NEW ENGLAND NEWSLETTER FOR OCTOBER 2015
AEC DRAFT BOUNDARIES
The Australian Electoral Commission has released its draft boundaries for the next Federal election. NSW will be reduced to 47 seats quite simply because of the population drift and this affects regional seats.The New England electorate will include Gwydir Shire (Warialda and Bingara) and Upper Hunter LGA (Scone, Aberdeen, Murrurundi) but the Gunnedah LGA wlll ransfer to the Parkes electorate. I am particularly pleased that Glen Innes and Tenterfield will remain in New England. By August 2019 the projected enrolment will be 110,219. My office can give you specific details of the boundaries and the draft is now open for public discussion, with the final report due in February. Further details are available at www.aec.gov.au/nsw-redistribution.
The China Australia Free Trade Agreement has passed the House of Representatives after Labor finally supported the deal. Just about every business, farming group and commentator in the nation has been imploring Labor to get onside, but they would not move for fear of upsetting the unions. With three weeks of sittings remaining CHAFTA will be passed before year’s end which will be a good Christmas present for farmers in New England. Tariffs on beef will be eliminated within 9 years, and the OECD says beef will be the fastest growing import sector in China. Entry into force this year will see an immediate round of tariff cuts for all products followed by a second round of cuts on 1 January 2016. The full list of tariff cuts is available from my office.
GUIDE FOR NEW EXPORTERS
For new exporters wishing to take advantage of the FTA’s with Japan, Korea and China, the government will provide $2.45 million over two years to assist with training for small and medium-sized business owners and employees to better understand exporting and the opportunities. Details are at www.austrade.gov.au or by phoning 1300 136 014.
STICKY END FOR DODGY HONEY IMPORTS
Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce has acted to ensure consumers are not putting sugar-laced honey on their sandwiches or in their cooking. Following the discovery last year that Turkish honey on our shelves was nothing more than corn syrup, all Turkish honey coming into this country will be tested for C4 sugar adulteration from cane sugar or corn syrup. A figure higher than 10% will make it non-compliant. Australia is fortunate to have great farmers producing safe, nutritious produce, and they shouldn’t have their livelihoods threatened by mislabelled and misrepresented products.
GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO FINANCIAL SYSTEM INQUIRY
The government has outlined what action it will take in response to the Murray Financial System Inquiry. It will legislate to ban merchants from imposing unfair card surcharges that are greater than the cost to them of accepting payment by card. Retirees will be provided with more flexible and reliable retirement income products and there will be greater choice of fund arrangements to more employees. Following the ground-breaking inquiry into ASIC and the fall-out from the financial planning scandals at the Commonwealth, NAB and Macquarie banks, the Government will raise professional, ethical and education standards for financial advisers. Subject to transitional arrangements, advisers will be required to hold a degree, pass an exam, undertake continuous professional development, subscribe to a code of ethics and undertake a professional year before they can advise clients.
ASIC is removing financial planners from the industry for a variety of offences. In response to the damning Senate inquiry, ASIC commenced its Wealth Management Project in late 2014 and around 10 advisers have so far been banned. They have been banned for such offences as forging signatures, excessive fees, creating false documents, transferring funds without authorisation and misleading and deceptive conduct. A reminder that if you are seeking financial advice you can check the names of people who have been banned from giving financial advice by searching on ASIC Connect within 'banned and disqualified' at www.asic.gov.au.
In Senate estimates I asked the Department of Health why it is considering an option to remove the Rural Exemption rule for radiology practices. Currently practices in smaller regional centres that are more than 30 kilometres from a town that does have a practice staffed by a radiologist are themselves exempt from having to employ one. Instead the images are sent in real time via link to be read by a radiologist in another location. To employ a radiologist full-time (if they are available) is estimated to cost close to $1 million and if forced to adopt this I am told over 70 smaller practices in rural and regional Australia could close. My Nationals colleagues are following this with interest.
I also asked the Department of Immigration and Border Protection whether it had followed up
my letter to the Minister about many workers on 457 visas dropping their private health insurance once they get employment. This is a breach of their visa approval and a medical practitioner alerted me to these occurrences. The Department admitted it has not carried out any investigations so I have urged it to at least determine whether the practice is widespread.
FAST BROADBAND IS COMING
The three year rollout plan for the NBN in New England will be as follows –
19,100 homes and businesses in Tamworth and immediate surrounds using Fibre-to-the Node with construction to commence in the first quarter of 2017;
1400 in Quirindi commencing in the first quarter of 2017;
4,100 in Gunnedah and 700 in Kootingal commencing the first half of 2017;
2,800 in Glen Innes, 900 in Guyra, 4,700 in Inverell, 1,100 in Manilla, 1,700 in Tenterfield, 1,500 in Walcha and 700 in Werris Creek all using FTTN and commencing in the second half of 2017;
440 in Old Bonalbo, Sandilands East, Tabulam and Urbenville using Fixed Wireless with construction commencing in the first quarter of 2017.
SPECIAL COIN FOR A SPECIAL DAY
Over two million coins of the 2015 $2 Coloured Circulating Coin – Remembrance Day are being produced and will allow many Australians to share the meaning behind Remembrance Day and the memorable poem. The coin features an inscription of text from the In Flanders Fields poem as well as sculptured larks surrounding the soft orange coloured rings reminiscent of the sunset glow cited in the poem. The public is able to buy a pack of 5 circulating coins for $10 plus postage and handling at eshop.ramint.gov.au or a collectable version in special themed packaging for $12.50.
FUNDING FOR NERAM
New England Regional Art Museum will receive $8,660 under the Community Heritage Programme for archival storage materials and equipment for paper-based items in the Howard Hinton, Chandler Coventry and NERAM collections.
Written and authorised by Senator John Williams, 144 Byron Street, Inverell.
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