I thank the Aberdeen and Scone Neighbourhood Centres for providing venues for my mobile offices in the Upper Hunter last week.  I also thank those who came along.

The visits also provided me with an opportunity to acknowledge the great work of local groups who have secured federal funding for projects to promote and appropriately commemorate the Centenary of ANZAC.

The Aberdeen RSL Sub Branch, Aberdeen Lions Club, Men's Shed and the Anzac Day Sub Committee secured $7,940 to restore and upgrade the Aderdeen RSL War Memorial. The Murrurundi & District Arts Council received $9,910 to launch and promote “Honouring Anzacs within the Local Classroom and Community” and the Murrurundi & District Historical Society received $10,270 to mount an exhibition commemorating the role played by the service men and women from the local area during the First World War.

Each project will make its own contribution to ensure we remember their deeds and their sacrifices


In a speech to the WA Farmers Annual Conference in Perth on Friday I spoke of the growing need to lift future farm profitability by consolidating and exploiting our reputation for high quality clean, green and safe food.

There is no doubt in my mind that future gains in profitability will increasingly come from our capacity to authenticate, verify, consolidate and sustain our clean, green and safe image.  Along with animal welfare assurance, these are the areas which will deliver our capacity to secure premium prices for our high quality products.

I also spoke about foreign investment saying it is critical to the agriculture sector's success and flagged a new debate about linking foreign investment to environmental and sustainability outcomes through continuous improvement management systems.

I'm keen for a conversation about a link between foreign investment and environmental outcomes.  Does the investment proposal for example, include a commitment to a credible environmental management plan - a plan to improve water efficiency, soil quality and animal welfare outcomes?

We need to break down the mystery of the Foreign Investment Review Board and build public confidence that we have a system which puts the national interest first.


Last week I visited a local childcare centre to learn more about the impact of Budget cuts on the system.  Cutting childcare assistance is a false saving because the capacity of families to access quality and affordable childcare is crucial to our economic growth and therefore, government revenues.

Childcare should be one of our highest priorities.

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