Roy's Christmas Message 2020
It has been a remarkably difficult year for many people, we saw in the New Year in a cloud of bushfire smoke and dust. The worst drought we have ever suffered rolled on and we were struck by the first pandemic in this country in over 100 years.
Who would have thought 12 months ago that social distancing, hand sanitiser, ‘checking in’, COVID-19 safety plans, and Zoom meetings would become the new norm?
Who would’ve thought we would see supermarket shelves in Australia bare? And nobody would have predicted that we would be restricted from travelling across our own country, separated from friends and family.
I am learning that is customary at this time of year for local members to be asked what they’ve achieved over the year. Last year, in my Christmas message I spoke about putting Barwon back on the map with the intention of making sure that the NSW Government stops ignoring what is happening in our towns and communities. It’s safe to say they’ve finally started to sit up and pay attention we’ve had the Premier visit on a number of occasions, and pretty much every member of cabinet visit the electorate.
My Party and I have lobbied for and succeeded in getting the NSW Government to agree to a Federal Royal Commission into the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. I have sought and obtained agreement for Imperial Lake at Broken Hill to the vested from Essential Water to the community for use as a recreation facility. I have ensured that Yetta Dhinnakkal at Brewarrina was repurposed following the closure of the prison, and work is ongoing to ensure Warrrakirri at Ivanhoe is also repurposed.
I successfully lobbied the Treasurer to open up the COVID Small Businesses Grants to more businesses by allowing them to take account of the drought impacts on their turnover. I was able to successfully extend the availability of State and Federal funds for the Three Rivers retirement village in Dunedoo, and engaged Public Works as a project manager. I represented regional issues and perspectives on the Stay Safe road safety committee including the need for more rest areas, designated heavy vehicle rest areas, and the need for road upgrades to reduce trauma on local roads. This is just a sample of what my team and I have been able to achieve this year.
This year I am also proud of the fact we have taken the electorate offices to you, holding mobile offices in a number of towns across the year. The work my team has done has meant the help we are able to provide to you is more accessible than ever before. We look forward to seeing you in 2021.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank every single person I have met this year, every community group, show society, sporting club, community service organisation, government worker, farmer, school kid, parent, and volunteer – it is your stories and your want to see better communities that keeps the drive in me going. Together we will create a better Barwon.
It has been a trying year, and the tribulations are unfortunately not over yet. While there has been widespread rain not everyone is out of the woods, and years of thin business trading coupled with COVID restrictions mean our businesses need us to buy local this Christmas and beyond.
It is not all doom and gloom, there are some bright sparks among this year. Across the electorate harvesters are madly working to pull off what has been described as one of the best crops in decades. The closure of international borders has seen more people taking a holiday at home with caravaners and some school leavers heading to the NSW outback. Our main streets have a certain feeling of hope and Santa has found a way around international travel restrictions.
This year has shown us that we in Barwon are strong, we have tough communities that work together, that look after each other. This year more than ever, the bush spirit has been alive and well. That spirit has been helped by major investment into our communities for infrastructure and amenity - money I welcome, and Barwon deserves.
My Christmas message this year is to hold on to that spirt, to collaborate and show respect to those around you. We all have a role to play in our continued recovery from drought and COVID-19 in Barwon. This is not a time for one upmanship; it is a time for all members of the community to band together, to use our skills, to listen to each other and build a better future for our towns and communities.
On behalf of Team Barwon – John, Karen, Joy, Melissa, Sam, Mel, Danilla, Rachel, Grace and my family I wish you all a safe and happy Christmas and New Year.