Matters of State: Petitions to the government go online, finally

Phil Donato joined some of Parkes firefighters to witness the opening of their new fire station on Tuesday.

Phil Donato joined some of Parkes firefighters to witness the opening of their new fire station on Tuesday.

Petitioning the NSW Parliament has been an effective way for the voice of locals to be heard on issues which matter to them and their local community.

I have proudly debated petitions on behalf of local community groups, raising important issues in the Legislative Assembly and requiring the Government to respond.

Some notable petitions I have taken carriage of, on behalf of local petitioners, include Orange Push for Palliative's petition on palliative care services for Orange, and Orange Rail Action Group's petition on rail services for Orange and Central West. In the case of Orange Push for Palliative's petition, it was instrumental in pressuring the Government to eventually deliver Orange a dedicated palliative care facility.

Until now, petitioning of the NSW Parliament has been entirely paper-based. As of last Monday that all changed when ePetitions commenced, enabling petitioners to create a petition online via the NSW Parliament website.

Traditionalists will be happy to know that paper-based petitions will continue for the foreseeable future. Paper-based petitions require 10,000 signatures to have the matter debated on the floor of parliament, whilst e-Petitions will require 20,000 signatures for a debate.

For those interested in creating an ePetition, visit the link below, or feel free to contact my office on 02 6362 5199 or 123 Byng Street, Orange for information or assistance regarding ePetitions visit: parliament.nsw.gov.au/la/pages/epetitions.aspx

K9 arriving to fight crime

Having been a police officer for many years, serving in both metropolitan Sydney and out here in the country, I am well aware of how limited police resources are for country-based cops compared with police in the city.

After I was first elected, I pushed for an increase in resources for police in regional New South Wales. I've been agitating government to base police dogs and handlers out here in the central west to assist local police in their fight against crime. When the former Police Minister Troy Grant clearly wasn't doing anything about it, I had arranged a face-to-face meeting with NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller to personally make my request.

I am pleased the Commissioner listened and has now responded by allocating two police dogs for duties here in the Central West. There will be a General Purpose (GP) dog and a drug detection dog, supporting police to tackle a broad spectrum of policing tasks. Although they will be based in Bathurst, they will service the entirety of the central west, including Parkes. I've seen firsthand the effectiveness of police dogs, and they'll be a true asset in crime fighting.

New fire station opens

It was an honour to witness the opening of the new Parkes Fire Station on Tuesday. The new station was officially opened by the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, The Hon. David Elliott MP.

The new $2m+ facility will cater for the 18 retained firefighters and their equipment, and allow for future growth in the years ahead. This station is Parkes' third fire station and it dwarfs the old station situated next door, which had serviced the community for the past 96 years!

Thanks to Captain Craig Gibson for the tour of the new facility, and for sharing some of the brigade's history, including notable local incidents. It's great to see new infrastructure for our country communities.