Liberal Senator Arthur Sinodinos has always struck me as a good bloke.  Twice now he has been in our electorate to officially open new multi-million dollar Trades Training Centre's and other new facilities at our local high schools.  The second event was just last Friday at Aberdeen’s St Joseph’s.  Earlier in the week Arthur was in the Newcastle area doing the same thing.

It’s not unusual for Coalition Governments to send one of their own in to Labor electorates to open government-funded facilities.  Labor governments do the same thing. But what makes this case ironic is the heavy criticism the Coalition levelled at the former Labor Government when we were building these new, modern learning Centre's.

Now according to the Coalition, they are wonder facilities. Funny thing politics!

Tonight Tony Abbott will hand down his second Budget. I’ll have more to say about it in my next column but let’s hope it’s an improvement on his first effort.

The Budget debate over the past year has been a false one.  First the Prime Minister said we have a “budget emergency” and “we had to act”.  He then went about cutting things which affected all those with the least ability to bear it while leaving the top end of town alone.

Over the last few weeks he’s been saying there is no need to cut deep and therefore, the Budget will be uneventful.  We shall see but one thing has been proven over the past twelve months.  That is, the former Labor Government did not have a spending problem, it had a falling revenue problem outside its control.  That problem has continued for Abbott; let’s see how he handles it this time.

No one will thank Tony Abbott on his back down on his decision to abolish Federal Government funding for Pre-Schools. I thank those who joined my campaign to have the money restored. It makes no sense that the Federal Government participates in the funding of early-years child care and schooling but not pre-school. We know how important pre-school is to the early development of our children. The former Labor Government changed that by providing funding for pre-schools for the first time.We will know tonight what broader changes Tony Abbott will make in his Budget to child care assistance but let’s hope that any changes are sensible and recognises legitimate needs of working parents and children. Also, the importance to our economy of having as many working age people as we can participate in the labor market.

This week is National Volunteer Week (May 11-17). It’s a time for us all to recognise and celebrate the valuable contribution of our more than 6 million Australians who volunteer.

Volunteering plays a significant role in Australian society, helping to strengthen and build more cohesive and resilient communities and support individual participation in community life.

Local communities benefit enormously from the contribution of volunteers, especially in the areas of community welfare, education, emergency services, sport and recreation, arts and the environment.

To help recognise this important contribution, I encourage you to nominate an outstanding volunteer who you believe has offered voluntary service above and beyond the general expectation. Nomination forms can be downloaded from

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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