Nationals WA candidate for Central Wheatbelt,
p The Nationals WA have announced a $300 million Agriculture Policy that includes a $75m Infrastructure Fund which will be available for grain freight logistics, along with other infrastructure bottlenecks. What is immediately required is an open and transparent assessment of information that has developed since the original Strategic Grain Network Review was finalised in 2010. Since the recommendation was made to close Tier 3 rail lines, the State and Federal Governments have invested significantly into the grain freight network.
Following on from this investment CBH purchased new locomotives and wagons and they have formed a partnership with Watco. They have spent the last two years developing a new operating and maintenance model for the consideration of government - which they are yet to formally present for assessment.
As the only user of the rail, the CBH/Watco proposal must be assessed in a transparent manner to determine the best outcome for growers and the communities that will impacted by any proposed closures.
It is also imperative that the Transport Minister, CBH and Brookfield resolve the complex existing lease issues before CBH can implement its plan.
The Nationals have also committed to keep the lines open and maintained until a resolution is reached.
p The Nationals have recognised the importance of agriculture through its $300 million flagship agricultural policy. There is no doubt that some farmers are doing it tough with rising input costs and adverse seasonal conditions are making it more difficult to make a profit.
Our policy includes funding for skills development in regional agriculture and food businesses, including a free business diagnostic check, industry workshops and business advice.
The package also includes expanding the number of Yield Prophet sites and an Agtech initiative to enable growers to utilise modern technology to manage risk more effectively.
The Nationals support a commercial Multi-Peril Crop Insurance scheme and have invested heavily in automatic weather stations to provide the data needed to support such a scheme.
p Health and education are the two key issues that are raised with me in the electorate. Through Royalties for Regions we have started to address some of the challenges in delivering quality health services to the Wheatbelt.
We are one year into the five-year Southern Inland Health Initiative, a $565 million program that includes incentive packages for more doctors, upgrades to hospitals and nursing posts, state-of-the-art telehealth technology for our hospitals, primary health care teams and aged care service planning and infrastructure.
Royalties for Regions has also funded new planes for the RFDS and support for St John's Ambulance.
In education, I understand the Federal Government's National Curriculum strategy will impact some communities more than others and The Nationals will continue to work to make sure our regional students are not disadvantaged.
In the past four years we've allocated significant funding to upgrade education facilities in the region, including residential boarding facilities, so there are more education options closer to home.