Regular Column

I am very pleased to have the opportunity to provide a regular column in the Merriwa Diary and wish the newspaper’s editor Natalie Ghiggioli and her team the very best on this new production. I’m always keen to assist with issues or questions relating to Federal Government departments or put you in contact with someone who can.

For those of you who use Facebook and Twitter you can be kept up to date by following my Facebook page “Joel Fitzgibbon” or on Twitter “fitzhunter”.  Why not go the extra step by signing up to my E-Newsletter via my website.

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


I extend my very best wishes for 2014 to all readers.  Life seems to grow busier for us all no matter what our roles and no doubt the New Year will prove busy for most.

Sadly the next couple of months are likely to bring bush fires and we should all be mindful of the challenges our firefighters will encounter and the sacrifices they will make.


Nominations are now open for the 2014 NSW Women in Mining Awards which were established in 2013 to acknowledge and promote the contributions and achievements of women in the NSW mining industry.

Last year two local hunter women were recognised for their hard work and dedication. Xstrata Coal’s Glendell Mine operations manager Elizabeth Watts took out the inaugural Outstanding Woman in NSW Mining Award and Gabrielle Horn an apprentice auto-electrician at Anglo American’s Drayton Mine was awarded the Rising Star Award. Rio Tinto Hunter Valley also received the Outstanding Initiative Award for their Pathways4Girls and Women in Mining programs.

The heat has come off the mining boom but the industry remains strong and continues to offer big opportunities, big potential, and big careers for women across the sector. Many of our local women are demonstrating that mining is not just for blokes.  For more information on nominating an individual or company visit


I remind readers about their rights when door-to-door salespeople knock on their door following a win by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in the Federal Court.

Households are able to avoid door-to-door salespeople by clearly displaying a ‘Do Not Knock’ sticker’ on their door. If door-to-door salespeople knock on the doors of households who clearly display a ‘Do Not Knock’ sticker they are breaking the law and could be liable for a penalty of up to $50,000.

I have a limited number of free ‘Do Not Knock’ stickers available at my office or alternatively you can order one from the ACCC website at

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