Going strong five years on
Last week, we celebrated our 12 months since the election, and this year we officially enter our fifth year in government. I’m pleased to report your NSW Nationals have ensured regional communities remain at the heart of Government, with almost 90 election commitments already completed.
We ended our anniversary on a high for the Nats, passing legislation that will increase compliance with the state biofuels mandate, an important industry in regional NSW.
Our economy is growing, 75,000 new regional jobs created in 2015. We’ve created Jobs for NSW – a $190 million fund dedicated to creating new jobs and stronger regions and established a $2000 Small Business Employment Incentive that rewards small businesses for every additional employee they take on.
We’re making sure residents and businesses are better connected by fixing nearly 800 of the worst mobile black spots and building the state’s biggest ever roads infrastructure program.
We’ve passed legislation to allow the 99-year lease of the state’s electricity network to fund a $20 billion infrastructure project pipeline, with $6 billion reserved for regional projects, while keeping the regional Essential Energy network in public hands.
We’re bringing in better services with $35 million in vital infrastructure upgrades for 17 regional airports to enhance services and boost visitor numbers to regional NSW, and allocating $343 million to extend vital seniors’ concessions by a further three years. This will include discounted public transport, cheaper energy and water bills, council rates and vehicle registration.
We’ve boosted subsidies and simplified the claims process for the Isolated Patient Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme to help patients who need to travel long distances to access specialist medical treatment and we are working on improving this scheme even more.
We’re targeting domestic violence offenders as part of our $60 million package to stop domestic and family violence, we’ve halved the threshold for charging drug dealers with the commercial supply of ice and we’ve increased the maximum penalties for child sex assault under 10 to life in prison and increased standard non-parole periods for child sex offences.
In just one year, we’ve opened many upgraded hospital facilities : Wagga Wagga stages 1 and 2, Tamworth, Dubbo, Parkes, Forbes, Peak Hill Multi Purpose Service, Hillston Multi Purpose Service and Coffs Harbour Hospital car park. In the coming months, we will open upgraded facilities at Kempsey, Byron Bay and Lismore stage 3A. Work is underway or in the planning stages for new police, ambulance and fire stations across the state with a record capital works budget.
There’s much more to do.
We’re working on reforming Native Vegetation legislation in spite of the disappointing action of environmental groups to remove themselves from the consultation process.
We’ve begun work on delivering new XPT’s across the state for faster travel times, improved comfort and better reliability on regional train services.
We’re investing $1 billion in water security infrastructure to help regional communities prepare for future droughts and meet water demand, developing a water Blueprint for NSW, and we’ve shortlisted projects for the Regional Water and Waste Water Backlog Program.
But in our five years, we haven’t forgotten it is local people in local communities that drive the real change. If we think of our regional communities through the prism of the success or failure of government resourcing, we run the risk of overshadowing and ignoring the even greater successes that underpins the strength of our communities.
It’s the strength and vibrancy of individuals, our doctors empowered to make decisions on their local health board, local principals making local decisions for their students, and those who volunteer their time and expertise, who are doing great things for regional areas.
It is for these people, and the communities in which they live, that the NSW Nationals fight hard each and every day to ensure regional communities remain embodied in the heart and soul of the NSW Government.
We're proud to be achieving so much for our regional communities because we know it's you who make our communities what they are.