Travels through Western NSW
Last week saw me travel to eight towns in the Parkes electorate. Commencing in Dubbo and heading on to Warren, I visited the Men’s Sheds at both Warren and Trangie, which each successfully received grants under the Federal Government’s National Shed Development Programme.
Warren Men’s Shed will use their $2,000 for a First Aid kit and training, and Trangie Men’s Shed has received $4,695 for the purchase of a Defibrillator, shed improvements, and cordless tools. Later in the week I called in to Grawin Glengarry Sheepyard Men’s Shed, recipient of almost $10,000 in funding for shed improvements, a water tank, and tools and equipment. These are excellent health and wellbeing projects for invaluable community groups. I commend the work these Men’s Sheds and others in my electorate are doing to support the health of men.
The Trangie Community Connection Respite Centre is going from strength to strength in early days of operation, and to help officially open it on Tuesday was an honour. This is an excellent community centre offering disability services for the first time in the area, located in a building which was formerly an Anglican Church.
In Bourke I visited 2WEB Outback Radio which will replace and upgrade radio services in Lightning Ridge, Walgett, and Wilcannia, with funding from the Stronger Communities Program (SCP). This is a strong investment in a community-driven, outback radio network that services Western NSW.
I caught up with students and staff from Brewarrina Central School mid-week, and enjoyed speaking with students from nearly every class, before heading on to Lightning Ridge.
I heard from stakeholders in Coonamble on Thursday as consultation continues on Inland Rail. Communities in my electorate are already looking at exciting ways they can be well-prepared for this nation-building infrastructure.
As the week came to a close, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Matthew Canavan joined me in attending the Energy, Innovation and Mining Expo (eIMEx) at the Gunnedah Showground, which was an excellent local showcase of industry.
Remote Airstrips funding opens
I’m pleased that remote communities in my electorate now have the opportunity to upgrade their local airstrip, with applications open for funding under Round 6 of the Remote Airstrip Upgrade Program. The last round saw 31 projects receive funding across Australia.
Remote communities face a number of challenges in accessing the services they need, particularly during the wet season, and everyone in Western NSW knows how important good transport links are.
Airstrips play a major role in connecting remote communities with the services they need, with benefits including more reliable transport access, improved service delivery and job creation.
I would urge anyone seeking to upgrade their local airstrip to begin preparing their application now. Applications can be lodged by owners/operators of remote airstrips including community groups, Indigenous organisations and local governments.
The Australian Government has allocated $28.3 million over four years in the 2018−19 Budget to improve safety and access at airstrips for remote towns. To apply, visit www.business.gov.au/raup.
New apprentice wage subsidy
The Government will invest $60 million to trial a wage subsidy as an incentive for employers in regional and rural communities to engage more apprentices.
Under this subsidy, eligible employers within the Parkes electorate will be able to receive payments based on the apprentice’s relevant award wage rates. Subsidies will be provided at 75 per cent of the apprentice’s award wage in the first year, followed with 50 per cent in the second year and 25 per cent in the third year.
The trial will see up to 1,630 new Australian Apprentices in areas of skills needs. Small business plays a vital role in our community and economy, from giving young people their first real job to supporting our local charities and sporting organisations.
Through this incentive regional and rural businesses can secure the skills they need to remain competitive and give local students new opportunities at home.
From 1 January 2019, the new subsidy under the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program (AAIP), will support eligible new Australian Apprentices in areas such as plumbing, mechanical, electrical, painting trades and hairdressing.