More drought funds for local councils
All 18 local councils in my electorate, and the Unincorporated Far West, can now apply for up to $1 million each under the Drought Communities Programme (DCP) to help stimulate local jobs and business.
This is on top of the $1 million per council which was delivered for local projects last year. We are seeing some excellent initiatives rolling out – from artesian bore baths at Goodooga, to infrastructure improvements at the Dubbo saleyards, and many others.
The extra funds under DCP were announced by the Prime Minister last month. I have been pushing for this to be ready to go before Christmas, so I’m thrilled councils can now get cracking on their applications.
This will get projects off the ground sooner so communities dealing with the drought can get the boost they need.
The program has already funded more than 300 projects nationally, such as potable water supplies, tourist attractions and community events, and has also employed drought support officers.
I urge councils to get their applications in as soon as they can. More information is available at www.business.gov.au/Grants-and-Programs/Drought-Communities-Programme-Extension
Last week marked the final parliamentary sitting week for 2019. Over the coming weeks, I’m looking forward to spending time back in the Parkes electorate, and fulfilling my Ministerial duties in Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government.
During the week the Coalition Government progressed important legislation and successfully repealed Labor’s “Medevac” law.
This Government only introduces legislation that is good for Australia – by contrast, Labor’s Medevac ultimately outsources our migration program to advocate doctors.
Processes for medical transfer already exist and are effective. Specifically, section 198B of the Migration Act allows for a transitory person from a country or place outside Australia to come to Australia for a temporary purpose, for example medical or psychiatric assessment or treatment.
The Coalition Government has always been clear on its position on border protection – it is the Australian Government that should determine who is allowed to enter Australia, and the terms and conditions to be imposed on that entry.
Certainty for Inland Rail
The Federal and Queensland Governments have signed a bilateral agreement to provide certainty for the Inland Rail project to proceed in Queensland, where up to 60% of the total project cost will be invested (some $6 billion).
The delivery of Inland Rail in Queensland is a huge win for the state, providing jobs and opportunities to communities, but it also represents major progress for the entire Inland Rail project, spanning more than 1700 kilometres.
We’re already seeing the benefits in New South Wales with the section of track between Parkes and Narromine underway.
We are transforming the way freight is moved in Australia. For every dollar we are investing in Inland Rail, $2.62 will be returned to the national economy.
Modelling by the CSIRO shows an average saving of $76 per tonne for horticulture and post-processed food when shifted onto the double-stacked trains. The data is clear – Inland Rail is a game-changer – and I’m looking forward to seeing the project evolve.
Combatting phone scams
The Government has signed off on an action plan to crack down on scams perpetrated over phone networks, recently released by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
In recent months there have been numerous reports of scammers using phone numbers of organisations such as the Australian Taxation Office and NBN Co.
Three trials will be conducted to combat common phone scams and techniques. Telcos will be identifying and blocking calls which appear to come from a well-known Australian organisation but are actually made by scammers.
The trials will also target scam calls that try to entice Australians to call expensive premium numbers by leaving a missed call on their mobile.
At the very least, scammers create a major inconvenience to Australians, by harassing us over the phone, email and internet. At worst, they have caused victims significant emotional and financial hardship – this is why the Coalition Government is committed to taking action.