Federal Member for Calare, Andrew Gee has welcomed news that an additional rural financial counsellor will be based in Bathurst to service the Central Tablelands area.
The announcement follows weeks of lobbying the Federal Government and the Rural Financial Counselling Service to place an additional counsellor in the Calare electorate. Currently, the Central Tablelands region is serviced by rural financial counsellors operating out of Dubbo, Mudgee and Young.
Mr Gee said the Rural Financial Counselling Service provides free financial counselling to farmers and related small businesses who are suffering financial hardship, including during times of drought.
“Many farmers are utilising the Rural Financial Counselling Service to access support measures such as the Farm Household Allowance, transport subsidies and drought concessional loans,” Mr Gee said.
“As I travel around the electorate, the feedback I’m receiving is that these financial counsellors are heavily booked by people needing help. They are covering a huge section of central western NSW and we desperately needed more boots on the ground.
“Following the announcement made by the Federal Government of $5 million for the Rural Financial Counselling Service, I got on the phone to the Federal Agriculture Minister and requested that additional financial counselling services be rolled out in the Central Tablelands. I followed that up with a formal request in writing and specifically raised it in The Nationals party room.
“I also made a number of speeches in the Australian Parliament on the need to deliver additional counsellors to the area and I’m pleased those calls have now been answered.”
Mr Gee said recruitment for the position had commenced and he hoped to see the role filled in the very near future. Additional counsellors were also planned for Parkes and Dubbo.