In February, I visited NorthConnex to review progress on the project, which remains on time and on budget. While there, I took part in a General Awareness Training course run by Mates In Construction. In 2015, 54 per cent of people who died by suicide were men aged 25-64. The rate of suicide in the construction industry is alarmingly high, with an average of 182 deaths per year, or one suicide every second day. Mates In Construction aims to reduce the high level of suicide among Australian construction workers by raising awareness of mental health issues and training workers to recognise the early signs of suicide. Supporting these efforts will ensure the protection of construction workers across Berowra.
Also in February, we saw the most destructive storms our community has endured in years, with large hailstones and flash flooding in Hornsby, Glenorie, Berowra and Wisemans Ferry. That weekend, I was out on site to thank the volunteers from the SES and RFS who worked tirelessly to respond to over 700 calls for assistance.
I presented the Dural Rotary Club Australia Day Awards at the Dural Country Club last month. These awards recognised the tireless work and contribution of successful business owner, Don Stein AM, and of the remarkable Jillian Tourlis, who has had a transformative effect on Galston High School. I am looking forward to joining the Galston Rotary Club at their meeting this month.
Boost for Small Business
Parliament sat for three out of the four weeks in March. The Government is actively pursuing its goal of economic growth. Last week I spoke in support of our proposed company tax cut of 3.5% over the next decade. These reforms will allow the almost 15,000 small businesses across Berowra to expand and provide more jobs by reducing their tax burden, often their greatest expense. The decision of the Fair Work Commission concerning penalty rates should also allow small businesses to employ more staff and remain open more hours. The setting of penalty rates is a matter for the independent Fair Work Commission to determine, not the Government.
The Government is also focussed on making regulation easier for businesses by working with state and territory governments to streamline services. By the end of March, new business owners will be able to apply for business registration through a single website, reducing time spent filling out paperwork.
Another important focus for me is energy security and reliability. I often hear from families and businesses who are feeling the financial pressure of increasing power bills. We need a considered, balanced national energy policy that ensures energy security and reliability, but not at the expense of household budgets or business bottom lines. We must provide a reliable source of affordable, baseload power that makes use of our natural resources.