Last week I took off on a 1,200 kilometre trip across northern NSW with the intention of announcing new funding and listening to people. What I found inspired me.
At Coonabarabran, we met cops who spend their free days working with children to get them off the street and into sport.
At Biniguy, we met a community who have always relied on water being carted in when rainfall was low, and which we are now working hard to deliver reticulated water for the first time.
At Inverell, we met a community that is getting a $930,000 upgrade of its sporting complex, which serves 11 clubs and 11 individual schools, meaning Inverell will be able to host regional state and even national championships.
Moree Police Station, recently overhauled with a $22 million upgrade, looks the business. Gunnedah is up for redevelopment too, and Moree, where local police and the local community worked together to design a fit-for-purpose station, sets the example of how it should be done.
That’s the kind of people you get in regional NSW – those who happily give up their free time to help kids, those who are dealing with hardship with strong resilience and those who are determined to pull together to make it work.
Over 1200km, we saw Adam Marshall and Kevin Anderson fighting hard for their communities and winning big-ticket items that make a difference, whether it’s water on tap, a police station or a new footy field.
We also launched the Gun Safe Program in Gunnedah. Guns are a part of everyday life in large parts of regional NSW where pest control and stock safety are critical to a farm’s success. But, as with most things, it’s essential we use and store them safely. The vast majority of gun owners are responsible and take their obligations seriously. The way I see it, gun safety messages for our hunters are as important as road safety messages for motorists.
We had some strong discussions along the way back to Wellington, listening to hunters, farmers and landholders, and we heard loud and clear that native veg is still a priority. The Nationals team including Minister Niall Blair and I are on the case.