It was wonderful to see rain fall across large parts of our region over the weekend, but while the falls have been welcomed it is vital that the message still gets out that we are still firmly locked in drought.
Much more wet stuff needs to fall from the sky in order for things to fully turn around, and while a lot of us are rejoicing we do need to spare a thought for those who may not have received overly substantial falls.
That is why I used the first sitting week of the 2020 NSW parliamentary calendar to personally deliver a letter to the office of Treasurer Dominic Perrottet asking for consideration to be given to further government support for drought-impacted regions of the state.
We've seen the excellent work done to help communities affected by the bushfire emergency, and that assistance is certainly worthwhile, but I have asked that consideration be given to offering the same kind of rate relief and low-interest loans for business in our regions.
Due to fiscal responsibility from the government, we're lucky to be in a position where the bushfire recovery efforts haven't come at the expense of drought support, and I look forward to further announcements being made in this area.
On Friday I announced that the Regent Theatre in Mudgee had been added to the NSW State Heritage List, a move which I believe will be a real win for the town and wider community. I know the Regent has a been a contentious issue in Mudgee for a while, and there is an element of the community who believes this move means the building will sit and gather dust.
That is incorrect. All it means is that any work that the owner, or future owners, want to do to the building has to be approved by the Heritage Council of NSW. I look forward to the Regent being a wonderful asset for the community, that provides a positive future while also remembering its past.
On Friday night I joined with members of the Dubbo community to say congratulations to Mark Nuttall on a great career at Dubbo PCYC. As manager of the facility, Mark has been a leader within the community and the work he has done has been invaluable.
Mark has retired and is looking forward to spending a lot of quality time with his family and friends, and with so many of those people in attendance it was a pleasure to go back to my broadcasting roots and chat with him about his 15 years in charge of the PCYC. I wish Mark, Sue and their family all the best.
Calling for further drought assistance
I have called for further financial support to be provided to residents and business owners in drought-impacted regions of regional NSW. I have written to NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet earlier this week, calling for similar provisions to the ones applied to bushfire-affected parts of the state, including rate relief, and working capital and low interest loans.
The proposed assistance would be similar to that rolled out across regions which have been affected by the devastating bushfires. What has happened to parts of NSW, particularly on the South Coast, has been nothing short of heartbreaking. There is no doubting that.
I applaud the NSW Government for taking the action it has to support those people and those communities, but I am calling on those same to be rolled out for our drought affected communities.
I have asked for rate relief for the first six months of the 2020/21 financial year, and for working capital loans of up to $50,000 and low interest loans of up to $500,000 to eligible businesses because these are measures that could help keep our towns afloat.
The proposed drought measures would complement existing drought support. Visit www.droughthub.nsw.gov.au.
Until next week, Dugald