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Minister meets City Council

Thursday, 13th June, 2019

(From left) Councillor Jim Nolan, Mayor Darriea Turley, Councillor Maureen Clark with Parkes MP Mark Coulton yesterday.PICTURE: Myles Burt (From left) Councillor Jim Nolan, Mayor Darriea Turley, Councillor Maureen Clark with Parkes MP Mark Coulton yesterday.PICTURE: Myles Burt

By Myles Burt

Airport upgrades and the NDIS were major issues during talks between Minister for Regional Services Mark Coulton and Broken Hill City Council yesterday.

Mr Coulton yesterday spoke with city councillors about joint federal and local council priorities.

He said upgrading the airport to expand the runway and update safety issues had become a major focus after the Broken Hill airport failed to secure grant funding through the Building Better Regions Fund during the last term of government.

“I think that the airport is one of the main connections to the outside world for Broken Hill, and it’s important that it’s obviously kept up-to-date,” Mr Coulton said.

“But also in future it is able to take larger capacity planes that ultimately led to maybe cheaper fares and all those sort of things.”

Mayor Darriea Turley said last year, when Council looked at the airport funding, they knew that they’d have to change the way council was putting in submissions.

“I think there was a miscommunication last time, we’ve been able to spell out the priorities and why we’ve broken it up into three stages to make sure that we can apply for that funding,” she said.

“We’ve listened to Mark and his team’s advice so we’re looking forward to the future, but it’s also a chance for us to raise what are the current issues our community are concerned about.”

One of the concerns raised by Mayor Turley was the ongoing issues surrounding the NDIS and high care services in Broken Hill, leaving rural communities disadvantaged in regards to high care options for older people, and also younger people through organisations like Silverlea.

Mr Coulton in response said he’s been dealing with NDIS issues across the Parkes electorate, which has been lacking in regional providers for clients to access.

“So that’s happening a little bit in the regional areas, so we’re dealing with people on an individual basis and now we’re dealing with organisations like Silverlea,” Mr Coulton said.

“They’re (Silverlea) going through the process now of obtaining that grant to keep them going, to give them the breathing space to transition their model.

“They’re looking at other things to do as well to broaden out their business so they can bring more people through the door despite the early intervention stuff and things that they’re doing.”

Mr Coulton said the overall concept of the NDIS which was created with bipartisan support during the Gillard Government, is good in regards to funding clients that get to choose which services that want to access.

“That’s ok if there’s services, but if there’s not enough services then there is a weakness in the system,” Mr Coulton said.

“So we’ve got some work to do I think before the NDIS is completely rolled out, to make sure that we fine tune the model.

“You’ve got to understand this is the biggest social program this country’s ever seen.

“It hasn’t ever been in contentious political football, but it is a big change in the way that we as a country manage disability services.

“So the concept is good but there are some problems coming through with that.”

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