Indi Weekly Scoop - March 20, 2015
Posted March 20, 2015
- Telecommunications focus in Parliament
- Powerful message for Government: community safety not an optional extra
- NBN in Indi – 18-month rollout
- Key meetings held with Government, key connections made
- Senate inquiry positive step for local beef producers
- First Private Members Bill – Budget Impact Statement
Community safety is not an optional extra in regional Australia. The experience of Karen Purss, who was unable to call 000 from the scene of a tragic car accident, rammed home the message that mobile phone coverage needs to improve in Indi.
Cathy read a powerful letter in Parliament from Mrs Purss to give a human voice to the black spot issue. Mobile phone coverage is much more than just chatting, it can be a matter of life and death. In an interview with ABC Statewide Drive, Mrs Purss said she hoped this incident would spur Government into taking action, and people driving on country roads deserved better. Cathy agrees and will continue to pressure the Government to address the issue. Last week Cathy called for significantly more funding in the 2015-16 budget to build more mobile phone towers in regional Australia. Wherever you are in Australia, you should be able to use your mobile phone.
NBN in Indi – 18-month rollout
The NBN rollout is happening across Indi. Every day Cathy’s office gets asked ‘when is the NBN coming to my place?’ People want to know when they can connect to the NBN to get better internet services. Cathy used Question Time this week to seek information from Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull about NBN plans beyond the next 18 months and what the community consultation plan is to inform the public.
ACCAN invited to Indi
Cathy met with a number of key telecommunications officials this week. These included Telstra and NBN Co, Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull’s staff. The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) CEO, Teresa Corbin, and Director of Policy, Una Lawrence, (pictured) also met with Cathy. They discussed how ACCAN can work with Indi residents to improve telecommunications across the electorate. ACCAN was invited to attend the next Indi Telecommunications Action Group meeting to brief shires on the organisation and the importance of community advocacy.
Senate inquiry positive step for beef producers
Cathy welcomed the news a Senate inquiry would be held into the red meat processing sector. The inquiry has her full support and she congratulated the National Party and Senator for Victoria, Bridget McKenzie, for the push to hold an inquiry. Cathy has had been inundated with feedback following the buyer boycott at Barnawartha last month. The inquiry will give affected farmers and other stakeholders a chance to have input into recommendations for a fairer and more competitive market system. Local beef producers are encouraged to make a submission to the inquiry and attend a public hearing if one is held in the area. More information can be found at the Senate Committee website. Submissions will close on May 15.
Funding cuts will impact LGA services
Communities are feeling the impact of cuts to the Financial Assistance Grants (FAG) announced in the 2014-15 Budget. Cathy urged her colleagues to also fight for the ‘unfreezing’ of the indexation applied to FAG. FAG funding provides about 20 per cent of budgets for small rural councils. Services will be impacted in the long-term. This comes at a time when the Victorian State Government is capping rates and cutting the Country Roads and Bridges Program.
Leadership builds community potential
Cathy is passionate about community leadership. She was pleased to meet Rivers and Ranges Community Leadership Program leaders in Canberra this week. Cathy was a guest speaker at the panel session and told attendees community leadership is vital in regional areas.
First Private Member’s Bill
The 2014-15 Budget lacked a regional impact statement. Cathy believes the statement is a must if the needs of regional Australia are to be considered within the framework of the 2015-16 Budget and beyond. She called on Government last year to re-introduce the regional impact statement and also asked Treasurer Joe Hockey in Question Time. The Private Member’s Bill will be introduced to Parliament next Monday.
Saturday, March 21
- Yarra Ranges Women on Farms Gathering guest speaker
- 155 Years of state education in Yea Official Ceremony
Sunday, March 22
- Yackandandah Folk Festival
Last fall/autumn sitting before 2015-16 Budget - May 12
- Friday Night Conversation – Dr Guinever Threlkeld special guest speaker