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Michael McCormack MP - 20 February 2015
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NEW CARRATHOOL BRIDGE
In the last edition of McCormack Reports I outlined the Federal Government would fund $7.5 million under the Bridges Renewal Program towards a new, two lane Carrathool Bridge.

Early last month I had the pleasure of joining state Member for Murrumbidgee Adrian Piccoli to announce joint Federal-State funding of $15 million to build a new Carrathool Bridge to replace the heritage listed original 1924 bridge which spans the Murrumbidgee River between Carrathool and the Sturt Highway.

The old model is an Allan-type timber truss road bridge, and has a bascule-type lift span supported on cylindrical iron piers, designed to allow river-craft to pass. Only three bascule lift span bridges remain in New South Wales and the Carrathool bridge is the only one of these in a timber truss road bridge. Percy Allan (1861-1930), the designer of Allan truss and other bridges, was a senior engineer in the NSW Public Works Department.
CITY2LAKE FUN RUN & NEW GRIFFITH HOSPITAL
On 1 March I spent the day in Griffith commencing with the 10km Griffith City2Lake Fun Run which saw a record number of participants in 2015. There were more than 1200 runners and walkers and more than 300 cyclists participating in the event with more than $50,000 raised this year by the community for the St Vincent’s Private Community Hospital.

Since the event commenced in 2012, more than $200,000 has been raised by the efforts of individuals and local businesses in the Griffith and Western Riverina community for the Private Hospital.

Later in the day, I was pleased to join Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley and NSW State Health Minister Jillian Skinner to turn the first sod which marks the commencement of construction work on St Vincent’s Private Community Hospital following the City2Lake fun run.

The new $20 million private hospital will include 20 overnight beds, 20 day beds and two new operating theatres. This vital piece of infrastructure, which has been talked about for more than a decade, will help transform access to vital health services for families in the western Riverina.

This builds on the Government’s ongoing commitment to improving the delivery of health services to regional and rural communities. Coupled with the educational networks now operating at Griffith Base Hospital next door, the community hospital will complement a fantastic local health precinct.

The Murrumbidgee Clinical Teaching and Learning Centre will be co-located with the new private hospital, presenting opportunities to train doctors and health professionals locally. The Federal Government has committed $11.4 million to the project and $1.2 million has been tipped in thanks to a fantastic fund-raising drive by this wonderful local community.
SECURING OUR FUTURE THROUGH REFORM
This week marked the start of a national conversation about tax reform with the release of a discussion paper by the Treasurer. 

Our tax system hasn’t kept up with the pace of change.  Explosive changes in technology mean that both businesses and consumers have a global perspective when it comes to commerce. We have a tax system that was built for the 1950s, not the 2050’s.  We need a system that delivers lower, fairer and simpler taxes.  So I encourage you to have a look at the discussion paper and have your say.  For more information check out the website bettertax.gov.au - you can follow the process on twitter, lodge a submission or leave a quick comment.  Responses to the discussion paper close on 1 June 2015.

The Nationals are committed to a better deal for farmers and growers in their dealings with big business.  That’s why the Government commissioned a root and branch review of Australia’s competition policy settings.  The Final Report of the Competition Policy Review was released earlier this week.  It’s a report to Government not a report by the Government.  So the Minister for Small Business has announced that there will be a further period of public consultation on the Review’s recommendations.  You can review the Report and find out more at competitionpolicyreview.gov.au
 
Submissions or comments in response to the Review’s recommendations close on 26 May 2015.

GAME CHANGER:
ARRIVAL OF THE NBN


Wagga Wagga has received some exciting news in the past 24 hours with NBN Co. announcing high speed broadband is set to be rolled out within a year. 

The arrival of the National Broadband Network in Wagga Wagga will occur almost 18 months ahead of schedule thanks to my concerted lobbying to the Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull. Other Riverina towns including Griffith, Leeton, and Narrendera will be connected following the rollout in Wagga Wagga. I am most pleased to have achieved this outcome for the electorate, the arrival of the NBN is fantastic news for Riverina communities and will change the way business is carried out in regional Australia.

March has proven to be another busy month in the electorate, in parliament and within The National Party. Last weekend it was heartening to see the people of New South Wales endorse the Baird-Grant Coalition Government for a second term.

The NSW Nationals have made some remarkable achievements for the regions in Government over the past four years and have made some exciting commitments during the election campaign to be seen in the years to come. I commend and acknowledge the strong leadership of State Leader Troy Grant over the course of the election campaign.

Some of the benefits for Regional NSW and highlights from the Coalition Government include a pledge to create 150,000 jobs across the State over the next four years by increasing the Regional Industries and Investment Fund; negotiating a historic agreement of priorities between Government and the NSW Farmers Association to drive growth in agriculture; protecting and preventing crime in our communities by increasing police office recruits to make our police force the strongest in the country; and a monumental investment to upgrade rail lines in country NSW and deliver a brand new fleet of trains to replace the ageing XPT fleet.

It takes The Nationals in government to deliver the outcomes that regional communities deserve.

The party has achieved a good result state-wide. John Barilaro held on and increased his narrow margin in Monaro, while Kevin Anderson held off former Independent Member Peter Draper in Tamworth, and Michael Johnson put up a fierce fight against a high profile Independent Candidate in the Upper Hunter to win the seat. Unfortunately we suffered a blow in Ballina, forgoing the seat to The Greens after The Nationals’ Don Page held the seat for the past 25 years. Thomas George has a fight on his hands in Lismore but holds a narrow 300 vote lead over the Greens at the time of writing.

Well done to all those involved in the election campaign, it was a huge effort only achieved by the collective efforts of members, volunteers, staff and The Nationals team to coordinate and implement such a strong and professional campaign.


ABOVE - Handing out for the Member for Murray Adrian Piccoli on election day.

On 24th March 2015 the Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of The Nationals Warren Truss MP reached the 25th anniversary milestone of his election to Parliament. The Prime Minister hosted a dinner in recognition of Warren’s remarkable achievement and to commemorate 25 years of service to the electors of Wide Bay and the Australian Parliament.

Warren is a leader who is truly committed to building a better future for his electorate of Wide Bay and the nation. He is a man who stands for honesty, integrity and reliability in Government, and the nation is all the better under his leadership. He has also been the leader of The Nationals since December 2007 and is now the longest serving conservative political leader in the nation. This is a statistic very much at odds with the swings and roundabouts that have been the hallmark of recent years.


ABOVE
 
- The Nationals' Parliamentary Team with the Prime Minister to celebrate Warren Truss and Bruce Scott's 25 years in Parliament.

In March the Parliament sat for three weeks out of four, which proved a busy time for certain Government business to be completed prior to the Federal Budget in May. During the past sitting week I had the pleasure of representing Warren at the Bus Industry Confederation Annual Dinner whereby I gave a Keynote address to members and attendees highlighting the Governments record investment in infrastructure and improving safety for operators and travellers.

I also represented Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce at the Agriculture Biotechnology Council’s General Meeting at Parliament House where I made some remarks about biotechnology in agriculture, and what Government is doing internationally to further domestic efforts.

Last week in Parliament, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment Bob Baldwin made a ministerial statement in Parliament outlining that the Government would bring forward legislation to cap water buybacks at 1,500 gigalitres in the Murray Darling Basin. You can read more about this further on.

This week we’ve seen Treasurer Joe Hockey commence the national conversation about tax reform and Minister for Small Business Bruce Billson responding to the release of the Harper Competition Policy Review.

Later this month we will celebrate and mark the Centenary of ANZAC and the Gallipoli campaign at ANZAC Cove. In commemorating the Centenary of ANZAC on 25 April 2015, we should all take a moment to reflect upon and remember the contribution and efforts of Australian service men and women and the sacrifice they made to protect peace and freedom on behalf of the nation.

The next edition will focus solely on commemorating the Centenary of ANZAC in the Riverina.

Kind Regards,




 
The long awaited election commitment to legislate water buybacks to be capped at 1500 gigalitres under the Murray Darling Basin Plan will be brought forward by the Coalition Government.

This is a positive outcome for farmers and irrigators’ and the cap will provide the security and future certainty farmers need to go about running their business.

Unlike Labor, the Coalition has maintained water would be recovered by Government through targeting efficiencies. The Government is moving to legislate the 1,500 gigalitre cap on water buybacks in the basin to place a ceiling on the amount of water recovery which can be achieved through water purchase.

To date, 1,162 gigalitres has been recovered through water purchase, 607 gigalitres recovered through investment in infrastructure projects and a further 182 gigalitres through other state recovery actions. That’s 1,951 gigalitres – 71 per cent of the water recovery required under the plan.

There is still more to be done and more water recovered to reach the 2,750 gigalitre target under the plan, but it will need to be done to ensure the impact on basin communities and businesses is not detrimental to their future.

The Nationals’ and the Coalition are proactive in working with basin communities to ensure they have a level of certainty, so the challenges can be addressed collaboratively. Murray Darling Basin communities have a need and a right to know exactly what the plan will deliver and what the future holds for them.

I look forward to legislating the 1,500 gigalitre water cap in Parliament making a contribution to the debate. It is critical to provide certainty to basin communities and the farming sector which have thrived locally and contributed to the development of the nation over the past century through the use of a nationally significant and rich water resource in our region.
Recently you may have seen in the news the Coalition Government is moving to introduce improved Country of Origin labelling rules. This will ensure consumers have better access to clear and consistent food labelling and to provide Australians with a clear understanding of where their food comes from.

For decades Australian consumers have made it clear that they want access to clearer and more useful information about the country of origin on food products. Indeed The Nationals have been calling for some time for improved labelling and promotion of Australian owned and grown products.

This is a reform long overdue which has an impact on all Australians, from families making choices between products while doing their shopping, to farmers and primary producers battling foreign competitors in the market place.

In 2007 Labor promised to “simplify and strengthen food labelling laws” yet did nothing towards achieving this while in Government for six years.

The Coalition Government has been examining the various issues and is committed to working with the food sector and agriculture industry to achieve the right balance and maximise information for consumers while also considering implementation and associated costs to industry and business.

Further consultation will continue and the final labelling scheme will be informed by consumer and industry research. The new labelling scheme will be phased in during 2016.

 
ABOVE - The Nationals' Parliamentary Team with new ARLF CEO Matt Linnegar in the party room.

The Nationals’ heard from new the CEO of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation Matt Linnegar who made a presentation to Members and Senators in the previous parliamentary sitting fortnight  about the leadership programs on offer to rural and regional Australians.

The Foundation was established in 1992 to respond to a growing need for effective and improved leadership in Australia’s rural, regional, and remote communities and industries.

There are a number of leadership programs available and the Foundation has an extensive alumni network of over 900 graduates – an impressive rural leadership resource.  Leader of The Nationals in the Senate, Senator Nigel Scullion is a graduate of the Foundations flagship, year long rural leadership program.

To find out more or if you know someone who would benefit from participating locally, visit:

http://rural-leaders.com.au/


ABOVE - Catching up with Bob Jensen, a US expert in crisis risk management.

Communications is frequently the forgotten element in crisis risk management, a US crisis communications expert told risk managers in an Australia-wide lecture tour.

Bob Jensen, who worked for more than 30 years for the US Government on events that made global headlines, alerted Australian risk managers to the need for four essential plans to mitigate the impact of crises. He led US Government communications after the Haiti earthquake, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, and Hurricane Sandy in 2012. He was responsible for communications about US combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and was a spokesperson for the US National Security Council, covering issues from terrorism and trade to cyber security and international conflicts.

Mr Jensen spoke at events around Australia organised by the Risk Management Institution of Australasia. I had the opportunity to meet with Mr Jensen and hear some of his insights and how these experiences can be integrated by enterprise and government into their own risk management preparation and efforts.

Mr Jensen’s frank remarks on the disasters, crises and events he had managed are valuable in implementing Australia’s whole-of-government approach to crisis management.
Authorised by Michael McCormack MP, Suite 2, 11-15 Fitzmaurice St, Wagga Wagga NSW 2650
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