Thomas GeorgeMember for Lismore- State Matters
Submissions needed for draft forestry code
After attending a meeting recently regarding proposed changes to NSWs private native forestry industry, I have confirmed my concerns about the NSW Governments proposals and failure to consult with stakeholders. This areas landholders have only been given until August 22 to respond to the NSW Governments Draft Code of Practice for Private Native Forestry.
If the draft code were implemented as it stands, it is estimated that well over one million hectares of private land will be placed into reserve and Timber Communities Australia calculate that assets worth $2.5 million will be stripped from private landowners.
The Far North Coasts sawmills alone use an estimated 267,000 metres of sawlogs from private native forests. These mills employ 476 people and return an estimated $125 million to our communities.
To date, no regional impact statements, either social or economic, have been done on this draft code of practice and many people are not even aware the code is in the public arena. More than 1.3 million hectares of State Forests has been turned into National Park and now the government is wishing to lock up private land.
The government has already invested million of dollars under a Forestry Industry Structural Adjustment package to assist saw millers to continue in the industry following the withdrawal of resources from State Forests. The proposed draft code of practice will mean that many of the mills remaining will go out of business because they are relying heavily on private property resource as a result of government policy. It is therefore vital that affected stakeholders make a submission before the closing date.
My office also has a petition calling on the Minister for Natural Resources to: review the conditions of the code, consult appropriately with stakeholders, include an analysis of the social and economic benefit of the code and finalise the review by December 1. Copies of the petition are available on request.
Area Assistance applications open
Community-based organisations seeking grants are being encouraged to apply for the 2006 funding round for the Area Assistance Scheme (AAS).
The Area Assistance Scheme (AAS) provides grants to community based organisations for community development projects that connect communities through partnerships, build community leadership and capacity, or promote safer communities.
The 2006 funding round closes on September 6. To check eligibility and obtain further information visit www.communitybuilders.nsw.gov.au/aas.
Setting up local health boards
The NSW Coalition has announced a plan to give rural hospitals more say in the way they are run and make health services more responsive to the local community by setting up District Health Boards whose directors will be local community members.
Under Labor, the NSW health system has ballooned into a massive bureaucracy run from Sydney. This is a big issue for people in the Lismore area who rightly feel health is imposed on them from the city with little understanding of what smaller, rural hospitals need to deliver good service. Replacing Labors centralised health structure with local district boards will free up money for frontline services.
Having more community involvement in local hospitals will ensure a fairer distribution of resources between larger city hospitals and smaller country hospitals. The plan allows local communities to take back their hospitals and health services and should be warmly welcomed in this area.
Phone: 6621 3624
Fax: 6622 1403
Address: PO Box 52, Lismore, NSW, 2480