Photo caption: Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton looking at plans to upgrade telecommunications along the Narrabri to North Star Inland Rail corridor with Gwydir Shire councillors Jim ‘Curly’ Moore and Geoff Smith (obscured) and stakeholder Alan Pearlman.
North West telecommunications win
Inland Rail will be the fast freight backbone that will transform how goods are moved around Australia, so it is absolutely critical that we ensure the track is set up for the best success in the way of infrastructure and mobile communications.
That’s why it was fantastic to be in North Star last week with Gwydir Shire councillors Geoff Smith and Jim ‘Curly’ Moore, as well as Inland Rail representatives and stakeholders, to announce enhanced mobile telecommunications coverage along the Narrabri to North Star Inland Rail corridor.
This partnership between the Australian Rail Track Corporation and Telstra will deliver work at a number of sites between Narrabri and North Star. We will see a new radio base station in North Star, a new small cell in Croppa Creek, an upgrade to the existing base station in Gurley and a new radio base station in Crooble.
These upgrades, which are required for safe working systems and rail control once Inland Rail is operational, will also be a windfall for communities in the North West with ongoing benefits thanks to improved mobile coverage up to 10 to 15 kilometres either side of the alignment. The upgrades will roll out over the next year.
Funds on offer to grow stronger communities
I’m now taking expressions of interest for the next round of the popular Stronger Communities Programme (SCP), with $150,000 available for community groups in the Parkes electorate to fund small-scale upgrades and new equipment.
I’m particularly proud of the SCP, a program I introduced as the Local Government Minister, which has supported dozens of community groups across the Parkes electorate in the previous six rounds. We saw some terrific projects go ahead in the latest round, including a room renovation for Broken Hill Community Incorporated, an office upgrade for the Gunnedah Rural Museum, a new mower for Baradine Golf Club, the installation of solar at Coonabarabran Tennis Club, and a cubby house and garden makeover for Buninyong Public School, to name a few.
This latest funding injection will finance up to 20 projects across the electorate, supporting jobs and delivering an economic boost to drive our recovery on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Grants from $2,500 up to $20,000 are available to cover up to 100 per cent of eligible project costs, or up to 50 per cent of eligible project costs for local governing bodies.
I encourage eligible organisations to download an EOI form for submission to my office by 5pm Friday 3 December 2021. Guidelines and additional information is available at business.gov.au/scp. EOI forms can be submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or via mail to Suite 3, 153 Brisbane Street, Dubbo NSW 2830.
Support for COVID-hit shows
I’m pleased that the Federal Government is further supporting local ag shows and field days that have been affected by COVID-19 this year, with $25 million being provided under the Supporting Agricultural Shows and Field Days and Supporting Showmen and Women programs.
A majority of the shows and field days in my electorate were once again cancelled this year as a result of COVID-19 and the flow-on effects to local communities will be felt for years.
Agricultural shows make a massive social and economic contribution to the Parkes electorate and I’m proud the Federal Government is continuing to back these iconic events to help ease cash flow pressures for event organisers and those vital showmen and women.
Creating drought resilient leaders
Applications have opened for a Future Drought Fund program to develop leaders and drive conversations and action on drought preparedness in the North West Slopes and Plains and Western NSW.
The Drought Resilient Leaders program – a partnership between the Federal Government and the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation – will support young people with a passion for agriculture across my electorate to develop skills to benefit their communities in times of drought, now and in the years ahead.
I encourage people aged 18 years and over and living in the North West Slopes and Plains and Western NSW to throw their hat in the ring for this opportunity. For more information visit https://rural-leaders.org.au/programs/drought-resilience-leaders-program/