Young Driver Forum

Echo 5 August 2004

Young Driver Forum

This forum was held to obtain a young driver's perspective of the current proposals being considered such as curfews and passenger restrictions for P Plate drivers. The attendance at the forum was terrific and guest speaker, David Russell encouraged driving skills were a privilege not a right. I will be preparing a submission to present to The Hon Carl Scully, Minister for Roads and Members of the Staysafe Committee.

Michael Gallacher Visit

Local Taxi, Bus Operators and community transport service providers enjoyed the opportunity to raise issues of concern with Shadow Minister for Transport, Michael Gallacher during his visit to the Lismore electorate last week.

MTA Regional Awards

I had the pleasure of being present at the Motor Traders Association Annual Awards in which recognition was given to the following local businesses; Trevan Ford; New Vehicle Award, Ballina Campervan and Leisure Centre; Used Vehicle Dealer Award, Ongmac Trading; Farm Machinery Dealer Award, Lismore Motorcycles; Motor Cycle Dealer Award, Minarelli Smash Repairs; Body Repair Award, Wrights Clutch Service; Under Body Repair Award, Pirlo's Tyre Service; Tyre Award, Wes Engines; Engine Reconditioner Award, Prane & Townsend; Auto Electrician Award, Byron Bay Motor Wreckers; Dismantler Award, Murwillumbah Transmission and Service Centre; Auto Transmission Award, Savins Radiator Service; Radiator Award, Chris Albertini Automotive; Mechanical Award and Jason Mulley from Auto Leaders won the Apprentice Award. Congratulations to all nominees and Award winners.

ATLAS & POS Funding Cuts

The Government has scrapped the Post School Options (PSO) and ATLAS programs replacing them with new programs but with less funding. Under the new programs some families will have their funding slashed from $21,000 to between $15,699 and $9,000 a year. The reduction in funding means some families will now have to apply for respite, which will mean an alternative drain on the government resources. The Government also has changed the method of allocating funding. Now young disabled school leavers will have to scramble for vacancies wherever they occur. The new scheme is nothing more than a cost-cutting measure which short changes people who are already doing it tough. I am interested to hear from clients, families and carers who may be affected by the funding cuts to these programs.

NRMA "Safer Roads Save Lives"

I attended the Roads Summit at Grafton last week to especially highlight the concerns and seek their support of our East West connections in the Northern Rivers, such as the Summerland Way, Woodenbong to Legume Road and the Bruxner Highway. Since then I have received correspondence informing me that members of the NRMA Motoring & Services will try to inspect these roads when they are next in the area.

Enclosure Permits - A Disgrace

I have called on the NSW Labor Government to promptly address the many concerns of landholders regarding the increase in rents and charges for Crown lands, including the costs of conversion to freehold land. My office has been inundated with calls from concerned landholders after notices from the Department of Lands were sent out last week. I am particularly concerned with the new costs associated with road enclosure permits, especially when these areas of land are often unproductive. We are amidst the worst drought in the last 100 years and RLPB's are currently waiting on a further drought declaration and to gouge excessive fees and charges from farmers, at this time it is disgusting. Farmers can convert these road enclosure leases to freehold, however, in the case of these type of permits they face exorbitant Government costs to do so when the land itself is worth very little. If the landholder chooses to continue to rent the area, costs will progressively rise from $50 a year to $350 by 2006. If they return the land to the Crown, the landholder must fence the area at their own cost. Average costs to convert are approximately $3,000 when the land may only be worth several hundred dollars. The Nationals team is urging Lands Minister, Tony Kelly, to adopt a commonsense approach to this issue and consider waiving some of the charges in the case of road enclosure permits. Labor has consistently stated that the costs of administering and managing Crown land is a burden on taxpayers, so surely it is in the interests of the Government to make it as easy as possible to convert these leases to freehold.

Wollongbar Agriculture Department

I have slammed Labor Minister Ian Macdonald for refusing to meet with me and industry groups affected by the proposed Department of Primary Industries restructure. Since early July I have followed protocol in trying to secure an appointment with the Minister to meet with a deputation of industry representatives including Northern Cooperative Meat Company Ltd, Norco Cooperative Pty Ltd, Grain and Soya Bean Growers to voice our concerns for the future of agriculture in coastal NSW. The Northern Rivers Region, agricultural industries, employees and the public should have the right to present their concerns to any Minister regarding changes to frontline services which could have major ramifications on their livelihoods. I am sick and tired of the Labor Government's attitude to this region with the withdrawal of frontline services such as the Casino to Murwillumbah Rail service, cut funding to the Casino and Lismore Business Enterprise Centres and the planned restructure the Department of Primary Industries. I reminded the Minister that these changes and job losses are coming on the top of the previous loss of 13 jobs at Wollongbar and Lismore. Where is this going to stop? Minister Macdonald contends that a meeting organised by Country Labor recently has made him aware of industry concerns. Research plays a critical role in driving the agricultural industry forward and here we have a Minister not interested in discussing the matter. So much for the Minister's saying that `..nothing had been decided'. By refusing to meet my delegation the Minister is signalling he has made up his mind and will not listen to rural communities who are in the best position to inform him of the dire consequences his proposal will have.

Electorate Functions

Country Athletes and Coaches Afternoon Tea - I hosted an afternoon tea to met 14 local athletes and local coaches representing six various sports who gathered at my office this week following their success in receiving assistance under the 2004 Country Athletes and Coaches Scheme.

Audsley Retirement Dinner - I was pleased to join local officers and members of the public who gathered at Ballina in appreciation of the services provided by Superintendent Barry Audsley as Local Area Commander. The evening was a wonderful tribute for Barry and Jenny

Nestle Write Around Australia - It was my pleasure to attend the finalist presentation at the Lismore City Library, which was held last Friday. Names of the children who were present are Sarah Hort, Samlara Canin-Henkel, Hannah and Ellen Ramstadius, Zac Knight and Bethan Harding. Congratulations to the Year 5 and 6 students children who participated.

Perch Draft Recovery Plan - An overview brochure regarding the draft recovering plan for Oxleyan pyhmy perch, an endeangered species in NSW under the Fisheries Management Act 1994 has been released. The plan is available for viewing at my office.

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:

Authorised by Thomas George MP. Funded using Parliamentary entitlements.