Last Tuesday Hunter residents woke to begin their normal day; preparing for work, tending to the kids and probably, spending time along the way thinking about their family’s future.  They would have also been listening to or watching the news, pondering what it all meant to them, that Australia had a new Prime Minister.

The answer it seems; is nothing.  We have a new Prime Minister but his first act was to make it clear that he has no intention of changing Tony Abbott’s key policies.  They are the unfair policies and broken promises which have made life harder, not better, for Hunter residents.

Prior to the last election, Tony Abbott said there would be no cuts in health, no cuts in education, no changes to pensions, and no cuts to the ABC and SBS.  He broke all of those election promises and more.  Malcolm Turnbull has neither acknowledged those wrongs, nor committed himself to reversing them.

The Liberals have changed Leader for one reason; because they believe it will enhance their chances of winning the next election.  It is true that Malcolm Turnbull could not be as unpopular as Tony Abbott.  That would be a big achievement.  But it is also true that putting a new bloke in the big chair will make no difference to the lives of Australians, or to the fortunes of the national economy, in the absence of new policy directions.

Over the course of the last two years our economy has gone backwards:   unemployment has grown; consumer and business confidence is down; we have less spending on national infrastructure; and the Budget deficit has doubled.  Malcolm Turnbull has offered nothing but the same.

Malcolm Turnbull is more popular than Tony Abbott but I’ve never seen him shine as a politician.  He was Leader once before and it didn’t go so well.  In short time, his party dumped him for Tony Abbott.  Sadly, he has now also walked away from the things he has stood for all his political life including his commitment to strong action on climate change and to same-sex marriage.

We’ll see where the wealthy bloke from Sydney’s affluent Eastern Suburbs takes us. Does he sufficiently understand the challenges and issues in rural and regional Australia?

The key test for Malcolm Turnbull will be his management of the economy and his capacity to address a rising unemployment problem.  Where he does well I’ll be happy to acknowledge it.  I genuinely hope to have the chance to do so.

I’m very pleased to report that last Wednesday the long-awaited National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) agreements were signed by the NSW and VIC governments.

This announcement is a huge breakthrough for people with disability in the Hunter electorate.
Finally, people with disability will have their needs met in a way that supports them to live with choice and dignity.

The Young Endeavour Youth Scheme is a not for profit organisation which provides young Australians with a unique, challenging and inspirational experience at sea. The voyages increase self-awareness, develop teamwork and leadership skills and create a strong sense of community responsibility amongst members of the youth crew.

Young Endeavour undertakes around 20 voyages each year, mostly along the east and south coasts of Australia. On each voyage they embark 24 young Australians - the youth crew - and nine specially trained Royal Australian Navy crew, usually for an eleven day adventure at sea.

To sail on the Young Endeavour you need to apply through a ballot. The ballot opens twice each year, in January and August. For more information on the Young Endeavour Youth Scheme program, please visit

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

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