I’m pleased the past week has seen the Coalition Government continue to prioritise the drought. The Government is making changes to the Farm Household Allowance (FHA) to help more farmers and has introduced a Bill to extend income support to four years in every 10 years; relax the off-farm income offset and increase the cap to $100,000; and provide a lump sum Relief Payment for FHA recipients who have exhausted their first four years of FHA payments, up until 30 June 2020. The FHA has paid more than $365 million to around 12,700 recipients since it began in 2014.
It was my great pleasure to congratulate local farmers Andrew and Kerrie Martin on their success at the 2019 ABC Rural Farmer of the Year Awards at Parliament House. Andrew won the award for excellence in diversification on his family farm Dulla Dulla, between Dubbo and Narromine. Congratulations again to the Martins on this wonderful accolade. It’s testament to their initiative and foresight, especially at a time when the drought continues to challenge farming systems right around my electorate.
It was wonderful to be back in the electorate on Friday to attend the Dubbo Chamber of Commerce Rhino Awards (pictured). Now in its 24th year, the Awards honour the city’s most outstanding businesses, of which there are many. Congratulations to all entrants and winners, which make up a very strong and vibrant business community.
Encouraging teachers to go west
On Wednesday last week the Government introduced legislation to waive up to five years’ worth of HELP debt for teachers who work at very remote schools. I’m thrilled that 15 schools in my electorate will benefit from this initiative.
The program has also been extended to cover early childhood teachers. The program will also assist more than 3,500 educators in very remote settings annually by removing indexation on their HELP debt.
This is a great incentive for teachers to work in the bush. To be eligible teachers must work in an eligible school for at least four years, commencing on or after the start of the 2019 school year, with an equivalent pro-rata rate for part-time teachers.
Eligible areas are those defined as very remote by the Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) Remoteness Structure, which is available on the Australian Bureau of Statistics website.
Growing Indigenous tourism
I’m encouraging interested constituents and groups to contribute to a public consultation which will help inform the Coalition Government’s Indigenous Tourism Fund.
This is yet another way the Government is working with Indigenous communities by co-designing funding principles in line with feedback from local communities.
The $40 million Fund will strive to encourage the development of new and expanding Indigenous owned and operated tourism enterprises, of which there are many in the Parkes electorate.
We want the Fund to provide value, focus on the gaps and barriers to success and increase opportunities, with a need for support in areas like business planning, back-office support and mentoring. You can contribute at https://niaa.gov.au/itf
Cash for swimming programs
Local community groups can apply for new swimming grants to improve opportunities for people with disabilities and from diverse backgrounds to enjoy the sport, under the Community Swimming Grants Program.
Grants of up to $10,000 will subsidise the costs associated with delivering swimming and aquatic activities such as entry fees, lane hire or membership fees.
Eligible organisations include community or charity organisations, councils, schools, learn to swim providers, aquatics facilities and swim clubs, among others. More information: www.swimming.org.au/community-swimming-grants