OPINION

Meryl Swanson: Canberra Matters | We must ensure the Federal Government has a plan for Australia's economic recovery

Meryl Swanson

Meryl Swanson

The shadow of COVID will not begin to lift for some time, but we can indeed celebrate the end of 2020 and the resilience we have shown as a community.

Now we must ensure the Federal Government has a plan for our economic recovery. We must support communities in the Hunter to have long-term well-paid jobs, affordable and reliable healthcare and better roads.

Spending time travelling over the holidays into other LGAs I found it increasingly frustrating that comparatively, Cessnock has not had the road funding it so desperately deserves.

I was pleased to meet with Mayor Pynsent and general manager Lotta Jackson late last year and will continue to work with them on priorities for our region.

I am very committed to seeing the Richmond Vale Rail Trail's progress and look forward to working with the community on this into the future.

My priority this year is to work with industry to ensure our region has more employment. I'm a proud Kurri girl, and I want to make sure that current and future generations of families in our region can find meaningful employment and stay local.

Last year we faced one of the biggest challenges in living memory. Still, we have rallied together, demonstrating that typical Aussie resilience and embracing medical experts' response. We should all thank the public servants that worked tirelessly on the front line.

The first order of business for State government should be to provide the public service with a long-overdue pay rise. The Berejiklian Government has delivered a shocking blow to thousands of public hospital nurses and midwives across NSW, slashing their hard-earned wages for 12 months.

Sadly, the NSW Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) awarded a 0.3% pay increase in the public sector wages case.

We owe much respect and admiration to the nurses who kept us all safe during the pandemic. A straw poll would tell this out-of-touch government that the community expect decent wages for these workers.

The federal government's first order of business should stop the arguments about national anthems and changing the date and focus its energy on getting stranded Australians back home to their families.

During the festive season, it was terrific to see so many happy faces holidaying in our region. I have been delighted to hear that the cafes, hotels and tourist attractions feel relief after a challenging period.

I was pleased to holiday locally, and as I often remark to my colleagues, why would I holiday anywhere else but my backyard?

I want to thank all the local business owners who support their staff by paying penalty rates.

Speaking to RMS representatives, I was pleased that fatalities were at a record low across the peak period and that many people made safe and responsible choices.

Whatever challenges 2021 may bring, please remember, myself and my office are here to work for you.

Please don't hesitate to reach out and reconnect with me on 4983 2401.

Meryl Swanson is the Federal MP for Paterson

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