News Parliament

BILLS - APPROPRIATION BILL (NO. 1) 2017-2018 - SECOND READING

The budget handed down by the Treasurer on 9 May has been an excellent budget for Calare, country Australia and the nation generally. I think all members would agree that there are better days ahead. A highlight of the budget, of course, was the new Gonski funding—$18.6 billion over the next 10 years for schools right across Australia. That is great news for the 111 primary and secondary schools in the Calare electorate and their 27,362 students. That is fantastic news. Pensioners are also winners in this year's budget, with almost 93,000 pensioners getting the pensioners concession card. That is excellent news. Plus, the energy supplement of between $75 and $125 is also being made available, which will help with this winter's power bills.

I was also delighted to see the $472 million has been allocated for the Regional Growth Fund, which will certainly help to grow our regional infrastructure. Of course, speaking of infrastructure, we have the Inland Rail, which was one of the big nation-building projects announced in this year's budget. For Calare, of course, that will mean that our primary producers will have another option in terms of how they get their produce to market. Certainly our electorate is the nation's food basket—it is commonly referred to as that—so this is a very important development. But it will also be a big economic driver for our neighbours in Parkes. I know they have been pushing for this for many years, and I congratulate them, including Mayor Ken Keith, on their efforts in Parkes, because that was a big event for them.

I would particularly like to focus on two important measures in the budget which are going to make life better for people in my electorate. Of course, the first one is the full funding of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. This has been welcome news right across the electorate. It gives certainty to people living with disabilities, their families and their carers. It is wonderful for them to know that their needs will be met as the NDIS is rolled out. Of course it is going to be paid for with an increase in the Medicare levy. This will ensure that the funding gap that did exist under Labor will now be filled. That is really important news. I think we all agree that the National Disability Insurance Scheme is a very important initiative, but it is one that needs to be paid for. I think with this budget we have for the first time certainty in terms of it being funded. There will be no more funding gaps.

There are close to 30 registered service providers for the National Disability Insurance Scheme in the electorate of Calare. I would like to mention a few of these providers. LiveBetter, formerly known as CareWest, is a not-for-profit community service organisation that has been operating in our area for a number of decades. The LiveBetter team are dedicated to the people of regional Australia, including the central west, where it had its origins. They pride themselves on integrity, cooperation, empowerment, respect and excellence. The decision to change the organisation's name from CareWest to LiveBetter was derived from something a customer said to them—'We all want to live better.'

LiveBetter operates in 15 locations, including Mudgee, Bathurst, Dubbo, Wagga, Parkes, Cowra, Bourke and Broken Hill. They are the largest regionally based provider in eastern Australia. As well as providing disability services they offer aged care, care and respite, and home and community care. Behind this vital service are more than 850 staff members and volunteers, who are led by an incredible team. Tonight I would like to mention some of those team members. The chief executive officer is Tim Curran. I have known Tim for a number of years. He is certainly a dynamic chief executive officer. He always has the best interests of country people at heart. I note that after the budget he highlighted the importance of fully funding the NDIS.

I would like to mention Tony Pierce, the chief financial officer; Nerissa Marat, the general manager for people and culture; Craig Tye, the chief information officer; Peter Quinlan, the general manager for strategy and business development; Steve Stanton, whom I have also known for a long time, the general manager of community services; Ben Wyatt, the general manager of disability services; Frances Shannon, the senior manager for quality; Dr Gregory Dresser, the senior manager for research and evaluation; Marc Bonney, the senior manager for corporate communications; Liz Evans, the business development manager; Peta Larsen, the senior manager for clinical services; Patrick Wilsmore, the regional manager for disability services; Shane Raynor, the senior manager for out-of-home care; and Sim Madigan, the marketing and public relations officer, who does an outstanding job for the organisation. She is someone whom we in my office have worked closely with, both at the federal level and previously at the state level. She does a great job. I also have to mention LiveBetter Board President George Blackwell, who is a well-regarded and well-respected solicitor in Orange. He has shown great leadership in that role.

I congratulate the team from LiveBetter. I had the pleasure to work with them on the upgrade and transformation of the old Apex House site at Orange, which is part of the old Orange hospital precinct. I cannot speak highly enough of the team and the work they do in our country communities, so congratulations, LiveBetter.

Bathurst is home to Glenray, which is also a not-for-profit organisation that offers residential, respite, vocational, community support and day activities for people with disabilities. Glenray started from humble beginnings in 1957 by the Dowling family and Mrs Glen Fogarty, who wanted to see a school in Bathurst that catered for people with disabilities. The name Glenray comes from Mrs Fogarty's Christian name and from the ray of hope that was kept for the school.

Today, 60 years on, Glenray has 200 staff and a wonderful board and executive team. Brian Adams is the chair. John McMahon is the vice-president and a board member. Ian Hooper is the treasurer and a board member. The secretary is Evan Dowd. Judy McGirr is on the board, as is John Ireland and also Steve D'Allesandro. Jane Watson is a highly valued board member at Glenray. The CEO is Susan Williams, who does a terrific job. The chief financial officer is Scott Green, and the general manager of support services is Greg Oastler. The laundry manager is Richard Smith. The Glenray industrial services manager is Scott Gold, and I thank Scott for the tour that he gave me of his part of Glenray recently. The manager of people and culture is Craig Shiel, and the marketing manager is Tamara Townsend, who does a terrific job. Glenray also provides laundry and linen hire and industrial services such as the construction of bed bases. And as I said, I had the opportunity to visit Glenray and to see firsthand the wonderful work they are doing for Bathurst and its surrounding districts.

I also want to mention the Mudgee Disability Support Service. This is a not-for-profit organisation that covers the Midwestern area, including Mudgee, Gulgong and Kandos. They have about 20 staff and an amazing board of directors. I would like to make mention of them in this House today. Christine Puxty is the chief executive officer. Fred Smith is the chair, Sue Field is the secretary, and Simon Byrnes is the treasurer. I also need to make mention of Adam Woods, who is a board member, and also of board members Simon Bennett and Annette Petrie.

In 2004, a purpose-built children's group home was built to provide 24-hour, seven day a week care to five children, and four are still looked after and cared for by the Mudgee Disability Support Service. They also offer day programs, respite care, drop-in support and a range of other services including social programs. For over five years they have been putting on an annual show that is held on the Mudgee Town Hall. The clients choose what show to perform, and this year it was a parody of Willy Wonka. I am told it was sold out, with 370 tickets, so congratulations. Those 370 tickets were sold for the evening performance and matinee.

I want to make mention of the Lithgow Information & Neighbourhood Centre, which is also providing crucial support to the community. I would like to make mention of the chair, Julie Murnane; vice chair, Shirley Vernon; Bev Wiggins, a director; Michael Wilson, the public office director; Toni Macdonald; Bronwyn Webb, Pat Okon and Ray Thompson, who are all directors; Pam Haddin, who is the secretary; and also John Stack, the treasurer. I would also like to make mention of service managers Lydia Commins, Kim Scanlon, Jennifer Wilson, Leventay Boda and Meg Benson. The centre has been running in its present form, with its current services, since 2000; however, the records date back to early 1989. Their programs include disability services, support coordination, assisted living options, respite, drop-in support and support for community and children. I would like to congratulate and thank those organisations and all organisations in Calare working for people with disabilities and related services.

As we know, another highlight of the budget was the extension of the $20,000 instant asset write-off for a further 12 months, and this is going to be of great value to small businesses in our electorate. All manner of businesses are going to be able to benefit from this, from big to small. In the time I have left, I want to make mention of a number of businesses: Papadino's Pizzeria in Lithgow, which is—

An honourable member: Great pizzas!

Mr GEE: They are great pizzas, as the member rightly points out. It has been owned by Brian White for the past 20 years and has two valuable staff members in David Bartley and Theresa Pilla. It is a unique operation in that they have an old record machine, and when you go in there they will put on a disk of your choice. The last time I was in there, fairly recently, we had Frank Sinatra. I would recommend it to members. It is in the main street of Lithgow, and it is a Lithgow institution.

In Wellington, I also need to make mention of a legendary shearer by the name of Hilton Barrett, who is the owner of Help'em Shearing. Help'em Shearing is based in Wellington, but they also go to Dubbo, Mudgee, Forbes, Walgett and all over the west of New South Wales. Hilton has represented New South Wales in a number of shearing competitions and has been crowned Australian champion twice and set a number of world records. As I said, he is an Aussie shearing legend and a small business operator. Hilton, this House collectively doffs its hats to you tonight.

Now, to Blayney and the famous Akehurst Bakery—previously owned by Frank Akehurst for more than 40 years, and now owned and operated by Matthew and Denise Hutchison, who took over the business 12 months ago. A year later, they say business is going well. In fact, they started delivering into Molong this week, and, just this morning, they hired a new apprentice, Norton Ellis. I would like to make mention of the other members of the team at Akehurst, including baker Tom Elkins, pastry chef Scott Wolfson, cake decorator and shop supervisor Ashley Wonson, and staff members Dianne Hanrahan, Megan Eberhard and Joanne Bratby.

I would also like to make mention of another local success story, PJL Group. This company was started in 2006 by three mates: Luke Buckland, Phil Wilkin and Joel Spagnolo. They founded the mechanical and engineering business in a shed on Luke's Molong property. Now, they operate in Orange, Parkes, Cobar, Mount Isa and Perth with more than 300 staff—150 in Orange. Dean Jarvis is their major projects and tender coordinator. They are interested in moving into defence contracting. They have developed their own hybrid version of an underground loader and secured their first sale, so manufacturing is alive and well in Orange.

The Aden Hotels Group in Gulgong needs special mention. In 2012, the local Adendorff family purchased the Comfort Inn in Mudgee and started their business. They now own the Gulgong Motel, Aden Apartments in Mudgee, and the Palate Restaurant and Conference Centre. The Aden Hotels Group boasts 20 staff, and I would like to recognise owners Joe and Deon Adendorff, their son Joe and his wife Jill, general managers Patrick and Sonya Brennan, chef Dylan Mackinlay, and head housekeeper Shannon Smalle. Aden Hotels Group recently won the Excellence in Small Business award for western New South Wales, and they will head to Sydney in November for the state awards as finalists.

I need to make mention of Barkers Butchery up in Oberon, which is owned by Wayne Barker—he is the president of the Bathurst Harness Racing Club as well. He took over the business in 1978 after completing his apprenticeship, and he has got some wonderful staff members there in Kevin Hanrahan and Jaden Madiziala. Arrows Newsagency in Oberon is another integral part of the community. I need to make mention of Roger Arrow and his wife Joan. They have five part-time staff, including Pat Robinson, Christine Culley, Beryl White, Donna Gilmore and Denise Voytilla. Can I congratulate all of those businesses on the important work that they are doing, and those businesses just like them. We certainly value their contribution to our local economies, and it is fitting that we pay tribute to them here in this House today.