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Monday, September 08, 2014

After a long Parliamentary stretch it's been rewarding to spend some time in the electorate helping address local issues. While representing you in State Parliament is an important and necessary part of the job, I derive great satisfaction from the close engagement with my electorate. I had the pleasure of visiting a local child care centre as part of National Childcare Week recently. Apart from the chance to brush up on my nursery rhyme skills-it’s been a while since I’ve belted out ‘the wheels on the bus’- it afforded me the opportunity to see first-hand the role that early year’s educator’s play in teaching and caring for children in our community.

Many centres across the region take part in National Childcare Week as an opportunity to raise the public profile of the quality service that child care centres and their staff offer to children, their families and the broader community. There are so many worthwhile early learning organisations that exist within Queanbeyan and throughout the region and their hard work in caring for our children deserves to be recognised. Early year’s education and child care services play a significant role in the community, educating and caring for our children. It’s a crucial stage of life in terms of a child's physical, intellectual, emotional and social development; it’s a time when children particularly need high quality personal care and learning experiences. Early childhood teachers have a powerful influence on children’s learning and are the most important factor in early educational success.

I was delighted to join in the National Childcare week celebrations this year; I look forward to continuing to highlight the industry’s importance in the community and across the nation and hope that next time I’ll have more time to practice my nursery rhymes.


Monday, September 08, 2014
In our busy daily lives it’s all too easy to lose sight of the freedom we take for granted each and every day. Earlier this month I participated in a moving ceremony in Bungendore to commemorate 100 years since the commencement of hostilities in World War I. On August 4 1914 Britain declared war on Germany, beginning a global conflict which killed millions of people and lead to the collapse of empires. Australians were quick to support their allies in Europe. On the very first day of military recruiting, August 10th 1914, some 2000 men enlisted in Sydney alone. Among the first to join Bungendore were Patrick Joseph Donnelly aged 20, a station overseer from 'Douglas' near Lake George and Joseph Lewis McKay, a local labour and also 20 years old. Percy Douglas 24, a tram conductor enlisted a day before his friend Arthur Carnell. Donnelly's official 'joining' date is 14th August; McKay's is 19th August and Douglas' not ten days later on 26th August 1914.

The Monaro has a rich history of brave men and women who have supported war efforts over the years. Perhaps the most famous example of this is the Men from Snowy River March that travelled through the region in 1916 and saw 144 men enlist and fight on the Western Front. The Men from Snowy River March is one of the proudest chapters in our region’s history. This rush to serve underscored a fundamental reality: if Britain was at war, so was Australia. Few families were untouched by the war. If by some chance they had not lost a son, brother or husband they certainly felt the loss of a nephew, uncle or cousin. In some cases a sister or aunt had not returned.

One in five of those Australians who enlisted in the war failed to return, the First World War remains the country's deadliest conflict and the losses were felt throughout our nation. Their sacrifice is a tribute to the spirit of our communities and an inspiration to future generations. Personally, I found the commemoration of the commencement WW1 ceremony, organised by the Bungendore War Memorial committee, a moving experience and an opportunity to reflect upon the impact that the First World War had on local communities. For it is the actions of these special human beings that have helped define the national spirit and character of our country.


Monday, September 08, 2014

Courage can be hard to define; it’s certainly ever harder to exhibit. Not many of us can willingly put ourselves in harm’s way to keep others safe. Yet day in day our police officers risk their lives to protect us. These are ordinary men and women who do extraordinary things and we all stand very deeply in their debt.

Its right we recognise the work of those who do so much to uphold law and order in our community. The complexities and challenges of modern policing are many and varied; policing is a career which has a real impact on the community and so I was honoured to join in appreciating our local police officers at the 2014 Monaro Local Area Command Medals and Awards Ceremony in Queanbeyan recently.

From officers who broke up large street brawls, to those who tackled fires and scaled motor vehicle accidents to save lives, the bravery on display was clear for all to see. Eight National Police Service Medals, four NSW Police Medals, three clasps to the National Medal, six clasps to the Police Medal, certificates of Service and awards for civilians were also presented. Queanbeyan’s Tristan Kilpatrick was awarded a certificate of appreciation for administering first aid to a motorcyclist involved in a collision in 2012; his quick thinking ultimately saved the motorcyclists life. I was humbled and inspired by each and every achievement and I know I speak for the entire community in thanking every one of our police officers for all that they do.

Counting continues

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

As I write this, the counting continues for the seat of Eden-Monaro. It appears that Peter Hendy, the Liberal Candidate, will be triumphant as the next Member and continue the long tradition of the seat’s famous bellwether status.

Although I am obviously very pleased with this outcome, and think it is tremendously important for the local region to have a member which is part of the new Government, I want to thank Dr Mike Kelly for his six years of service to the region and pay tribute to his contribution.

In a period of considerable political disruption, Mike was able to maintain constant professionalism and deliver for our local communities, as well as making a solid contribution to national policy making.

Throughout my electorate he was very well regarded and acknowledged as a strong local advocate. His record of delivery was significant and will be his ongoing legacy in this region.

Although we disagreed on many points, I very much enjoyed working with Mike. I think our bipartisan efforts on behalf of our community on a number of different fronts have been productive.

Over the years we have been blessed by good Federal Local Members. Peter Hendy is a talented policy brain and will be a highly influential and well-connected advocate for the community in the Abbott Government.

I wish Dr Hendy the very best of luck if he is successful in securing the seat of Eden-Monaro and I look forward to working with him to serve the community over the remainder of my term.

I wish Mike and his family all the best for their future endeavours and thank his staff for the valuable contribution they have also made to the community.

Making health care a priority

Monday, August 19, 2013

Nurses form the backbone of our health system. From the moment a new life begins, to saying goodbye to a loved one and all the stages in between, nurses are crucial for providing the support and care needed to patients and their families. I’m pleased to let you know that more senior specialised nurses and support staff are soon to enter the state’s public hospital system. The workforce boost announced recently by the NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner will include 40 extra Clinical Nurse Educators / Clinical Nurse Specialists, 35 extra senior nurses to provide in-charge support and 60 new Clinical Supports Officers for community health and community mental health services. The senior nurses will help mentor the record numbers of new nurses and midwives entering NSW hospitals, while the support staff will assist them in their non-clinical duties, allowing them to devote themselves more fully to patient care. The Government has employed over 4,000 extra nurses and midwives - NSW has never had more nurses and midwives, with over 47,500 now employed in our health system. An extra 145 nurses are working in public hospitals within the Southern NSW Local Health District and almost one quarter of the state's graduate nurses and midwives have taken up jobs in regional hospitals, many of which fall in the Monaro electorate.

In another move to impove community health and safety, every Police Local Area Command across the state will receive a defibrillator. This will add to the first aid capability of police by providing them with greater safety equipment in the case of an emergency. Around $100,000 is being spent to roll out the HeartSine defibrillators to local commands across the state, including the Monaro. Project Tamplin is an initiative started in memory of Newcastle’s Senior Constable Tony Tamplin, who died of a heart attack at Waratah police station in May. The much needed equipment will ensure police had the resources needed to respond to an emergency in the station. The defibrillators will be used for the fast delivery of defibrillation electric shock therapy to resuscitate victims of sudden cardiac arrest. Unfortunate things happen in life, but sometimes tragedy highlights areas where improvements can be made.

Illegal dumping

Monday, June 03, 2013
The community is sick and tired of dodgy dumpers putting the health of the environment and the community at risk. That’s why the NSW Government has introduced legislation into Parliament that will assist the fight against illegal dumpers. These laws will be the strongest in the country and could see repeat offenders handed a two-year jail sentence. The legislation will include the introduction of a maximum two-year jail term for offenders who commit a waste offence within five years of a prior waste conviction - a crime currently punishable with a fine; introducing a maximum 18 month jail term for people who knowingly supply false or misleading information about waste (currently a fine) and enabling the courts to take into account the potential profit from a waste offence for consideration as an additional penalty if convicted.

I drew upon the Monaro electorate’s often overlooked involvement with gold mining, when contributing to the debate on aspects of the Work Health and Safety (Mines) Bill 2013 recently. When people think of Monaro they do not automatically think of mines, but it is important to recognise that we have a rich gold mining history and it continues today. The proposed legislation introduced in State Parliament requires mines to review their current workplace health and safety practices. Gold mining projects in the Monaro Electorate include the planned Chakola Gold mine north of Cooma and the Dargues Reef Gold mine at Majors Creek. The mineral resources industry is a key pillar of our economy, employing more than 187,000 people directly and more than 599,000 indirectly. It is important that government has the right regulations in place that encourages good practice to protect the wellbeing and safety of those people working in the industry.

Time is running out for eligible families to take advantage of the NSW Government's Family Energy Rebate. June 14 is the deadline for applications to be lodged. More than 1,600 local households are eligible to receive the Family Energy Rebate as a credit on their electricity bill. The $75 Rebate rises to $125 from 1 July and to $150 by 2014, and is available to NSW households who currently receive the Commonwealth Government’s Family Tax Benefit A or B. Applications for the Family Energy Rebate are available online at or by contacting the NSW Government Energy Information Line on 1300 136 888.

Electricity prices

Monday, June 03, 2013

One of the parts of the job as Local Member that I derive most satisfaction from is getting out into the community. I have found that one of the best ways of gauging community sentiment towards a recent policy or issue is to speak with constituents in their own surroundings. After long Parliamentary sitting weeks I find it rewarding to spend time in the electorate helping address local issues such as access to disability services, education, public housing, crown lands, law and order and public health matters.

One of the main concerns raised with me on my travels around the electorate is electricity prices. I know that many in the community are struggling with increased power bills and are seeking ways of reducing their consumption. I have a clear understanding of the impact electricity prices are having upon household budgets, small businesses and young families on low incomes in particular.

It didn’t surprise me to learn that according to a recent study by the University of Sydney - 75-percent of low income families are spending less on food because of soaring energy costs. The study also found some families are under so much pressure to pay their bills, they are skipping breakfast and lunch.

I've been working to secure ongoing, targeted assistance measures to help NSW families and households struggling to manage rising electricity bills. It’s worth noting that more than 1,600 households in the Monaro Electorate are eligible to receive the Family Energy Rebate as a credit on their electricity bill; however time is running out to take advantage of the scheme. The $75 Rebate rises to $125 from 1 July and to $150 by 2014, and is available to NSW households who currently receive the Commonwealth Government’s Family Tax Benefit A or B. June 14 is the deadline for applications to be lodged. Applications for the rebate are available at or by 1300 136 888.

To reduce the impact of electricity price rises on households the NSW Government has also; capped electricity company dividends at forecast levels, commissioned a review of the electricity network reliability licence conditions, closed the former Labor Government’s unsustainable Solar Bonus Scheme to new customers and commenced reform of the State’s three electricity distribution businesses to place downward pressure on network charges.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Monaro Electorate will benefit from the NSW Government’s $112 million investment in environmental community-driven projects. The Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority (CMA) will receive a $2.9m slice of the $112m over four years in Catchment Action funding, to boost productive landscape and natural resource projects.
This funding allocation represents an increase of between $300,000 and $1.4m per CMA when compared to 2012/13 allocations. Catchment Action funding will support a variety of projects ranging from re-vegetating river banks to controlling feral pig, dog and rabbit populations to prevent damage to agricultural land and native flora and fauna.
From next January, CMAs will be become part of Local Land Services; the continuing Catchment Action NSW funding demonstrates the NSW Government’s long-term commitment to support natural resource management.

Tourism operators in the Monaro Electorate can now apply for funding from the Regional Visitor Economy Fund. The $7.2 million funding program is part of the NSW Government’s Visitor Economy Industry Action Plan. The funding will assist regional providers to improve the tourism services they provide, and to better promote them to domestic and overseas audiences. It’s important that the diversity and beauty of the Monaro region is known both in Australia and across the world.
Visitor expenditure in regional NSW was worth more than $12.8 billion in 2012, an increase of more than three per cent compared to the previous year. Further information on the application process can be found at the Destination NSW website, at

Work to replace a badly rusting roof on the Good Shepherd Anglican Church in Nerriga will start soon thanks to a helping hand from the NSW Government. Funding to the tune of $9,050.00 will be provided under the NSW Government’s Community Building Partnership program to carry out the project.
The roof has been in need of replacement for some time now and I’m pleased to see that the congregation will no longer have to contend with a structurally compromised roof. It’s important that community assets such as this can be maintained for the use of future generations.
More than 1235 community projects throughout the state will receive as a part of $90 million allocated to the program over four years. The Monaro Electorate will share in $200,000 to fund a number of community projects.

There should be greater peace of mind within the community knowing that the Monaro Electorate has a strong complement of police resources available. Figures indicate that the Monaro Local Area Command has an Operational Capacity of 97 %; well above the NSW Government’s target of maintaining Operational Capacity at 90%. It is worth noting that the Operational Capacity of the NSW Police Force is now at 95%. Since the election the NSW Government has added 370 new officers and the authorised strength has risen to an all-time high of 16,176 officers.


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

There’s been a lot of talk lately about education, specifically education reform and how to fund it.

Recently the NSW Government was the first state to sign up to the Federal Government’s proposed changes to school funding, a deal that would see a new funding model based on the Gonski review and an injection of A$5 billion into NSW schools.

This is a great win for students and teachers in the local region as it’s an opportunity to transform the school funding system, making it fairer and ensuring that disadvantaged students are better supported.

The Gonski Review was the most comprehensive investigation of the way schools are funded in Australia in almost 40 years. The report was released in February 2012 and made it clear we urgently need to invest more in education and public schools.

The review revealed that too many students were missing out on the resources they need and identified that there are growing gaps in the achievements of students from different backgrounds. Under the agreement, extra funding would be invested in local schools in ways that help students learn such as smaller class sizes, extra specialist teachers in areas such as literacy and numeracy and greater support for students with higher needs such as those with disabilities.

Given that national literacy and numeracy rates have been falling in recent years (by international standards, we’ve dropped from second to seventh in reading and from fifth to thirteenth in maths), the NSW Government determined the reforms were in the best interest of NSW students, parents and teachers.

The Gonski agreement builds on the NSW Government’s education reforms some of which include the Literacy and Numeracy Action Plan to raise standards in the basic building blocks of education and increasing the number of teachers in our schools with an additional 520 employed since the election.

Investment in education is vital to ensure that our local kids have the best opportunity to excel.


Thursday, April 25, 2013


For many Australians ANZAC Day is considered to be the most sacred of all our national days. It commemorates the bravery and sacrifices made by Australian men and women who served in various theatres of war from The Boer War until our most recent engagement in Afghanistan. For it is the actions of these special human beings that have helped define the national spirit and character of our country. ANZAC and Remembrance Days are two occasions on the national calendar when we pause to reflect upon the events and circumstances that led to so many of our forebears paying such a heavy price in defence of Australia. In our often busy daily lives it’s all too easy to lose sight of the fact that the freedom we take for granted every day was paid for by the brave actions of our armed forces.

This year, I am looking forward to standing alongside the community at local services throughout the region to honour the men and women who have served and continue to serve for the freedom we all enjoy today. Recently the Bungendore War Memorial was selected for a Community War Memorials Grant worth $10,000 for repointing and cleaning of the memorial's stonework. As we approach the Centenary of ANZAC, the NSW Government wants to ensure that our local organisations have the means and support to restore and conserve these important memorials during the lead up to First World War commemorations. 

From 2014 to 2018, the NSW Government will be organising, in collaboration with community groups and stakeholders, a host of events and activities to recognise the centenary of the First World War. Over 164,000 men of the 416,809 enlisted volunteers in World War One called NSW home. The Monaro region has its own rich history from the war including the Men from Snowy River March, one of Australia’s most successful recruitment marches.  As part of the Centenary of ANZAC, $20,000 in funding is available through the ANZAC Commemorative Fellowship to support a historical project that records and honours NSW’s contribution to the ‘Great War’. This could come in the form of a publication, website, exhibition, film or other public event and individuals or community organisations within the Monaro electorate are encouraged to apply.  Amazing stories of leadership, sacrifice, loyalty, selflessness, resilience and mateship emerged among the sadness and grief of war, it’s these stories during this nation-defining period we want to honour and preserve for future generations. Guidelines and an application form are available on the Arts NSW website,










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