Sydney Labor Must Act on the Growing Gulf between Sydney and Regional NSW

Echo 18 March 2004

Sydney Labor Must Act on the Growing Gulf between Sydney and Regional NSW

The Nationals Leader, Andrew raised a Matter of Public Importance in Parliament last week following the release of a major report, Community Adversity and Resilience. Based on the application of key indicators of disadvantage, Professor Tony Vinson found that the most disadvantaged postcodes were in rural and regional areas. Mr Stoner slams the government for their "lack of will...to meaningfully address these issues in our country and coastal communities. When will Mr Carr stop acting as though "NSW stands for Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong".

Cross Border Commission Bill

Recently the NSW Nationals re-introduced the Cross-Border Commission Bill to State Parliament, demonstrating their on-going commitment towards establishing such a Commission and to also highlight Sydney Labor's failure to act on cross-border anomalies. A Bill to set up a Cross-Border Commission was introduced by The Nationals in the NSW Parliament before last year's State Election. The ALP failed to support this excellent initiative, but The Nationals commitment to the establishment of this body means that we are going to have another go at it. The Carr Labor Government is under siege on many fronts - club pokies tax, hospitals, trains, ferries, police, forced local government amalgamations. The Cross-Border Commission Bill proposes a small body with the power to call witnesses, take evidence and make recommendations on solving cross-border solutions. For example, in NSW the 6.0% payroll tax cuts in above $600,000. Queensland's payroll tax rate is 4.75% with a $850,000 threshold. We know that businesses are being forced out of the Lismore Electorate because of higher cost burdens in NSW.

Local residents protest stingy assistance to isolated patients

Over 7000 people, including residents from the Lismore electorate had joined The Nationals' petition to reduce the overly stringent eligibility criteria for country and coastal patients to access State Government financial assistance. The Nationals have started presenting the petitions in NSW Parliament. In NSW, cancer and other patients requiring specialist medical treatment are forced to meet the toughest criteria in Australia before the Sydney Labor Government will provide financial assistance towards the cost of travel and accommodation through the Isolated Patients' Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS). Cancer patients and others had to travel more than 200 km one way - a return trip of 400 km - before the government deemed them eligible for financial assistance. This compares unfavourably to every other State. In Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia patients are eligible for assistance after travelling 100 km, in Tasmania assistance is provided after 75 km and in Queensland after 50 km. This means that a patient from Lismore attending John Flynn Hospital at Tugun would be denied assistance with travel and accommodation costs, which they would otherwise receive if they lived in other States. The Scheme also only allowed patients see their nearest treating specialist, denying them access to the medical specialist of their choice. This greatly restricts patients' access to the best available treatment and fails to take into account that the waiting times for the nearest specialist are often sky high. The Nationals' petition calls on Sydney Labor to reduce the IPTAAS distance criterion in line with other states. The current overly stringent eligibility criteria means seriously ill rural and regional patients are being forced to shoulder an unfair financial burden at a time when they are least able to cope.

Lotto

The NSW Government announced that from 15 April, Lotto will comprise of 45 balls instead of the current 44 balls. This one extra ball will make the chance of a Division 1 win diminish from the present one in 7 million to a one in 8.15 million. There will be dramatically fewer Division 1 winners but more prize money will flow to lower Division 4 and 5 winners.

Trustee Members wanted

Applications are being invited from persons interested in being considered for appointment as a member of the Trust Board to manage the affairs of the Dorroughby Grass Reserve Trust. Prospective trust board members will be selected on merit related to the skills they possess and the skills necessary to manage this reserve. Applications should be lodged with the Land Access Unit of the Department of Land & Water Conservation, for further information contact Ph 6640 2061 or my office, before Monday 19 April 2004.

2004 National Awards for Quality Schooling Now Open

The 2004 National Awards for Quality Schooling (NAQS) are now open, giving schools, principals and teachers the opportunity to showcase their school improvement project and win a share in $1 million prize money. The Awards recognise, reward and encourage exemplary school improvement practices and will be managed by the Australian College of Educators (ACE) and the Australian Centre for Educational Research (ACER) this year. The Awards are designed to support and strengthen good professional practice. In 2004 three new award categories have been established;

Best National Achievement in School Improvement by a School/s or Team - $65,000 Best National Achievement by a Principal - $30,000 Best National Achievement by a Teacher - $30,000

Applicants are required to tell their school improvement story and demonstrate with evidence that a significant and sustainable outcome for students has been achieved. The Awards are open to all pre-primary, primary and secondary schools, teachers and principals from all Australian non-government and government schools. Application forms, judging criteria and more information about the NAQS are available from the National Quality Schooling Framework (NQSF) at www.nqsf.edu.au, or further information by phoning 1800 131 323. Stories of the 2003 winners are available at: http://www.dest.gov.au/schools/naqs/stories.htm and applications close 20 July 2004, 5pm AEST.

Email Scam

Shadow Fair Trading Minister, Katrina Hodgkinson, is warning consumers to be careful whom they provide their credit card information to, in the wake of the latest email scam. Consumers have been getting emails saying their credit card has either been stolen or used by someone else. The message then asks the customer to forward their card details on another website so the "incident" can be checked. Consumers should not be fooled - personal information is being collected. It is recommended that customers call their credit provider and report the scam.

Senior Card Local Business Directory

The new revised version of the 2004 Local Business Directory is available. Anyone who has not already received a copy direct, should contact my office.

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