Last week the CWA of NSW released its policy priorities in the lead up to the state election.
We are calling for a transformative approach to regional NSW by our state's leaders. Key policy imperatives include more equitable and significant funding for regional areas, particularly for transformative infrastructure projects such as significant road projects linking Sydney to the west of the state, and the construction of new dams.
Also topping our list of election asks is improved access to drought support. We are pleased to see many parties have genuinely turned their minds to the needs of rural, regional and remote NSW, however it is clear we need to see more from the state's leaders, whichever way the election goes.
Our list of policy imperatives has been developed and voted on from our members, and outlines what country people are asking for. We are seeking more than the token 'tick-and-flick' attitude for the bush. We want innovative policies that establish new regional jobs and encourage decentralisation.
There's urgent need for equitable funding into health, education and social issues for the bush. We're calling on state politicians to lobby their federal counterparts to place Q-Fever vaccination onto the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. We want improved blood storage for country hospitals and better nurse to patient ratios. Other priorities include: a cardiac bus service to service rural and regional areas; more measures to protect health employees against increasing violence and assaults; housing options for older women faced with homelessness or a housing crisis.
Our agricultural industries need support too. We are seeking a commitment to continued and ongoing drought support and recovery above current initiatives.
Specifically, funding should be made available to capture a larger pool of rate and fee relief including local government rates and vehicle rates payable by farmers and farm-reliant contractors or businesses. The eligibility for water infrastructure grants should be expanded. Pest animals are having a devastating impact on farm businesses and the environment of regional communities, in already tough times.
We believe the future for country NSW is bright and exciting. The resilience of country NSW has and is being demonstrated during the current drought. We need a state government that harnesses that potential so that rural and regional NSW, and its people can thrive.
We are pleased with the response provided by the state's political leaders in that all have articulated the upmost importance of country NSW to the state and we applaud them for that. However, all parties can and need to go further in making firm commitments to improving the lives of country people.
The CWA of NSW election priorities were released along with a series of responses received from those contesting the election. View them at www.cwaofnsw.org.au/election2019