Kevin Humphries

STATE OF BARWON - 2017 IN REVIEW

2017 has been a year of investment for the NSW Government and the National Party in particular. The Barwon electorate has benefited from record levels of investment in infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, roads and public transport, laying the foundations to drive growth in our communities across Barwon. We have experienced a downward trend in unemployment, sitting at a low of 3.1 per cent, with growth in small and medium business an important focus.

As a result of the NSW Government’s strong economic and financial management and its successful reform agenda, we now share in world-class infrastructure and services, with over $56 million invested in major projects from Restart NSW funding. Major highlights in Barwon include Lightning Ridge HealthOne, Cobb Highway sealing at multiple locations, Silver City Highway sealing works at multiple locations, Baan Baa Water Supply Provision Project, Broken Hill Civic Centre Upgrade, Cobar Airport Upgrade and the Lightning Ridge Airport Upgrade.

We have created the Regional Growth Fund, a once-in-a-generation investment, providing Barwon communities with a more streamlined and responsive approach to investment. I am working directly with proponents throughout the application process, resulting in a much higher chance of success. To date our communities have received more than $6 million in Stronger Country Communities funding with further announcements to be made in the New Year.

More than $60 million was injected into the local economy through community grant programs in local sport, heritage, arts and tourism. Sporting clubs received more than $1.3 million with big ticket items including an upgrade to Pat Timmins Oval at Condobolin and Wee Waa Golf Club. More than $1 million was given to the Barwon electorate supporting community halls, libraries, tourism ventures and events. Local councils can now help protect our heritage with more than $350,000 being awarded for advisers, indigenous site protection planning and infrastructure upgrades. Nearly $120,000 went into road safety programs and bus shelter upgrades. 

Barwon covers 44 per cent of the state, and our road and freight infrastructure is vital to ongoing growth. More than $50 million has been provided to Barwon communities through the highly successful Fixing Country Roads program to upgrade critical freight corridors.

This funding also supports our growing primary industries sector. Primary industry in NSW is worth a record $15.4 billion in 2016/17, an increase of 32.4 per cent over the past three years. But we are facing tough seasonal times ahead, with dry and hot conditions forecast. This is why we committed $75 million in this year’s budget for concessional loans under the Farm Innovation Fund, assisting primary producers to prepare for drought.

Education is a key component of growth, and early childhood education is the foundation of that. Gulargambone Preschool, Lightning Ridge Preschool and Condobolin Preschool Kindergarten all received funding to support this foundation. More than $1 million has been provided to help teachers develop their skills, with mentoring and coaching support, and collaborative lesson planning which also strengthens their ability to receive higher levels of accreditation.

Wireless connectivity in rural schools is no longer a dream, with $46 million invested through the Connecting Country Schools program. Sixty-eight Barwon schools will benefit. School infrastructure is also a key priority, with St Mary’s School, Warren, benefitting from a $1.2 million grant from the Building Grants Assistance Scheme. The school community also financially supported the $1.7 million project.

TAFE students now have new avenues for higher learning, with the establishment of the Coonabarabran Connected Learning Centres (CLC). New multi-million dollar CLCs will transform the way our communities learn, and will be supported by new courses and a full range of mobile training units, continuing the quality training TAFE NSW is known for, and consistent with industry standards. Nyngan’s Tayla Martin has received $10,000 from the NSW Young Regional Artist Scholarship to support her professional development in the arts.

Supporting local events that showcase our electorate to the world has been high on our agenda. Boggabri’s Drover’s Campfire, the launch of the “NSW TrainLink Silver City Stiletto” and assistance for the Let’s Dance Carinda festival are just some of the outstanding projects the NSW Government has backed in our electorate.

Water security has been very topical in our electorate and I am continuing to work alongside the NSW Government to fight for water security in Barwon.  The issues have been well documented, with good reason, but their time in the spotlight has overshadowed the good work completed this year.

The Safe and Secure Water Program has delivered more than $40 million to provide regional NSW communities with access to high quality, reliable and affordable water that meets modern standards. Bourke and Brewarrina Shire Councils received a combined $11.7 million for water infrastructure upgrades, and Coonamble Shire was awarded a total of $1.7 million for flood mitigation work. The Baan Baa Water Supply project is complete and several councils received funding for upgrades to water treatment plants, reticulation networks, water bores and sewer systems.

We were able to announce John Holland MPC Group Joint Venture as the successful tenderer of the $467 million Wentworth to Broken Hill pipeline. This is a significant infrastructure project for regional NSW, injecting $50 million into the Wentworth and Broken Hill economics. It will generate more than 150 jobs, with 500 jobs expected at its peak.

A reform of water management in NSW has started, with the passing of the Natural Resources Access Regulator Bill 2017. This legislation establishes an independent Natural Resources Access Regulator to oversee water compliance and enforcement across the state. This demonstrates our commitment to be national leaders and water management and regulation ensuring NSW and Barwon residents are confident in how our precious natural resources are used and accounted for.

In an historic first, NSW became the first state in Australia to pass legislation acknowledging the value and importance of language to our country’s First Peoples, and to the cultural heritage of NSW. We have worked tirelessly alongside Aboriginal communities, Elders and language experts to develop legislation that acknowledges the importance of Aboriginal languages for past, current and future generations. The legislation was developed following extensive consultation at 32 workshops held across NSW and establishes an Aboriginal Languages Trust made up of Aboriginal community leaders to oversee the development of a strategic plan that will protect and strengthen Aboriginal languages.

In October 2017, William Mitchell and Andrew Sloane from Menindee Central School were some of the first students to sit an HSC Indigenous language exam, studying the Barkindji language HSC pilot program, with their coach Kayleen Kerwin who also helped to create the syllabus.  

I am proud of how far we have come and I’m committed to working alongside Aboriginal people throughout our electorate as we continue on this journey to promote and reawaken languages. 

I am looking forward to 2018; it will be another big year with continued economic growth and productivity through continued investment in our Barwon communities.

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and ask that all members of the community to look out for one another this holiday season. Whether you are staying home this Christmas season or getting away to enjoy all our electorate has to offer, the message remains the same: Get ready, act responsibly and look out for those around you.

Narrabri Electorate Office

Phone: (02) 6792 1422
Facsimile: (02) 6792 1466

Postal Address
60 Maitland Street
PO Box 345
Narrabri  NSW 2390

 

Cobar Electorate Office

Phone: (02) 6836 3722
Facsimile: (02) 6836 3811

Postal Address
11 Barton Street
PO Box 99
Cobar NSW 2835

Broken Hill Electorate Office

Phone: (08) 8087 3315
Facsimile: (08) 8087 1796

Postal Address
1/142 Argent Street
Broken Hill 2880