Christmas Message 2002

Express Examiner December 02

Christmas Message 2002

2002 has seen the worst drought in 100 years, Bali, Russia and bush fires the list goes on. These events have again highlighted the importance and value of volunteers in our community.

Acknowledgement of volunteer contributions to the community needs to be appreciated and recognised by us all and at the same time extend our sincere appreciation to the employers, family and friends of volunteers who continue to support these volunteers to enable them to virtually leave work and home to attend the needs of the community.

Christmas time is a special time where there are opportunities for thinking of those less fortunate. Celebrating this special occasion can be a difficult time for some members of our community and with the kind generosity of local charities and volunteers this is made a little more bearable. Simply I say thankyou on behalf of the electorate of Lismore.

It has been an honour being your State representative in Parliament this year and may I congratulate all those who have gained scholastic, sporting or citizenship satisfaction this year.

Please remember to drive and celebrate safely over the festive season.

May you all have a Happy and Holy Christmas
and trust that 2003 brings Peace, Health and Happiness.

From Thomas and Rhonda George
together with staff Karen, Bronwyn and Julie.


Parliament returned last week for the ringing of one long bell for the conclusion of the 52nd Parliament until the 2003 NSW Election on Saturday 22 March 2003.

Lebanese Independent Day

I was proud to co-host a dinner at Parliament House recently to celebrate the Lebanese Indpendence Day which was attended by 400 people. The highlight of the evening was the announcement of the Lebanese of the Year Award was Stephen Stanton. This was a special moment for me because Stephen was born in Casino, the grandson of the late Mr and Mrs Joe Karam, son of Winne Stanton (nee Karam) and nephew of Father Peter Karam, Frank and Marie Karam. It was an honour to be present as the Member for Lismore and to pay tribute to a North Coast family and Stephen who have not only originated from Lebanon but the Electorate of Lismore.

Handgun Laws

Let us not have any knee-jerk reaction to the issue of handgun laws. Sporting shooters and farmers do not present the problem. Where the NSW Government ought to concentrate is in the area where an unlicensed criminal commits a crime using an unregistered firearm, illegally obtained though the black market and, quite probably, illegally imported into Australia. Further gun laws affecting sporting shooters and farmers will not alter the incidence of crime. A Government serious about firearms crime would pursue the black market and leave law abiding licensed firearms owners alone.

Cash Grants Needed

I believe it is now necessary for the NSW Government to introduce cash grants for drought affected farmers and small businesses in NSW. The current drought conditions across the State are extreme and have degenerated beyond the control of even the most efficient and well-prepared farmers. The Victorian Government has set a precedent by making up to $20,000 available to farmers who meet specific criteria. A similar cash grant should be introduced in NSW for farmers and small businesses reliant of the agricultural sector such as contract harvesters, farm machinery dealers, grain traders and general store owners. These businesses need help to remain viable and retain employment and services in country NSW.

Energy Package for Struggling Families

I commend the initiative and support offered by Country Energy to drought ravaged country families, who will be given 12 months or more to pay their energy bills under a innovative programme announced recently. Country Energy has offered the Country Support package to all 700,000 household and rural residential customers throughout the State if they are experiencing hardship, including the effects of drought. A new four person Country Support team will help customers who are fining it hard to pay their energy bills and develop solutions for individual needs, supported by the Country Energy's frontline customer service team. Enquiries can be made by contacting 13 23 56 or visiting the nearest Country Energy Customer Service Centre, which is in Molesworth Street, Lismore Ph: 6622 8544.

I wish to advise that my office will be closed from 12 noon Tuesday 24 December &
will reopen 9 am Monday 6 January 2003.

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