I am pleased to be able to provide readers with a brief update on the Turnbull Government’s proposed changes to the Medicare safety nets.  The Government has announced it will not be proceeding with them at this point.

This is a win for patients and a decision Labor welcomes.

We know from all the evidence that was provided at the Senate inquiry into this Bill that it would have seen thousands of patients much worse off: especially those needing access to assisted reproductive technology services, people who are undergoing radiation oncology treatment, and a number of patients requiring ongoing access to psychiatrists.  The College of GPs amongst others also said the proposed changes would see patients with chronic illness facing increased out-of-pocket costs, and we know that would have only acted as a deterrent to many patients seeking the care they need.

Labor has all along said that the Medicare safety nets could be simplified to make them less complicated for patients, as well as reviewed to ensure that patients who most needed access to them have it.  Labor consistently said that the proposed changes would leave far too many patients much worse off, and the government never provided the evidence that this would not be the case.  So its decision to abandon these changes is vindication of this. 

I’m looking forward to attending Branxton Public School’s end of year school presentation this morning. It is always a pleasure to acknowledge the efforts and achievements of our local students and to congratulate them on their efforts.

Of course, students can’t achieve without good teaching staff and a strong school community and we are certainly blessed with plenty of both.

My very best wishes to all those who now embark on their final one or two years of schooling and all those who have chosen to enter the workforce or some other form of training.  Remember, you don’t have to be the best to achieve, few are.  Most of the time, simply your best will do.

The Miss Cessnock Quest was a fabulous success as always and I congratulate the winner Emma Myers  from Rothbury as well as all those who put their hand up to become an Ambassador of the City.  Thank you to the Advertiser and all the sponsors for providing our young local women with a great chance to gain such valuable experience.

Our volunteer firefighters & other emergency service volunteers are just amazing and take huge risks to help & protect others. Tragically, they sometimes pay the ultimate price. We should all be eternally grateful to Paul Sanderson and all who serve. Rest in Peace and thanks for what you did for your community Paul.

Just a reminder, Certificates of Appreciation are available under the Australian Government’s Saluting Their Service Commemorations Program. They are a way of expressing the nation’s gratitude to those who served in the defence forces or on the home front in the Second World War or in wars, conflicts and peace operations overseas since the Second World War.

Application forms are available from my office or can be downloaded from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs website at  (click on Topics and select Certificate of Appreciation forms).

Time is running out to apply for a 2015 Volunteer Grant.

Grants between $1,000 and $5,000 are available to help not for profit community organisations support their volunteers through practical measures such as the purchase of small equipment items, reimbursement for volunteers’ fuel and transport costs, and contributions towards the cost of training and background screening checks. The grants provide a valuable opportunity for local organisations to support their volunteers.

The Volunteer Grants 2015 Application Pack is available from the Department of Social Services’ website at Alternatively, you can contact the Volunteer Grants 2015 Hotline on freecall 1800 183 374 or email

Applications for Volunteer Grants 2015 close at 2pm AEDT Wednesday, 9 December 2015.

I am always keen to assist with issues or questions relating to Federal Government departments or put you in contact with someone who can, so please ring, write, visit the website or call in.

Why not go the extra step by following me on my Facebook page “Joel Fitzgibbon” or on Twitter and type in the search bar “fitzhunter”. Or by regularly checking my website at or you can even sign up to my E-Newsletter.
To contact the office, phone 1300 301 753, visit or by post 3 Edward Street, (PO Box 526) Cessnock, 2325.

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