Photo Caption (L-R): Bourke Shire Council Mayor Barry Holman, Member for Parkes Mark Coulton, and Bourke Shire Council General Manager Ross Earl. Bourke Shire Council has received Federal Government funding to lead a wild dog management project on behalf of Western NSW combined shires including Brewarrina, Cobar and Central Darling.
Great wins for Parkes electorate
During the week I was thrilled to share the news of a huge $1.5 million funding injection for ag show societies in the electorate, under the Federal Government’s Regional Agricultural Show Development Grants program.
The successful applicants include show societies at Baradine, Binnaway, Condobolin, Coonamble, Mendooran, Mungindi, Walgett and Warren. It’s not just ag shows that will benefit from this funding – it’s entire rural communities.
In other good news, Bourke, Dubbo and Narrabri Shire Councils received $740,000 in grant funding for local projects to manage pests and weeds under the Government’s Communities Combating Pest and Weed Impacts During Drought Program.
Management of pests and weeds poses a significant challenge for farmers under normal conditions, but for some years we’ve been contending with a severe drought which has exacerbated these issues. One of these initiatives will help to combat the enormous issue of wild dogs out west, to protect our natural landscapes, native animals and livestock.
We also celebrated doors officially opening to GP-led respiratory clinics in Moree as well as Cobar. Up to 100 respiratory clinics are being established by the Federal Government across Australia to help screen patients with COVID-19-like symptoms.
These clinics are a great asset for their communities and really strengthen our local capacity to deal with any COVID-19 outbreaks.
And lastly, in great news for the remote community of Enngonia in the Far West, a new Telstra base station is now live which is delivering improved mobile connectivity for local residents and businesses.
Better coverage will help keep families and businesses connected at a time when we rely on staying in touch more than ever, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will also help to bring more travellers to the Far West once we get ahead of the virus.
COVIDSafe app protections in place
Last week’s Parliamentary sitting week saw all Members and Senators respecting social distancing requirements in order to progress important legislation.
A highlight was the passage through Parliament of privacy protections for the COVIDSafe app, which is now enshrined in law.
The legislation clearly defines the very limited circumstances in which data can be collected, used or disclosed, and prescribes significant criminal and civil penalties for any misuse. Data can only be accessed by authorised state and territory health officials for contact tracing purposes after a user who has tested positive to the virus consents to this.
The app has already been downloaded more than 5.6 million times. This is an important tool in our fight against COVID-19, and the new legislation should give us all full confidence that our private information is in safe hands.
Having an extra level of community protection gives the Government the confidence it needs to continue easing restrictions, and reopen our economy.
Boosting regional student numbers
More Australian students will receive scholarships to study outside the capital cities to support regional communities and education providers.
Another round of applications for the Government’s Destination Australia program is now open, allowing regional universities and vocational education providers to apply to offer scholarships of up to $15,000 a student per year.
This is a great opportunity to attract more young people to live and study in our region.
This grant round will increase the number of scholarships by 250, with the Government providing $4 million per year, over four years.
I strongly encourage local universities and vocational education providers in my electorate to visit the Community Grants Hub to read more and apply before applications close on 7 July.
Students can then apply directly to institutions. For more information, visit www.education.gov.au/destination-australia