With 2020 now upon us, it is time to look forward to what this year will bring the Dubbo electorate.
Unfortunately 2019 ended with severe bushfires across the state, and 2020 has commenced in the same fashion.
I was saddened over the holiday period to hear of the death of three NSW Rural Fire Service volunteers, as well as many other residents who were caught in the path of the blazes.
Late in 2019 I got the chance to attend a number of events aimed at recognising the achievements of a number of RFS volunteers.
Some had been with the organisation for more than 55 years in varying capacities, while some were starting their stint as cadets.
You quickly get a sense of the feel of community within the RFS, and I thank each and every one of the 70,000-plus members that make up the organisation.
It is the largest volunteer firefighting organisation in the world, and we’ve seen over the past few months just how valuable each and every one of those members are.
After a whirlwind 2019, the festive season was a good chance to sit back and reflect on what had been achieved.
Since I was elected as the Member for the Dubbo electorate back in March there has been close to $75 million in funding that has been directed our way across a range of projects.
Some of these have been big-money items such as $30 million for Dubbo Regional Council from the Emergency Drought Relief Package (Growing Local Economies) to enable the council to explore the borefield for more groundwater options and investigate other water management options.
There was also $2 million for Narromine Shire Council to help upgrade the existing groundwater supply to access deeper water and develop a filtration system, and $7.7 million to access and pump remnant water in Burrendong Dam, which will allow the Macquarie River to keep running for longer and provide supply to Warren, Nyngan and Cobar.
Over at Mudgee, I was also able to get $1.1 million for Mid-Western Regional Council from the Safe And Secure Water Fund to allow for an upgrade to the headworks at the filtration plant.
In November, I announced $10 million in funding to secure the future of the planned Western Sports Hub project, to be based on land at Charles Sturt University in Dubbo.
Big ticket items are great, but I take a lot of satisfaction from announcements that may not be as “sexy”.
I was honoured to be able to announce $600,000 in funding for Lifeline Central West, which will allow the organisation to purchase a building to house more volunteers in Dubbo.
Suicide and mental health issues are things we don’t talk about often enough, but that funding will help expand Lifeline’s footprint in our region at a time when a lot of people are doing it tough.
It was also great to provide $10,000 in funding for the Tradies In Sight organisation, which will allow Bruno Efoti and his crew the opportunity to host a number of tradies breakfasts at locations across our region.
We know suicide is a growing problem among young men, and Bruno has identified a number of issues surrounding tradespeople who don’t necessarily feel that they can talk about their problems.
From a social needs perspective, I took a lot of satisfaction from the allocation of $50,000 to Leaderlife in Dubbo for its Soil2Soul program, which takes vulnerable youth and will give them the chance to gain skills working on the leased lime farm at Narromine.
All of these projects, plus many more, will continue through 2020 and make our region a better place to live.