NEW ENGLAND NEWSLETTER FOR JULY 2015
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN LABELLING
It’s not perfect but it’s better than what we have had. That’s how I view the Country of Origin labelling system that is about to be rolled out. Foods processed locally will have a new label which includes the familiar green and gold kangaroo and triangle icon, with a bar chart showing what proportion of the ingredients are from Australia. This will include, for example, “Made in Australia from 100% Australian ingredients”, “Packed in Australia, Made in Canada” and “Made in Australia from Australian carrots and French peas.” Companies will be encouraged to provide additional information on their labels – identifying the origin of key ingredients. I would have liked to have seen a more explanatory system for overseas products and it will be difficult for those businesses including one I met at Tweed Heads that sometimes uses local ingredients and sometimes imported. The first labels should be seen on shelves later this year and the mandatory rollout will commence next year.
SPORTING SCHOOLS INITIATIVE
Thirty one schools in the electorate are participating in the Federal government’s Sporting Schools programme. It is a $100 million programme to keep primary school children fit, healthy and happy. A quarter of Australian children are now overweight or obese and many more lack the basic skills like running, catching, throwing and kicking needed in everyday life. Schools will get access through the grant money that the Federal Government is providing to the best equipment, the best coaches, and the best opportunities for your children.
WELL PLAYED RICHIE
The much-admired Richie Benaud was the face of this year’s Australia Day lamb campaign promoted by Meat and Livestock Australia. I have received an answer to a question I placed on notice at Senate Estimates which reveals that the MLA spent $1.54 million on the summer lamb campaign culminating in the Australia Day campaign. MLA says the campaign reached over 69 million people through all communication touch points and in the week leading up to Australia Day there was a 35% increase in domestic lamb sales. This is good news for lamb producers who would not mind paying their levies when they can see such tangible results.
THE EYES HAVE IT
Patients with a range of serious eye conditions now have affordable access to life-changing medicines that normally cost up to $10,000 for treatment. $541 million will be invested in listing Lucentis to treat diabetic macular oedema and retinal vein occlusion that, similar to age-related macular degeneration, can lead to blindness. 18,000 patients will now have to pay only $6.10 (concession) or $37.70 (general).
VISIT TO SAMOA
Samoa is a beautiful place but lacks a significant industry that would build exports but more importantly provide jobs. It occurred to me some time ago the climate should be suitable to grow coffee, and in the past I have met with Government representatives and also took the Executive Chairman of Gloria Jean’s Nabi Saleh with me to get his thoughts. Nabi agreed Samoa has potential but many obstacles. In July I went back to Samoa and it is obvious very little has been learnt by the authorities and the old coffee varieties are being grown, infrastructure is poor and I believe there could be much better use of foreign aid. I will be providing a report to Parliament and also meeting with the Foreign Minister.
I receive many inquiries asking when the National Broadband Network will be rolled out .Here is a link you can look at and this shows the 18 month rollout plan which was released early in July. .http://www.nbnco.com.au/content/dam/nbnco2/documents/mtm-rollout-plan.pdf
INTERIM REPORT ON ICE
In recent weeks there have been a number of television programmes on the effect of drugs on society, and in Australia the drug that is now spreading virtually unchecked throughout the nation is ice. As one addict told the interviewer “I smoked it once and I was hooked. It just gets you”. The National Taskforce set up by the government has heard from many experts and community members and has received over 1300 submissions. The Taskforce has identified six areas for action where they believe more work needs to be done by all governments and where the greatest benefits can be gained to assist ice users, their families, communities and the work force.These six areas are target primary prevention; improve access to early intervention, treatment and support services; support local communities to respond; improve tools for frontline workers; focus law enforcement actions and improve and consolidate research and data. The final report will be presented later this year.
SCARE CAMPAIGN BY UNIONS
You may have read or heard where the Unions and Labor are claiming the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement will mean a flood of Chinese workers taking Australian jobs. ChAFTA will not allow unrestricted access to the Australian labour market by Chinese workers. It will not allow Australian employment laws or conditions to be undermined, nor allow companies to avoid paying Australian wages by using foreign workers. Through Investment Facilitation Arrangements (IFAs) made available under a separate MOU concluded alongside ChAFTA, Chinese companies making significant investments in Australia (more than $150 million in specific types of infrastructure development projects) will have increased access to skilled overseas workers when suitable local workers cannot be found. IFAs will not allow unskilled or underpaid Chinese workers to be brought in to staff major projects. In fact, consistent with existing programmes, IFAs will provide certainty that investors will be able to access skilled overseas workers, under Australian employment conditions, when suitable local workers cannot be found. Under IFAs, Australian workers will continue to be given first opportunity.
Community groups, organisations and individuals are invited to apply for grants under Round 2 of the 20 Million Trees Programme. Funding up to $5 million is available with grants of between $20,000 and $100,000 available for projects which will re-establish native vegetation, provide habitat to support threatened species and to improve the local environment. More information is available at www.nrm.gov.au/20-million-trees
PJC BANKING INQUIRY
The Committee has extended the deadline for submissions to the inquiry into why banks impaired loans and the role of liquidators, administrators, receivers and valuers until the 21st of August. Details at http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Joint/Corporations_and_Financial_Services/customer_loans
RESERVE THE DATE
For the first time in a quarter of a century the Armidale Air and Auto Show will be held on November 14. RAAF and Russian Roulettes are the headline acts along with Mark Hall the Red Bull racer. Between 150 and 200 antique cars will also be there and proceeds go to charity
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