Many readers will have had direct or indirect exposure to the New South Wales Department of Education’s Star Struck event.
Around half of the region’s schools take part in Star Struck every year and more than 3,500 students participate in each production.

Unfortunately I was unable to attend last week’s performances but a staff member who represented me was amazed at the talent that the students displayed.  The sustained and continued success of Star Struck over the past 22 years is the result of the many contributors and in particular, the dedicated team of teachers and departmental staff who produce, direct and manage the large production.

Of course without financial sponsorship from local businesses and companies events like Star Struck would not be possible. I thank all sponsoring partners of this year’s Star Struck for providing the financial assistance that gives thousands of Hunter school students an opportunity to showcase their talents.   The main sponsor was coal mining company Glencore, another reminder of the benefits the coal mining industry brings to our local communities.

Last week I combined my portfolio and local work in a visit with Congewai Valley Landcare group. Most readers will know that Landcare is a national network of thousands of locally-based community groups who care for the natural resources of our country.

Australia boasts more than 4,000 community Landcare groups, 2,000 Coastcare groups and many thousands of volunteers across the country. Through Australia’s people and communities, the Landcare movement is making a big difference in caring for our country.

Landcare volunteers ensure that in partnership with government, our natural resources are protected.  In Congewai the group is doing just that and I thank its members and all other local groups for their efforts.

I also caught up with the good people from Rutherford-based Wax Converters Textiles last week.  The Company is a reminder that we can still manufacture things in Australia, as long as we are competing where we have an edge.

As a nation we can’t compete with low-wage countries in products like T-shirts and nor should we try.  But we can compete at the higher end and we do so in many areas.  For example, I recently visited a firm where they manufacture pharmaceuticals. 

Another local firm manufactures animal medicines. Proximity often brings competitiveness too.  For example, many manufacturing firms successfully service the mining industry.

Wax Converters is a great story because they are in the textiles sector, but at the higher tech end producing a range of products including defence apparel.  It’s great that we have local firms working at the innovative end of the manufacturing sector.

Congratulations to all those who played a role in the organisation of the celebrations marking Refugee Week 2015 and the 66th anniversary of the Greta Migrant Camp.  The camp and those who it housed played significant roles in the development of the local community.  It’s part of Greta’s rich history.

It was an honour and a pleasure to officially open the new solar energy system Tyrrell’s Wines has installed.  Bruce and his team have shown great vision in making an investment which will be both good for the environment and good for the business.  In doing so they are setting a fine example and I again congratulate them.

This is not Tyrrell’s first investment in energy efficiency.  While it went entirely alone in funding the latest project, the firm was one of a number of wineries which received assistance from the former government to fund environmental projects.  Well done to them all.

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.

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To contact the office, phone 1300 301 753, visit www.joelfitzgibbon.com or by post 3 Edward Street, (PO Box 526) Cessnock, 2325.

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