Central Wheatbelt: Stephen Strange

28 Feb, 2013 01:00 AM
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Liberal candidate for Central Wheatbelt, Stephen Strange.
Liberal candidate for Central Wheatbelt, Stephen Strange.

Liberal Party Candidate for Central Wheatbelt,

STEPHEN STRANGE

p I have been involved with the grain on rail discussion for almost three years. I have been campaigning strongly for the retention and upgrading of these lines and to date we have had two extensions of the closure date given. I welcome the Liberals' further commitment this week to keeping all commercially viable Tier 3 rail lines open.

If elected as a member of Colin Barnett's Liberal team, I would have direct access to the decision makers including the Premier and the Treasurer, and would be able to ensure they were fully aware of the importance of retaining Tier 3 for our local communities.

The game-changer on this issue has been the investment in locos and rolling stock by growers through their company CBH and a willingness to look at the long-term use of these lines.

p Over recent weeks, I have convened a number of community forums around our region to discuss the challenges facing farmers across the Central Wheatbelt.

As a grower myself, I understand only too well the hardships imposed by the rising rural debt situation. The forums made it clear that need for some form of Crop Mitigation Insurance (CMI) product for local producers is a high priority.

As Bruce Rock Shire president and a grain grower, I have been involved with CMI over several years, including discussions with an insurance provider capable of providing a standalone CMI product that will not require government backing.

I am also keen to see a greater focus on agricultural research to deal with environmental challenges. The Liberals' plan to invest an additional $20 million in agricultural research and development will be of tremendous benefit to local producers.

p Health and education is a massive talking point in the Central Wheatbelt.

The doctor's shortage and the Year 7 issue are keys to that.

The Liberal-led State Government's $585 million Southern Inland Health Initiative (SIHI) has been tremendous for the Central Wheatbelt and is seeing upgrade works at a number of hospitals across the regions.

My experience as shire president has given me direct involvement in planning for and meeting health care demands, from young children though to aged care.

The Liberals' plan to invest $57.2 million and employ an additional 155 school nurses to provide free health assessments for all WA children starting pre-primary will help ensure any issues are identified early on, so that children receive the best opportunity possible to learn.

If elected as part of Colin Barnett's Liberal team, I commit to working with families in smaller farming communities affected by the Year 7 transition.

We need to ensure the ongoing viability of schools in our community by embracing the use of new technology in learning and ensuring our teachers are well supported.

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