Category: Media Release

Keith Pitt welcomes Madam Speaker to Bundaberg

Speaker of the House of Representatives Bronwyn Bishop visited Bundaberg today to officially open the annual Seniors’ Week Expo and visit a local retirement village.

Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt said he was delighted Madam Speaker had accepted the invitation from the event’s organiser, Nina Higgins OAM.

“Madam Speaker has long been an effective advocate for senior Australians,” Mr Pitt said.

“In the Howard Government, Ms Bishop served as the Minister for Aged Care and was responsible for the introduction of mandatory national standards for aged care.

“Having such a well-respected and senior member of the Coalition visit Bundaberg for this very worthwhile event is a show of this Government’s commitment to older Australians and the Hinkler Electorate.

“The wisdom, local knowledge and life experience seniors bring to our community is invaluable.

“Hinkler is fortunate to have a very strong and active senior population, and I’m pleased they’ve had the opportunity to speak directly to Ms Bishop today.”

Ms Higgins said she was delighted to have Madam Speaker and Mr Pitt at the Expo, which is now in its 17th year.

“The Expo is one of several events hosted locally by the Bundaberg Seniors’ Network, which enables seniors to ask questions and share ideas about matters that are vital to their wellbeing, such as finance, technology, health and fitness,” Ms Higgins said.

In the afternoon, Madam Speaker will be visiting a local retirement village Argyle Gardens to meet residents over afternoon tea.

Argyle Gardens manager, Lois Donovan said both staff and residents were delighted to welcome Ms Bishop to the village.

“We have a great community of residents here at Argyle Gardens who are looking forward to welcoming Ms Bishop into our excellent facilities,” Ms Donovan said.

Media contact: Debbie Leis 07 4152 0744         

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Work for the Dole Coordinator announced for Fraser Coast, Bundaberg and Burnett areas

Federal Member for Wide Bay and Deputy Prime Minister, Warren Truss, Federal Member for Flynn, Ken O’Dowd and Federal Member for Hinkler, Keith Pitt, today announced that Mission Australia has been selected to deliver the new Work for the Dole Coordinator services in the Bundaberg and Fraser Coast employment services areas.

The Federal Liberal Nationals Government is rolling out new Work for the Dole arrangements for job seekers aged 18-30 in the Fraser Coast, Bundaberg and Burnett region.

“The Work for the Dole program helps people to transition from welfare to work by giving young people the experience they need to make them job ready,” Mr Truss said.

“The program encourages the participants to demonstrate the qualities and attributes that employers look for, and will help them to become productive and valued employees.

“The participants work will boost their confidence and they can be proud of their contribution to building a better community.

“While the Work for the Dole program will complement and enhance the work that is done by the host employer, it will not be a substitute for their paid employees. The scheme will deliver projects in the area that otherwise would not have happened.

“I congratulate Mission Australia on their selection, and look forward to the expansion of the Work for the Dole programme to other parts of Wide Bay.”

Federal Member for Hinkler, Mr Keith Pitt said, “Work for the Dole gives job seekers the opportunity to learn new skills to be work ready.”

“Our new Work for the Dole programme will include a mix of individual and group based projects in community organisations such as not for profit organisations and local councils.”

Federal Member for Flynn, Mr Ken O’Dowd whose electorate also includes the Burnett region added “I strongly believe that the best form of welfare is a job. The Government and our society must not allow our young people to drift into welfare dependency.

“In addition to Work for the Dole, the Government is supporting young job seekers through the new Job Commitment Bonus that provides a financial bonus to young job seekers who move off welfare and stay in a job and investing $5.1 billion in a new employment services system to help more job seekers into work.

“Mission Australia will serve as the first point of contact for organisations in the region wishing to be involved in Work for the Dole and help match job seekers to available places.

“I congratulate Mission Australia and welcome their commitment to Work for the Dole and helping more job seekers into work in our region.

If you would like any further information on Work for the Dole, please visit www.employment.gov.au/work-dole.

Media Contacts:

Warren Truss: 41212936

Ken O’Dowd: 4972 5465

Keith Pitt: 4152 0744

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Woodgate Men’s Shed gets Federal boost

The Woodgate Men’s Shed has been awarded $2550 from the Federal Government to purchase metal work equipment and storage cabinets.

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt congratulated the organisation on their successful application, under the Tools & Equipment and Building Maintenance & Development categories.

“The Woodgate Men’s Shed provides social and emotional support to local men in an environment that is conducive to learning new skills and sharing ideas,” Mr Pitt said.

“The Woodgate group is one of 102 Men’s Shed organisations nationally to receive funding in Round 7 of the National Shed Development Program.”

Graham Black, president of the Woodgate Men’s Shed said the funding would enable them to purchase a mig-tig-stick welder for work with aluminium and stainless steel.

“When Keith rang the other day and asked if he could come for a cup of coffee, I was thinking he was just going to be in the area.  We were completely surprised by the fact he was announcing this federal grant,” Mr Black said.

“This grant will enable us to weld items that we are unable to at present and perhaps repair such things as tinnies.  We sincerely thank him for his efforts in obtaining this on our behalf,” Mr Black said.

The Woodgate Men’s Shed has 81 members.

Media contact: Debbie Leis 07 4152 0744  

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Keith Pitt announces funding to support veterans

Three Hinkler veterans groups will share in a total of $87,000 in Round 16 of the Federal Government’s Building Excellence in Support and Training (BEST) grants.

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt congratulated the three groups on their successful applications:

  • $3432 for the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia Bundaberg and District Sub-branch
  • $40,631.51 for the Hervey Bay RSL Sub-branch
  • $43,232 for the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia Hervey Bay City Sub-branch

“These ex-service associations provide invaluable support to our veterans and their families. With these funds, their work can continue,” Mr Pitt said.

“The BEST program, administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, provides support and resources for welfare officers, pensions officers and advocates within ex-service organisations.

“At the 2013 election, the Coalition promised to restore BEST funding to 2010 levels to ensure veterans get support where and when they need it.  In our first Budget since coming to Government we increased the funding by $1 million, bringing the total grant money available nationally for Round 16 to $3.772 million.

“Earlier this week marked 100 years since the declaration of WWI and later this month we will commemorate the Battle of Long Tan – their sacrifices will never be forgotten.

“Grants like these are one of the small ways we can show our appreciation and respect.”     

The Department of Veterans Affairs currently provides direct financial support to 3,687 Hinkler residents. There are 556 DFRB/DFRDB pensioners in the Hinkler Electorate.

Media contact: Debbie Leis 07 4152 0744  

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Construction begins on Service Nurses Memorial

Construction has begun on the Australian Service Nurses Memorial Wall in Bundaberg, to expand and revitalise the existing Park.

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt and State Member for Bundaberg Jack Dempsey today joined members of the Bundaberg & District Ex-Service Women’s Association to inspect the project’s progress.

“The Association is to be congratulated for its efforts in ensuring the remarkable women who nursed our soldiers – both on the battlefield and upon their return to Australia – are never forgotten,” Mr Pitt said.

“Earlier this year, I announced $1668 for the Association to host an event in September commemorating 100 years since the departure of the first contingent of Australian Army Nurses from Queensland for WWI.

“I am pleased to be able to provide a further $4000, under the Federal Government’s Saluting Their Service program, which the Association applied for to assist with the cost of constructing the wall.”

State Member for Bundaberg Jack Dempsey announced a $40,970 contribution toward the Service Nurses Memorial.

“It is so important that we honour the dedication and sacrifices our hard-working nurses made during battle,” Mr Dempsey said.

“This money will go toward commemorative gardens that will include a peace garden, incorporating plaques and plants dedicated to those who paid the supreme sacrifice.

“The memorial will also include a remembrance avenue that will link the memorial pavilion to the new memorial wall and history storyboards focusing on local nurses.”

“It will be a place where all community members can come to celebrate nurses who’ve served Bundaberg and the rest of the country.”

Bundaberg & District Ex-Service Women’s Association President Jenny Waldron said the wall and gardens would breathe new life into the memorial park and extend the recognition to include all service nurses.

“There are currently 12 nurses named on the existing War Nurses Pavilion. Through extensive research, we’ve identified a further 17 nurses who were connected to the Bundaberg and Burnett regions prior to their enlistment to Gallipoli,” Ms Waldron said.

“This memorial park will now be a lasting legacy for the families and descendants of all the extraordinary nurses who served in conflicts since 1899.

“The wall will provide a place for us to lay our wreaths on Anzac Day, as we reflect on what these women did for our country. It will also be a place where Bundaberg Base Hospital staff, patients and the public can go to spend a quiet moment or two.

“The support we have received from the community, Mr Pitt, Mr Dempsey and Bundaberg Councillor Wayne Honor has been overwhelming.

“We look forward to having the memorial park finished in time for the dedication in September.”

Media contacts:

Mr Pitt: Larine Statham 0427 653 814

Mr Dempsey: Andrew Kos 0408 912 821

Bundaberg District ESWA: Jenny Waldron 0487 302 114

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Hinkler better off with the repeal of the Carbon Tax

The Coalition has delivered on its promise to repeal Labor’s Carbon Tax, reducing costs for Hinkler families, farmers and small businesses.

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt MP said average households would be around $550 a year better off as a result of the Senate today voting to repeal the Carbon Tax.

“That includes around $200 on the average household electricity bill and around $70 on the average gas bill,” Mr Pitt said.

“The Government’s consumer watchdog, the ACCC, has been given extra funding and powers to ensure that savings are passed on to consumers.

“Families and pensioners will keep the associated tax cuts and compensation that are already in place.”

Mr Pitt said scrapping the Carbon Tax would also benefit regional businesses.

“It will make it easier for them to compete and, therefore, employ more people,” he said.

“I’ve listened to many residents concerned about how this unfair tax imposed a real burden on their small businesses and their family.

“The cost of refrigerant gases skyrocketed with the introduction of the tax, hurting our local fishing and farming businesses.

“The Carbon Tax was a $9 billion a year hit on the economy.

“Today is another important step in our action strategy to boost the Australian economy, create jobs and repair the Budget.

“It may have taken time and there were obstacles along the way, but we’ve done what we said we would do.”

Media contact: Larine Statham 0427 653 814

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Bruce Highway upgrade south of Childers opens to traffic early

Motorists on the Bruce Highway will enjoy safer conditions with the $8 million upgrade to the Lucketts and Goodwood roads intersection opened today, months ahead of schedule.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss said the job was completed in just five months.

“These important works will make a tremendous difference for the more than 6,500 motorists and truck drivers who use this section of the highway each day,” Mr Truss said.

“From Brisbane to Cairns, the Bruce Highway is the backbone of Queensland. The Federal Government will deliver more than $900 million for further safety works on the highway, starting this financial year, to address issues such as this old intersection.”

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt welcomed the opening of the extended right-turn lane at the Lucketts Road intersection and new traffic signals at the Goodwood Road intersection.

“With the installation of the new signals, the Butchers Road intersection was moved a short distance south, significantly improving safety for turning vehicles,” Mr Pitt said, when officially opening the project.

“The local community and adjacent businesses have been very patient throughout construction, and I thank everyone for obeying road signs, slowing down and driving carefully around the road works site.”

Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett said providing better infrastructure is an important part of our strong plan for a brighter future and it is great to have an Australian Government that prioritises the Bruce Highway.

“While interim safety measures have been implemented over the years, it’s great to finally see some long-term improvements come into fruition for our regional communities in Queensland,” Mr Bennett said.

[ENDS]

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BFVG awarded $80K for South Korean Trade Mission

Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers has been awarded $80,000 to undertake a Trade Mission in South Korea as part of the Federal Government’s Asian Business Engagement Plan. 

Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt congratulated BFVG on its deserving application.

“BFVG’s success shows what an effective advocate the organisation is for our local producers and value adders,” Mr Pitt said.

“These grants will enable organisations like BFVG to pursue opportunities generated by the Government’s recently concluded Free Trade Agreement with South Korea.”

Member for Flynn Ken O’Dowd said helping businesses expand into new markets would give the horticulture sector a much needed shot in the arm.

“Export trade is not only good for the businesses concerned; it’s also good for jobs and good for the local and national economies,” Mr O’Dowd said.

BFVG Executive Officer Peter Hockings said the grant would help support a market familiarisation and trade relations program for some of the Wide Bay Burnett’s horticulture businesses.

“South Korea is one of Australia’s largest trading partners,” Mr Hockings said.

“This is a valuable opportunity for producers to develop longer-term business and trade relations, potentially increasing the volumes and range of horticulture produce currently exported to South Korea.”  

BFVG is one of 18 member-based organisations nationally which have been awarded an ABE grant in 2014. Under the Plan, eligible applicants can be offered between $20,000 and $300,000 in grants. The grants, administered by Austrade, are merit-based and competitive.

Australia’s trade links with Asia are expected to represent at least one-third of GDP by 2025, up from one-quarter in 2011. 

Media contacts: Keith Pitt: Larine Statham 0427 653 814, Ken O’Dowd: David Kerr 0405 380 264

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Forum fleshes out Queensland’s seedy underbelly

Stakeholders and elected representatives today met in Brisbane to discuss contract labour hire issues confronting the Queensland agriculture sector.

Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt and Senator Barry O’Sullivan brought peak industry bodies and businesses together to hear firsthand the difficulties workers, hostels, farmers and legitimate labour hire contractors confront.

Mr Pitt and Senator O’Sullivan will take stakeholders’ concerns to the relevant Federal Ministers.

Mr Pitt, a former canefarmer and training provider, said it was the increasing number of very serious complaints made to his office that prompted he and Senator O’Sullivan to organise the forum.

“Allegations range from the underpayment and exploitation of workers to tax evasion, visa breaches, racial discrimination, intimidation of farmers and overcrowding in private residential properties,” Mr Pitt said.

“One of the problems people face in formally reporting their complaint is the sheer number of agencies involved across all three levels of Government. In many cases they are just too scared to give their name to the authorities.  

“Today’s forum has helped us flesh out some of the issues. Now, we will be asking our Ministerial colleagues to help us cut this blemish out before it grows and spoils what is by-and-large a very reputable industry.

“We want to ensure our seasonal workers are protected; that businesses have a level playing field and Australia remains a destination of choice for overseas students and working holiday makers.”

Senator O’Sullivan, a former police detective, said maintaining strong communication channels between industry and enforcement agencies was essential to investigating and prosecuting those conducting illegal activities.    

“Whether it is concerns over labour, profitability or trade, the most practical and relevant solutions are those developed by industry,” Senator O’Sullivan said.

“The participation of so many peak bodies at this meeting illustrates industry’s willingness and desire to confront these employment issues.

“Growers must remain vigilant in their willingness to report illegal contracting arrangements.

“Our international reputation is dependent on Australia’s ability to develop practical and ethical labour sourcing strategies.”          

Senator O’Sullivan and Mr Pitt thanked all the participants for their valuable input, including John Brent (Scenic Rim Mayor and Ausveg board member) who chaired the forum.

Concerned stakeholders can add their voice to the debate by emailing Keith.Pitt.MP@aph.gov.au and Senator.O’Sullivan@aph.gov.au     

Media contacts:

Keith Pitt MP: Larine Statham 0427 653 814

Senator Barry O’Sullivan: Troy Rowling 0400 386 666

 

 

Contract labour hire practices in the Queensland agricultural sector

Stakeholder Forum hosted by Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt and Senator Barry O’Sullivan

STATEMENT OF INTENT

Stakeholders in attendance agree that:

a) Seasonal (foreign/itinerant) workers are vitally important to the agricultural sector, regional Queensland communities and the Australian economy

b) the majority of contractors, hostels, growers/farmers and workers act lawfully. The industry ultimately has responsibility for ensuring the relevant laws are upheld. 

c) external cost and time pressures have increased the industry’s utilisation of low-cost labour hire contractors

d) anecdotal evidence suggests the problem has escalated significantly in recent years

e) offending contractors are highly organised and, due to the transient nature of the workforce, are masters at avoiding detection    

f) the issue has the potential to damage Australia’s reputation among international students and working holiday makers  

Stakeholders in attendance acknowledge:

a) the advocacy and assistance currently being provided to growers by peak industry bodies

b) the efforts of previous Governments to address some of the issues

c) that the issues are extremely complex and broad in nature, and multi-jurisdictional  

Stakeholders in attendance request that:

a) Mr Pitt and Senator O’Sullivan present stakeholders’ concerns to the relevant Ministers

b) Mr Pitt and Senator O’Sullivan seek formal briefings from the relevant Ministers about what action is currently being undertaken by Commonwealth agencies

c) Mr Pitt and Senator O’Sullivan obtain advice from the relevant Ministers about the avenues and resources available to properly address this endemic problem

[ENDS]  Brisbane, 27 June 2014

 

 

 

 

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Bundaberg a priority for National Broadband Network

Bundaberg has been prioritised for superfast broadband upgrades, with the NBN Co and Telstra reaching an agreement on an expanded program to plan, design and construct fibre-to-the-node high speed broadband.

About 200,000 premises will be passed by fibre-to-the-node nationally, including a high proportion that were classified as being underserved in the Government’s ‘MyBroadband’ study.

It is expected about 20,000 Bundaberg premises will be covered once planning and design work is completed. End users are expected to be eligible to connect to high speed services in 2015.

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt said the announcement was part of the Government’s ongoing reform of the NBN, to ensure that superfast broadband can be rolled out sooner, more cost effectively in areas that are underserved.

“I’ve been fighting hard to ensure the Hinkler electorate is a priority area for the NBN,” Mr Pitt said.

“As a former electrical engineer and small business owner with three children at school and a wife who works in allied health, I understand how important it is that Australians have access to reliable high speed internet.

“The top available downloads speeds will be approximately 25 times faster than current average fixed line broadband connections to Australian households.

“These speeds would allow more than ten high definition television shows to be streamed to a single household or business concurrently.  A three minute YouTube video will be able to be uploaded in 42 seconds, compared to 20 minutes on current ADSL connections.

“We have taken the steps to get this project on track after so many years of misinformation and frustration,” Mr Pitt said.

“We went to the election promising to get the NBN project done sooner and at less cost. Today’s announcement shows we are delivering on that promise.

“These upgrades will truly revolutionise the way people connect in their homes and businesses.”

Since the election, the NBN Co has expanded its fibre network in existing neighbourhoods to cover 385,000 premises, an increase of 86 per cent.   Work has begun on the fibre to the premises network in areas covering 447,000 premises.

Twenty development applications have so far been lodged with Bundaberg Regional Council for wireless internet towers in outlying areas. A further 15 development applications for towers have been lodged with Fraser Coast Regional Council.

“Today’s announcement and the rollout of wireless technology bodes well for further expansion across the electorate, especially given that Bundaberg is a point of interconnect.”    

 Media contact: Larine Statham 0427 653 814        

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