Week in summary
It was fantastic to speak at the Country Mayors Conference in Sydney on Friday, which followed the end of another Parliamentary sitting week in Canberra. The Country Mayors Association of NSW represents rural and regional member councils in NSW, of which there are 68. I was pleased to address attendees in both my capacity as Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government, but also as the Member for Parkes, and a former Mayor of the Gwydir Shire. Thank you to the Mayor of Moree Plains Shire Council and Association Chairman, Katrina Humphries, for inviting me.
In Parliament last week Water Resources Minister David Littleproud proposed the establishment of an Inspector-General Murray-Darling Basin Water Resources when Basin states meet for Ministerial Council in early August. The Inspector-General will be an independent umpire that will provide transparency, accountability and assurance to communities on the Basin Plan and its delivery. No one needs that confidence and assurance more than the communities and farmers who rely on the Murray-Darling Basin.
I’m pleased that tough new penalties which can jail those who incite farm invasion and harassment are a step closer, with the passage of the Criminal Code Amendment (Agricultural Protection) Bill 2019 through the House of Representatives. This Government wants to make it clear that there will be serious repercussions for offenders – our farmers deserve to feel safe in their homes and businesses.
Over the weekend my wife Robyn and I attended the ‘Giving Back to the Gwydir’ Black Dog Ball in Bingara. It was a great evening predominantly made possible by the efforts of volunteers. Often it’s events like these that remind us just how important it is to stay connected in our community, despite the challenging times that drought brings.
Big benefits for our communities
I’m now welcoming applications to my office for the Stronger Communities Programme – Round 5. This is a popular program in my electorate which offers up to $150,000 and in previous rounds we’ve seen great success. If your local community organisation has a project that needs funding, I would strongly urge you to visit www.markcoulton.com.au/funding-on-offer-to-build-stronger-communities/ for more information, and instructions on how to apply.
Meanwhile, tax cuts are flowing to people in my electorate right now, with some three million Australian taxpayers having already lodged their 2018-19 return. Many will be eligible for a rebate of up to $1080 on top of other tax incentives like the instant asset write-off for businesses purchasing equipment valued at up to $30,000. This money is finding its way back into local shops, travel, off loans or reinvestment in businesses – including more jobs.
It’s also timely that last Friday was Australian Primary Principals Day, with up to $200,000 now on offer for schools in my electorate to fund projects that benefit students and the school community, under the Government’s $30.2 million Local Schools Community Fund. I hope every school leader in my electorate takes this fantastic opportunity to seek funding ranging from $1,000 to $20,000, with the money going towards a school project that makes a real difference.
Helping communities in Indo-Pacific
Applications for the second round of Australian Aid: Friendship Grants are now open. This initiative is part of our Government’s commitment to strengthening relationships with our partners in the Indo-Pacific.
Many Australian charities, local government groups, professional organisation and volunteer groups are already working hard to help communities through international development and have forged strong relationships with local communities overseas. Eligible not-for-profit organisations can apply for one-off grants of $30,000 to $60,000.
For further information on the program, and the Round Two application documentation, please visit www.dfat.gov.au/friendshipgrants. Applications will close 10 September 2019.
Photo Caption: It was fantastic to speak at the Country Mayors Conference in Sydney last week. The Country Mayors Association of NSW represents rural and regional member councils in NSW, of which there are 68.