THE state government’s response to the drought needs to dissected in 2019 to prepare for the next inevitable dry spell, Labor’s Tamworth candidate says.
Stephen Mears said a collaborative assessment with farming communities was needed to learn what worked and what could be done better.
“The situation has been brewing for a number of years and they just sat back and watched,” Mr Mears said.
“We need earlier intervention. Agriculture is an important section of our community, and we need to support the industries that support us.”
He also wants to see Tamworth’s policing future settled next year, and said the community had two options – upgrading the current police station on Fitzroy Street or building a new station in the city’s south or west.
“The current station is nowhere near big enough, and from what I understand, there is not a lot of wiggle room to increase the size of the station,” Mr Mears said.
“We’ve started a petition to see which option the community wants.
“There are two lines of thought on this. Some don’t want to split the station because that could split resources.
“If there was to be a second station in south or west, we’d push for additional police – on top of the extra 25 the NSW Police Association is already asking for – so the Tamworth force isn’t spread too thin.”
Banksia is another “big issue” that needs to be solved in 2019. More than 13,000 people signed a petition supporting the upgrade of the city’s mental health unit.
It was mentioned as a line item in the 2018/19 state budget, but no figure was put on the rebuild.
“I’m really keen to see that upgraded, particularly for our youth,” Mr Mears said.
“Youth mental health seems to be a secondary thought sometimes. But the earlier we get it, the better results for everyone.”
Restoring TAFE to its former glory is another item high on the agenda, with “thousands of jobs cut in the past four years”.
“Since 2014, Tamworth’s TAFE has lost around $8 million in wages alone,” Mr Mears said.