Raising the BARR – Week ending 21 February 2020

Green Grass Does Not Signal End of Drought

It is pretty wonderful to see some green grass out there. Whether its front lawns, sporting fields or farms and paddocks, the green colour is a welcome sight after 2 years of brown. We in the Hunter are very lucky to have received the rain and now thrive in the greenery because there are many other parts of the State that remain dry and desolate.

Some of the basic facts are that 99% of the State is still in drought. Hunter Water still have water storage levels at a very low 62% across the network. Many of the inland rivers in NSW are still bone dry. The environment of NSW, right now, is still desperately unhealthy as a result of drought and then fires, and now, in places where it is raining after fires, being poisoned by ash filled water run-off.

With regard to our local water levels and the decision by the Minister to lift Water Restrictions for Hunter Water, from Level 2 back to Level 1, I have been pleased by the many local pieces of feedback that this decision appears to have been made a bit early and that we need to place a greater value on what we now realise is such a precious resource. Going forward, over the longer term, we all just need to try to be more careful with our water and hopefully, set ourselves the personal household challenge of trying to consume just 140L of water, per person, per day – like they do down in Orange.

The Regional Senior Travel Card Fiasco

I find it quite disgraceful that the Regional Senior Travel Card rollout is being handled so hopelessly by this Government. I have enormous sympathy for the frontline workers at Service NSW and Centrelink who are trying to help people through this maze of madness.

I remind people that at its core, the purpose of this $250 for travel support in regional NSW was because there is so little public transport in many regional areas and hence most people need to run their own private car or rely on taxis. With this in mind, to me, it doesn’t seem to matter what type of Senior you are, there is still very limited public transport and hence the original purpose should apply equally for all (the way that it was promised during the election campaign).

Our Cessnock Electorate office, along with others across the State, have been putting as much pressure as possible on the Government to make sense of the craziness by getting rid of the many restrictions on this program. We recently had some success with returned service men and women (aged over 66 years) and War Widow(er) pensioners now allowed to access the scheme but the Government have explained that it will take them several weeks to update their systems to allow for this.

Please keep telling us your stories and lodging your frustrations. We will pass each and every example along to the Minister and leave it to him to explain his decisions.

To apply you can call Service NSW 13 77 88, visit a Service NSW Centre or apply online www.service.nsw.gov.au/transaction/apply-regional-seniors-travel-card.

Note: You don’t need a MyServiceNSW Account or email address if you’re applying in person or on the phone.