Matters of State with Member for Orange Phil Donato

MP Phil Donato met with flood-impacted Forbes farmers and visited the State Emergency Service headquarters.
MP Phil Donato met with flood-impacted Forbes farmers and visited the State Emergency Service headquarters.

While in Parliament last week I met with Premier Dominic Perrottet. This was the first opportunity to meet with him since his appointment following the sudden resignation from the leadership role by Gladys Berejiklian.

I discussed a number of things with the new Premier however, I highlighted a list of priorities for the electorate.

I detailed a number of investment opportunities which I have advocated for since being elected, and some of which are considered essential and need urgent attention, such as a new operating theatre for the Forbes Hospital, a Positron Emission Tomography Scanner for the Orange Health Service, and a school hall at the Trundle Central School. Others are longer term projects which would derive economic and employment opportunities.

I also pointed out some deficiencies in our frontline workforce, which need addressing. The Premier was highly engaging throughout the meeting and the feedback I got was that he would review my listed priorities for consideration in the next budget.

COVID TESTING REMINDER

The new variant of COVID-19 named Omicron was first identified just a few short weeks ago in southern Africa. It has already found its way to our shores.

Omicron is believed to be highly transmissible, even more so than the Delta variant which rapidly spread into the regions and prompted expediting of the nation-wide vaccination scheme. It isn't yet known how effective current vaccinations are against Omicron.

In spite of the success of restrictions, coupled with the vaccination program, which has seen the decline in the numbers of infection, we should not become complacent.

We're still experiencing some cases across the region, so we need to continue COVID testing. Even if you have the most minor of flulike symptoms, get tested. Don't just write that sneeze or running nose off as hay fever.

VOLUNTARY ASSISTED DYING

Last week the NSW Legislative Assembly finished a lengthy debate on the polarising Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021, introduced to NSW Parliament earlier this year by the Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich.

Debate was prolonged with a great number of amendments. I voted in support of the Bill, which passed with 52 votes for and 32 votes against.

The Bill has now been referred to the Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice for inquiry, and the report will be finalised by the first sitting day of 2022 for consideration of the Upper House before the Bill is debated there.

DISASTER DECLARATION

With prolonged rain across the state many communities have been flood affected. The LGAs of Bathurst, Blayney, Blue Mountains, Brewarrina, Broken Hill, Cabonne, Cobar, Cowra, Forbes, Gilgandra, Gunnedah, Gwydir, Lachlan Shire, Moree Plains, Narrabri, Port Macquarie Hastings, Tenterfield, Upper Hunter, Warrumbungle and Weddin have all been declared areas of natural disaster from flood and storm. The onset of La Nina will see the conditions prevail and it may be some time before the floodwaters fully recede.

The damage and interruptions to people's lives and livelihoods are substantial. Farmers' crops have been destroyed or significantly damaged, livestock in the flood zone have been lost and farm infrastructure such as fences have been wrecked.

I recently toured the flood zone at Forbes, and the damage to roads, buildings and family homes. I also toured Molong on Saturday to inspect flood damage to local businesses there.

I want to acknowledge the people affected by the storms and flooding, and would encourage the residents of the Local Government Areas classified for natural disaster in the list above to contact Resilience NSW for disaster relief and support.

Flood and storm affected primary producers, small business, sport and recreation clubs, not-for-profits, individuals and families can enquire online at https://www. nsw.gov.au/resilience-nsw or call 13 77 88.

A big shout out to all the SES, emergency services, local councils and volunteers who've worked tirelessly in the flood-affected communities - thank you!