Yesterday was Remembrance Day.  While originally marking the end of the Great War, the day is now one on which we remember all those who died or suffered in all wars and armed conflicts.

This year 11 November marks the 96th anniversary of the Armistice which ended the First World War (1914–18).  Of course next year is the Centenary of ANZAC, a very big year for us all, but particularly for the RSL movement.
I thank all our local RSL Sub Branch Members for their dedication to ensuring that the occasion is always appropriately observed.  Lest We Forget.

Thanks to the Rudd Government’s Trade Training Centres program, Catholic High School students in our City now have access to hands-on trades and vocational training while still at school.

Last week we officially opened Centres at Maitland’s St Mary’s and St Peter’s Schools, and another at St Joseph’s Lochinvar.  More than $4 million was invested in making sure that students who want to take a trades path can easily do so.  It’s also about making sure our local economy has the skilled people it needs.

The new Centres add to those built at Cessnock High and St Philip’s Christian College, and the new Hospitality School at Kurri Kurri TAFE.

Sadly the Abbott Government has cut the program, which means that other schools have little hope of securing one of these marvellous facilities.

E.G. Whitlam’s farewell last week was a truly incredible event.  Thousands packed the Sydney Town Hall while many others watched on big screens around the country or on the television at home.  The Sydney Orchestra was amazing, as was William Barton on his didgeridoo.

The speeches were also fantastic, especially that of Noel Pearson. It was a fitting tribute to a great man.

It was a pleasure to participate in the official opening and dedication of the Black Hill Community Hall on Sunday.  Congratulations to the local community, particularly the local Uniting Church Congregation, John and Shirley Bryant and the Osborne and Lewis families.

I thank the small but very strong and active community for a great day. Thanks also to Coal & Allied, Woodburys Haulage & Earthmoving's Black Hill Quarry, Daracon, Bloomfield and Donaldson coal companies for their financial contribution, another reminder of the positive things the industry does for our local economy and community. Thanks also to Bunnings and Masters who were happy to lend a hand.

Occasionally world leaders visiting Australia are invited to address the Australian Parliament.  Unusually, this Friday and next Monday and Tuesday we will welcome three leaders three week days running.  The Leaders of the United Kingdom, China and India will all enter the House of Representatives to address assembled Members and Senators.

In my eighteen years in the Parliament maybe half a dozen prime ministers and presidents have been afforded the honour. 

Three in the space of a few days is most unusual but each of them is here for the G20 meeting.

Even in this medically-advanced 21st Century, reaching 90 is an achievement.  Playing competitive tennis at 90 years of age is an even greater achievement. That’s exactly what Kurri Kurri’s Tom Outram can boast.

Last week I was pleased to be able to drop in on Tom’s Birthday celebration – held at the Aberdare Road courts in-between games with the mates he plays with each Friday morning.  The former coal miner is looking exceptionally good and I wish him many more years of good health and happiness.

Thanks to the team at Total Fitness gym and all those who organised and supported the fundraiser for Angella Whipps last Friday night.   The inspirational fitness instructor shocked us all with her recent health battle but has equally amazed us with her strength and determination to prevail.  We wish her all the very best.

My mobile office will hit the road again next Tuesday, this time it will visit Maitland from 10am – 12 noon and Kurri Kurri from 2.00pm – 4.00pm. My staff will be on hand to answer any questions, provide information and follow up on any Federal Government issue you may have.

Bookings are essential and can be made by calling 4991 1022. However, if you have a problem you don’t need to wait for a mobile office date, just call or email me and I will address your problem or respond to your views.

Remember, I can deal with issues such as Centrelink, Child Support, Immigration, Medicare, Superannuation, Taxation, Veterans’ Affairs and Telecommunications.

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