Community Cabinet, vital funding and the one benefit of those dust storms

Last week was big for Western NSW, with the Community Cabinet visit from Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Deputy Premier John Barilaro and their ministers well and truly ramming home the plight of people in our part of the world.

And while the focus was justifiably on drought and water, we had the chance to make some other wonderful announcements of benefit to the Dubbo electorate.

The first was $10 million in funding to secure the future of the Dubbo sports hub project, most notably the indoor stadium that will be the centrepiece of stage one of the facility.

It has been about 14 months since the project was first announced, and while the slow nature of the progress has been frustrating, this funding locks the project in and the task is now to get designs done and get things moving.

I’d like to thank the Deputy Premier for his support in accessing this funding, which will also stimulate the local economy as we battle through drought.

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Another announcement that gave me great satisfaction involved the grant of $600,000 to Lifeline Central West, which will allow them to purchase their own building in Dubbo.

We all know the valuable work that Lifeline does, and at a time when there is a real focus on mental health for people in all regional areas, it is vital that we support organisations whose charter it is to help people.

It was wonderful to see the smiles on the faces of Stephanie Robinson and Alex Ferguson when the announcement was made by my colleague Bronnie Taylor, the Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women.

For far too many people, the person on the other end of the phone when they call Lifeline is the only person they feel comfortable talking to, and it is important that people in regional areas are sharing their issues with others who understand what they are talking about.

Well done to Lifeline, and I look forward to them being able to pour their funding into a premises and training more people to undertake this, quite literally, lifesaving work.

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A lot of Ministers left Dubbo on Monday and were farewelled by a major dust storm which rolled in.

While those of us in the regions are getting quite sick of these storms, the timing of last Monday’s storm was impeccable as it gave the Sydney-based ministers a chance to see what we are dealing with. I was with the Police and Emergency Services Minister, David Elliott, for an announcement of funding to assist with the RFS service based out of Dubbo Regional Airport when it was at its peak and I think there will be some lasting memories from what was seen rolling into town as the Ministers rolled out.

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