Dubbo MP Dugald Saunders shares his view on the need for a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility, as well as a drug court.
We are now less than a month away from the 2020 NSW Budget being handed down by the Treasurer.
Every budget is important, but this year has taken on extra significance due to COVID-19, and the fact that everything we are doing as a government is being put on the credit card.
The hard work done by this government to return the state to a surplus after 16 years of Labor incompetence has been wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic and our nation-leading response to it. But that doesn't mean essential projects should be left behind.
One of those essential projects is a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility for the Dubbo region.
This topic has been on the agenda for many years, and I have always been supportive of it.
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Since I was elected in March 2019, I have said on many occasions that funding for the bricks and mortar is only the start when it comes to a residential rehab facility.
That's why, despite the pledge of a block of land from Dubbo Regional Council and a generous commitment of funding from the Federal Government, it was important to see the recommendations from the Special Commission of Inquiry into the drug "ice".
It's also important that we fund the ongoing programs and support workers which will make this a success, not just a building.
In fact that's the most important part of this whole project, and it is something that only the state and federal government governments can facilitate.
It is well documented that the report from the Special Commission recommended a facility would be of benefit in our region, where ice and other drugs have become a scourge to our way of life.
Directly and indirectly, there are many people in our communities who have been impacted adversely, and there isn't a person who could genuinely say they don't want to try and fix the issue.
That's why I've made it very clear there needs to be a collaborative and sustained approach from health and mental health professionals to make sure we get it right.
While I love the passion of so many in our community, building this facility too early and without proper resourcing and funding would have been a disaster, with little or no positive outcomes.
When the report was released and it recommended a facility for our region, I wrote to the Premier, Treasurer, Health Minister and Attorney General to ramp up my lobbying for the facility, and an associated drug court.
As the Member for the Dubbo electorate, that is my job and it is one that I take seriously. While I'm not providing a running commentary on discussions, people should know that I am doing absolutely everything I can to get these projects over the line.
In my maiden speech to the 57th Parliament of NSW, on May 8, 2019, I referenced a quote which states that "although Rome wasn't built in a day, they were laying bricks and pavers just about every hour. You may not see or hear every single thing I do, but I will be there, laying those bricks every hour".
I have been working hard behind the scenes on this issue, like I have with many others, in an effort to achieve an outcome that helps the people of our region, whether they be directly or indirectly impacted by drug use and abuse.
I have been in regular contact with the Health Minister and Treasurer in recent times, and spoke to them both in parliament last week, because as we get closer to the budget, it is important for this project to be front and centre.
The time for this rehab facility is now, and I remain confident there will be a positive outcome for our region on November 17.