HUNTER VALLEY NEWS COLUMN 24 FEBRUARY 2016

No one can imagine how horrific it must be for someone to see their child, partner or parent in immense pain, knowing relief is available but illegal.

There are thousands of Australians who are suffering from unbearable pain, muscle spasticity from conditions like epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and nausea resulting from chemotherapy that may benefit from medicinal cannabis. There are too many stories of people suffering – and this is unacceptable in a modern society.
 
I’m pleased that legalising medicinal cannabis now has bi-partisan support. With the governments of New South Wales and Victoria pushing ahead with state-based schemes and Queensland joining those states in taking part in clinical trials, Labor will continue to encourage the Government to take action to implement a national scheme which ensures equity of access and a safe and reliable supply for the states and territories which chose to participate.
 
For some Labor’s decision will be controversial but we are driven by science and compassion – we firmly believe the time has come for a national scheme.
 
Labor is not considering allowing legal access to a drug for recreational use.  It is about ensuring there is a legal and regulated market so that family members and carers aren't forced to rely on the black market to relieve the pain of their loved ones.

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I welcome Yancoal Australia's announcement that it has successfully completed new financing arrangements if it means more certainty for the workforce and an on-going presence in the Hunter region.

But it's also an opportunity for the new entities who now appear to control the mining assets to act in good faith and respect the rights of the workforce.

New partners Industrial Bank Co. Ltd, Financial Products Ltd, and United NSW Energy are most likely to meet with success if they place an appropriately high value on the Yancoal's workforce and deal with them and their representatives in good faith.

A good start would be to review Yancoal's current attempts to use a new company vehicle to push staff on to new contracts with reduced conditions of employment.

The Company and the workforce want the same thing; a sustainably viable mining business. 

Those who now have a say in the Company's decision making as a result of today's deal should understand and realise that a skilled and appreciated workforce will be critical to the success we all want.

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It was great to catch up with so many students participating in the University of Newcastle’s O Week last Wednesday.  Young people in the regions must have the same opportunities to study at Uni as their city cousins and that means we must reject Malcolm Turnbull’s big fee increases which will hit hardest outside our capital cities.

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Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late is an initiative running throughout the month of February to raise awareness of bowel cancer.

Bowel cancer is Australia’s second biggest cancer killer, after lung cancer.

It affects men and women, young and old. Over 15,000 Australians are diagnosed with bowel cancer each year, 1091 of whom are under the age of 50.

Over 90,000 new bowel cancer cases are expected between 2016 and 2020.

But 90% of cases can be treated successfully if detected early so …. don’t wait until it’s too late !


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