Return of Parliament
I returned to the nation’s capital last week with the official opening of the 46th Parliament taking place on 2 July. It was wonderful to be sworn in for the fifth time as the local member, and I thank the people of the Parkes electorate for their ongoing support. I’m excited to see just how much we can achieve together in the next term of Government.
Drought policy continues to be a priority, with tough conditions prevailing in areas right around the Parkes electorate. It’s not news that farmers and graziers in my electorate are doing it hard, and for many farming families, the difficult times aren’t getting any easier. I’ve had further discussions with Minister for Drought, David Littleproud last week about what else we can do to combat the drought, and I will continue to do so.
My ministerial responsibilities of Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government, and as Assistant Trade and Investment Minister, have put rural and regional Australia at the heart of my decisions in Canberra, and I couldn’t be more proud of that fact. Our regions are vibrant, wonderful places to live, work and raise a family, and I will keep working hard to ensure they stay that way into the future.
Some of the legislation the Government has been progressing directly addresses those in our country communities who are struggling. Improvements to the Farm Household Allowance, the $3.9 billion dollar Future Drought Fund, accelerated depreciation on fodder storages, and concessional loans are just some of the practical measures we are implementing. Unfortunately there’s no way to make it rain, but we can certainly do our utmost to provide meaningful support to farmers.
Not only that, but we have delivered on our election commitment to protect the privacy of our farmers by introducing legislation to protect them from the unlawful actions of animal activists. The Criminal Code Amendment (Agricultural Protection) Bill 2019 introduces new offences for the incitement of trespass, property damage, or theft on agricultural land. There must be consequences for the unacceptable behaviour of trespassers. Farmers should not be subjected to the illegal invasion of their property and their privacy. The Bill introduces serious criminal penalties to ensure that farmers and their families are protected, with offenders facing up to five years’ imprisonment.
The Coalition’s proposed tax cuts passed through the Senate last Thursday, which means more money in the back pockets of people right around my electorate. The cost of living has been raised with me as a concern for many of my constituents, and the Coalition Government is doing what it can to allow Australians to keep more of their hard-earned money.
This Government wants Australians to get their tax rebate – from the 2018-19 year – as soon as their tax returns are processed. As the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, told Parliament, already we’ve legislated a rebate up to $530 for 2018-19. But in the April Budget we doubled the deal, and it’s now a rebate up to $1080 for the year that’s just ended. That means up to $2,160 for two-income families, as soon as your tax return is processed.
Photo Caption: Member for Parkes, and Minister for Regional Services, Local Government and Decentralisation, and Assistant Trade and Investment Minister, Hon. Mark Coulton MP, being officially sworn-in to the Australian Parliament on 2 July 2019.