NEW ENGLAND NEWSLETTER FOR APRIL 2016
Two students will be assisted with their dentistry studies this year under the NSW Regional Dentistry Scholarship programme that I sponsor. My $4,800 annual sponsorship has been awarded to Leazelle Graham who was educated in Wellington. At the completion of her studies Leazelle plans to practice dentistry in a country area in the hope of alleviating the dentist shortage and provide world-class health care to a regional area. Late last year I won a competition prize of $2,500 that was to be donated or used as sponsorship. This has gone to Melissa Stevens who was educated in Dubbo and hopes to one day work with the Royal Flying Doctor Service and indigenous families in remote communities. Tamworth dental practitioner Richard Wise will be the mentor for the students, replacing Dr. Chris Cole from Armidale who mentored the first six recipients. I wish Chris a happy semi-retirement.
NEW DENTAL SCHEME
In the largest ever Commonwealth investment in public dental services, the Government will invest around $5 billion over the next four years. The Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme will replace the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (subject to legislation being passed) which has only been taken up by one-third of eligible children. The new scheme will include the full Australian Dental Association Schedule of services including crowns, bridges and implants.
BLACK SPOT FUNDING
A number of projects will receive funding under the Federal government’s $500 million Black Spot programme. There are - $1.3 million to install a protected right turn lane and painted median and channelization, seal shoulder and install wire rope barrier on roadside at the intersection of the New England Highway and Platform Road south of Armidale.
$436,940 to install w-beam barrier on roadside and other treatments on a 3 kilometre section of Thunderbolts Way near Quiet Valley Road north of Nowendoc.
$200,000 to mark road edge lines and other treatments on a 3 kilometre section of the Bruxner Highway 5 kilometres west of Drake.
$191,550 to install a wire rope barrier and other treatments on a 1.5 kilometre section of Thunderbolts Way near Topdale Road north of Nowendoc. Walcha Shire Council will contribute an additional $25,000.
$110,690 to install a w-beam barrier and other treatments on a 1.2 kilometre section of Thunderbolts Way between Topdale Road and Quiet Valley Road north of Nowendoc. Walcha Shire will contribute an additional $15,000.
$142,850 to install a wire rope barrier and other treatments on Emmaville Road 20 kilometres north of Glen Innes.
$90,000 to install a w-beam barrier on a section of Nundle Road west of Dungowan-Woolomin Road near Dungowan.
$71,840 to improve a 3 kilometre section of the Bundarra Road 4 kilometres west of Invergowrie.
$50,000 to install a single lane roundabout at the intersection of Barney and Butler Streets in Armidale.
$25,000 to improve a section of The Gap Road east of the rail crossing at Werris Creek.
RECYCLING FACILITY FOR INVERELL
Member for New England Barnaby Joyce has announced $1.02 million has been awarded to the Warra-Li Northern Region E-Waste Recycling Facility and Aboriginal Employment initiative which will be based at Inverell. The project will remove E-waste from local government areas and the private sector and already Inverell, Gwydir, Tenterfield, Guyra, Glen Innes and Walcha councils amongst other have signed up. The project is expected to deliver six full-time Aboriginal positions from its establishment including two senior staff and four trainees and 20 aboriginal people are expected to be brought into employment within a year of operation.
TRUCKIES BACK ON THE ROAD
Thankfully the crossbench Senators supported the Government in repealing the legislation which established the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal. This Tribunal was established by the Gillard government in 2012 as a trade-off for the Transport Workers Union, but it overstepped the mark when it decreed that the 36,000 owner-drivers in Australia had to start charging a higher minimum rate for certain trips. This made them uncompetitive and a concerted campaign by industry groups supported by the Coalition led to the abolition of the Tribunal. However a TWU official has confirmed that a Labor government would bring back the Tribunal. Naturally the Greens also took the side of the Transport Workers Union, although this was not mentioned by the Greens candidate for New England Mercurius Goldstein when he was under siege from truckies at the Tamworth forum.
RED MEAT PROCESSING REPORT
Victorian Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie and I co-sponsored a Senate inquiry into the effect of consolidation in the red meat processing industry following a buyer boycott of a livestock sale in Victoria. The committee found there is a lack of transparency across the supply chain and producers are not guaranteed a fair return at the farm gate. It said “the growing disconnections between the industry and the structures that underpin it are demonstrated by the extent to which the system has become dysfunctional, unrepresentative and uncompetitive. It is the combination of these factors which came to the fore in relation to the Barnawartha matter and which demonstrated all that is wrong with the current industry market structure. The committee holds the view that there is a culture of collusion which permeates the saleyards and must be addressed. It recognises that the ACCC market study on the cattle and beef industry will consider saleyard practices including the behaviour of commission buyers. However, it is clear to the committee that some form of price disclosure at saleyards is one such mechanism which could address these challenges.” This report is available from my office.
IMPAIRMENT OF CUSTOMER LOANS
A parliamentary committee has found there is no evidence that the CBA and ANZ deliberately defaulted small business loans when they acquired Bankwest and Landmark respectively. However the committee did accuse financial institutions of unconscionable conduct in some cases and said they were more intent on looking after shareholders rather than their customers. There are nine very good recommendations and again the report is available from my office.
See you on the election trail!
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