Rail Inquiry - 10 June 2004

Echo 27 May 2004

Rail Inquiry - 10 June 2004

I urge North Coast residents to make submissions to the Upper House Inquiry into the Closure of the Casino to Murwillumbah Rail line. The Committee will be conducting regional visits and will be in Lismore at the Lismore City Council Chambers, Oliver Avenue, Goonellabah from 9am to 5pm, Thursday 10 June 2004. For those who have written to me, I am submitting all individual letters that I have received on this matter for the attention of the Committee on the day. The volume of submissions is extremely important, as will the diversity which all need to be factored into the Committee's final report. I need your support so please attend the enquiry or send in your thoughts to my office and I will table same.


The Nationals through Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Duncan Gay believe that delaying the introduction of NLIS for 12 months would give sufficient time to compare what happens in Victoria and refine implementation in NSW. Additionally, allowing more time for the rural industry to be out of the drought and aline the implementation timing with Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The Nationals' are committed to financially supporting the scheme for producers and have called on Minister Macdonald to provide the same assistance. The National's believes the NLIS has great promise as a quality assurance program but not at any price.

School Captains Visit

As part of a leadership program organised in conjunction with the Office of the Governor of NSW, the Department of Education and Non Government schools each year, school captains and leaders were recently invited to visit Parliament House. I was very pleased to host a morning tea for the leaders of six local high schools:

Woodenbong Central
Bonalbo Central
Casino High
Kyogle High
Kadina High
Lismore High

Jennifer Hayward
Krystle Oxenbridge and Patrick Moore
Scott Shephard and Tiffany Blaydon
Carissa Fadelli and Jack May
Caisha Alderson and Scott Campbell
Scott Braithwaite and Katrina Mulcahy

Additionally, the students were in the public gallery of the Legislative Assembly chamber, during my address and appreciation of those involved in fighting to save our trains. The students attended a full day of activities that consisted of a tour of Parliament House, followed by a visit to Government House to meet Her Excellency, the Governor, Ms Marie Bashir.

Oath of Allegiance

The Nationals are opposing Labor's plans to remove reference to the Queen in the oath of allegiance recited by new parliamentarians. The amendment to the NSW Constitution is being put forward as a Private Member's Bill by Labor MP, Paul Lynch, and has the backing of the State Cabinet and the Labor Caucus. In recent times, the Crown has also been removed from atop of the NSW Parliament Crest on Parliamentary stationery and there are plans to re-title all Crown Land as "State Land". It was not too long ago the Australian public overwhelmingly voted `No' to a Republic. Why is it that Labor refuses to accept the umpire's decision? It is time the Premier started focusing his efforts on the real issues rather than imposing his own Republican agenda on the people of NSW.

Call on Carr to Repeal Tax Increases

NSW Leader of The Nationals, Andrew Stoner, is challenging Premier Carr to repeal his increases in stamp duty and land tax. Mr Stoner said a clear difference in terms of economic management and taxation had emerged between the NSW Liberal / Nationals Coalition and Sydney Labor. The Nationals will repeal the Sydney Labor Government's increases in stamp duty and land tax. The Nationals team are committed to repealing Bob Carr's tax increases in its first term of Government, to abolish Labor's 2.25% exit stamp duty and reverse the land tax scale. The Nationals' tax cuts would greatly benefit `mum and dad' investors and local businesses owners who have been hit hard by Sydney Labor's unfair tax increases. Premier Carr has reaped in $8 billion in unexpected revenues in the last nine years, but has wasted it. Now he is taxing hard working local investors to pay for his mistakes. The Nationals stand for tax relief while Labor is focused only on tax increases.

Teachers Shouldn't Strike Despite Carr's Political Games

The NSW Coalition has called on teachers not to strike because it harms students, parents and their own cause. The Coalition has always said that teachers should be recognised for the work they do and part of that recognition should come in the form of increased pay. We have always regarded the IRC as the independent umpire and have said that any decision it brings down must be adopted. The IRC will deliver a final decision on the teacher's case at the end of June and it is extremely inappropriate for the Premier to attempt to bully the Commission to hear additional evidence about the Government's capacity to pay. The Premier's `incapacity to pay' argument is laughable given the State Government will receive a windfall of $1.1 billion over the next four years in GST revenue from the Federal Government. This is on top of a windfall of $627m in property taxes collected by the Carr Government over the last 12 months alone. The government must honour the ruling by the IRC and the question for Education Minister Andrew Refshauge is - what services are to be cut if any pay increase is to be funded from within the education department? He's already sacked 700 people, many of them in jobs providing support for classroom teachers. Is the axe going to fall on jobs again or is he going to eat into funds for professional development of teachers, renege on reduced class sizes or delay the upgrade and maintenance of the crumbling infrastructure of schools.

Electorate Functions

Medal Presentation - Goonellabah Fire State Captain Kevin Muldoon last week was presented with an Australian Fire Service Medal, which is the highest individual honour available to firefighters and was testimony to Kevin's commitment to the community.

Nimbin Deb Ball - I was delighted to be able to attend and receive the Debs. The young ladies were a credit to their families and their communities.

Under the Big Top - I am again honoured to be co-patron of Northern Stars, Under the Big Top, `The Sky's the Limit' and attended the launch last week where Lismore was named as the venue for the next three events. I encourage businesses and the community to support this major event where possible and look forward to working with the Dept of Education, Schools, Students and the community to make a successful event in 2005.

Opening of the Department of Rural Health - determined lobbying by local representatives, clinical, Southern Cross University, State and Federal Governments has been productive with the official opening last week.

Contact Details:

Office: 55 Carrington Street  LISMORE
Postal: PO Box 52  LISMORE  NSW  2480
Telephone: 1800 336 166 or 02 6621 3624
Facsimile: 02 6622 1403  Email: lismore@parliament.nsw.gov.au

Authorised by Thomas George MP. Funded using Parliamentary entitlements.