Category C status for Sir Ivan fire victims
The announcement that Natural Disaster Relief Assistance Recovery Grant status now applies for landholders impacted by the 12 February, Sir Ivan fires was fantastic news.
The Category C grants will entitle bona fide primary producers to access funds of up to $15,000 which can be used to repair infrastructure like fencing and water systems, the cost of disposing of dead livestock, purchasing fodder and re-sowing or repairing perennial pastures. Right from the outset I have been working hard with my Federal colleagues to have this application signed off by Prime Minister Turnbull and this announcement will give great relief. In fact I was assured by a local shire councillor and emergency co-ordination staff that this application had “gone through in record time”. So I would like to pay tribute for their assistance to neighbouring Federal MP, the Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture and Water Resources Minister, Barnaby Joyce as well as state colleagues, Barwon MP, Kevin Humphries, Dubbo MP, Troy Grant and Upper Hunter MP, Michael Johnsen.
Tax deductibility for Sir Ivan fire donations
I also welcome the declaration by the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, Kelly O’Dwyer, that the February 2017 ‘Sir Ivan Fires’ bushfires were a disaster for the purposes of establishing Australian disaster relief funds. I know that Australians have big hearts and this declaration will allow new funds and qualifying existing funds established for the relief of people affected by the Sir Ivan Fires to receive tax deductible donations. I’m really pleased that Minister O’Dwyer understood the significant impact of this natural disaster and acted quickly to help those in need.
Harmonious approach in Parkes Electorate
I’d like to congratulate the communities across the Parke Electorate who have already organised an event on Harmony Day, March 21 as they are part of Australia's largest national multicultural event. Harmony Day gives communities across the Electorate the opportunity to celebrate Australia’s cultural diversity and recognise local groups and individuals. Australia’s cultural diversity helps make us who we are.
Harmony Day promotes a sense of belonging for everyone and I’m pleased to see Parkes Electorate celebrating again with some great events this year. Communities and schools in Broken Hill, Bourke, Walgett, Collarenebri, Moree, Gunnedah, Curlewis as well as Dubbo South Campus, Dunedoo Central School, Dubbo’s Bangamalanha Centre and Buninyong School and Community Centre are all hosting Harmony Day events. We should celebrate and talk about the benefits of our cultural diversity - how it brings us together, contributes to our economy and helps to create innovation in our multicultural society.
Coalition continues to fund education at record levels
Contrary to the scare campaign being peddled on schools funding by the Teachers’ Federation, the Coalition Government’s Quality Schools, Quality Outcomes policy will deliver record funding to schools that is needs-based and tied to evidence-based initiatives that will lift outcomes for Australia’s children. There are no funding cuts. Simply, schools funding under the Coalition government will grow from already-record levels. The Coalition government is growing investment in schools from $16 billion in 2016 to $20.1 billion in 2020, on top of more than $14 billion the Coalition has been delivering for regional and remote schools since 2013. That is funding above inflation and above enrolment growth projections. Funding growth means there’s no reason schools won’t be able to continue to support teachers and new or existing initiatives, such as specialist teachers or targeted intervention programs.