Don PageMember for Ballina- State Matters
NSW community preschools
I recently attended a rally at Brunswick Heads to bring awareness to the plight of preschools in NSW.
NSW has the lowest participation rate of all the states with only 60 per cent of children attending preschools (including long day care). Participation rates in other states are around 90 per cent or higher. NSW also has the highest fees, which is causing financial stress for many NSW parents with children of preschool age.
The Liberal/National Coalition has announced it will invest more than $362 million in NSW preschools over four years if elected in March 2007. The funding boost will reduce fees for parents, increase participation for children and improve the quality of NSW preschools.
Of the $362 million, $217 million will be allocated to those preschools currently funded through the Department of Community Services. This will be in addition to existing funding.
A further $115 million will be spent to enable more four-year-olds to attend preschool at least two days a week. The final $30 million will be used for capital upgrades to improve the quality of preschool facilities across NSW.
A Liberal/Nationals Government will transfer the responsibility for regulation of NSW preschools from the Department of Community Services to the Education portfolio. Preschools provide an important component of the education process and the move to the Department of Education and Training reflects this. This move will not jeopardise preschools autonomy or the local feel of our 800 community-based preschools.
Ballina bypass update
The Ballina bypass is a step closer to actuality with the RTA expected to call tenders for pre-construction work this month.
The pre-construction work would include planning, land acquisitions and the construction of embankments over the soft floodplain soils in areas along the bypass route. One of the major challenges associated with the construction of the Ballina bypass will be the deep soft soils in the floodplain areas. Significant settlement is expected in some areas and trial embankments have been constructed.
The length of the approved Ballina bypass will be 12.4 kilometres of divided carriageway 6.6km shorter than the equivalent section of the existing Pacific Highway.
The federal and state governments announced in December last year the Ballina bypass was fully funded and construction would start as soon as possible.
We are now seeing further progress on the project and it is great news for Ballina that the much-needed Ballina bypass is closer to becoming a reality.
Route selection started in the late 1990s and Ministerial approval for the selected route was given in May 2003. Its been a long process, but it is encouraging to see the long-awaited Ballina bypass is making progress.
Invitation for Roads Minister
After four fatal accidents recently on North Coast roads I have invited the NSW Roads Minister Eric Roozendaal MLC to visit the North Coast and see first hand the many road issues that confront our community.
The state of our roads and the impact of increased traffic volume are serious issues that demand proper attention.
I have strongly urged the Minister to visit the North Coast to see for himself the need to address the ongoing issue of lives being unnecessarily lost on our roads.
The Auditor-Generals recent report showing the NSW Government is achieving less than 30 per cent of their own objectives in their Road Safety Strategy should give the Roads Minister great cause for concern.
I have also urged the Minister to use this opportunity to meet with local community members on this and other issues.
Capital Assistance Scheme
Applications for the 2006/07 Capital Assistance Scheme are open until May 31.
The Capital Assistance Scheme is offered through NSW Sport and Recreation and assists local government authorities and not-for-profit organisations to develop community orientated local sporting and recreational facilities.
Application forms are available from my office or at www.dsr.nsw.gov.au.
Phone: 6686 7522
Fax: 6686 7470
Address: PO Box 1018, Ballina, NSW, 2478