In recent years I’ve made a number of representations to government in an attempt to secure funding for cattle under-passes.  Many aspects of our modern and busy lives impact our farming pursuits – urban encroachment and mining are good examples.  Another is the capacity of producers with property on both sides of our roads to move them safely from one side to the other.

As our roads grow busier the problem grows.  Our own Golden Highway provides a perfect example.  The Victorian Government has been all over the problem for some time. 

In that State, the Government provides a 33% rebate for the costs of taking cattle, sheep and dairy cows off our busy roads.  It’s a win-win for the Government, farmers, and the broader community. 

It should be done here too.

Every developed (and some developing) nations on earth provide some form of social housing.  It’s not just a hand-up for those who need it; government-supported accommodation has been a housing policy tool for governments since England’s Industrial Revolution.

And it’s not just “the west”.  China and Japan both have programs as do the Eastern Europeans.  Indeed, 7% of Hong Kong’s population lives in government-supported housing.

Last Thursday the Maitland Mercury ran a front-page story about how the NSW Government’s scheme is letting people down.  People in Cessnock and Maitland face waiting lists of up to ten years it reported.

It’s timely to remind readers that an important part of the former Labor Government’s economic stimulus package was a big spend to bring state government housing projects forward. 

Imagine where we would be today if that had not been done.  Not only did our package save us from recession, it put a roof over the heads of many. 

This narrative is also true for our public schools.

At the time, the now Prime Minister heavily criticised Labor’s economic stimulus plan as a waste of money.  This is despite the fact that in the middle of the Global Financial Crisis, unemployment never once climbed to today’s level.

Another campaign by the then Opposition Leader is worth re-visiting.  Prior to the last federal election Tony Abbott blamed Labor for the difficulties of the mining industry. 

The fact is that then and now, the problems of the mining industry are due to a huge fall in the price we receive for our coal on export markets. 

It’s also the consequent fall in government revenue from mining which caused Labor to fail in its bid to return the Budget to surplus.  In other words, we had a revenue problem rather than a spending problem.

Now, Tony Abbott says his own economic difficulties are a result of the fall in the iron ore price.  And of course, the Budget deficit is larger now than when Labor lost office. What hypocrisy!

Volunteering plays a significant role in Australian society, helping to strengthen and build more cohesive and resilient communities and support individual participation in community life.

More than six million Australians volunteer each year, freely giving their time, energy and skills to supporting others, often those who are most in need.

Local communities benefit enormously from the contribution of volunteers, especially in the areas of community welfare, education, emergency services, sport and recreation, arts and the environment.

To help recognise this important contribution, I encourage you to nominate an outstanding volunteer who you believe has offered voluntary service above and beyond the general expectation.

Nominations forms can be downloaded from www.joelfitzgibbon.com or phone 4991 1022.

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 www.joelfitzgibbon.com or you can even sign up to my E-Newsletter.

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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