Monday, 9 May 2016
Some weeks ago people in the Northern Rivers – and presumably other parts of the country – received an email from Fiona Nash, the Nationals’ Deputy Leader. Ms Nash stated that she was committed to giving regional Australians a proper voice at the top table and wanted help in representing us.
She continued with: “The new Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce and I are renewing our commitment to people in small towns, on family farms and small communities. Those on our pristine coast, and deep in the bush. We will fight every day for the hospitals, roads and essential services regional people deserve. Our party, uniquely, has never forgotten who we represent – and who we work for. This is your chance to tell us what YOU think we should be prioritising in 2016.”
The person who told me about the email was rather bemused that she had received such a communication from the Nationals. However, she decided that, since she had emailed the local federal MP about an issue some time ago, that must have been how her email address was obtained.
A MESSAGE TO FIONA NASH - SOME VIEWS ON THREE OF THE ISSUES THE NATIONALS SHOULD PRIORITISE
Gonski should be fully funded until 2020. The Gonski education reforms which provide needs-based funding are about fairness and equal opportunity in education – of vital importance to our national future – particularly a future in which we have been told innovation will be important.
Needs-based resourcing for education is extremely important in rural areas which often suffer from socio-economic disadvantage.
Before the 2013 election there was a bipartisan commitment to full Gonski funding – something the Government has since reneged on. This is one of a number of promises broken by the Coalition following that election.
Some time ago the Prime Minister suggested public schools funding could become the sole responsibility of the states. This justifiably angered many community members who support public schools and believe they perform a vital role in our society. The Commonwealth must continue to share responsibility for public school funding.
There is considerable room for improvement in dealing with health issues in regional areas. For example hospitals are often poorly equipped and funded; mental health services are lacking in many areas; and specialist services are minimal except in the larger regional centres. It is often difficult to attract and keep GPs in rural areas – let alone specialists.
The Medical Research and Rural Health Garvan Report 2015 pointed out that people living in rural and remote areas make up 30% of the population but do not receive anywhere near 30% of health funding.
A recent article in The Daily Examiner, the Clarence Valley’s daily newspaper, discussed the major health issues in the Clarence and the fact that local residents are disadvantaged in relation to preventative health care as well as in obtaining medical assistance for health emergencies. (Saturday April 30th)
Climate change is a major and urgent issue which has been woefully neglected by the Coalition Government. It’s not surprising that the Nationals have been dragging their heels when Deputy Leader Fiona Nash claims the science isn’t settled – and she obviously isn’t the only climate sceptic in the party.
Despite these views, the Nationals need to realize that an increasing number of Australians – including those in regional areas – are very concerned about climate change and the impact it is already having in Australia and elsewhere. And that number is going to rise. There will be an increasing demand from the electorate for effective measures to limit carbon emissions and to transition to renewable energy. This transition has huge benefits for our economy and for jobs – benefits that the Government is recklessly ignoring.
Just how much do the Nationals know about the potential benefits that renewable energy can bring – and is already bringing – to rural areas? Are the National aware of moves towards setting up community energy projects? Are they aware of Enova, the new energy retailer being established in the Northern Rivers? As well as knowing about these developments, they should be enthusiastically supporting them. These are examples of important innovations and ones the Government as a whole should be supporting.
SO, FIONA NASH, RURAL PEOPLE DESERVE ACTION ON THESE MATTERS. ARE YOU AND YOUR COLLEAGUES GOING TO FIGHT FOR THEM ?
6th May 2016
GuestSpeak is a feature of North Coast Voices allowing Northern Rivers residents to make satirical or serious comment on issues that concern them. Posts of 250-300 words or less can be submitted to ncvguestspeak AT gmail.com.au for consideration. Longer posts will be considered on topical subjects.