QUEENS BIRTHDAY HONOURS LIST
Congratulations to the following people –
Ronald Greer, Tamworth (OAM) – for service to the Tamworth community
Hazel Green, Armidale (OAM) – for service to the indigenous community of New England
Wally O’Hara, Armidale (OAM) –for service to gymnastics and education
Reverend Dr. Harry Cummins, Nundle (OAM) – for service to the community of Nundle through a range of organisations
Colin Campbell, Inverell (OAM) – for service to Inverell through the Sports Council and Rotary.
Joan Ticehurst, Inverell (OAM) – for service to Inverell through the RSL Womens Auxiliary and Meals on Wheels
Edgar Bradley, Armidale (AFSM) – Rural Fire Service since 1996
Edward Taylor, Manilla (AFSM) –Fire and Rescue Service since 1963
WIDE-RANGING BANK INQUIRY
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services will conduct an inquiry into many aspects of banking practices, including why viable businesses are placed into default, the role of valuers and the insolvency industry, the forced sale of properties in depressed market conditions and drought, and comparisons between valuations and sale price. I worked on the terms of reference with Senator Arthur Sinodinos and Member for Berowra Philip Ruddock. Submissions close on the 24th of July and further details are at http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Joint/Corporations_and_Financial_Services/customer_loans
The final sitting fortnight saw a number of Bills passed. $14 billion in Budget repair measures were passed, bringing to more than $50 billion the total since the 2014 Budget. Foremost amongst the savings are $3.6 billion over the five year period to the end of 2018-19 with the passing of the fuel excise legislation, $3.2 billion from the Appropriation Bills and $2.4 billion with the passing of the fair and sustainable pensions legislation.
I continue to fight for the free range egg producers who are in a state of confusion as to whether they are breaking a law that doesn’t exist. The ACCC has prosecuted some producers who have marketed their eggs as free range. Yet the ACCC admits there is no national standard and instead it should be common sense. ACCC Chairman Rod Sims describes free range as most birds being able to access an outside area on most days, yet during Senate estimates questioning he would not commit to giving me an answer as to whether my four hens roaming over one hundred square metres are free range. Thankfully there may be some positive news on the horizon with the Minister for Small Business Bruce Billson having met with his State and Territory counterparts and they have agreed to request Consumer Affairs Australia New Zealand (CAANZ) working group to prepare a draft Australian national standard on egg labelling. The draft will be considered by the end of this year and a decision meeting will be arranged for February next year.
It was good to see a huge crowd at State Conference in Cessnock. I was delighted to see the life membership bestowed on current Federal President and a former NSW Chairman Christine Ferguson. Christine has shown great leadership in some difficult times but she is a fierce advocate for the ideals of the Nationals and as our Coalition colleagues have often found she is a tough negotiator. Special mention to her husband Colin who has been Christine’s ever-reliable backstop – many suggest he should have received a medal as well! Next year’s conference will be held at Tweed Heads.
The Free Trade Agreement with China unlocks further potential in what already is a $160 billion trade arrangement. On Day 1 more than 85 percent of Australian goods exports will be tariff free, rising to 95 percent on full implementation. Tariffs on frozen prawns, barley, sorghum, oats and some animal feeds will be eliminated entirely when the agreement takes effect later this year. Over four years tariffs will be taken off most seafood, vegetables, wine, and processed foods including canned tomatoes, pasta, chocolate and biscuits. For beef producers tariffs of between 12 and 25 percent will be gradually removed from chilled or frozen beef and sheep meat over eight to nine years and there are also a number of tariff phase-outs for key dairy exports over four to eleven years. Since the agreements with Korea and Japan were signed there have been a 26 per cent increase in frozen beef prime cuts to Korea and a massive 84 per cent increase in the same product to Japan.
Effective immediately all foreign investors who hold interests in agricultural land must register with the ATO regardless of the value of the land. The location and size of the property, size of the interest acquired and country of origin of the purchaser will be gathered and this will form the new national register which will be available to the public next year. In future such information must be lodged within 30 days of the acquisition. Who owns what in Australia has long been a concern in the rural sector and this initiative by the government will be keenly watched.
COMPLAINTS ABOUT POLLING PLACES
Several people contacted me wanting to know how they could make a submission to the inquiry into conduct at polling places. Submissions can be sent by email directly to the committee to firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEW ENGLAND REGIONAL TRAINING AWARDS
Congratulations to the winners, runners-up and highly commended at the recent awards held in Tamworth. Particular mention to the category winners –
Trainee of the Year – Jaimie Evans, Cooks Hill
Apprentice of the Year – Geoffrey Bragg, Invergowrie
Apprentice of the Year (Phil Darby Memorial Nominee) – Tasmin Neville, Tamworth
ATSIC Award – Bronwyn Cocking, Tamworth
Vocational Student of the Year – Deborah Richardson, Tamworth
School Based Apprentice/Trainee of the Year – Rebecca Allen-Wall, Uralla
VET in Schools Student of the Year – Glen Weller, Swan Vale
VET Trainer/Teacher of the Year – Belinda Milgate, Moonbi
Parliament has now risen for the winter break and the period will be filled with Senate committee hearings and constituent meetings.
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