Natural Disasters

Express Examiner 7 February 01

Natural Disasters

Storms one week, floods the next has certainly provided a bad start to celebrate the year of the volunteers. Many workers and volunteers who had already contributed valuable time and energy to helping those most affected from the devastating storms, have now had to face another disaster; the floods. The professional combination of Councils, government departments and volunteer organisations in establishing operational centres and support services was commendable and greatly assisted the quick and organised clean up of the area. Special thanks must also go to the employers and families of these volunteers who have provided time and support to allow them to carry out their duties. I would like to thank Bob Debus, Minister for Emergency Services for his immediate response to visit Casino. Then during the recent floods, I appreciated the visit by Premier Bob Carr and Mr Harry Woods, Minister for Local Government for their time to come to the Lismore electorate, which resulted and enabled an inspection by air of the Kyogle, Richmond Valley, Tenterfield and Lismore Council shires being declared Natural Disaster areas. To everyone, I simply say thank you for your cooperation in a time of need.

State-based Dairy Assistance Must Flow

Last week an Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) report was released on dairy deregulation. The report identifies NSW as one of the worst affected States under deregulation - it found NSW farmers have suffered a 29 per cent drop in their average farm-gate milk price and that an estimated 200 NSW dairy farms have shut down since deregulation. The devastating findings highlight the need for the NSW Government to provide financial support to this State's dairy farmers, on top of the Federally coordinated $1.7 billion assistance package - something I and the NSW National Party has been trying to obtain from the Carr Government for over 18 months. The Western Australian Government is providing a $27 million assistance package for its industry and communities. The NSW dairy industry is more than three times the size of the Western Australian industry and deserves the same support on a pro rata basis. The Carr Government will receive $156.5 million in national competition policy payments from the Federal Government in 2000-01. I believe at least some, if not all, of that money should be devoted to a State-based package. The dairy industry is the fifth largest rural industry in NSW and produces goods valued at $1.4 billion each year. Farmers need a helping hand outside of the Federally coordinated package. Clearly that should come from the State Government.

2001 Premier's Gala Concert

For the notice of seniors in my electorate who may be interested in travelling to Sydney during Senior Citizens Week celebrations this year, the 2001 Premier's Gala Concert will be held at the Sydney Entertainment Centre on Wednesday 21 and Thursday 22 March 2001. Tickets area available from my office.

Changes to Green Slips

Under the new system, a new category has been created of people aged over 55, whom insurance companies can not add any loading to the premium price. This effectively means that sole parents and disability pensioners are no longer eligible for a discount based on their income. The Coalition believes that no pensioner should be worse off under the new motor accident compensation scheme. A Greenslips Watch Committee has been established to closely monitor green slip prices, particularly for single parents and disabled persons on a pension, who are not protected by a cap from further increases. I would encourage any business or individual who has experienced a significant price increase in the green slip premium to contact my office on 6621 3624. A petition is also available.

Call For Stamp Duty Cut

Together with the National Party, I have backed calls from regional business owners for the Carr Labor Government to cut stamp duty rates outside the metropolitan area. Property Council figures released this week indicate the Carr Government has reaped a 30% windfall on stamp duty for house sales over the past 2 years - taking its stamp duty income from this source to $4.2 billion - the highest of any state.

School Student Transport Scheme Review

A recent review of this scheme is yet to be reported on and unfortunately the recommendations arising from this evaluation has been delayed. Anyone interested in this report should contact my office so that when more advice is to hand, I can provide a copy.

Attention: Seniors

An updated 2001 Seniors Card Local Business Directory, listing participating businesses and offers, is available from my office. Any person or business interested in the NSW Seniors Card Scheme, please do not hesitate to contact me for further details on 6621 3624.

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