Photo caption: Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton welcomed Labor’s commitment to honour the Vietnam Ag Visa agreement.
Thoughts with flooded communities
My thoughts are with all the communities in the Parkes electorate that are being devastated by flooding. The river system in the entire electorate is in flood and has been flooding for some time. This prolonged flooding has been devastating and exhausting for many of my communities.
Condobolin is experiencing its highest flood since records began in 1894, while Gunnedah is cleaning up after facing its sixth major flood in a matter of months. Major flooding at Walgett is slowly easing, while it continues at Brewarrina, Bourke and downstream at Louth and Tilpa. And so many other communities are also still flooded and isolated.
Unfortunately, I am unable to get to these communities due to the roads being cut, but I hope to visit as soon as I can to talk to community members to find out what they need to best recover.
In the meantime, I want to thank all the emergency services for everything they are doing to assist our communities, whether it’s delivering essential supplies, helping with sandbagging or undertaking rescues.
I’m also pleased that the Dubbo and Walgett Local Government Areas are now eligible for the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment. This is a lump sum payment of $1,000 for adults and $400 for children for those seriously impacted by recent flooding. Eligible individuals can claim via MyGov or by calling Services Australia on 180 22 26. For more information, visit www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/new-south-wales-floods-september-2022-australian-government-disaster-recovery-payment
Vietnam ag visa agreement honoured
I’m pleased that Labor has honoured the agreement the former Coalition Government made with Vietnam under our Agriculture Visa. This is a win for the Parkes electorate and will allow local farmers to hire workers from Vietnam to help fill the significant labour shortage we’re currently facing.
In turn this will help to boost our food supply and provide relief to shoppers at the supermarket. It’s a good outcome, made possible thanks to the hard work of The Nationals.
However, I urge the Labor Government to reinstate the Ag Visa and include more countries to help ease our cost-of-living crisis. We need to do all we can to relieve the workforce shortages so farmers can have the confidence to plant full crops for future seasons.
Ag shows funding cuts
Labor’s scrapping of the Regional Agriculture Shows Development Grants Program is further evidence that this Government doesn’t care about our regions.
This program funds important infrastructure improvements for local shows, with more than $1.6 million provided to hard-working show societies in the Parkes electorate, including the Baradine P A and H Association, Binnaway P A H and I Association, Condobolin P A H and I Association, Coonamble Show Society, Mendooran P A and H Association, Mungindi Show Society, Walgett Show Society and Warren Pastoral and Agricultural Association.
Reprioritising this funding is another kick in the guts to communities in the Parkes electorate. For some communities and charities, agriculture shows are the financial boost they need to get them through the year.
The Labor Government needs to explain why it doesn’t prioritise regional and rural Australia.
Mining projects at risk
Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek’s decision to reassess approvals for 18 major coal and gas projects, including the Boggabri Coal Mine and Whitehaven Narrabri Underground Mine Extension, is very worrying.
This will ultimately cost jobs and make it even more difficult for local families to pay the bills.
At a time when energy prices are already going up by 56 per cent, making it even harder for coal and gas projects to pass more environmental assessments inevitably means supply goes down and cost goes up.
If the Boggabri Coal Mine and Whitehaven Underground Mine extensions do not go ahead, hundreds of local jobs will be lost, which would be devastating for the Narrabri and Gunnedah shires.