Please note javascript is required for full website functionality.

Community & Business

12 February, 2023

Roy's Round Up - February 8, 2023

G’day folks,

It has been an interesting two weeks, getting out on the road again, talking to people, businesses and councils, getting updates on their concerns and letting them know what things I have been working on.

At the risk of sounding like a verse from a Slim Dusty song I’ve been to Nevertire, Tottenham, Tullamore, Condobolin, Tullibigeal, Lake Cargelligo, Cobar and Nyngan. Hopefully I’ll soon be out your way soon, stop and say hello if you see me.


Cashless gaming card

I am often being asked about my thoughts on the plan to introduce a cashless gaming card to deal with problem gambling and money laundering. However, the government has only just passed the scheme by cabinet and the premier has only just announced his plans - which includes a specific fund to help regional clubs implement the cashless technology (in the form of no-interest loans).

I agree that something definitely needs to be done about problem gambling and money laundering, but we will need to look carefully at the details, assess the merits of the scheme and consult with the communities in Barwon to see what the impact would be on those communities, and the venues that have to implement it.

Then we can see where we go from there. I have heard concerns from many small clubs out in the bush, where they don't have the same amount of patrons, employees or gambling revenue coming through as big metropolitan clubs, about whether this reform is affordable for them to implement (even with the availability of no-interest loans).

Many are already struggling under increased insurance premiums and the need to meet other requirements of Liquor and Gaming laws, such as putting on extra security staff at live music events, although the government is also offering one-off grants to fund alternative revenue streams to pokies.

The cashless gaming card will also only treat one symptom of the problem, but not the root causes, it will not do anything to stop people turning to the multitude of other forms of gambling available. Something definitely needs to be done, but whatever party forms government they will need to make sure that their gambling reforms will have the desired impact on problem gambling, and money laundering, and not adversely affect other community members or the clubs and pubs.


Australia Day

I was out and about around the electorate on Australia Day. We had perfect weather and some great local celebrations. I acknowledge Australia Day can mean different things for different people.

For me it is an important day to reflect on our history but also to think about where we are headed as a nation. Just imagine what sort of a country we could have if we all unite to pull together to make our communities better places.

Although Barwon is too big an electorate to be everywhere on Australia Day I managed to get to a couple of events. Warren Shire Council put on a memorable Australia Day ceremony and had one person become a citizen. It was very well attended, and there were plenty of nominations for awards. The pride in the achievements of nominees was clear.

The Australia Day ambassador was Keith Potger of The Seekers fame. He spoke about inclusion, respect and compassion. He used anecdotes from his experiences in the music industry and life to illustrate, and also played a couple of classics for us singing, with acoustic guitar.

The crowd got right into it. A very warm and welcoming atmosphere. I was also privileged to attend the Warrumbungle Shire Council Australia Day Awards at the Coonabarabran Golf Club. The weather took a turn for the worse, so proceedings had to be moved inside. Again, I experienced a warm and friendly community proud of its award winners.

The Australia Day ambassador was Ron Delezio, father of Sophie. He told an inspirational story of tragedy and hope talking about his daughter and her survival. Thanks to all involved in the day for putting on such a memorable celebration.


Australia Day Honours

Just on the topic of Australia Day, I would like to congratulate all recipients of Australia Day awards and honours. Every year these awards give much needed recognition to a great bunch of people who work hard and selflessly, usually without much fanfare, making their communities better places to be. Congratulations to Dr Sally Jean Torr, of Bourke who has been awarded a Member of the Order of Australia.

Dr Torr has held many significant posts in healthcare administration and is a member of the Community Advisory Council, Western NSW Primary Health Network as well as being active in the CWA. Congratulations also to Elizabeth (Nan) Nalder of Gilgandra, who has been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia, for her numerous community roles including with the Red Cross, Probus Club, the Gilgandra Entertainers and the Women's Bowling Club.

And congratulations to Susan Hilary Brookhouse of Coonabarabran for being awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for services to wildlife care and rehabilitation.

I also applaud all the winners of local council awards such as the winners of citizen of the year and sportsperson of the year. It is great to see all of these people getting the recognition they deserve for their contributions to communities in Barwon.


Broken Hill Airport

I was delighted to hear recently that Broken Hill City Council’s grant application for major redevelopment works at the Broken Hill Airport has been successful. This has been something that I’ve supported since being elected.

In my regular meetings with Broken Hill City Council, the necessity for apron and runway upgrades along with the benefits to tourism, health and business were discussed and funding sources identified. I wrote to the state government’s chair of the Rural Health Inquiry, and he endorsed the proposed airport upgrades and spoke to senior executives within the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Neither were able to fund an upgrade to a council asset, but saw the necessity for this to occur. I also put it on the premier’s radar and wrote a letter of support for the council’s application in the Resources for Regions grant funding round nine. It fits so well with the funding program objectives: - “support the ongoing prosperity of mining communities by providing economic opportunities, improved amenity and positive social outcomes.”

Even with the money being matched by the Federal govt, more funds are needed, but it’s a very good start.


Investing in Regional Health

The deputy premier and the regional health minister were both in Broken Hill last week announcing what they said was "record funding" for various health services in the far west.

They talked about the $10 million the government is investing to upgrade the Broken Hill health service emergency department, which they said will complement a major enhancement of the hospital’s mental health unit that is being delivered as part of the $700 million state-wide mental health infrastructure.

They also toured the virtual intensive care service. The funding announcements are nothing new, they were in the budget last year, but while they are a good thing, they fall short of what is needed. I have always said that I welcome any investment in Barwon, particularly in health, but this sort of piecemeal approach doesn't do enough to reverse the years of government neglect of the regional health system.

That neglect was detailed in last year's report handed down by the inquiry into health outcomes and access to health and hospital services in rural, regional and remote NSW. It has also been confirmed in a report by the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Best for the Bush, which has found that women in the outback die an average of 19 years earlier than women in the cities, for men it is 13.9 years earlier.

That report also found that about 44,930 people in remote or very remote areas across Australia have no access to primary care less than an hour’s drive from their home. These are startling statistics.

As I say, any funding to improve hospitals, levels of medical staff and generally bring better health outcomes in the bush has to be good, but much more needs to be done. It needs a more structured approach to overhauling the system, a bigger commitment to funding and we need to continue to implement the recommendations of the regional health inquiry.

Most Popular