State Matters with Phil Donato: Quarantine subsidy for struggling ag sector, Dine and Discover begins

DINING OUT: Phil Donato is a strong supporter of local business. Applications are now open for $100 worth of free Dine and Discover vouchers at registered restaurants, cafés, pubs, clubs, bars and wineries as part of the NSW Governments initiatives to invigorate the economy. Photo: Submitted

DINING OUT: Phil Donato is a strong supporter of local business. Applications are now open for $100 worth of free Dine and Discover vouchers at registered restaurants, cafés, pubs, clubs, bars and wineries as part of the NSW Governments initiatives to invigorate the economy. Photo: Submitted

QUARANTINE SUBSIDY FOR AG SECTOR

Following reports of NSW growers losing revenue as a direct result of seasonal labour shortage of thousands of seasonal workers, attributed to COVID travel restrictions, I asked Ag Minister Adam Marshall the following question earlier this year in NSW Parliament:

"Small and medium growers have indicated the initial outlay to access worker schemes is too high when employers are required to pay $3000 for each worker to quarantine. Will there be a subsidy for quarantine costs for small and medium farming enterprises that are reliant on foreign workers through the Pacific Labour Scheme or Seasonal Worker Program?"

Well, I'm pleased to say that earlier this week the Minister responded to my question, announcing a $1500 (50 per cent) subsidy for hotel quarantine of inbound foreign seasonal ag workers. This is a positive step and will help elements of our struggling ag sector in lowering overheads and getting crops to market.

QUESTIONS, SERIOUS QUESTIONS

Holding the government accountable is an important aspect of my work as an elected representative of the community.

In Parliament I have the opportunity of asking ministers a limited number of questions on notice each sitting day. Both my questions and the ministers' answers are recorded on the NSW Parliament website and are publically viewable. Some of the so-called "answers" from ministers should instead be referred to as responses, as they often go nowhere near answering the question.

Be that as it may, the questions place pressure on the NSW Government to act, or at least be put on notice that there is scrutiny over what they do or don't do.

Integrity is an ethos and character trait I embrace in every aspect of my life, and it's a big part of why I became a police officer, always striving to do the right thing for the people of this state. So in doing the right thing, I sometimes have to ask the tough questions, even if it scrutinises the practices the NSW Police Force itself.

Recently the ABC televised a program which investigated the 1979 Ghost Train fire at Luna Park, which killed seven people, six of whom were children. The journalist-led investigation raised some doubts over the adequacy of the crime scene preservation and police investigation, and veracity of the subsequent inquest. There are now questions regarding the cause of the fire, which was then was believed to be due to an electrical fault and circumstances determined by the coroner as not suspicious.

On March 24 I asked a question of the Attorney General Mark Speakman SC MP, whether he will now instruct the coroner to commence a fresh inquiry regarding the cause of the fire. The Attorney General's answer is due by April 28, 2021. The question, and eventual answer, can be viewed on the following link: https://bit.ly/3dDqW4H

DINE & DISCOVER

The NSW Government's Dine & Discover voucher program is now being rolled out across the state.

All NSW residents aged over 18 can apply for up to $100 in vouchers:

Two $25 vouchers are available for dining in at restaurants, cafés, bars, wineries, pubs or clubs. Two $25 vouchers are available for entertainment and recreation, including cultural institutions, live music, and arts venues.

You can apply online at: https://bit.ly/3sFDUVR or call 13 77 88 or visit your local Service NSW Centre.

Businesses must be registered with the program to accept the vouchers, if you're a local business that would like to register visit: https://bit.ly/3ufaTjR