Parliament has now risen for a one-week break and will then resume for another fortnight before adjourning until the Budget in May. 

The last week was dominated by a range of Government policy back-flips but ten months after the last Budget, we are yet to see what the new policies will look like.  For example, the GP co-payment appears to be gone but an alternative is looming.  Fingers crossed that whatever Tony Abbott comes up with is a vast improvement on his last attempt.  I attended the Rural Doctors Association annual breakfast in Canberra last week where a young female GP shared with us her view about the Prime Ministers first attempt at reform.  To put it mildly, she wasn’t impressed!


Last week the Treasurer approved the JBS takeover of Primo.  Like many, I was concerned about the consequences the purchase might have for competition in the market and therefore, the prices producers receive for their cattle.  These concerns were further amplified by the prospect of JBS buying Primo and then rationalising the business by closing the Scone Abattoir. While I didn’t believe it would be rational for JBS to close the plant, I sought assurances by calling upon the Treasurer to make the retention of Scone a condition of the purchase approval.

That is what the Treasurer did in the end which is great news for producers and great news for the Upper Hunter economy and those who work at the Scone plant.


Last Wednesday thousands of workers, family and friends participated in the Australian Unions Fight for our Rights nationwide protest.  The Abbott Government is using a recent Productivity Commission inquiry into workers’ rights at work in an attempt to cut penalty rates, the abolition of the minimum wage, bring back unfair individual contracts and swing even more power to the employers.

Every time we elect a Coalition Government – in Canberra or in Sydney – we witness an attack on the working conditions of middle-to-low income earners. 


The 2015 NRMA Insurance Community Grants program is now open and looking for local initiatives that help make our community safer, stronger and more confident.  The NRMA Insurance Community Grants program provides funding of up to $5,000 to projects in the areas of crime prevention, road safety, environment and emergency readiness and response.

Since 2003, the program has invested over $6.7 million into more than 1,550 grassroots projects around Australia that are having a genuine impact. This is a great opportunity for projects from the local community to receive support for the great work they are already doing, or to get a new project off the ground.

Applications can be made online at where you can find hints and tips for applying as well as videos of previous grant recipients.  Applications are easy to submit and are open from 1 March until Tuesday 31 March 2015.

For more information on the NRMA Insurance Community Grants program go online or visit your local NRMA office.


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

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


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