I was thrilled to be able to announce $9.5 million for stage one of the Australian Opal Centre project in Lightning Ridge on Sunday under Round 3 of the Coalition Government’s Building Better Regions Fund. This marks an exciting step forward for the economic, cultural and tourism capabilities of the western region of New South Wales.
Along with $7.5 million from the NSW Government, $2 million from Walgett Shire Council and $1 million from community and industry, this $20-million-dollar project will well and truly put Lightning Ridge on the map both here in Australia and internationally.
I have long been campaigning for the Australian Opal Centre, which will revolutionise the tourism offering in Lightning Ridge as a world hub for opal-related knowledge and certification. This will be an iconic centre that we can all be extremely proud of.
Private health insurance reforms
Coalition Government health reforms are making private health insurance simpler and more affordable. By using four simple tiers of cover, people will be able to understand what they are covered for, make comparisons, and choose the right health cover for their health needs.
This will deliver discounts for younger Australians of up to ten per cent, greater access for mental health services, and greater travel and accommodation benefits for people living regional and rural Australia – all great wins for the Parkes electorate. In comparison, Labor’s attack on private health insurance will increase the cost of cover by an additional 16 per cent.
Grants for cultural heritage
Applications are now open for the Community Heritage Grants 2019, administered by the National Library of Australia. This is a federally funded grants program which has been operating since 1994. It offers grants of up to $15,000 to assist in preserving cultural heritage collections of national significance.
Not-for-profit organisations such as historical societies, regional museums, public libraries and Indigenous and migrant community groups in my electorate are encouraged to apply. This round closes on May 6, 2019. For more information see www.nla.gov.au/awards-and-grants/chg.
Check your heart health
The Coalition Government is ensuring residents in my electorate at risk of heart disease receive timely and appropriate medical advice with the creation of a new Medicare item for heart health checks.
From April 1 this year, a new dedicated item for heart health checks will support GPs and patients in assessing cardiovascular risk. Heart disease is Australia’s biggest killer, with one person dying of cardiovascular disease every 12 minutes.