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An update from The Hon Michael McCormack MP, The Nationals' Member for Riverina
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Happy Christmas

For the Riverina and Central West it’s certainly been a busy year. With new boundaries coming into effect for the 2016 Federal Election, the Riverina electorate has certainly changed substantially.

We farewelled the Shires of Griffith, Leeton, Narrandera, Carrathool, Murrumbidgee, Tumut, Tumbarumba and gained Lockhart, Cootamundra, Weddin, Cowra, Harden, Forbes, Parkes and Young.

It’s been a privilege and a pleasure to travel across the new Riverina electorate and get to know the many people, families and businesses which makes up a diverse network of communities.

The two-month-long federal election campaign and contest of policy ideas would not have been possible without the many Nationals’ local branch members, volunteers and supporters who care passionately about achieving outcomes and getting a better deal for our local communities. Thank you for your help and support – I could not have done this without you.

Following the re-election of the Coalition Government for a second term, I was honoured to be appointed Minister for Small Business. After owning and operating my own small business for more than eight years, I understand the important role small businesses play in our regional communities.

As the first Small Business Minister who is a member of The Nationals, I want to champion and promote the opportunities and successes of small businesses, entrepreneurs and start-ups in regional Australia – there are none better than locally here in the Riverina!

The past few months have been exceptionally busy travelling right across the country to each of the States and Territories on a small business engagement tour with James Pearson, CEO of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

It’s been fantastic to meet directly with as many small business owners as possible and hear important feedback about business confidence and how the Federal Government can help to create the right conditions to encourage further growth and employment opportunities. I’m looking forward to continuing to meet as many regional small businesses as possible in 2017.

Once again, thank you for your friendship, help and support in 2016.

Catherine and I hope you enjoy a happy Christmas and wonderful start to the New Year. Take the opportunity to have a break, catch up with friends and family and enjoy all that our beautiful Riverina and Central West region has to offer.

Kind regards


 

Michael McCormack MP
The Nationals' Member for Riverina
Minister for Small Business
WHAT'S GOING ON IN THE RIVERINA AND CENTRAL WEST?

Think local, shop local

As Christmas is almost upon us and we’re crossing off the final items on our gifts and grocery lists, now is the most important time to ensure we’re spending our money locally and supporting small businesses.

Estimates show Australians plan to spend around $50 billion in the six-week lead-up to Christmas with even more cash through tills as Boxing Day sales and tourist trade hits businesses across Australia.
 
For many businesses and small regional communities such as in the Riverina and Central West, the festive season is the lifeblood which keeps shopfronts open, jobs local and services close to home for all of us.
 
So many businesses take risks and make investments because the dollars which flow this time of year make it possible. So many tourist operators, restaurants and other businesses make decisions to operate locally because of the opportunity our local multiplier effect can create for the local economy.
 
Let’s make this Christmas and New Year a merry one for Australia’s 2.1 million small businesses and think local and shop small to support our community and local jobs.

Wagga Wagga's Wombats Toy Store is a just one of the many fantastic local small businesses which can service all your toy needs this Christmas.

Riverina Christmas Card Comp

The theme for this year’s competition was “Christmas in the Riverina and Central West” and this year’s competition was one of his toughest to judge yet, with close to 1000 entries from across the width and breadth of the newly formed electorate.
 
The entries received this year were outstanding which made my task to pick a winner a tough but a very fun one.
 
Year 1 student, Laura Chudleigh from Forbes Public School was the overall competition winner this year and Seb Rees of Year 2 from St Mary’s War Memorial School in West Wyalong and James Smart of Year 2 from Nangus Public School taking out 2nd and 3rd place respectively.
 
I was delighted to meet the budding artists, their fellow classmates and teachers at their respective schools. Each winner was presented with a book and I gladly informed them that their drawings now feature on my Christmas card which will by now have arrived on the desks of the likes of the Prime Minister and other notable community and political figures.
 
I would like to thank each and every student who sent in an entry. It was especially pleasing to see the high level of participation from students in the new parts of the electorate, that and the number of entries was outstanding.

Christmas card comp: I was delighted to receive so many fantastic Christmas card entries from right across the Riverina and Central West. I am pictured with students from Nangus Public, one of many local schools which participated in my competition. 

Summer safety is simple


Summer and the so-called “silly season” can often see safety take a backseat but a simple one-stop-safety-shop for consumers is set to offer important product safety information for consumers this Christmas.

The Government’s product safety reminders come as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) launches its “Safe Summer” campaign.

As we turn our minds to toys, stocking fillers and the all-important Christmas lunch, product and food safety is more important than ever which is why Australians should remain cautious and safe over Christmas and the Aussie summer.

When preparing this year’s Christmas lunch or dinner make sure adequate precaution is taken when handling and preparing food.  Don’t leave the roast turkey or ham on the bench for hours at room temperature and turn back for another helping hours later. The risk to you and your family isn’t worth it.

Year after year the ACCC sees a range of consumer products which are used more frequently during the summer months and festive season, where sadly, instances of consumer injury – or even worse – can ruin this happy time for Australian families.

Popular summer activities such as riding quad bikes, swimming in portable pools and getting up on ladders to hang Christmas decorations can cause serious injury, illness and even death if products are used unsafely. People should enjoy themselves while on holidays but take extra care.

As Christmas toys for children are top-of-mind and this year’s must-have consumer products adorn the wish lists of children across the country, now is the time to read the label and ensure the age-appropriateness of gifts – especially those with small parts – and to be vigilant with cheap products.

Portable backyard swimming pools tragically claimed the lives of 11 children aged younger than five in the 2015-16 year. Even in a small portable pool which contains very little water, drowning or permanent brain injury can easily occur. Parents should exercise extreme caution.

Smaller pools should be emptied after use and stored appropriately after use. Always store portable pools safely away from young children and ensure the pool cannot fill with rain water or water from sprinklers.

Caution should also be taken around dams or waterways on farms and also when operating machinery or quad bikes. Tragically, seven Aussies have died from quad bike accidents this year with hundreds of other injuries reported. Always wear a helmet, protective clothing  and children should be supervised at all times.

Ladders are another common household item which can be the cause of the serious injury or harm with many people pulling them out of the shed to clear gutters or hang Christmas decorations this time of year.

Ladders are commonly used around the home over holidays for those DIY tasks but it’s often the split-second decision or risky shortcut that results in a fall which can result in injury.

Christmas and the summer is a very exciting and special time of the year, and ensuring your own safety is as simple as it is critical over the coming weeks and months.

Take the time to read the label and the instructions, check the ACCC’s website and help make these holidays happy ones for you, your family, friends and loved ones.

Further product safety information, including on specific products, is available at the ACCC’s website.

A VERY COWRA CHRISTMAS: Wonderful to catch up with Cowra Mayor Bill West at the town's annoual Christmas get-together, one of the many festivities across the region this time of year.
WATCH MY RECENT VIDEOS ON YOUTUBE
TEMORA CCTV: Fantastic to catch up with Temora Mayor Rick Firman, as The Nationals' commitment to build closed-circuit television cameras along the main street rolls out. 
WHAT'S NEWS IN THE NATIONALS?

CSU grads set high bar

It was an honour to deliver the Occasional Address at a graduation ceremony for students graduating from Charles Sturt University (CSU) with degrees and qualifications from the Schools of Business, Agricultural and Wine Sciences.
 
Whatever those who now form part of the CSU alumni go on to do with their chosen field of study, I have no doubt that they will make a positive contribution wherever they settle and establish themselves.
 
In my address I highlighted the importance of studying at a regional university and how receiving a qualification from such a distinguished educational institutional provided our young people with a ticket to anywhere to achieve anything, for so many others who have passed through before this cohort have students have proven to have done.

 

CSU GRADS SHINE: It's always a highlight to meet the graduates from Wagga Wagga's Charles Sturt University. With a diverse range of courses available, CSU is a regional and world leader in education and we are fortunate to have it in our region. 
HAVE YOU SEEN MY WEBSITE? TAKE A LOOK HERE
FORBES NATS: Wonderful to catch up with the Forbes branch of The Nationals for dinner recently to share Christmas wishes and enjoy and end of year function. 

Budget update shows surplus on track

This week’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook confirms that the Coalition Government’s plan to restore the budget to balance remains on track and is projected to return to balance in 2020-21.

The Coalition Government has demonstrated through the net impact of policy decisions and election commitments that we can’t afford to spend more than we save and making sure expenditure is under control is a key mechanism for restoring the Budget to balance.

Any additional spending commitments have been offset by reductions in other parts of the Budget and not through higher taxes.

The Government is committed to tackling the debt and deficit legacy left by the Labor Party. In direct contrast, the net effect of Labor’s policy commitments at the election will increase the deficit by $16.5 billion.

Like any household budget, you can’t afford to spend money you don’t have and amass a huge debt on the credit card which is insurmountable to pay off. The Government, like Australian families, must live within its means. If we don’t take action now to tackle the challenge of Budget repair, future generations of Australians will be the burdened with this problem.

Despite difficult global and domestic challenges facing our economy, an accumulate deficit of $94.9 billion over the budget and forward estimates, this MYEFO reveals our fiscal outlook is in a better position today than it was a year ago.

Economic growth is forecast to grow modestly as the detraction from mining investment eases to broader based growth, supported by historically low interest rates and a low dollar.

The Coalition has a plan to ensure our economy transitions from the commodities boom and the right conditions are in place for small and medium businesses to grow and thrive.

Our Ten Year Enterprise Tax Plan is an important element of our plan for jobs and growth as the economy diversifies. By lowering the company tax rate and extending a number of business concessions the Enterprise Tax Plan will help underpin our country’s future economic success and help the more than 3 million small businesses to invest and grow.

In just over six sitting weeks the Parliament has legislated almost two thirds of the Government’s budget repair measures. There is still further work to be done and the Government will continue to work with the Parliament in 2017 to implement more savings measures to repair and restore the Budget to surplus.

 

Men's shed funding flows to region

More than $17,000 is set to flow to Men's Sheds throughout the Riverina and Central West as the Government moved to further recognise an enhance the important work Australia's Men's Sheds play in men's health and wellbeing. 

Men’s Sheds are a popular way for men to connect with their community — whether it’s through a building project, a first aid workshop or a transition to retirement seminar — that’s why I encourage our local blokes to get involved with their local shed.

I’d like to congratulate the Men’s Sheds in Ardlethan ($7500), Coolamon ($1172), Forbes ($4500) and South City in Wagga Wagga ($4585) that will benefit from these funds to support the purchase of tools, equipment, community projects, training, building maintenance and development, as well as health improvement activities.

Grants are competitive with priority given to sheds in disadvantaged areas and further rounds of funding will be available for Men’s Sheds and details can be found by visiting www.mensshed.org or phoning 1300 550 009.

 

COOLAMON MEN'S SHED: Great to see the Coolamon Men's Shed in action recently, whilst I was confirming more than $1,100 in Federal funding for the facility as part of more than $17,000 across the region's Men's Sheds. 

Building Better Regions


I was pleased to join Sentor the Hon Fiona Nash in announcing the Government’s new Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) earlier this month.
 
The BBRF will invest in projects that will create jobs, drive economic growth and build stronger rural, regional and remote communities into the future.
 
This new $297 million fund will deliver infrastructure projects and community activities located outside the major capital cities. 

Funding under the BBRF will be available in two streams:

  • The Infrastructure Projects Stream will invest in projects that involve the construction of new infrastructure, or upgrade or extension of existing infrastructure.
  • The Community Investments Stream will invest in local events and activities, strategic regional plans and leadership and capability building activities.

 
Under the BBRF guidelines, projects in major capital cities will not be eligible, as this fund is specifically for rural, regional and remote communities.
 
Also, projects will now be assessed against projects of similar size, so small community projects are not competing against huge projects.
 
We’ve designed the BBRF to back projects that help build the kinds of communities our children and grandchildren either want to stay in or come back to. 
 
I strongly encourage and call on local community groups and councils across the electorate to take advantage of this great opportunity, so that our communities can be further enhanced and strengthened.
 
To access the BBRF guidelines, and to lodge an application from 18 January 2017, visit www.business.gov.au/bbrf or contact my Wagga Wagga electorate office.

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Michael McCormack MP · 11-15 Fitzmaurice St · Wagga Wagga, NSW 2650 · Australia

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