My Fortnightly Update
I’ve been working with Sarah Holloway on a new podcast series, Noise Before Defeat. It’s about national security, our national preparedness and what we need to do to maintain our sovereignty. Click here to get it on Apple or click here for Spotify
COVID has certainly changed the way we think about Australia’s future. The Morrison Government has delivered a strong package of new initiatives to get Australia working again in the jobs of the 21st Century. In addition to the ‘Jobs’ package of assistance, the Prime Minister has emphasised Modern Manufacturing and placed a priority on six sectors: Resources Technology & Critical Minerals Processing; Food & Beverage; Medical Products; Recycling & Clean Energy; Defence; and Space.
Jobs in these industries can be found all over New South Wales. Our state is probably the leading innovator in the nation, and I see evidence of that every day. I see it in places like Manildra Group, who turned to making sanitising products at the start of COVID. I’ve also seen great IT and defence innovations coming out of Nowra and Queanbeyan: truly extraordinary stuff that makes our nation safe (more on that below). The Snowy Hydro 2 Scheme is getting ready to bore its tunnels to produce the clean energy we need to power the region. And most importantly, the Government has put money into new manufacturing jobs: this is not a wish list.
It’s jobs like these that will secure our future, not some ‘back to the future’ plan like Labor offers.
The Morrison Government has also emphasised ‘supply chain integrity’; a fancy way of saying that when you’ve got the ducks lined up to make something, you can be sure those ducks are there when needed. Industry Minister Karen Andrews is now looking at how we make sure that Australia gets both the finished product and components that we need to maintain our sovereignty in times of crisis—so we can’t be blackmailed or punished by an ever-aggressive China. You probably won’t see much about this work in the news, but it is going on and it is essential to our future and security.
At the same time, the Government is focused on rebuilding the local areas devastated by bushfires last summer. It has been great to drive around the Shoalhaven and South Coast and see the green shoots of recovery. But we know that many of our neighbours are still doing it tough. I’m in constant contact with people all over south-eastern NSW, and I know that relief cannot come fast enough. It’s been great though to see the money for grants, stimulus work and new infrastructure arriving. You can find information about your local area—and advice on how to get assistance yourself—at the National Bushfire Recovery Agency website. Remember to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you see that something is not being attended to.
As we go into the next summer, can I urge you to look around your properties and local areas for any remaining fire and storm hazards. Please encourage your friends to do the same. By paying attention now, you will reduce the risk to yourselves, your families, your neighbours and the brave firies and emergency workers who will undoubtedly come to help should the worst happen. You can get some great tips from the NRMA’s First Saturday website.
My Budget Road Trip
Last week I had the pleasure of travelling around New South Wales to visit businesses and individuals, and discuss the 2020 Budget. It was encouraging to see the tremendous effect the 2020 Budget and the Morrison Government’s COVID-19 support has had on businesses and families.
While visiting Huskisson I dropped in at the Husky Bakery to speak with the owners Justine and Troy Bryce (pictured below). They currently employ around 45 staff including 4 apprentices and 6 trainees. When I visited last week, Justine became emotional when talking about how JobKeeper and the Instant Asset Write Off had enabled them to keep their doors open. Now they are roaring back and have expanded their business. That means they are searching for more workers. Growing, expanding, creating jobs, growing beyond the need for support of government.
Another stop we made was to The Marshmallow Co. in Wyong…I highly recommend everyone go in and try their spectacular marshmallows! Once again, I was delighted to hear of the ways the Morrison Government had assisted the owners Joel Twyman and Breah Mayer during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Marshmallow Co. accessed JobKeeper and the Instant Asset Write Off to aid them through the pandemic. They purchased large mixing equipment using this government support. Now they’re increasing their online shopping operations, reaching more customers with more products.
These are just two examples of some of the small businesses we visited on our Budget road trip. Thank you to everyone for their hospitality. It was great to see local businesses bouncing back after the Black Summer Bushfires and COVID-19.
Shoutout – Monaro Rail Trail
I was delighted in September to attend a meeting in Cooma with the Steering Team of the Monaro Rail Trail (MRT) Project. You don’t need to be a passionate cyclist or fitness fanatic to know that rail trails—converting rail lines to riding/jogging/walking surfaces and developing extensive associated tourist services—are enjoying great success at present in Australia, New Zealand and indeed globally.
The NSW Government has confirmed that it is not feasible to upgrade or redevelop the disused rail corridor from Queanbeyan to Bombala as a rail line. MRT committee members are from communities along this route. They have been working tirelessly since August 2015 to put the line to productive use. Preserving 130+ years of railway history is an important aim: many stations, freight yards, bridges and even a small tunnel along the way are NSW Heritage listed. The timber bridges and tunnel near Bredbo reveal, in superb detail, the magnificent skills of the 1880s builders. These will be prominent attractions along the trail.
The Snowy Monaro Regional Council has conducted a feasibility study on the trail, and the draft report recommends that the trail should proceed subject to conditions being met. The MRT Steering Team has supported these findings and is keen to continue engagement with those with concerns about the proposal. That’s a commitment I welcome. The team points to the sustained, significant boost to local economies along the Tumbarumba-Rosewood Rail Trail, and they proudly proclaim that the Monaro Rail Trail could be the longest and greatest in Australia. It would rival and exceed the world-famous 150km Otago Rail Trail in New Zealand.
Back to my September meeting! It is not often that I walk away from a consultation where we have ‘put a tick’ in the following boxes: COVID-19 recovery; bushfire recovery; mental and physical health benefits for our communities, cyclists, walkers, disabled outdoor users and visitors; revitalisation of regional tourism (including off-snow season); boosting town and village businesses; and regional employment opportunities. On top, it’s all part of a wonderfully sustainable activity. The trail will turn an unproductive asset into a low impact public asset that contributes to the regional economy. Landcare groups will also help with some monitoring activities and revegetating our mighty Monaro landscape. To realise this, we need the widest community support and commitment.
I thank Cooma Community Nurse Mary Walters and the MRT Inc Committee and Steering Team for their extraordinary dedication to this project. We live in a fabulous part of Australia, and I share their desire to promote it. I look forward to working with them to secure appropriate funding for the Monaro Rail Trail Development Plan and Business Case, which are the next two action points for this magnificent project.
Veterans’ Health and Well-being
Veterans’ Health Week begins on 24 October 2020. Many events are planned to help veterans connect and re-connect. You can find those in your local area here: https://www.dva.gov.au/health-and-treatment/work-and-social-life-programs/veterans-health-week. In New South Wales you can go to Yoga & Coffee at the Yass RSL, a coffee catch-up morning tea at Soldier On Port Macquarie, or even a Comedy Night at the Defence Shed in Wagga. These events are all aimed at supporting the health and wellbeing of veterans.
Wellbeing Australia is also putting on many events as part of the Veteran Wellbeing Summit. These events are available to current and ex-ADF personal, their partners and family members, their support networks, and medical and health professionals. I am proud to be the patron of this terrific organisation. If you wish to register for these events, please head to www.veteranwellbeingsummit.com.au
I hope all my veteran mates will find the time to get out over this week. We must remember that it’s just as important to build new social connections as it is to maintain the old ones.
Nominations for Veterans’ Employment Awards now open
The 2021 Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Awards recognise the contributions made by organisations and veterans in the civilian workforce.
These awards are part of the Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Program, which is aimed at building an understanding in the greater community of the valuable skills of ADF personnel.
Nomination categories for the 2021 Prime Minister’s Veterans’ Employment Awards are:
- Veteran Employee of the Year
- Veteran Entrepreneur of the Year
- Veterans’ Employer of the Year – Small
- Veterans’ Employer of the Year – Medium
- Veterans’ Employer of the Year – Large
- Public Sector Excellence in Supporting Veteran Employment
- Excellence in Supporting Veteran Employment
- Excellence in Supporting Partner Employment
Nominations close on 20 November 2020. For further information please visit: https://www.veteransemployment.gov.au/prime-ministers-veterans-employment-awards/awards
Article of Interest
Last week my Op-Ed “Op-Ed: Preparing for the potential flash point that is Taiwan’s 2020 presidential election” was published in Defence Connect.
In this article I discuss the potential of conflict between China and the US over Taiwan. While this conflict is likely to be small scale and not involve actual shooting, we should not be complacent.
A successful occupation of Taiwan would see China become the predominant regional power. US credibility would suffer what might be a fatal blow in the eyes of regional countries. What would a rampant China then do?
Last Fortnight’s Media