I also believe that an inquiry in these areas would enable the resource companies a forum to explain the extent of their proposed activities as well as giving local farmers an opportunity to voice their concerns.

I would strongly encourage any person that is concerned with the impact of mining coal seam gas to consider preparing a submission to the inquiry. The submissions are not required to be lengthy and I would suggest referring to the terms of reference below as a guide to structuring your submission.

Terms of Reference to address in your submission:

  • The Rural Affairs and Transport References Committee will examine the economic, social and environmental impacts of mining coal seam gas on:
  • the sustainability of water aquifers and future water licensing arrangements;
  • the property rights and values of landholders;
  • the sustainability of prime agricultural land and Australia’s food task;
  • the social and economic benefits or otherwise for regional towns and the effective management of relationships between mining and other interests; and
  • other related matters including health impacts.

Condobolin Wiradjuri Alliance Group formed

Members of the Condobolin Aboriginal community and government representatives met last Monday for the inaugural meeting of the Condobolin Wiradjuri Alliance Group.

Various representatives of the Condobolin Aboriginal community met at the Condobolin Aboriginal Land Council building last Monday July 18 for the inaugural meeting of the Condobolin Wiradjuri Alliance Group (CWAG).

CWAG spokesperson, Kevin Read, said the group had been formed in order to address many of the issues currently creating disadvantages for Aboriginal people in Condobolin.

“We’ll be working within the whole community to create better outcomes for Aboriginal people in the future,” he said.

The group is comprised of a collection of community members including government representatives, elders and young people.

“We aim to ensure maximum opportunityiesfor the voices of Aboriginal people living in Condobolin and to reach decision makers in all levels of community, service providers and all level of government and its agencies,” Kevin said.

The CWAG will meet every second Monday of each month.

Attendees at the meeting included Tanya Atkinson, Mark Powell, Rebecca Shepherd, Allana Newman, Shirley-Ann Merritt, Rebecca Merritt, Amanda Coe, Kevin Read and Kendall Clarke with apologies from Neil Newman, Margie Williams and Kevin Griffiths.

Korean Government Officials Visit the Lachlan Shire

Lachlan Shire Council will host two senior Korean Government officials from 18 – 21 July as part of an 18 – 24 month stay in Australia with Penrith City Council.

The visit to the Lachlan Shire came about due to the sister city relationships between Lachlan Shire Council and Penrith City Council.

Jill Turner [Penrith City Council Liaison Officer who looks after sister cities and international relationships] said the visit to the Lachlan Shire was an opportunity for the Korean officials to see how a rural Council functions in comparison to a Council in the city such as Penrith.

“The hosting of the Korean Officials by Penrith City Council was a result of the Council’s relationship with the Sydney office of the Local Government branch of the Korean Government.”

“It is wonderful to be able to provide the officials with such a diverse experience of how Local Government works in Australia.”

“Mr Jung arrived last July and his area of research interest is Australian Local Government, and its funding and devolution from the Federal government.  Mr Pan arrived in November and his area of research is telecommunications policy and NBN,” said Ms Turner.

The officials arrived in the Lachlan Shire on Monday night and were welcomed at a dinner with Mayor of Lachlan Shire and other local Councillors. Tuesday’s itinerary will see the officials visit Lake Cargelligo and meet with local business houses followed by a tour of the local area. On Wednesday the officials will attend the Lachlan Shire Council meeting in Condobolin followed by a tour of the local area.

CSU academic throws support behind ag benefits of carbon tax

Compiled by Dominic Geiger

Farmers who take advantage of new policies introduced alongside the Federal Government’s carbon tax initiative could ultimately be financially better off according to a Charles Sturt University (CSU) academic.

Professor at the Institute for Land, Water and Society at CSU, Kevin Parton, said there were three main government initiatives introduced which will provide benefits to farmers who chose to move towards a carbon neutral future.

“The first of these is the Carbon Farming Initiative whereby the government has allocated $250 million to purchase carbon offsets for agricultural projects not covered under the Kyoto protocol,” he said.

“The second is the $429 million Carbon Farming Futures initiative which is dedicated towards research into getting a clearer picture of soil carbon offsets.

“It’s about researching the carbon sequestering possibilities of soil during different farming activities.

“The third is the biodiversity fund, which has had almost a billion dollars allocated to pay for revegetation in high conservation areas.

“This means some farmers may be paid to reforest certain high conservation areas of their property to help protect biodiversity.

“I’m not saying there won’t be costs [associated with the tax], but particularly astute farmers may be able to gain from all three initiatives.”

Contrary to Professor Parton’s support of the scheme, the NSW Farmers Association (NFA) has announced it is “extremely concerned” about the impact a carbon price of $23 per tonne will have on farmers, even though the agriculture sector and diesel will not be covered by the Federal Government’s carbon tax proposal.

NFA President, Charles Armstrong, said the Prime Minister’s assurances that Australian families won’t be worse off doesn’t seem to apply to families in the bush.

“Under a carbon price of $23 per tonne, the average grain grower can expect to lose $3,000 each year within the first five years,” he said.

“Despite the decision to include diesel in the carbon tax fuel exemption, farmers are expected to be slugged with higher electricity, fertiliser, transport and processing costs.

“Businesses providing these inputs are able to pass their carbon tax increases on to the farmer, but the buck stops with the farmer who isn’t able to pass on their higher cost of production.”

Despite this, Professor Parton said the NFA failed to acknowledge any of the initiatives which provided funds to farmers who attempted to reduce or sequester carbon.

“In addition to this, treasury has estimated there will be an increase of $1,000 per year for the average grain grower, not the $3,000 suggested by the NFA,” he said.

“The NFA have completely ignored these initiatives which are designed to help farmers and their [estimated] costs are debatable.”

Dirty discovery pushes Condo farmers into debt

Brett Reardon with his children Damon and Jada. Brett is out of pocket after the fertiliser shipment he organised turned out to be dirt. DGBy Dominic Geiger

The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service has come under scrutiny this week following revelations eleven Condobolin farmers were sold 600 tonnes of Chinese dirt under the premise it was high grade fertiliser.

The farmers are now collectively out of pocket approximately $300,000 and are continuing to be charged for the storage costs associated with the dirt, which has been sitting in a Sydney holding facility since May 12.

The shipment was not inspected upon arrival in Sydney because it was separated into individual bags weighing less than 50 kilograms.

Quarantine officials have told the Condobolin agent behind the deal, Brett Reardon, that he must either pay to have the soil destroyed in a furnace near Geelong or return it to China.

Returning the soil would be the cheaper option, however Chinese officials are now refusing to accept the dirt.

The Chinese company that supplied the product has also recently disappeared from the Chinese government registered trading site alibaba.com.

Brett said he had organised the shipment on behalf of the farmers through a Canberra based fertiliser importer.

“I’d organised other fertiliser shipments through [the importer] a few years back but never through this company,” he said.

“I’d taken deposits from the farmers for 600 tonnes of fertiliser for a May delivery however two of the companies we were going through couldn’t deliver on time.

“Then we found this new company who said they could deliver in May.”

Brett said the realisation they’d been duped only came after a farmer in Parkes identified the product as dirt, rather than fertiliser.

“It made it through quarantine in Sydney because of how it was packaged,” he said.

“As soon as the farmer in Parkes realised it wasn’t fertiliser we stopped any further movements immediately.

“We’re currently being charged $3000 a day for storage of the product and Quarantine has informed us that we will need to pay for it.”

Brett estimates he is now personally $5000 out of pocket as a result of the dealings.

“I’m hoping we can get some sort of compensation for the farmers.”

Liberal Senator for NSW, Bill Heffernan, said the incident was a major breach in Australian quarantine.

“The dirt has been able to make it through customs due to the bizarre way in which it was packed,” he said.

“Whoever has supplied this soil has done it in a way that made it through the system.

“The shipment was organised through an accredited trading website, so this doesn’t say much for customs.

“Both the government and the Chinese Embassy haven’t shown any interest in this either.”

A statement from the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service said the shipment was “an unusual consignment and was incorrectly declared as a low risk product.”

“This is why it was not originally inspected by AQIS.

“Almost all fertiliser used in Australia is imported in bulk by companies which have been profiled and are subject to AQIS controls.

“When goods are seized by AQIS because they do not meet the import conditions, the importer is required to bear the costs of any treatment, including re-export.

“Future consignments from this exporter will be closely scrutinised.”

$7000 to move to the bush

By Dominic Geiger

People in Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle who choose to move to the Lachlan Shire will soon be eligible for a $7000 relocation grant.

The grant is part of the State Government’s push to encourage people living in metropolitan areas to move to regional NSW.

Under the legislation, which passed through Parliament last week, the grant will be payable after the settlement of the purchase of a home in regional NSW and the sale of a home in metropolitan NSW.

The new home must cost less than $600,000 and be the applicants’ principal place of residence for at least 12 months following the purchase.

Mayor of the Lachlan Shire, Des Manwaring, said the grant was a step in the right direction.

“It will certainly help people to consider their options in regards to moving to country areas,” he said.

“There could be some drawbacks however; we can’t offer the same level of entertainment as Sydney does, and this is something people would need to consider.

“Of course, a lot of events happen in nearby regional areas like Dubbo, Orange and Wagga and also in Condobolin on a smaller scale.”

Des said although the regional centres closer to Sydney such as Orange would be more likely to benefit from the grant, he believes the Lachlan Shire will still see an increase in population.

“I’m pretty sure there’ll be a select few who will want to move further afield,” he said.

Rural Sales Manager at KMWL Ray White Condobolin, Ian Simpson, said the grant would have been more effective if a higher amount had been offered.

“$7000 isn’t going to go far, though it is good to know the government is encouraging people to move here,” he said.

“I’ve also heard people say Orange is too far outside of Sydney so I don’t think we’ll see anyone here [as a direct result of the grant].”

State Member for Murrumbidgee, Adrian Piccoli, said he acknowledged the grant wouldn’t cause people to move to outlying regional areas, though it would provide incentive to those already considering it.

“For example, someone of the Blue Mountains could move to Lithgow and receive the grant,” he said.

“But that doesn’t diminish the value of the grant because Lithgow [needs support as well].”

“This legislation is designed to suit regional NSW [as a whole], it is not designed to suit specific regions,” he said.

“It will help people like police and teachers who need to move anyway; it will make life easier for them.

“The grants will encourage [city] families who are sick of being stuck in traffic and struggling to pay their mortgage to join us [in the regions].”

 

Local MP visits St Josephs Condobolin

Adrian Piccoli with Stage 3 students from St Josephs Condobolin who are learning about the political system in Australia.By Dominic Geiger

Minister for Education and Member for Murrumbidgee, Adrian Piccoli, made a special visit to stage three students at St Joseph’s Primary School last Thursday to discuss how the three levels of government work in Australia.
Adrian spent time asking questions about what the students, who are currently studying democracy, knew about the role government played in their everyday lives.
Principal of St Joseph’s, Paula Leadbitter, said the children would be going on an excursion to Canberra as part of their current studies.
“As part of this unit, Adrian said he’d come and visit and spend some time talking to the kids,” she said.
“Having him here makes things a lot more real for the kids.
“They’re really excited to learn about what they’re going to see on the excursion.”
Paula said St Joseph’s sent a group of children to Canberra every two years.
“This year’s trip will be from June 27 to June 29, which is the last week of term,” she said.
While visiting Condobolin, Adrian also spent time at the hospital and met with constituents before he returned to Griffith.

Gambling with local jobs

The Federal Government’s licence to gamble for poker machines will cost the Central West at least 485 jobs.
ClubsNSW met with local clubs at Gilgandra Services Club to discuss the impact of poker machine technology the Federal Government has agreed to introduce in return for the support of the Tasmanian Independent MP Andrew Wilkie.
The licence to punt technology will cost clubs in the Central West $42 million to install. Local club revenues are expected to fall by a further $41 million annually as a result of the plan which includes forcing people to register for a license to gamble before they can play a poker machine.
ClubsNSW Chairman Peter Newell said a KPMG report shows mandatory pre-commitment will cost NSW at least 11,500 jobs and reduce the NSW budget by more than $1 billion over the next 4 years.
He said clubs in the Central West will not stand by and watch the destruction of 485 local jobs.
‘Local clubs employ over 2000 people. Almost a quarter of positions will go if the Government gives into the demands of a Tasmanian politician who received fewer votes than there are members of Dubbo RSL.
‘Problem gambling academics have warned the Federal Government that mandatory pre-commitment will not help problem gamblers. This technology is a complete waste of money that will put clubs on the scrap heap and more than 485 locals out of a job.
‘A far better solution would be to introduce a voluntary pre-commitment system that could help recreational gamblers set limits without needing to register for a licence.
‘One thing is for sure. You don’t help a problem gambler by giving them a gambling card. That’s just madness,’’ he said.

Budget impact on regional Australia

By Dominic Geiger

The recent Federal Budget has faced considerable criticism over the past week for its apparent lack of allocated funding for regional areas, particularly in the agriculture industry.
CEO of the Western Research Institute, Tom Murphy, said although there wasn’t a lot for farmers in the budget, a significant amount of money had been allocated for regional hospitals and mental health.
“The government has allocated (half a billion dollars) to mental health and that’s a positive because we’ve seen a flow on affect from years of drought that has been particularly tough on farmers,” he said.
“However I think the budget hasn’t cut back enough to prevent the Reserve Bank increasing interest rates.
“This will be bad for export dependent industries like agriculture because it means the Australian dollar will remain strong against other currencies.”
Mr Murphy also said it was important to note that while the regional hospitals of Wagga Wagga and Tamworth received 55 million and 120 million dollars respectively, Dubbo base hospital received only seven point one million.
“I think Dubbo missed out, whereas the hospital in the region where one of the independent MPs is from did very well,” he said.
Leader of the Australian National Party, Warren Truss, said the budget would do nothing to help revitalise regional communities.
“Regional Australians are to be forgiven for being more confused than ever about where this government is headed,” he said.
Mr Truss said most of the funding announced for regional projects would be dependent upon revenue from the proposed mining tax, which was a “lose-lose” situation for regional communities.
“If the tax does not go through the Parliament, the regional development projects will not proceed,” he said.
“If it does pass, then those regional communities will lose the jobs and economic prosperity created by mining development and mineral processing.”
A spokesman for the Minister for Regional Australia, Simon Crean, said the Coalition could not be taken seriously about regional Australia as Opposition and Liberal Leader Tony Abbott did not mention regional development once during his budget reply speech.
“As usual the Nationals are all rhetoric and ignored by the Liberals, meanwhile the Federal Labor Budget delivered $4.3 billion over four years to the regions,” he said.
“(This includes) $19.1 million over three years to develop a more strategic approach to combating high unemployment and skills shortages in regions with the engagement of 34 Education, Skills and Jobs Coordinators.”
Despite this, Mr Murphy said more investment needed to be spent on encouraging young people to join the agriculture industry.
“I believe we are headed for a global food shortage and agriculture is going to be more important in the future,” he said.
“Agriculture has suffered losses in its workforce from the mining boom… so it would have been a good idea to get more people working in the agriculture sector.”

Removal of medicare access points

By Dominic Geiger

The recent Federal Government decision to begin removing all 840 remote Medicare Australia Access Points (MAAPs) has prompted condemnation from various Lachlan Shire health and political representatives.
Medicare Australia Access Points (MAAPs) allow access to basic claiming for regional and remote communities and are currently located within the Lachlan Shire at Shortis and Timmins Pharmacy in Condobolin and the Rural Transaction Centre (RTC) in Lake Cargelligo.
Hank Jongen, Human Services Portfolio General Manager, confirmed late last week that the Lake Cargelligo MAAP would be closed within the month with the Condobolin MAAP set to follow “sometime before 2013.”
“On average, the Lake Cargelligo community have made less than one call per day from their booth over the last 21 months,” he said.
“Electronic, internet and phone claiming options are making MAAP booths redundant.
“Customers now do not… have to leave their homes to claim their Medicare rebates.
Condobolin Pharmacist, Michael Timmins, said he felt the removal of the MAAPs would severely disadvantage those in the community who weren’t IT literate.
“This is not a satisfactory situation for the elderly or for those who are not familiar with using computers and the internet,” he said.
“Those who are in my age bracket of 60 plus will struggle with the changes.
“Our MAAP has quite a bit of usage and we’ll be holding onto it for as long as possible.”
Mark Coulton, Federal MP for Parkes, called the removal of the MAAPs a “reckless decision.”
“Medicare Australia has failed to consult with the public on this matter, and has failed to provide a viable alternative for people in these communities to claim,” he said.
“They are forcing people to use their services online, which for many elderly people is impossible.
“Not only can they not afford internet services with the skyrocketing cost of living, many do not have the skills to navigate to the website.
“The affects the closure of these booths will have not only on the individuals who use the booth, but also the places these booths are located such as the local rural transaction centres.”

Mark Coulton comes to Condobolin

Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton and his wife Robyn. D.G.By Dominic Geiger

Federal Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton, visited Condobolin last Wednesday as part of a wider tour of his electorate.
Mr Coulton said it was important to visit towns such as Condobolin because in such a large electorate, it wasn’t always practical for constituents to visit his Dubbo office.
“Because my electorate is so big, I can’t expect people to travel to me, so I’m travelling,” he said.
“Today I’ve been talking about issues such as tertiary education for isolated students, water security and health.”
Mr Coulton said it was important Condobolin students planning on working for a year prior to going to university knew they would still be entitled to the Independent Study Allowance, despite a series of recent reforms affecting Youth Allowance.
“Students who are on a gap year this year and have made over $19,500 will most likely also be entitled to Independent Study Allowance,” he said.
“But really, Youth Allowance is just a back way for regional students to get to uni.
“If we want country and regional kids to go away, become professionals and return to the bush, we really need a blanket policy approach to make the transition from school to university easier for country kids.”
Mr Coulton said the tour of his electorate had also given him the chance to explain his stance on the highly controversial carbon tax.
“(The carbon tax) seems to be a very expensive gesture that won’t result in any noticeable direct changes to the environment,” he said.
“I don’t support it in any way; it will create a much larger economic downturn in regional areas compared to the city, yet country people are the ones doing more out here for the environment.
“It doesn’t seem fair at all.”

Centroc challenges national water commission’s report

By Dominic Geiger

Central NSW Councils (Centroc) has condemned a recently developed report from the National Water Commission, calling it a “diatribe against Councils providing water services in NSW.”
The report, titled ‘Urban Water In Australia: future directions’, calls for extensive reform to the way Councils manage water use in their shire.
Chair of the National Water Commission, Chloe Munro, said it was time for Australia’s governments to step back from direct intervention in urban water and give the industry incentives and freedom to innovate.
“‘There is ample scope for the industry to move away from its traditional focus on assets towards providing genuine consumer choice through more flexible, efficient and customer-driven products and services,” she said.
Chair of Centroc and Mayor of Forbes, Phyllis Miller, said the report made nonsense claims about the quality and pricing of council supplied water.
“The fact is we are delivering very well against other water service providers around the nation,” she said.
“We all know what happens when control over our utilities gets handed away from our communities; just look what happened with electricity.”
Lachlan Shire Councillor, Les Saunders, said the National Water Commission’s push to limit council’s involvement in supplying water to its residents was a step in the wrong direction.
“Council has to maintain its own water supply; it’s more practical being locally run,” he said.
“When the ability to manage water has been taken away from council, it’s not long before we have private enterprise creating a monopoly.
“Since 1990 when control of the water system was handed over to Lachlan Shire Council from Central Tablelands County Council it’s become efficient.
“Prior to 1990 no one had any say in what happened.
“Lachlan shire Council has a well organised run of all the water supplies in each of its towns.”

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