Photo caption: Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton recently met with Bourke Shire Council Mayor Barry Hollman to announce that Field Solutions Group was successful in receiving funding to deploy a fixed wireless network in the shire.
COVID-19 scare for our regions
It was disappointing last week to find out that a couple who tested positive to COVID-19 had left lockdown in Greater Melbourne and travelled to the Sunshine Coast, stopping at a number of regional NSW towns along the way, including Dubbo, Coonabarabran and Moree in my electorate.
While this has caused great anxiety for these communities, it’s been pleasing to see how everyone has stepped up and done the right thing, with thousands of people turning out to get tested last week.
It’s a stark reminder that we are still in the middle of this pandemic, and while the virus continues to be a part of our lives, we need to treat the health advice and orders that are given very seriously. In the meantime, we can be confident that we’ve got the right systems in place to contain this virus.
If there’s any good to come from last week’s COVID-19 scare, it’s that it has highlighted just how important it is that we vaccinate as many people as possible, so that the next time this happens, the risk to our communities is greatly reduced. As borders start to open up, more people are going to be coming into our regional communities and the best protection we have against COVID-19 is vaccination.
So I encourage everyone eligible to be vaccinated, including all adults aged 40 and over, to book in now to receive your vaccination. To find out if you’re eligible to receive the vaccine and where you can get it, visit health.gov.au and use the eligibility tracker.
Boost for local road maintenance
Councils in the Parkes electorate will receive a welcome boost for road maintenance, thanks to the Federal Government’s Roads to Recovery Program.
The Federal Government is delivering more than $186.5 million to 366 local government authorities nationwide for safer and better-maintained roads.
Thirteen of the 18 councils in the Parkes electorate will receive a quarterly payment under the Roads to Recovery Program. These include:
- Bogan Shire Council – $325,068
- Bourke Shire Council – $846,664
- Brewarrina Shire Council – $401,887
- Central Darling Shire Council – $212,727
- Cobar Shire Council – $1,059,908
- Coonamble Shire Council – $599,060
- Dubbo Regional Council – $1,283,112
- Gwydir Shire Council – $250,335
- Lachlan Shire Council – $950,061
- Moree Plains Shire Council – $1,266,661
- Narromine Shire Council – $530,690
- Walgett Shire Council – $184,894
- Warrumbungle Shire Council – $739,717
This funding will allow these councils to progress a number of high-priority projects, using local knowledge to deliver the best local roads.
The Australian Government is committed to getting Australians home sooner and safer, no matter where they live.
More information on these programs is available at www.infrastructure.gov.au.
Connecting regional Australians
It was good to get out and about last week, visiting Tasmania for the Rural and Regional National Cabinet Reform Committee and inspecting federally funded regional communications projects to see how they will improve connectivity in these previously under-serviced areas.
During this trip, I was pleased to announce that 51 new projects have been funded under the Federal Government’s Regional Connectivity Program (RCP), including a project to improve telecommunications services in Bourke.
Field Solutions Group has received $589,712 in funding to extend high-speed broadband connectivity into areas in the Bourke region with limited existing coverage, enabling the uptake of new agricultural and business technologies.
This project will help keep our businesses connected, allow our families to stay in touch and provide people in Bourke with greater access to telehealth and education services.
I’m thrilled that residents and businesses in Bourke will enjoy the benefits and opportunities that improved digital connectivity brings.
The Federal Government is listening to the needs of regional communities and businesses, and I’m pleased to see the RCP is being used to support the design and delivery of place-based solutions which solve regional connectivity issues.
The delivery of successful projects under the RCP will begin shortly, with most projects to be completed by June 2022.
A further $105.8 million in funding has been made available for a second round of the program, with applications to open later this year. More information about the RCP is available at: communications.gov.au/what-we-do/internet/regional-connectivity-program