Showing posts with label government funding. Show all posts
Showing posts with label government funding. Show all posts

Wednesday, 28 October 2020

$250-million NSW Bushfire Local Economic Recovery (BLER) Fund opened yesterday and bushfire affected North Coast communities have until 11 December 2020 to apply for funding

 

The $250-million Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund (jointly funded by the federal and state government) which opened for applications yesterday is available to bushfire affected communities in 47 local government areas, including Tweed, Richmond Valley, Ballina, Byron Bay, Kyogle, Lismore and Clarence Valley.

Application deadline in 2pm (AEDT) Friday 11 December 2020. 

Funding is available in the following three categories

Infrastructure projects, such as roads to support increased industrial development. 

Environmental projects, such as regeneration activities. 

Programs including social, business and environmental education initiatives.

The grant funding for individual projects is dependent on the project type. 

• Infrastructure projects must seek a minimum of $400,000 with a maximum available grant of $20 million. 

• Environmental projects including rehabilitation, remediation and resilience improvements must seek a minimum of $200,000 with a maximum available grant of $4 million. 

• Programs, including social, business and environmental education initiatives must seek a minimum of $200,000 with a maximum available grant of $4 million. 

Funding will be prioritised to support applications from areas most impacted by bushfires.

Details can be found at https://www.nsw.gov.au/regional-nsw/bushfire-local-economic-recovery-fund.

Those eligible to apply for funding are Councils, Joint Organisations of Councils, Not-for-Profits including business chambers, industry associations and charities, research or academic organisations, Local Aboriginal Councils and State Government corporations.

Labor Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin welcomes the announcement of this new funding. “Every little bit helps and this is more than needed in the lead-up to the Christmas season. Goodness knows we need it – bushfires, drought, more bushfires, floods and COVID-19” Ms Saffin said.


Sunday, 25 October 2020

Once again the NSW Premier and her Liberal-Nationals Coalition Government are the subject of corruption allegations

 

On 3 July 2020 a NSW Legislative Council committeee, the Public Accountability Committee (PAC), began an Inquiry into the Integrity, efficacy and value for money of NSW Government grant programs.


Thus far public hearings have been held on 21 September, 16 October and 23 October 2020 with further hearing dates scheduled for 27 November and 9 December 2020.


Six of the seven local government councils in the NSW Northern Rivers region – Tweed Shire, Richmond Valley, Ballina, Kyogle, Lismore and Clarence Valley - made submissions to the Inquiry outlining both satisfaction and frustration with the current grants system. These submission can be found here.


The Inquiry’s public hearings to date have generated media interest given these followed on the heels of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Operation Keppel public hearings which revealed the six year intimate relationship between NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Daryl Maquire both when he was a member of her government and after his forced resignation from state parliament in 2018.


The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 October 2020:


Senior advisers from Gladys Berejiklian's office have been called before a parliamentary inquiry to explain why the NSW Premier handed out $250 million in council grants without any signed paperwork.


The grants scheme is emerging as a major issue for Ms Berejiklian on the back of her appearance before the corruption watchdog, which is investigating her ex-lover Daryl Maguire.


Ms Berejiklian will know the direction of findings from the Independent Commission Against Corruption on December 7, when submissions from counsel assisting are sent to "relevant parties".


In an unusual move, Ms Berejiklian's former chief of staff Sarah Cruickshank and present senior policy officer Sarah Lau will give evidence to the public accountability committee on Friday.


Ms Cruickshank also gave evidence at the ICAC hearing into Mr Maguire, which is investigating whether he used his position as an MP for financial gain, including brokering property deals.


Finance Minister Damien Tudehope has confirmed that no signed approvals exist for 249 grants rubber-stamped between June 27, 2018 and March 1, 2019 from the Stronger Communities Fund, established after council amalgamations.


Ms Lau was the author of emails such as one sent on June 28, 2018 which said: "The Premier has signed off further funding for metro councils. Outlined below is what is been approved."


Ms Berejiklian directly approved more than $100 million in grants, but the only records of her approvals are in the form of emails from advisers.


Staff in Deputy Premier John Barilaro's office also emailed approvals, including one dated August 24, 2018 which said: "The DP has approved funding of $600,000 to Edward River Council."


But Mr Barilaro, who returned from four weeks' mental health leave on Wednesday, distanced himself from the fund, and said "everything was correct" in a similar fund for regional councils.


"The Stronger Communities fund is not a fund that I administer. The Stronger Country Communities fund is something that I administer under my department in regional NSW," Mr Barilaro said.


"There's an allocation made to every single local government area so it's not the beauty contest that we normally get, everybody gets a slice of the fund."…...


The government was dealt a humiliating blow late on Tuesday when its most senior minister of the upper house was suspended from Parliament in a rare move last used more than 20 years ago.


Leader of the government Don Harwin was removed from the chamber by the Usher of the Black Rod over a failure to produce documents showing signed paperwork relating to the grants.


Labor's leader in the upper house Adam Searle told Parliament the government's failure to produce signed approvals could amount to "maladministration, corruption or illegality"…...



The grants, which Labor's MP John Graham told the house were worth "two-and-a-half times the federal sports rorts" scandal, were distributed almost exclusively to councils in Coalition-held seats…...


The head of ICAC Peter Hall QC has said the methods used by the government in its administration of the council grants fund could open the door for corrupt conduct.


The Sydney Morning Herald, 20 October 2020:


An inquiry wants answers as to whether Premier Gladys Berejiklian declared a conflict of interest in her position on a committee that signed off on $30 million for a Wagga Wagga conservatorium following lobbying by former MP Daryl Maguire.


The NSW upper house inquiry into allegations of grant rorting on Friday heard the the Regional Cultural Fund awarded $10 million and $20 million to the Riverina Conservatorium of Music, for the construction of a new recital hall, in 2017 and 2018.


Chris Hanger from the Department of Regional NSW said the latter portion was a pre-byelection commitment from the government following the exit of Wagga MP Mr Maguire, who resigned in disgrace after a corruption inquiry heard he sought commissions from a developer.


After Mr Hanger testified that the funding was signed off by the Expenditure Review Committee, of which Ms Berejiklian is a part, Greens MLC David Shoebridge asked, "are you aware whether or not a conflict of interest was ever placed on the record by the Premier, given she was in a close personal relationship with Mr Maguire?…..


Jonathan Wheaton, executive director of regional programs at the department, told the parliamentary inquiry that, given the ERC was a subcommittee of the cabinet, he was unsure whether that level of information could be shared publicly.


The Sydney Morning Herald has sought comment from the Premier's office about whether or not she was obliged to declare a conflict of interest, and whether or not she had…..


The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 October 2020:


Gladys Berejiklian gave her lover Daryl Maguire's Wagga Wagga electorate six grants totalling $40,000 from her discretionary fund, while an inquiry heard one of her advisers shredded documents showing the Premier's approval of projects under another scheme.


In a parliamentary speech made before resigning from the Liberal Party in disgrace in 2018, Mr Maguire thanked Ms Berejiklian for providing $5134 from the special fund to the Ladysmith Tourist Railway, near the regional city, to cover the cost of replacing railway sleepers stolen by "scoundrels".


"It was a cowardly act to steal the sleepers, but I thank the Premier for helping to replace them," Mr Maguire said in June, also announcing the receipt of $5000 for the erection of a memorial to World War I Victoria Cross recipient Jack Ryan in Tumut. That money had also come from the fund.


Other grants included $10,400 for the Wagga branch of the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia for a firearm cleaning safety enclosure, which Mr Maguire announced to local media in October 2017, and $5000 towards the Talbingo Men's Shed……


ABC News, 23 October 2020:


Documents which Premier Gladys Berejiklian used to approve millions of dollars in grants to local councils were later shredded, a NSW parliamentary inquiry has heard. 


One of the Premier's senior policy advisers, Sarah Lau, told the inquiry she also deleted electronic copies of the notes.....


Nearly all the grants were awarded to local councils in Coalition-held seats.


The inquiry heard that $141.8 million of the grant funding was allocated by the Premier, with $61.3million allocated by the Deputy Premier John Barilaro and $48.9 million by the Minister for Local Government.


In addition to the ICAC and PAC inquiries, the NSW Auditor General has announced an intention to review a selections of grant programs and, the Commonwealth Fraud Prevention Centre has also announced a new project regarding grant programs, highlighting the need to better understand key fraud risks and learn about effective fraud prevention methods particularly given there are elevated integrity risks for government grants in times of crisis or emergency.


Wednesday, 21 October 2020

An audit of the funding arrangements for the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has found they threaten its "independent status"

 

ABC News, 20 October 2020:


An audit of the funding arrangements for the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has found they threaten its "independent status" because the Premier can "restrict access" to the money it receives.


NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian ordered a review into funding models of the ICAC along with other key agencies including the Electoral Commission, the Ombudsman and the Law Enforcement Conduct Commission.


The Auditor-General Margaret Crawford has handed down her findings, a week after Ms Berejiklian gave evidence to the ICAC which is investigating her former boyfriend and MP Daryl Maguire.


"The current approach to determining annual funding for the integrity agencies presents threats to their independent status," the report concluded.


"The report argues these risks are not mitigated sufficiently under the current financial arrangements."


The Auditor-General also found that the funding was not "transparent" and "there are no mechanisms for the agencies to question or challenge decisions made".


The ICAC, along with the other agencies, receives its revenue through the annual budget process.


But the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) and the NSW Treasury have restricted its funding through "efficiency dividends" and budget-saving measures.


The report says the DPC and NSW Treasury have interpreted legislation so that the full funding approved by Parliament doesn't have to be provided.


"This interpretation leads to the view that a Premier can restrict access to appropriation funding that was approved by Parliament," the Auditor-General found.


The agencies can ask the DPC for additional money to conduct its investigations and the ICAC has made requests on several occasions, mostly to cover large scale public hearings.


The Auditor-General has raised concerns with this model, noting that it’s "the only mechanism available" and "it could be seeking additional funding to investigate a senior government official".


The report found there were no criteria or guidelines for seeking extra funding, so "very little transparency".


"The process available to ICAC to request additional funding outside the annual budget creates further risks to its independence," the Auditor-General said.


"Some of these proposals were rejected without reasons being provided."....


Friday, 16 October 2020

For over 6 years the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government deliberately underspent funds earmarked to assist unemployed people 50 years of age & older

 

On 11 July 2014 then Australian Prime Minister & Liberal MP for Warringah Tony Abbott launched the Restart programme.


Restart is a financial incentive of up to $10,000 (GST inclusive) to encourage businesses to hire and retain mature age employees who are 50 years of age and over.


Payments are made by employment services providers to businesses over six months. Employers can negotiate how often they receive the payments.


Business may also be able to get up to $10,000 (GST inclusive) when they hire an eligible new employee who is either: 15 - 24 years of age or an Indigenous Australian.

To apply for this financial incentive businesses need to contact a job service provider on the federal Dept. of Education, Skills and Employment list of approved providers.

Employment services providers determine if a wage subsidy is offered and will enter into an agreement with the employer to make payments over six months.

All wage subsidy placements must average at least 20 hours per week over the 26 week wage subsidy period to be ongoing.

Restart has continued to operate under three successive Liberal-National federal governments.

On 14 October 2020 The Guardian reported that:

The federal government has spent less than half what it planned to help older Australians into work and more than 40% of those receiving wage subsidies were out of a job within three months.

Only $254m has been spent to help 51,190 mature-age people into work, despite the Coalition promising in 2014 to spend $520m to help up to 32,000 older Australians find a job every year.

Of the 51,190 people helped by the Restart wage subsidy, just 30,379 remained in employment for 13 weeks or more, with less than half (21,966) lasting more than six months.

The figures, provided by the employment department, cast new light on the effectiveness of the program cited by the Morrison government as evidence it is already helping older workers…..

In the budget, the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, announced $4bn of wage subsidies for companies that hire workers aged 35 and under, prompting a backlash that the budget contained no new measures for older workers.

In response, Scott Morrison has said the Restart program, which provides $10,000 wage subsidies for those aged over 50 and unemployed for six months or more, had helped 50,000 Australians into a job.

In the 2014 budget, the Abbott government provided $520m for the Restart program…..

On Tuesday, the employment department revealed that, up to 31 August this year, just $254m had been spent on the program….



Thursday, 8 October 2020

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison continues his personal war on the poor and vulnerable


"This is a deeply ideological budget. It rewards the Morrison government's friends, and punishes perceived enemies." 

[Journalist and Reseacher Ben Eltham on Twitter, 7 October 2020]

 

Council to Homeless Personsmedia release, 6 October 2020:


Federal Budget reveals millions to be cut from vital homelessness services (Homelessness Australia)


Tonight’s Federal Budget has failed to include the stimulus investment in social housing urgently needed to respond to growing homelessness and includes a $41.3 million cut to homelessness services from July 2021.


Homelessness Australia Chair, Jenny Smith says, “Tonight’s budget is devastating. In a year with huge increases in unemployment creating a surge in rental stress and homelessness, the Federal Government has chosen to slash homelessness funding.


The Treasurer had a choice to make, and he has chosen homelessness for tens of thousands of Australian families. Without increases in social housing and with even less resources for homelessness services, many families will become stuck in homelessness for a long time.


The Government has ignored advice from all corners: from top economists, property industry and community sector leaders, as well as popular support from the community; all calling for the Government to invest in social housing to both create thousands of new jobs each year and to deliver enormous social good.


The failure to invest in social housing growth in the 2020 Budget follows a 10 per cent cut to housing and homelessness funding over the three years from 2017-18 to 2020-21, most of which has been cut from remote Indigenous housing.


The 2020 Budget includes a one-off payment to Queensland for remote Indigenous housing. It also includes funding for remote housing in NT, but even with these short term funds, annual funding for housing in remote Indigenous communities is $237.2, less than half the amount of $526.6 spent in 2017-18.


Not only has the Budget ignored the opportunity to build social housing as economic stimulus, it has revealed plans to slash a further $41.3 million from vital homelessness support in July. Despite soaring demand, tonight’s budget has put services in an impossible situation.


Homelessness services are already under enormous strain. Last year alone, services had to turn away 253 people every day because not enough housing or support was available, and cuts to services will increase the number of people in need who are turned away.


The economic ramifications of this pandemic will continue well past 2020. Slashing $41 million in homelessness support in July is senseless and cruel,” says Jenny Smith.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Mission Australia, media release, 6 October 2020:


  • Shocking failure to address rising homelessness or the serious shortage of social homes, particularly given COVID-19 impacts.

  • Baffling silence on permanent increase to income support.

  • Welcome investment in youth employment, yet more must be done to better support disadvantaged young people seeking work.

  • Homelessness and housing


Mission Australia CEO James Toomey warned that the Commonwealth Government’s ongoing lack of investment in new social homes and absence of a national plan to end homelessness will push more people into homelessness.


"It is shocking that the Federal Budget hasn’t done enough to commit to long-term investment to address the serious shortage of social homes in Australia."


Ensuring everyone has a safe and secure place to call home is a national responsibility that was ignored in this year’s Federal Budget.


Prioritising ending homelessness in Australia still isn’t being taken seriously at a national level.


This year has been incredibly challenging for Australia’s most vulnerable people, including people experiencing homelessness and poverty. We are deeply concerned that high levels of unemployment, the reduction in the COVID Supplement rate and the huge debts in rent deferrals that some people are accruing will lead to a huge spike in housing insecurity and homelessness.


"With this lack of commitment, there is a looming risk that even more people will be pushed into homelessness and unsafe living situations."


Investing in 30,000 social homes within the next four years is an obvious solution that will not only help to end homelessness in Australia but will also create vital jobs in the construction industry.


Despite a significant investment in infrastructure in this year’s Federal Budget to help create jobs, we are deeply disappointed the essential social infrastructure of social housing has been ignored.


Particularly given 2020’s challenges, we cannot fathom why Australia still doesn’t have a national plan to end homelessness.


At a time when homelessness is likely to increase, the Government has again deserted the needs of at least 116,000 people who are homeless and the thousands who are teetering on the edge of homelessness in severe rental stress during the recession.


Ensuring everyone has a safe and secure place to call home is a national responsibility and was ignored in this year’s Federal Budget.


Tackling the challenges of drought, bushfires, flood and a pandemic has distilled in our nation’s hearts and minds just how crucial a safe and secure home is for people to live, work, access education and stay well.


We urgently need more social homes to help end homelessness in Australia. We cannot wait another year for these vital investments in the social homes that Australia profoundly needs.”


Adequacy of income support


Mission Australia CEO James Toomey said: “While forewarned, we are baffled there was no indication about the future of income support in a Federal Budget in which the Treasurer acknowledged how these payments had supported the economy.


We welcome the two cash payments that were announced by the Government for aged, carer, family and disability welfare recipients, but this is not nearly enough to address the ongoing insecurity experienced by people relying on income support payments.


"We are left disappointed that the increasing number of people on JobSeeker have been ignored in the Federal Budget."


The doubling of income support for people facing unemployment, from Newstart to the JobSeeker Payment with COVID Supplement, made an enormous difference to many Australians during the pandemic, including many that we serve at Mission Australia.


With the JobSeeker COVID supplement recently reduced and no certainty beyond December yet provided, Mission Australia is one of many voices calling on the Government to secure a permanent floor to income support to keep people out of poverty and homelessness.


Inadequate income support is incredibly distressing for the people we serve at Mission Australia. Without enough to cover the basics, they can be forced to make difficult decisions such as going without adequate food, missing out on life saving medicine, or being unable to afford transport to a job interview. Additionally, many can be pushed into stressful and unsafe living conditions as it’s all they can afford. All of this, coupled with the stressors of the pandemic, can enormously impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing.


Turning back to $40 a day from 2021 would be a disaster for so many people around Australia. It is too low, and would return too many people to poverty and drive many into homelessness at a time when we should be supporting people’s wellbeing and taking steps towards recovery.


"As we move towards COVID-19 recovery, while people are seeking paid work, they need the certainty they’ll have enough money to put adequate food on the table, stay well and remain safely housed."


With the numbers of people staring down the barrel of unemployment predicted to continue to rise, we need an urgent commitment from the Government to provide a permanent and adequate increase of income support payments.


This would not only lift people out of poverty, but also help people to regain control of their lives, wellbeing and finances, as well as access transport and many other essential resources to seek and be ready for work.”


Youth employment


Mission Australia CEO James Toomey said: “We know that young people will be disproportionately affected by the recession caused by COVID-19, as they are trying to transition from education to work when there are fewer jobs available.


The Government has acknowledged this reality with the measures announced in the Federal Budget.


"We welcome the announcement of wage subsidies for young people and hope that they will make a significant contribution in helping young people to engage in the labour market at a time of significant disruption for them."


We also welcome the new wage subsidies for trainees and apprentices, but are concerned about what will happen after 12 months when the subsidy expires. We are also very concerned about many other people who are unemployed and severely impacted by the recession, especially those who have experienced unemployment for long periods and others who are disadvantaged in the labour market.


We recognise the ongoing need for specialist youth employment assistance programs such as Transition to Work and are heartened by the Government’s investment of $21.9 million in this vital program.


"There remains a critical need for more targeted programs to help disadvantaged young people into work."


Every young person in Australia should have every opportunity to thrive and have access to the services, supports, education and training that they need.”


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Medianet, Brotherhood of St. Laurence (BSL), media release, 6 October 2020:


TOO MANY LEFT BEHIND AS GOVERNMENT MISSES HISTORIC OPPORTUNITY


People hit the hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic will be left behind by a recession that Treasurer Josh Frydenberg labelled a “once-in-a-century shock”. The Brotherhood of St. Laurence (BSL) believes the federal government’s budget has missed an historic opportunity to bring all Australians along in the recovery from COVID-19.


While BSL was happy to see a focus on youth employment and training, the Morrison Government has offered very little support to others in need.


This budget falls drastically short for Australians doing it tough,” says BSL Executive Director, Conny Lenneberg. “The government showed great leadership during this pandemic with initiatives like JobKeeper and the Coronavirus Supplement. But even though this crisis is far from over, the supplement has now been cut. People around the country still need help to rebuild their lives.”


Those who are relying on income support have been given no certainty that they won’t be back on $40 a day come January, even though the government’s own predictions show unemployment will still be above 8% at the end of this calendar year. This lack of certainty means unemployed Australian parents don’t know how they’ll cover their rent and budget beyond Christmas,” said Ms Lenneberg.


The Treasurer said in his speech that ‘This is what it means to look after one’s fellow Australian’. But millions of people are not being looked after by this budget. When we look at the most disadvantaged groups, like single mothers and their children, there is nothing in this budget that would make them feel that anyone has their back,” said Ms Lenneberg.


The Parliamentary Budget Office revealed that the number of single mothers on the former Newstart (now named JobSeeker) skyrocketed from 7.3% in 2007 to 27.4% in 2019. This will only be made worse by the recession. That’s why BSL believes this budget should have addressed the rate of social security payments.


The Coronavirus Supplement was a lifeline for millions of people, but since it was slashed at the end of September, millions have been pushed back below the poverty line.


It is alarming that at a time when 1.6 million Australians are relying on JobSeeker to get by, the government can hand down a budget that doesn’t talk about social security,” says Ms Lenneberg.


BSL is calling for a permanent adequate increase to JobSeeker and the establishment of an independent Social Security Commission to set, monitor and review social security payment rates, much like the one that determines the rate of pay for politicians.


It’s time to take the politics out of social security,” says Ms Lenneberg. “Making sure this country’s most disadvantaged people can get back on their feet is far too important.”


The Brotherhood of St. Laurence is a social justice organisation working to prevent and alleviate poverty across Australia.


Monday, 28 September 2020

While the Northern NSW Nationals posture in the media about Queensland border restrictions and moves to protect the state's koalas, NSW Labor Member for Lismore is doing the hard yards



While Northern NSW Nationals Chris Gulaptis, Geoff Provest and Ben Franklin run to mainstream media outlets to huff and puff about Queensland's border restrictions and, Gulaptis in particular cries that the sky will fall if New South Wales koalas receive the protection they deserve, the NSW Labor Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin just gets on with the job of representing her electorate.

Office of the Member for Lismore, media release, 25 September 2020:

Saffin pushes for immediate and strategic support of regional economy

LISMORE MP Janelle Saffin is calling on the Berejeklian-Barilaro Government to deliver urgent financial support to businesses on the Northern Rivers and Northern Tablelands and to strategically establish a Special Activation Precinct to turbo charge the regional economy.

It will help our region climb out of COVID. We have projects ready, the collaboration and the will, but we need our share of New South Wales’ available resources, including the $1.75 billion owed to regional and rural NSW from Restart NSW, Ms Saffin said.

Ms Saffin has used a series of Notices of Motion to NSW Parliament to focus the Government’s attention on the Electorate of Lismore, still recovering from 2017’s major flood, drought, last year’s bushfires, this year’s COVID-19 lockdown and the Queensland-NSW border closure.

Ms Saffin said that while she had successfully lobbied for the Border Bubble to include the Lismore City, Byron Shire, Ballina Shire, Richmond Valley and Glen Innes Local Government Areas, many businesses were still hurting economically.

“NSW Business Northern Rivers estimates that businesses have been losing an average of $10,500 a week in revenue so there is still an urgent need for the Government to come good with a rescue package like the $45-million one it offered to NSW businesses near the Victorian border,” Ms Saffin said.

“I thought it was important for me to advocate for our region through a combination of Notices of Motion, Questions on Notice to Ministers and direct reps to Ministers, and at next week’s meeting with Regional Development Australia-Northern Rivers, we can flesh this out in more detail.

“Having a Special Activation Precinct here on the Northern Rivers, and all of the extra government support that comes with these precincts, would give real teeth to my earlier calls for a Regional Jobs Plan.

“Another major issue is that the NSW Government has introduced a Whole of Government Procurement Policy for collecting waste from Health, TAFE and caravan parks on Crown reserves, squeezing out our local regional companies in favour of the big multinationals, and killing off local jobs.”

Ms Saffin has moved Notices of Motion on the need to develop and fund a Regional Jobs Plan; expanding Special Activation Precincts to the region; supporting small businesses impacted by the Queensland-NSW border closure; unlocking Restart NSW funding; and fairer Procurement Policies.

On a Regional Jobs (Employment Development) Plan, Ms Saffin moved that the Lower House:

1. Notes the Regional Development Australia’s Remplan Report estimates 15,471 jobs have vanished from the Northern Rivers regional economy between February and May 2020, with accommodation/hospitality and retail sectors hardest hit.

2. Notes job losses are similar in the New England North West Region.

3. Notes the Government needs to develop and fund a Regional Jobs Plan, coordinated by the NSW Department of Regional Development and enlisting the expertise of Regional Development Australia, Business NSW, local chambers of commerce, local government councils through joint organisations, business leaders, trade unions and all local Members.

On Special Activation Precincts, Ms Saffin moved that the Lower House:

1. Notes the Government established Special Activation Precincts in Parkes, Wagga Wagga, Snowy Mountains, Moree and Williamtown to turbo charge these regional locations to become thriving business hubs through infrastructure investment, Government-led studies, Government-led development and business concierge services.

2. Recognises the need to expand the network of Special to the Northern Rivers region, home to many cutting-edge entrepreneurs in its stated range of industries, including freight and logistics, defence, advanced manufacturing, renewable energy and tourism.

On Queensland-NSW Border Closure – Small Business Support, Ms Saffin  moved that the Lower House:

1. Notes the Government moved quickly to provide a $45-million rescue package for New South Wales small businesses adversely impacted by its decision to close the NSW-Victorian border to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

2. Notes there is an urgent need for the Government to extend a similarly generous grant program to all local small businesses in Northern NSW, which, having endured drought and bushfires, are now really struggling to cope with the Queensland-NSW border closure.

On Restart NSW Funding, Ms Saffin moved that the Lower House:

1. Notes the Government has failed to deliver the legislated commitment to allocate 30 per cent of Restart NSW funds to regional and rural New South Wales in any year since its inception, delivering only 18.9 per cent of $3 billion instead of $4.75 billion from 2012 to 2019.

2. Calls upon the Premier and the Deputy Premier to deliver the promises Restart NSW funding of 30 per cent each year and to pay the debt of $1.75 billion owing to the people of regional and rural New South Wales.

On Procurement Policies, Ms Saffin moved that the Lower House:

1. Notes the Government’s Expression of Interest (EOI) for NSW Whole of Government Waste Management for Health, TAFE and caravan parks on Crown Reserves favours large operators and squeezes out small and medium size Australian-owned regional companies because the EOI effectively makes redundant the Government’s Small and Medium Enterprise and Regional Procurement Policy.

2. Recognises the need for an urgent review of these procurement policies and consultation with small and medium size regional companies to ensure that they still have a seat at the tendering table and are not disenfranchised to the point that their revenue streams can be reduced by a third, leading to job losses in Northern NSW during an economic recession.

Ms. Saffin gave notice of the aforementioned motions in the NSW Legislative Assembly on the following dates:

17/10/2019 RESTART NSW FUNDING 
15/09/2020 QUEENSLAND-NEW SOUTH WALES BORDER CLOSURE - SMALL BUSINESS SUPPORT 
17/09/2020 REGIONAL EMPLOYMENT DEVELOPMENT 
24/09/2020 SPECIAL ACTIVATION PRECINCTS 
24/09/2020 PROCUREMENT POLICIES 

I note that there appears to have been no motions or speeches specifically on these matters in the same timespan by either Chris Gulaptis, Geoff Provest or Ben Franklin.

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Many Clarence Valley residents are not holding their breath over this NSW Berejiklian Government 2019 election promise


The Daily Telegraph, 31 July 2020, p.15:

Grafton Nationals MP Chris Gulaptis has told the Grafton Chamber of Commerce he expected to see his Grafton Base Hospital election promise granted when planning money was allocated in the 2020/21 NSW Budget. 


Executive officer Annmarie Henderson said the chamber had received written commitments from Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Health Minister Brad Hazzard and the Member for Clarence to start the $263.8 million upgrade in this term of government. 

The chamber said the Minister for Health advised “Health Infrastructure will work with the Northern NSW Local Health District and clinical staff to progress the project through the planning stages”.

BACKGROUND

NSW Nationals website, 19 June 2019:

“The Budget confirms key local election promises namely progressing planning for the $263 million Grafton Base Hospital redevelopment on top of the $17.5 million already invested in the current upgrade of the hospital,” Mr Gulaptis said.


Banner erected by Grafton Base Hospital Community Committee
Weileys Hotel, Grafton NSW
IMAGE:  The Daily Mercury, 31 July 2020