Kevin Humphries’ State of Barwon
RURAL FUEL PRICES INQUIRY
Everyone out here is well aware of the disparity between fuel prices in metropolitan and rural areas and for a lot of businesses, it is a crippling cost. The discrepancy became more pronounced last month as we watched record price plunges in the cities and waited for them to be passed on to us at our local servos. The National Party raised the issue with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and at a NSW level, I feel it needs to be investigated further. With this in mind I will be instigating an Upper House inquiry into rural fuel prices. The inquiry will uncover any unfair practices, will make necessary recommendations into future prices and will make sure that businesses and communities in Barwon are paying a fair price for their fuel.
It has been brought to my attention over the last week that the Electoral Commission has closed a number of regional polling places in Barwon this year, including Louth, Wanaaring, Nymagee and Rowena. I have raised this issue with the Electoral Commission and explained the importance of having polling booths in smaller, remote areas is just as great as larger centres. I hope to be able to update you with good news soon.
WAMBELONG FIRES ENQUIRY
Late last week the Upper House concluded its inquiry and tabled a report into the Wambelong Fire. The report contains a number of recommendations and I know many people are eager to see us take action now. I understand the concern to implement these suggestions, however we are still waiting on the Coroner’s inquest to be completed. Were we to take action before the Coroner’s report it would be placing the cart before the horse so in order to ensure the best outcome for the community, we will wait for the Coroner’s advice.
A recent article in the Daily Telegraph wrongly claimed that the Government is forcing solar owners to relocate their solar panels to face westward. I would like to clarify that this is not the case. In fact, the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) suggested that households should have been required to face their solar panels west to generate electricity in the afternoons. West-facing panels generate electricity at a time of day when the majority of households are using the greatest amount of power and therefore the price of electricity is at its peak. Households with panels facing north may realise significant savings by reorienting them to the west (depending on their specific circumstances), however the Government is not mandating any requirement for solar panels to face west.
INSTITUTE OF OPEN ADOPTION
Mike Baird has announced a re-elected NSW Liberals & Nationals Government will establish Australia’s first government-supported Institute of Open Adoption to further reduce any barriers to adoption. Open adoption incorporates ongoing contact between the adopted child, the parents, and the adoptive parents where it is in the child’s best interests. Open adoption can be the best option to provide children with stability in instances where safe, secure and stable family homes are not available. The NSW Government will provide $2.85 million to establish the Institute of Open Adoption, which will lead high quality independent research into open adoption to inform policy, professional development and practice in the field.
NEW $30,000 ART & TECHNOLOGY FELLOWSHIP OPENS
The NSW Government is offering a new $30,000 Art & Technology Fellowship to all NSW artists at any stage in their career and I strongly encourage artists in the Barwon Electorate to apply for this wonderful opportunity to introduce or expand the use of technology in their work. This new Fellowship supports a self-directed program of professional development that might include travel, mentorships and internships with arts, technology or science practitioners, residencies, short-term courses and workshops, research, the creation of new work, and the cost of technological or other equipment to assist in the production of new work. The winner of this Fellowship will also have the opportunity to develop a partnership with Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS) that could include a residency at one of the Museum’s sites for up to six months, access to research and technical assistance. Applications close on Wednesday, 25 March 2015. For more information, and to apply for the Fellowship: www.arts.nsw.gov.au
PROTECTING THE VULNERABLE THROUGH SOCIAL IMPACT INVESTMENT
Our Government has a proud record in delivering services and support to vulnerable members of the community, but we know that we can’t do it alone. With that in mind, we have announced the Social Impact Investment Policy, the first of its kind in Australia. This bold new approach to providing social and economic benefits for NSW will see us pursue innovative partnerships with investors and the non-government sector to deliver better services to vulnerable members of the community. We will partner with investors and the non-government sector to develop two new social impact investments to go to market every year. The Baird Government pioneered Australia’s first two social benefit bonds, and if we’re re-elected next month, we will build on the momentum from their encouraging early results. By harnessing the innovation and capital of the non-government sectors, we can deliver better outcomes for the community and better value for taxpayers to benefit areas such as youth homelessness, mental health and recidivism. The Social Impact Investment Policy and more information on Social Impact Investment is available at www.dpc.nsw.gov.au/sii.
OUT AND ABOUT
This week I’ll be spending time in Cobar and Warren, before heading south for ministerial duties on Friday. On Saturday I’ll be back in the electorate and very much looking forward to attending the Dinner Under the Stars at Gulargambone. The event was a huge success last year and I’ve no doubt will be just as good this year.
It was fantastic to be able to present Fixing Country Roads funding to the Warrumbungle, Walgett and Coonamble Shires last week. As I have travelled around the electorate, the neglect of rural roads has been very apparent and since we were elected to government, we have ensured that historic levels of funding have been directed to this area. The result is, and will be stronger, safer roads capable of carrying higher load limits, therefore benefiting our farmers, freight companies and communities in general.