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A New Year With Challenges

One of the biggest challenges families face at the beginning of a new year, is having enough funds to cater for the essential school needs for their children. Things like uniforms, books, stationery and back packs, all add up.

That’s why the Back to School vouchers introduced by the previous Liberal/National Government, were so welcomed. Under this program, families received a $150 voucher per student, to assist with school expenses. It gave a critical boost to the household budget when pockets were typically empty.

Mental Health, Christmas Cheer

Premier Minns has steadfastly refused to renew the Liberal/National Government’s Back to School voucher program, at a time when cost of living stress is building. I will keep pushing for funding for this program, so that consideration can be given in the next state budget.

Have you been impacted by the disruption to ferry services at Sackville, Wisemans Ferry or Webbs Creek? It is challenging enough dealing with the scheduled maintenance work that takes out these ferries, but recent rolling industrial action has forced their closure on too many occasions, which for some travellers, can add up to five hours additional travel time per return trip.

Whilst the push for pay increases and improved working conditions have motivated the stoppages, the community is anxious and cranky with the approach in these negotiations, which has had a tremendous impact on families, tradies, primary producers, tourism and small business owners and importantly, emergency services personnel, every time the ferries close down.

To make matters worse, the Lower Portland Ferry is closed for maintenance too, which brings me to the matter of financing this service after the contract ends in June 2024. In the last term of government, I advocated for and secured two million dollarsin funding from the NSW Liberal/National Government. This funding shifted the cost burden away from The Hills Shire Council and Hawkesbury City Council, who traditionally are responsible for the upkeep and operational costs for the Lower Portland Ferry service.

Both Councils are appealing to the NSW Minns Labor Government to offer certainty for those locals living, working and travelling in this remote part of Hawkesbury. I am supporting their appeal to transfer the management and costs of this service, to the NSW government.

Premier Minns – you need to fix this by allocating ongoing funding to cover the upkeep, maintenance and staffing costs for the Lower Portland Ferry.Robyn Preston Ad A New Year With Challenges

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