NEW ENGLAND NEWSLETTER FOR FEBRUARY 2017
GOOD MEDICINE FOR THE BUSH
Prior to last year’s election the Nationals promised it would legislate for the first-ever National Rural Health Commissioner. The Nationals Assistant Minister for Health Dr. David Gillespie has introduced the legislation and says the Commissioner will work with regional, rural and remote communities, the health sector, universities, specialist training colleges and across all levels of government to improve rural health policies and champion the cause of rural practice. First priority will be to develop National Rural Generalist Pathways. The aim of these Pathways will be to address the most serious issue confronting the rural health sector- the lack of access to training for doctors in regional, rural and remote communities. Attracting and retaining more doctors and health professionals into country areas is essential if we are to improve access to health care in the bush. The needs of nursing, dental health, Indigenous health, mental health, midwifery and allied health stakeholders will also be considered. Minister Gillespie has also announced that each year 60 junior doctors will complete their intern year in rural general practice as well as hospital-based rotations.This will improve the pathway for new graduates into challenging and rewarding careers as doctors with the skills needed by rural communities and hopefully entice them back into a rural community to practice.
It has been confirmed the Commonwealth Games Baton Relay which carries the message from the Queen will pass through Tamworth on the 31st of January and Armidale on the 1st of February next year. People can nominate someone to be considered to carry the Baton at https://www.gc2018.com/qbr# and nominations close on the 15th of May this year. The Commonwealth Games will be held on the Gold Coast in April next year.
CHILD CARE CHANGES
From July next year the heavy financial burden on parents with children in childcare will be lifted to some extent. The $7,500 rebate for families earning less than around $185,000 will be abolished. The new scheme is designed to be of most help for those families who work full weeks but are on the lowest incomes – for example a working family on approximately $60,000 a year would likely qualify for the highest subsidy of 85% uncapped and may pay as little as $15 a day. The cap will be increased to $10,000 for families earning more than $185,710. The government hopes to pay for these reforms through the reconfiguration of the Family Tax Benefits.
CHILD DENTAL BENEFIT SCHEME
The rebate available under the Child Dental Benefit Scheme has been increased to $1,000 per child for treatment over a two year period. The previous cap was $750. The Scheme is available to families who receive certain government payments and is available for around 3 million children aged 2 to 17 years.
NEW LAWS FOR FINANCIAL ADVISERS
Legislation has passed which mandates that financial advisers new to the industry will require a degree, while existing advisers will need to meet a standard equivalent to a degree set by the standards body. There are many other new rules and thankfully this ends the ridiculous scenario where a person would only need to do a four day course to become qualified to advise on financial investments.
WHEN IS NBN COMING TO YOUR AREA?
The NBN website now allows you to check progress of the rollout at
The update also shows which technology will be used to connect you to the network, e.g. Fibre to the Node (FTTN), Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) or Fibre to the Curb (FTTC), Hybrid-Fibre Coaxial (HFC), fixed wireless or satellite.
REGIONAL EDUCATION REVIEW
The Government has launched a comprehensive review to boost outcomes for regional, rural and remote students not just at school, but also as they go on to further study, training and employment. The Nationals are delivering on a commitment to tackle the unique challenges people in areas like Deepwater, Guyra, Bingara, Walcha and Scone face and will come up with solutions to better support students in school and into pathways beyond school. There is a clear disparity between education in the bush and the city – approximately one third of regional and remote students do not complete Year 12 or an equivalent unit of study and that number rises to almost two thirds of very remote students. Details at https://www.education.gov.au/independent-review-regional-rural-and-remote-education
A YEAR OF ACHIEVEMENT
Nationals MP’s and Senators came together in February to mark the first anniversary of the new leadership team of Barnaby Joyce and Senator Fiona Nash. Just some of the achievements of the Nationals in government in this period have been- country of origin labelling laws; register of foreign ownership of agricultural land; 15% backpacker tax; delivering our $2.5 billion water infrastructure programme including feasibility studies across Australia; ruling out a proposed sugar tax; commenced decentralisation of government agencies into the regions including establishing a Centre of Excellence by moving the A.P.V.M.A to Armidale; $94 million to attract more doctors to the bush; and delivering 765 new and upgraded mobile phone towers and coverage to 32,000 homes and businesses as part of our $220 million Mobile Black Spot Program.
AGRICULTURE LEADS THE WAY
Latest ABARES figures forecast the gross value of Australian farm production will increase by 8.3 percent to a record $63.8 billion this financial year. Real net farm cash income is estimated to have been $25.7 billion in 2015–16, well above the 20-year average to 2014–15 of $15.6 billion, and exports are projected to be $48.7 billion in 2017-18.
FROM SENATE ESTIMATES
$1- Australian Wool Innovation is under fire for generous ex-gratia payments to staff it made redundant;
$1- The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator says it will investigate why States often ignore its rulings despite it being established to administer a uniform set of heavy transport laws;
$1- The ATO says it is attempting to clawback $700 million from a gold scam and has referred syndicates and individuals for possible prosecution.
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