Carr Fumbling His Way

Echo 13 May 2004

The fight continues against the loss of North Coast Rail services this week in Parliament, however the deadline of 17 May looms. The ignorance and stance of the Carr Government must prove to North Coast residents that this Premier and his Government does not care about our region, nor the provision of important, historic and essential services that taxpayers should have access to.

Carr Fumbling His Way

I attacked Premier Carr in NSW Parliament last week on his withdrawal of the Casino to Murwillumbah rail service. I asked the Premier to explain why he is treating the people of the North Coast as second-class citizens by boasting about his $2.5 billion injection into CityRail while at the same time closing down the Casino to Murwillumbah rail line. Unbelievably, the Premier attempted to shift the focus of the question to the upgrade of the Pacific Highway, not realising that the Pacific Highway does not run the same route as the Casino-Murwillumbah rail line. The Premier continued to fumble in his response, citing inaccurate patronage figures and incorrect costs to keep the service running. While the Labor Member for Tweed, Neville Newell has criticized the figures being quoted by Sydney Labor and supposedly was against the axing of the service, he was conspicuous by his absence and non-participation in the debate and vote on retaining this service. The Nationals strongly oppose the closure of the Casino-Murwillumbah rail line. It is a short-sighted and negligent decision by Sydney Labor. The Premier's lack of understanding of the Casino-Murwillumbah rail line is a disgrace. The people of the Northern Rivers will not accept being fobbed off by Sydney Labor and in Parliament today, I will be accompanying Mayors from the region seeking an urgent meeting with the Premier to reinforce the case to have this decision overturned.

Loss of 36 Jobs Thanks To Labor's Club Tax Hikes

A new report on the impacts on the Carr Labor Government's tax increase on the State's Clubs reveals a total of 36 jobs would be lost in the Lismore Electorate by 2010. The report had found that between September this year and 2010 when Labor's new tax regime was phased in, NSW clubs would be forced to axe almost 10,500 jobs. 16 direct jobs are predicted to be lost and this does not include the flow-on effects to secondary industries such as caterers, construction workers and live entertainers. With these in mind, it is predicted a further 13, 500 jobs will be lost Statewide and a further 20 jobs will be lost in the Lismore Electorate. Some regional Clubs will be forced to close by this unfair tax hike. According to the report other consequences of Sydney Labor's greedy tax hike will be:
Cuts to Clubs' capital expenditure, meaning less investment in Club facilities such as fewer playing fields, sporting facilities, entertainment and recreation venues;
significant increases in the price of meals and drinks;
increases to membership fees;
reduced donations to charities and local community groups;
reduced funding to junior and amateur sporting teams;
increases to the cost of facility and venue hire.

Primary Industries Merger May Mean `Recentralisation' Away From Rural NSW.

The Nationals are concerned about the future of regional NSW's Primary Industry support and research services in the face of Sydney Labor's sweeping budget cuts. In merging NSW Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry and Mining into one department, Labor will slash $37 million in the first year and $58 million a year by 2007-2008. It now seems increasingly likely these massive budget cuts will mean a re-centralization of front-line services away from regional centres. The NSW Coalition is committed to decentralization, leading the way by moving NSW Agriculture's Head Office to Orange in 1991. Unfortunately Sydney Labor seems intent on ripping services and jobs out of country NSW. Nobody denies there is a certain synergy to bringing the primary industries together under one umbrella - but this should not be done in an atmosphere of cost cutting. Country residents are concerned that merging primary industries into one department just to cut costs would mean job losses, slashed extension services and office closures. Let's not forget that in December 2003, Labor closed one of the State's only two full time agricultural colleges plus the cutbacks at Wollongbar Agriculture Research Station, just to save $1 million a year!

NLIS: Are We Ready?

Sydney Labor continues to fail to lay the groundwork for a practical and affordable transition to the National Livestock Identification Scheme (NLIS) on July 1 2004. I have been receiving information that some saleyards, abattoirs and farms are already experiencing problems with NLIS technology. NLIS should boost efficiency and lower costs, not the other way round. If Primary Industries Minister, Ian Macdonald, does not urgently address these problems, the current start date of July 1, 2004, might have to be reviewed. The Nationals support NLIS. But we will not force an impractical version of the system onto farmers who have enough financial issues to deal with.

Businesslink

In July last year I directed a question to the Premier in relation to the Carr Government's reform of corporate services and its establishment of NSW Businesslink to provide shared cooperate services to three human service agencies; Department of Community Services, Ageing and Disability and Home Care and Housing. I asked for his guarantee that no jobs would be lost from regional areas affected by this initiative. Fortunately, I have now received advice from The Hon Carmel Tebbutt, Minister for Community Services that the new Regional Service Delivery Model for Businesslink has been approved, with a continuing presence in Lismore, Newcastle, Orange and Queanbeyan.

Justice of the Peace Reappointments

I have recently distributed a copy of advice received from the Attorney General's Department, in relation to requirements for reappointment as a Justice of the Peace (JP). It is appreciated that there are many JP's who have undertaken many years of continuous and dedicated services to the community, particularly in rural areas and villages. The Attorney General's advice states;

"The changes to the Justices of the Peace Act 2002, with the public register scheme, is supportive of members of the general public being appointed to assist the community at large. The requirement to demonstrate a community based need is not limited to a person's affiliation or involvement with a community or voluntary organisation and it is certainly not intended that a current Justice of the Peace should be involved in ongoing activities of a community organization to demonstrate a community based need. JP's who continue to provide Justice of the Peace services to the general community may establish a community based need by providing a letter from any community or voluntary organization that is aware of the person's availability as a Justice of the Peace. In such cases, a letter from the Principal of a local primary or secondary school, a local priest, a manager/director of a local business, attesting that a person is continuing to provide JP services to the community would also be sufficient."

This clarification may assist those long serving JP's contemplating the need for them to reapply.

Business Names Regulation 2004 and Regulatory Impact Statement

The Office of Fair Trading is inviting comment on the proposed Business Names Regulation 2004 and associated Regulatory Impact Statement. The Regulation aims to enable the Business Names Act 2002 to operate effectively by prescribing matters of a procedural and administrative nature. In particular, the Regulation prescribes:
the form of, and the power to correct entries in the Register of Business Names;
the offences under the Act that may be dealt with by penalty notice;
the fees payable under the Act;
the issue of certificates of authority to authorised officers under the Act; and
other matters of a minor, consequential or ancillary nature.

Comments and submissions on the Regulation and Regulatory Impact Statement should be directed to any of the addresses given in the Regulatory Impact Statement, and should be received by 1 June 2004.

Tidy Towns 2004

There is a new award this year the "Best Western Friendly Town Award" which replaces the business partnership award. The Tidy Towns program contributes value that can be calculated in the millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of hours community work. The projects carried out not only improve the environment, but improve the standard of living and quality of life for communities across NSW. For more information on the differing categories or how to enter, please contact my office.

Disabled tax

It appears no one is safe from Bob Carr's 'tax grab' with people with disabilities the latest target of the 'tax and waste' Carr Government. Calls have been made on the Roads Minister to explain why the Carr Government has imposed a $30 charge on people with mobility disabilities for a scheme that has previously been free. This involves the imposition of a $30 charge for a new Mobility Parking Scheme card that will also require the cost of a visit to the doctor and which will need to be updated every three years. For years people with disabilities have been able to apply to the RTA for a card that they then display on their windscreen enabling them to park in allocated, reserved parking places. The only extra being offered by the Carr Government in return for the $30 fee is a photo identity pass to be displayed in the windscreen of vehicles that are using disability accessible parking spaces. The same photo ID permits are issued by the RTA, for only $10 to young people who want to prove their age in hotels. People with disabilities are being charged at least three times more than these photo identity passes cost to produce.

Lismore Contact Details:

Office: 55 Carrington Street  LISMORE
Postal: PO Box 52  LISMORE  NSW  2480
Telephone: 02 6621 3624
Facsimile: 02 6622 1403
Email: lismore@parliament.nsw.gov.au

Murwillumbah Contact Details:

Telephone: 02 6672 7577