Queensland border controls
Last week I wrote to the Queensland Premier to highlight a series of concerns brought to me regarding the impact of the Queensland Government’s tightened border controls.
My Federal electorate shares the majority of the New South Wales border with Queensland, and I’ve received feedback from residents on both sides of the border about the impact of the restrictions on their families and access to supplies, workplaces, health services and education. I know that many of my Federal and State colleagues are receiving similar feedback.
I’ve had suggestions put to me that the border zones be expanded as well as a more risk-based approach to how they are applied. Much of the Parkes electorate contains sparse populations that travel large distances to conduct business and receive services many of which are only reasonably accessible in Queensland.
The national pandemic effort is a great challenge for us all and it is important restrictions take into full account the needs of those who live their lives on both sides of the border.
Backing our North West communities
I was pleased to be in the North West of my electorate for much of last week, spending time in both Moree and Narrabri to meet with constituents and community groups.
The added bonus was seeing just how much the land has picked up after some much-needed rainfall; a welcome change for landholders and local businesses in town after many years without reprieve from dry conditions.
While I was in Narrabri, I caught up with the dedicated team at 2Max FM community radio and officially opened their brand new studio, funded with $11,000 under the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal’s Tackling Tough Times Together program. I’ve long been a supporter of 2Max FM and it’s terrific to see these funds being put to such good use to benefit the volunteers that run this community radio station. Local radio will always be an important source of news in our rural and regional communities – it plays a vital role in keeping people connected and informed.
I also enjoyed the chance to receive a progress update from Narrabri Shire Council on their projects funded under the Drought Communities Programme (DCP) Extension, including the cinema upgrades at the iconic Crossing Theatre. To date, a total of $2 million has been made available to all local councils in my electorate under the DCP Extension, which has been an enormous win for local contractors and businesses working on drought relief and infrastructure projects. It’s clear to see the benefits flowing right through the community as a result of these investments.
Benefits set to reach the Ridge
I always love my time in Lightning Ridge and last week’s visit was no different.
It was terrific to receive a project update from the Australian Opal Centre committee while I was in town, as their new iconic Opal Centre takes shape. The Federal Coalition Government has backed this exciting $20 million project with $9.5 million from the Building Better Regions Fund and I’m thrilled to hear about the many benefits it will provide for Lightning Ridge and the wider region.
I also dropped in to see staff and students at Lightning Ridge Central School, and enjoyed speaking with School Principal Richard Finter about some of the school’s current opportunities and challenges. The school recently received $7,965 under the Federal Government’s Local Schools Community Fund to install digital multimedia equipment in their gymnasium, which will be used for community film nights, school assemblies and presentation nights – a great outcome for school students and staff alike.