Tuesday, 6 February 2024
MEMBER for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall has wasted no time getting back down to business in State Parliament today, tabling two Bills which seek to reduce enormous cost burdens on the region’s local councils and return local power and control over frontline health services.
“Last year I introduced two Private Members Bills, to amend the Rural Fires Act to vest ownership and the cost of RFS trucks and vehicles with the State Government and to split the Hunter New England Health District,” Mr Marshall said.
“Today I gave notice to reintroduce these Bills, as they technically expired over the Christmas break.
“The Rural Fires Amendment (Red Fleet) Bill 2024 will resolve an archaic and redundant anomaly buried within the current legislation, transferring the ownership of NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) vehicles, fire trucks and buildings from local councils back to the State Government.
“The ‘red fleet dispute’ has been an ongoing debacle – a political football – over the last 18 months between the State Government and local councils over who own and pays for RFS assets.
“This Bill remedies the situation, bringing the argy-bargy to an end, by making it clear that RFS assets belong to, and will be accounted for by, the State.”
Mr Marshall said his second Bill, the Health Services Amendment (Splitting of the Hunter New England Health District) Bill 2024, would divide the current health district and re-create the former New England Area Health Service, headquartered in Tamworth, servicing the entire New England North West area.
“This may not be the panacea to solving all the ills of health care in our region, but the groundswell of support for the petition and the momentum it created, dictates this is the next inevitable step in bringing about the change so many people want to see,” he said.
“The ongoing failures and the continued diminution our local hospitals by the Newcastle-based health district management have forced my hand and brought about this Bill.
“The treatment of communities I represent by Hunter New England Health is appalling and I am continually disappointed in how our hardworking nurses and health professionals, patients and the community are let down by a non-caring city-centric management ethos.”
Mr Marshall said he planned to bring further legislation to the Parliament in coming sitting weeks to relive rural and regional NSW from the burden of payroll tax and to increase cost of living support for seniors living in country areas.
“Given the government sought to avoid a vote on both these Bills last year, especially the Red Fleet Bill, I will seek to commit these matters for a vote as soon as possible, to ensure they are dealt with properly by the Parliament,” Mr Marshall said.