Regional Vegetation Management Plans

Express Examiner November 02

As the Parliamentary session draws to a close it is becoming increasingly apparent that a number of issues will remain unresolved until after the 2003 March State Election. However I had the opportunity to raise the following matters of concern during Parliament last week..

Regional Vegetation Management Plans

Last week I acknowledged the work of many in the Kyogle community and West of the Range in relation to informing people and bringing to their attention the implications of the Richmond and Tenterfield Regional Vegetation Management Plans. Over 3000 signatures have now been presented in Parliament calling on the Government to listen and change the current plans.

Upper Clarence Mobile Phone Coverage

Many people from this area have brought to me their concerns and the difficulties faced by local communities in accessing mobile phone coverage and this last week in Parliament I had the opportunity to raise these. The Upper Clarence Community and Economic Development Organisation was successful in attaining a commitment of $290,000 from Networking the Nation to provide regional code division multiple access coverage. In an unprecedented response, the socioeconomically disadvantaged communities of the area raised a community contribution of $30,000 for the project-which was three times the Networking the Nation requirement of $10,000. I also paid tribute to the Upper Clarence West of the Range Lions Club, which ran the appeal and organised the banking of the money. This money was raised because the community realised the necessity and the importance of mobile coverage. I raised concerns that the Networking the Nation Projects had to be operational by 30 June 2003 and that delay over the Christmas/New Year and 2003 State Election periods would leave insufficient time for this to be achieved. I was able to voice the concerns of the community that the Upper Clarence may miss out, not only on mobile coverage, but on $1 million of investment and the flow-on social economic benefits. It is important that this project be approved immediately, and I called on the Minister to do so before the end of the session. The communities of the Upper Clarence area deserve to have the tower completed. They have raised money against all odds; even the National Parks and Wildlife Service has contributed to this fund.

Delegation for Radiotherapy Unit

I organised a delegation of people representative of the local community to present to the Minister for Health, Craig Knowles the need for a Radiotherapy Unit in Lismore. We were able to address the Minister, highlighting the priority needs of a Unit in Lismore and Minister Knowles was very responsive to our case. He has now asked for a further submission to enable him to pursue the Unit in Lismore at a Federal level. We will continue to pursue this on a Commonwealth basis through the Member for Page, Ian Causley.

Lucy Brogden visit

Opposition Leader, John Brogden's wife, Lucy will be visiting the Lismore Electorate on Thursday 28 November 2002, visiting a number of areas of interest as well as attending a luncheon at the Lismore RSL Club. For further details please contact my office.

Asthma Friendly Schools Project

I recently joined with the Hon Michael Lee, Asthma Friendly Schools ambassador for the Asthma Foundation of NSW to register St Carthage's School in the project. An opportunity exists, thanks to the support of Country Energy, for all schools to register and participate in the asthma emergency training sessions taking place over the next couple of weeks. To find out more about the project or to enrol your school, contact Rebecca Stephenson, Program Coordinator, Asthma NSW on (02) 9906 3233 or via email at rstephenson@asthmansw.org.au.

Urbenville & District Bowling Club funding

I was advised by the Minister for Gaming and Racing, Richard Face, that the Club had been allocated a grant of up to $5,000 under the ClubBIZ Scheme. This scheme is a special industry assistance scheme for clubs needing financial advice. The Self-help scheme, funded entirely from unclaimed Keno prize money from as far back as 1991 will help as many as 500 clubs.

Reduction in Class Sizes

I am pleased to be apart of the Coalition that has announced it will embark on a four-year program to lower class sizes if it wins Government next year. The initiative means class sizes in Kindergarten, Year 1 and Year 2 will be lowered to an average of 21 students. The plan will involve employing about an extra 2,000 teachers. Extensive international research has clearly shown that smaller class sizes have a dramatic impact on student performance. It is clear that young children perform and progress much better in smaller classes. Better help and support in the early years is the best way of preventing problems developing later in life. Lowering class sizes is a vital commitment to our future.

Water Tank Rebate

The NSW Coalition has announced that in Government it would extend this rebate to all areas, which is good news for the Lismore Electorate, after my office has received a number of approaches from constituents wanting information of how to apply for the rebate, only to find that it was limited to in the Sydney, Blue Mountains and Illawarra regions. Many local residents would like to avail themselves the same opportunity however this scheme is not applicable to this region, which ironically is experiencing the worst water shortages in many years with water restrictions being in place for months.

Casino Community Benefit Fund

A new round of funding for community projects and services is now available. The program provides the opportunity for "not for profit" community based organisations to apply for financial assistance for activities that aim to minimise or prevent the flow on effects of gambling and problem gambling. Further information can be obtained from www.dgr.nsw.gov.au or my office. Applications close 15 December 2002.

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 Norman Johnston Memorial Reserve (Bonalbo). 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.

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