I was thrilled to have the Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack join me for engagements in Narrabri, Moree and Croppa Creek early last week, with a focus on road and rail.
The recently announced $44 million investment in upgrading the Narrabri to Turrawan rail line will better link northern New South Wales, Inland Rail and the Port of Newcastle. During our visit, the Acting PM was able to see firsthand the many benefits of our freight rail investments, particularly in communities such as Narrabri where the local economic opportunities are moving ahead in leaps and bounds.
The Acting PM joined me to announce that the County Boundary Road at Croppa Creek would be upgraded with $8.2 million in Australian Government funds, combined with $2 million from Gwydir Shire Council. This is fantastic news for the shire. The upgrade will better connect freight to markets and improve heavy vehicle productivity to lower transport costs for regional businesses. Works will be underway mid-year, with completion expected by the end of 2022.
The Acting PM and I also met with Moree Plains Shire Council to discuss the transport network across the shire, and how the delivery of key transport infrastructure is essential to a productive supply chain servicing successful agricultural regions such as Moree Plains.
I'm proud to be part of a Government that is investing in regional communities and creating the environment for regions to grow and prosper, including the north west.
Driver reviver upgrades
Owners of Driver Reviver sites across the Parkes electorate can now apply for Australian Government funding to upgrade their life-saving facilities.
A total of $7.3 million in grant funding is available under Round 2 of the Driver Reviver Upgrade Program, to allow existing Driver Reviver locations nationwide to upgrade amenities and install new equipment.
As someone who drives extensively on my trips throughout the electorate, I know just how quickly fatigue can creep up on you and how lifesaving it can be to take a well-deserved break.
For regional areas, these rest sites become even more critical as our families, friends and hard-working truck drivers depend on long trips to stay connected, travel to work or get our Aussie goods to markets.
This funding can be used for a range of much-needed amenities to entice road users to make good use of their sites, such as shelters, picnic tables, power and water facilities, barbeques, parking, lighting and of course equipment such as fridges or hot water urns.
Round 2 is a targeted competitive grant round with applications closing 23 February 2021. Further information, including application guidelines and submissions, is available at www.grants.gov.au
Supporting young veterans
The latest round of a grants program to support the mental health and wellbeing of younger veterans is now open.
The Australian Government's Supporting Younger Veterans (SYV) program is open to ex-service organisations (ESOs) and their partner community groups and organisations, to boost targeted support and services for younger veterans.
Grants of up to $50,000 are available for community-based projects and activities, with a small number of large grants of up to $150,000 also available.
I encourage all local community groups that provide services for veterans to get involved and show their support for our younger veterans and their families.