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Michael McCormack MP - November 2014
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TUMBATREK 2015

Initiated by former Nationals’ Leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Tim Fischer, in 1985 to promote summer tourism in the Snowy Mountains, Tumbatrek has been in recess since 2007 when Mr Fischer hung up his boots ahead of his appointment as Ambassador to the Holy See.
 
After it was resurrected in 2012, the trek has seen a large number of local personalities and leaders, including former NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell and Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion, join in the day-long trek along the picturesque Hume and Hovell Track. 

Tumbatrek is a 12km walk amongst the Snowy Mountains as part of Tumbafest, a month long local tourism festival that celebrates the unique natural features and local produce of the region.

Next year Tumbatrek 2015 will take place on Saturday 7th February. If you would like to participate or learn more please contact Marilyn Gilbert at the Tumbarumba Shire Council on 02 6948 9163. More information will be available from my office closer to the date.

CHRISTMAS IN THE RIVERINA

I received an incredible 1210 entries in the “Christmas in the Riverina” drawing competition open to Kindergarten, Year One and Year Two students.

It was an absolute pleasure to look at all the entries I received and proved a very difficult task to pick a winner from all the fantastic entries from students from a variety of different schools.

After much deliberation I awarded the winning entry to Tessa Lawson in Year 2 from Wagga Wagga Christian College for her colourful rural Christmas backyard setting which closely epitomised the “Christmas in the Riverina” theme.

Competition runner up is Goolgowi Public School’s Jorja Srdoc who is in Year 1 and third place went to Henry Hindmarsh, Year 1, Saint Patrick’s Primary School, Gundagai.

The three winning entries feature on my Christmas Card for 2014 and I have also had a number up on display in the electorate office and at Parliament.
 

Reflecting on 2014

 

Welcome to the 2014 Christmas edition of McCormack Reports.

I am always profoundly moved by the Australian people’s compassion and resolve in the face of tragedy. 

Whether it’s in the face of bushfires that so often blight our summers, random accidents that cut a young life short or the terrible actions of a crazed individual, it is in times of trouble that the true character of Australia shines through.
 
It has been another busy year as your local Federal Member.  Whether it’s a frank exchange of views over a cup of tea or presenting certificates at a school assembly, I have loved getting out and about in this wonderful part of Australia that we call home. 

To give you a snapshot, in 2014 I have driven nearly 80,000 km across the Riverina, spoken on your behalf in the House of Representatives 148 times and attended numerous meetings and events in the electorate from Cabramurra to Adelong, Bongongo to Coolac, Goolgowi to Hillston and many more localities in between!  You can find out just where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to from my Facebook page.

I am proud that we have been able to secure funding for important local projects like the new Kapooka Bridge, additional CCTV cameras for Wagga Wagga and a Headspace for Griffith.  There is always more to do and I will keep on making the case to my colleagues on important local issues. 
 
In my first year as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance I have greatly enjoyed getting to grips with my areas of the portfolio.  From sod-turnings on building sites to debt waivers for dentists it’s been a great introduction to the portfolio and the Department of Finance.  A highlight was turning the first sod at the new Post Entry Quarantine Facility (PEQF) in Melbourne.  Coming from the Riverina I know just how important biosecurity is for our primary producers and the PEQF will be an important piece of quarantine infrastructure.

2015 is shaping up to be another big year.  There’s still plenty to do in repairing the nation’s finances, as we were reminded with the release of the 2014-15 Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO).  You can read more about MYEFO further on.
 
I am proud to be a member of the Nationals team and I can tell you – with apologies to Mark Twain – that rumours of the death of the Nationals are greatly exaggerated.  I am excited about where we are as a Party and where we are headed.  If you’re after a spot of summer reading, I’ve penned a few thoughts on the topic for your consideration.  On the subject of summer reading (and the Nationals!) I’m looking forward to getting stuck into Black Jack McEwen’s recently reprinted autobiography.

Christmas is just around the corner, and summer is well upon us.  I encourage you all to drive carefully on the roads over the festive season.  As temperatures continue to rise I also encourage you to make sure that you and your family have a fire plan in place.

If you’re making a last minute dash to buy a gift for a friend or loved one, I encourage you to think local and buy local.  

On behalf of myself, my family and staff, I wish you a happy and safe Christmas and prosperous New Year. 

Please enjoy the final edition of McCormack Reports for 2014 and I look forward to seeing you out and about in the Riverina in 2015.

 




 
ABOVE LEFT - With Senator Matt Canavan at the Politicians vs the Press Gallery cricket match.
ABOVE RIGHT - The Regional Australia Institute Breakfast at Parliament in the last sitting fortnight.
 

Earlier this week, the Government released the 2014-15 Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) Statement providing an update on the current state of the nation’s finances.

Since the Budget in May 2014, two key factors have primarily driven the $43.7 billion deterioration in the budget over the forward estimates: the impact on the economy on tax receipts and payments; and the impact of the Senate’s decisions.

To avoid detracting from economic growth, the Government has let the impact on the budget from sharply lower iron ore prices and slower wage growth flow through to the bottom line, rather than taking decisions to cut expenditure dramatically or increase tax.

Delays in passing legislation and negotiations with the Senate has cost the budget more than $10.6 billion over the forward estimates, keeping debt and interest payments higher for longer.

However, the outlook for growth in 2015 is positive given the combination of historically low interest rates, the recent depreciation of the Australian dollar and lower energy prices.

And the best thing the Government can to for the economy is to create the right conditions for private enterprise to flourish. We’re doing that by investing in strategically important infrastructure, concluding landmark trade deals with China, Japan and Korea and cutting red tape for business.

I am proud to be the Riverina’s strong voice in Federal Parliament to speak up for our region’s needs and to work with Ministers to get our fair share.

I have worked hard for the Riverina in Government this year, securing Federal funding for many important local projects in what is a tough Budget environment.

Here is a quick snapshot of what the Riverina has benefited from in 2014:



Mental health services are vital in country communities such as ours.

We know rural and regional areas don’t have the same access to services such as headspace as metropolitan areas do, so some in the community cannot seek help for their mental health concerns.

This is particularly true of young people aged under 25, as they make up around three quarters of all mental health cases treated nationwide.

I was delighted to recently announce Griffith and the western Riverina will soon receive a headspace. This announcement, funded in this year’s Budget, comes after my lobbying on behalf of the thousands of people who contacted me to indicate their support for a headspace.

BELOW- Michael talking to local press in Griffith earlier this year following the headspace announcement






After decades of planning, the much-needed upgrade of Kapooka Bridge on the Olympic Way is finally nearing construction.

I was pleased to announce the Federal Government will commit an additional $8 million, which will be matched by the NSW Government. The total funding for the project is now $55 million, making it one of the largest bridge constructions in Wagga Wagga’s history.

The bridge was originally constructed in brick in 1880 and is a major pinch-point for traffic in the area, due to its 90 degree turn. Once completed, vehicles will be able to travel over the Sydney to Melbourne train line at 100 kilometres an hour, with greater safety for trucks and cars using the Olympic Way.

I am pleased to see this project finally coming to fruition, with a $27.5 million investment from the Federal Government, after many years of waiting.



I recently announced $470,744 from the Coalition Government’s Capital Grants Programme for St Patrick’s Primary School in Gundagai. 

The funding will finance the much-needed extensions of classrooms and with additional money provided by the school community will ensure children have a better learning environment.

This program has been very much welcomed by school Principal Mary Quinane and Parish Priest Fr Bernard Hennessy, whom I recently joined to announce the funding. The funding for this project comes on top of the Commonwealth providing Gundagai High with $983,000 for their Trades Training Centre last year.

The Coalition is committed to providing the very best facilities for all students in Australia.



Prior to last year’s Federal Election, I announced the Coalition would contribute $500,000 to install Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) in Wagga Wagga’s CBD. I was pleased to confirm this project had been funded as part of our first Budget in May this year.

The need for CCTV is a very important issue in the Wagga Wagga CBD. As soon as the fund was announced, I wrote to the Prime Minister indicating Wagga Wagga’s need for CCTV. I highlighted the importance of such a project given the benefits CCTV will provide the safety of patrons at licensed venues as well as greater security for shopfronts within the precinct and assistance to Police when video footage needs to be sought.

The Government acknowledges this and wants to fix the problem. This is something I have worked with the community on and fought for in Parliament. The funding is in addition to a combined $500,000 from the State Government, Wagga Wagga City Council and the Committee4Wagga.


 
Nationals’ Senator and Assistant Minister for Health, Fiona Nash and I recently opened the state-of-the-art medical teaching campus at University of Notre Dame Rural Clinical School campus in Wagga Wagga. 

The campus, which will support 12 full-time medical students, was made possible thanks to an almost $3.8 million investment from the Federal Government. This will ensure more medical students can train and live locally and, most importantly, receive experience living and working outside the major cities. We all know how important health services are in the regions. This is a proven method to retain more doctors in rural and regional areas, with eight former students who have studied at this campus in Wagga Wagga now undertaking their internships in the Riverina.
BELOW- Visiting the medical teaching campus at University of Notre Dame Rural Clinical School, Wagga Wagga.






In January this year, I confirmed the Coalition Government would fund the Round Five (Phase One) Trades Training Centre projects, which is fantastic for Riverina students.

This means the Riverina will have funding for four Trades Training Centres, benefiting six schools.


Temora High School, Batlow Technology School and Tumbarumba High School will each have a Trades Training Centre facility, while Ardlethan Central School will have a $2.845 million centre built with Ariah Park and Barellan Central Schools as partner schools.

These four Trades Training Centres will provide students with certificates in engineering, building and construction, agrifood operations, carpentry and joinery and the metal fabrication trade.

The Centres will help equip local students with a valuable skill set to use throughout the region. It is important that skill shortages are addressed, particularly in country areas, and these centres empower schools to provide outstanding vocational opportunities for students.

In total, the Riverina’s projects have attracted $5.622 million in Federal Government funding.
 


Griffith's new airport terminal was officially opened by Acting Prime Minister, Warren Truss, in November last year, creating a vibrant new gateway for the growing city and the Riverina district.

The $2.5 million upgrade has doubled the size of the terminal. The new arrival and departure lounge will host between 80,000 and 100,000 passengers per year, with locals, business and medical travellers able to take advantage of the upgraded facilities.

The project has also extended the main apron to provide additional parking space for aircraft. This will enable Griffith to negotiate with carriers to provide more services, including to additional regional centres and cities. This upgrade also includes an undercover arrivals baggage area, which will mean dry bags and dry passengers every trip.

The Australian Government is providing nearly $2 million for the upgrade, and Griffith City Council is providing the remaining $500,000.

BELOW- Griffith Mayor John Dal Broi, Member for Riverina Michael McCormack and Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss at the new airport terminal opening.






In August this year, I delivered a $24,899.25 grant to Griffith Buslines from the Federal Government to install seatbelts in their buses.

This is fantastic news for Griffith and MIA school bus services. We all know how important seatbelts are on country roads and this will help Griffith Buslines ensure MIA students get to and from school safely.

The grant will be delivered under the Seatbelts in Regional School Buses Programme.




In September this year, I announced Wagga Wagga women Simone Jolliffe and Genevieve Smith had won scholarships through the Federal Government’s Board Diversity Scholarships program.

More than 300 rural and regional women applied for the scholarships, following applicants’ successful completion of a Company Directors’ professional development course. This is great news for our region, demonstrating the impressive diversity, capability and leadership skills of women in the Riverina.

Simone Jolliffe, who helps run a dairy and irrigation farm at Euberta, has been acknowledged for her rural leadership; whilst Genevieve Smith was recognised for her important work with the Wagga Women’s Health Centre and in information technology.

This announcement is part of the Federal Government’s increase in funding of $650,000 over two years to empower more rural women to obtain positions on boards, which will see a record 140 scholarships awarded for a broader range of professional development than in the past. These important grants aim to see more female leaders in every industry, every business, in every city and region in Australia.




I’m pleased to have been able to announce in early December that the Riverina has won 44 additional beds for aged and palliative care.

I confirmed this with the Assistant Minister for Social Services, Senator Mitch Fifield during the last sitting fortnight of Parliament for the year.

The Mary Potter Nursing Home and the Ethel Forrest Day Care Centre in Wagga Wagga will gain 20 beds, Griffith’s The Pioneers Lodge 20 beds and Gumleigh Gardens Hostel in Shaw Street,

It's important to get places in regional cities where people have lived most, if not all, of their lives, so if they do get put into care their loved ones can be close.

I’m pleased after lobbying hard on behalf of the community I was able to play a key role in negotiations to secure the funding. Securing aged care services for our region is vital as the population continues to age.
ABOVE LEFT - Visiting the team from Forrest Community Services and Aged Care earlier this year.
ABOVE RIGHT- I met with the Assistant Minister for Social Services Senator Mitch Fifield in early December to confirm funding for additional beds for aged and palliative care.

The Nationals understand the importance of ensuring local roads are adequately maintained and cared for, which is why Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss has this year brought the successful Roads to Recovery Program back in this year’s Budget.

This is fantastic news for the Riverina region. Our allocation of $8,410,213 for the 2014-15 year will enable the thirteen Councils in our electorate to build roads, repair streets and create better access across our communities.

Here is a quick breakdown of the funding allocation for each local Council in our electorate:
 
Council                                        2014/15 allocation ($)
Bland Shire Council                                   1,302,108
Carrathool Shire Council                           1,016,182
Griffith City Council                                       716,363
Gundagai Shire Council                                365,801
Junee Shire Council                                      409,780
Leeton Shire Council                                     469,039
Murrumbidgee Shire Council                         270,760
Narrandera Shire Council                              679,818
Temora Shire Council                                    543,239
Wagga Wagga City Council                       1,436,509
Coolamon Shire Council                               575,148
Tumbarumba Shire Council                          257,190
Tumut Shire Council                                     368,276
Authorised by Michael McCormack MP, Suite 2, 11-15 Fitzmaurice St, Wagga Wagga NSW 2650
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