RAISING THE BARR: What does it mean to ‘think global, act local’?

SPREAD IT ROUND: Is it not equally important to offer health and hygiene and police and education to those in Gilgandra or Bourke or Walcha?
SPREAD IT ROUND: Is it not equally important to offer health and hygiene and police and education to those in Gilgandra or Bourke or Walcha?

At times I write in this column about international aid funding.

I often get blasted from some in the community for that.  Fair enough – we all have our different views on that.

And then I hear the State Governments complain about their fair share of GST from the Federal Government, mainly when their state is doing well and they are getting less than $1 back for each $1 paid in.

If we think about really local issues, we see council making decisions about roads (for example). No doubt they try, to the best of their ability and budget, to ensure that the roads in a small village like Wollombi are not too different to a larger centre like Weston or Branxton.

But the truth is that most of the funding, the rates that we pay in this LGA, come from centres like Cessnock and Kurri Kurri. A “spend it where it comes from approach” would undoubtedly see our small villages crumble.

Equally, most of the state funding comes from the big centre of Sydney and to a lesser extent Newcastle/Lake Macquarie and Wollongong.

Sure coal in the Hunter plays a role in the state (2 to 4 per cent of the budget), but that is far from the point.

Is it not equally important to offer health and hygiene and police and education to those in Gilgandra or Bourke or Walcha, as it is to those in Parramatta, Maitland or Port Macquarie?

Extending that logic to the national level and the GST, I am sure that we have all seen images of some outback communities, often Aboriginal communities in extremely remote locations, living in conditions that are simply not acceptable.

Most of these communities are not in NSW. The GST plays an important part in spreading the funding around to help these less populated states to provide for these small remote communities, among other things.

After all, as Australians, don’t we all deserve access to clean water, education and health?

And now think globally. Have you ever seen an image of a starving child with flies around the mouth and nose but no energy to swat them away? We give to these charities on a regular basis, probably not as regularly as we should, but as humanity, as caring people, we despair at those images.

And now, just tweak your mind a little and think about climate change, access to cheap energy and the fossil fuel debate.  Who should be doing more to rise up to the challenge?

Should it be starving nations that often go without food, clean water and safety that lead the charge on addressing climate change and the use of fossil fuels?

Or, is it a responsibility of a modern western world, like Australia, that has its own problems, but by and large has the bulk of the population experiencing a life that is incredibly good?

CONTACT ME

For inquiries regarding the State Government or its departments, or to put you in contact with someone who can, please contact my office by phoning 4991 1466, by email to cessnock@parliament.nsw.gov.au or call into 118 Vincent Street (PO Box 242), Cessnock 2325.

You also follow me on my Facebook page ‘Clayton Barr MP’, on Twitter @claytonbarrmp or check out my website, www.claytonbarr.com.au.

Clayton Barr is the State Member for Cessnock

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