Photo Caption: Robyn and Mark Coulton with Jillian Kilby.
Parliamentary sitting fortnight commences
I spent last week at Parliament House in Canberra, marking the commencement of another parliamentary sitting fortnight.
During the week I had the privilege of speaking to students and staff from St Joseph's School Mungindi and St Joseph's Warialda, as well as St Francis Xavier’s Primary School Narrabri as part of their excursion to Canberra. It’s always encouraging to see keen young people that have an interest in Australian government, and I was impressed with their high level of engagement in learning about the workings of Parliament House.
Monday 15 October was the International Day of Rural Women, and I was glad to spend some time at the AgriFutures Australia Rural Women's Award Gala Dinner on this special day along with my wife Robyn. The New South Wales contender in the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award was Dubbo-based Jillian Kilby, who is an inspirational rural woman in her own right. I would like to congratulate Jillian, as well as the National Winner, Krista Watkins of Queensland.
Last week I spoke at a Coalition Friends of Tourism event, and was on the panel along with Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Simon Birmingham, Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories, Sussan Ley, and a small business owner, Damian Robinson of Turalla Truffles. This was a particularly interesting discussion, with a focus on regional tourism, which is thriving in my electorate of Parkes. It was a great opportunity to highlight the importance of regional infrastructure for tourism and discuss current and future regional tourism issues with industry. Tourism makes a strong contribution to the Australian economy and plays an important role in the growth and development of regional Australia.
I met with Namoi Unlimited, a Joint Organisation of Councils in NSW, as part of their networking day in Parliament House. The members of Namoi Unlimited are Walcha Council, Tamworth Regional Council, Liverpool Plains Shire Council, Gunnedah Shire Council and Gwydir Shire Council. Namoi Unlimited presented their strategic regional priorities and plans for the next three years.
This week will be another big week in Canberra, and on Friday I will be attending the National Drought Summit (26 October). This event aims to unite national efforts to coordinate action for families and communities experiencing the drought, with priorities including responding to immediate issues, and putting in place better frameworks for long-term preparedness. I look forward to reporting back after the event.
I encourage all schools, students and communities in my electorate to get involved in Remembrance Day commemorations, to remember those who have suffered or died in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations. This year’s Remembrance Day is particularly special, in that it marks the Centenary of the First World War Armistice. On 11 November 1918, four years of brutal conflict ceased. Nearly 62,000 Australians died fighting for our freedom and in service of our nation.
Dubbo has had an important week, with the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan, on Wednesday. The city was abuzz with activity and I have no doubt the Duke and Duchess will return to England after their tour with some very special memories of Central West NSW.
Farm Household Allowance Review
The Farm Household Allowance (FHA) Review panel is interested in hearing from people across the agricultural sector to assess the continued effectiveness and efficiency of the FHA, and whether it has remained fit-for-purpose since the payment commenced in 2014.
The panel is currently taking submissions from those who wish to share their experiences accessing the FHA. This is an important fortnightly payment for many farmers in my electorate, and I would encourage anyone interested to have their say in the review. Submissions for the review must be received by the panel on or before 2 November 2018.
Further information about the scope of the review and how you can participate can be found on the FHA Review 2018 website – www.haveyoursay.agriculture.gov.au/fha-review-2018.