The St Ivan fire razed an estimated 55,000 hectares of farming-land east of Dunedoo, destroying vital agricultural infrastructure like sheds, machinery, homes, over 5,500 kilometres of fencing and more than 5,000 head of sheep and cattle.
A move to a regional or rural area has many benefits.
This post features a Radio 2GB podcast.
The podcast is very interesting and somewhat scary in terms of population growth in the big cities. Chris Smith (Radio 2GB) speaks with Foundation for Regional Development CEO, Peter Bailey, about decentralisation.
Barnaby Joyce is calling upon regional Australians to make it clear on why areas outside big cities deserve jobs.
The Nationals believe in decentralisation which is spreading job opportunities across Australia.
Congratulations to the Liberal Government in Western Australia in announcing the locating of its new Rural Fire Service Headquarters to a Rural location.
It’s not too late for NSW to follow suit by relocating our RURAL Fire Service to a rural location.
Let’s put the RURAL back into the Rural Fire Service.
Graham French and Barry Mac (formerly the morning show team at South Coast Radio 2ST) are moving back to Community Radio.
The show starts on Thur, 12th Jan at 9:00am on Community Radio Triple U FM.
Don’t miss this first program with the VFFA President, Mick Holton talking about four key areas of VFFA focus:
1. Bullying and Harassment
2. Let’s put the RURAL back into the Rural Fire Service
3. Funding Arrangements
4. Common sense approaches towards firefighting and land management
The Rural Fire Service Association (RFSA) will not disclose how much their 20th Anniversary celebrations cost and where the money came from.
Did attendees make a contribution?
Did Panthers do the RFSA a special deal?
Were special guests looked after in the, now famous RFSA “Gala” style?
Were there any special guests flown in and at what cost?
Was it all paid for using RFSA funds that were generated from generous public donations and raffle ticket sales?
How many new style firefighting helmets, radios or other much sought after items could this event (and others like it) have funded?
Perhaps those who have made donations and purchased raffle tickets will think twice before doing so again unless the RFSA provides a great deal more transparency.
Rural communities are not impressed. The VFFA campaign to put the RURAL back into the Rural Fire Service will continue…. the next state election will be interesting.
It is very disappointing that the government has not heeded the warnings made clear in the Orange By Election.
Orange and Dubbo (like many other regional areas) have a lot to offer, flying from Sydney to Orange or Dubbo would be comparable and a lot more enjoyable than dealing with city traffic. The Commissioner could even have the chopper standing by just outside his office.
It is a very short sighted decision and it may proof to become extremely costly in terms of voter confidence in the lead up to the next election.
The Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party candidate for the Orange By-Election, Philip Donato, is set to put a burr under the saddle of Troy Grant and The Nationals.
“The Nationals have been resting on their laurels in rural New South Wales for years,” Mr. Donato said.
“All the National Party want from their MPs is that they do whatever the Liberal Party says – even if it is bad for their rural constituents. That’s what we saw from the recent demotion of Katrina Hodgkinson and Chris Galuptis for not supporting Mike Baird and Troy Grant’s greyhound racing ban.
“Since the Liberal Party are siding with the Animal Justice Party on banning greyhound racing, and The Greens on not revoking the Native Vegetation Act, farming communities need advocates who will actually stand up for them.”
In a statement relating to the yellow shirt debacle (printed 13/01/2015), Melinda Pavey said that the NSW Liberals and Nationals are committed to making NSW number one again and one way in which this can happen is by decentralising bureaucracies and involving people in the decisions that affect them.
The greyhound debacle is yet another example of poor performance.
We need to return some focus upon all things rural including a commitment to putting the RURAL back into the Rural Fire Service.
It was pleasing to hear the comments by former Dubbo Deputy Mayor, Mr. Ben Shields, at the Volunteer Fire Fighters Association AGM on Saturday, 6th August 2016 at the Parkes Services Club.
Mr. Shields was among the guests invited, which also included the Hon. Robert Brown, MLC of the Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party, Parkes Mayor, Mr. Ken Keith OAM, the Mayor of Forbes, Phyllis Miller as well as the National’s Candidate for Orange, Scott Barrett, who came in place of Deputy Premier, the Hon. Troy Grant.
The VFFA’s newly elected President, Michael (Mick) Holton, applauded Mr. Shields positive comments in relation to the decentralisation of the RFS Head Office and putting the RURAL back into the Rural Fire Service, an outcome fully endorsed by the VFFA.
Decentralisation to a rural regional centre is entirely consistent with the NSW Government’s key election commitment to decentralise state government departments and to stimulate regional development and provide greater opportunities for rural and regional communities.
Since its inception the RFS has been located in the Sydney metropolitan area, there is not much RURAL about its current location at Homebush.
Mr. Ben Shield’s address to the VFFA members and guests is provided (below), his words were clear, precise and made complete sense. There is no viable reason why the relocation cannot go ahead.
The push for the re-location of the RFS HQ is gaining momentum thanks to a parliamentary enquiry asking the Minister for Emergency Services to examine the feasibility of re-locating the headquarters at Lidcombe in Sydney to a regional location.
While the initial government response was standard public service jargon and non-sensical blabbering about needing high standards of infrastructure technology and a the need to be close to Sydney media; most people read between the lines that so far the counter argument is more about RFS senior staff being unwilling to move to a regional location.
Indeed, simply re-stating what the public servants want in the RFS Headquarters is not leadership. It can best be described as laziness and at worst incompetence and cowardice.
In Dubbo, the council is very enthusiastic about having the RFS HQ in our city. Dubbo indeed is the right fit for such a complex. Take a look at some of the advantages our city has to offer:
- Almost hourly flights to Sydney.
- Flights to Melbourne, Brisbane and Newcastle.
- 5 minute access to our airport. (hardly the hour plus trip in a car from Homebush to Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport)
- Very secure water supply.
- On the Newell Highway.
- On the Mitchell Highway.
- Located at the end of the Golden Highway to Newcastle.
- Geographically centre of the state.
- Land and home prices mean that staff have an affordable lifestyle
- Only ever 10 minutes drive to work.
Dubbo believes that the RFS has a close look at the “R” in its name. The reality is that the culture and direction of such a large organisation being located in the city only serves to make the whole organisation city centric. That can cause a hell of a lot of problems when such an organisation’s primary role is to focus on rural and regional locations.
With all this said, the state government shouldn’t be too shy to push this agenda. Already there has been great successes at de-centralisation. In the former Greiner/Fahey Liberal Government they successfully moved the Department of Agriculture to Orange. The Department of Local Government is located in Nowra. These are clearly precedents that prove de-centralisation can and does work. It seems the only thing missing between that government and the current one is political will!
For the RSF HQ to be located in Dubbo would be a game changer for our city and Central West NSW. It would instantly become the city’s largest employer and while further diversifying our economy away from agriculture helping drought proof our economic base. The RFS HQ could also work in with other agencies like the Royal Flying Doctor base that is located within our city. Indeed the possibilities of this game changer are endless if and when the government stands up to the vested interests of the bureaucrats.
It’s now high time that our elected representatives in the executive government take charge of the situation and make decisions based on what’s good for the state instead of simply following the vested interests of bureaucrats who are more worried about maintaining their Sydney lifestyles.
RFS volunteers know it’s better in the country; Dubbo Council know it’s better in the country; even a parliamentary enquiry has worked out it’s better in the county – all we need now is that the cabinet acknowledge its better in the country.
Failure to act in this matter in my mind amounts not only to being a huge dis-service to the people of NSW, – it’s a failure for better planning, for reduced congestion in Sydney – it actually amounts to cowardice of our elected officials to stand up to self-interested bureaucrats.
That’s why today, I’m here to ask your organisations assistance in making the move of the RFS HQ a reality. The simple fact is we all know that you cannot be a genuine Rural Fire Service if the “R” is not truly reflected in the general operation of the organisation. This Volunteer Fire Fighters Association has a fine history of getting things done and being a thorn in the side of governments of both persuasion for the betterment of the RFS and its members. That’s why I’m here to urge you as members of the Volunteer Fire Fighters Association to keep up the fight for a better deal from government.
I cannot think of a better way to bring long term cultural change, better work ethics and organisational advancement to the RFS for it to move to a regional centre like Dubbo.
In my 20 odd years being involved in public and political affairs the single biggest lesson I have learnt when trying to get the government to act is that “The squeakiest wheel gets the most oil”. That analogy certainly applies to this issue. Members here today are from all over the state – and in some form or another, have real political influence. That may be by simply having an open dialogue with state members of parliament to having members who are prepared to speak their minds in the media.
I know for certain, if everyone here today when they go home to their communities were to push the issue of re-locating the RFS HQ to a regional area with their local MPs and in their local media it would quickly become a wider state political issue.
We all know the RFS desperately needs change and this is certainly a way to achieve real lasting change for the whole RFS organisation.