Many of us treat the New Year as an opportunity to set targets, both professional and personal, for the months ahead.
After a peaceful Christmas in the company of family and friends, I’m feeling invigorated and keen to meet the challenges that lie ahead in the political year.
I spent Christmas in Gippsland: visiting some of my favourite places with my family and catching up with friends.
In our increasingly busy lives, it’s important to slow down and remember the important things – loving family, good friends, a strong local community and a beautiful natural environment to be sustainably managed across Gippsland.
We are a resourceful and resilient region with a great deal to be proud of. Gippslanders make an enormous contribution to our nation with the production of fine food; highly valued energy; defence training and support; manufactured goods; and much more.
Our service providers in a wide range of fields are professionally trained and extremely capable to manage health, education and emergency services. Our tourism and small business sector has innovative people willing to take risks and create jobs for others.
At this time of year, I tend to ‘count my blessings’ and remember all of the reasons why I choose to live in Gippsland with my family.
That doesn’t mean everything is perfect – there are always improvements to be made, but I intend to be as positive as possible as I work with all levels of government and the community to deliver for our region.
My highest priority is to continue to deliver a fair share of government funding and more jobs for local residents. I will keep fighting to protect existing jobs in our traditional industries while exploring new opportunities for sustainable economic growth.
At the end of the day, governments don’t really ‘create’ jobs, but they should provide the economic circumstances and set the priorities for infrastructure spending which allows the private sector to flourish.
By securing additional funding for major projects like the Princes Highway duplication and the East Sale RAAF Base upgrade, the Federal Government is helping to deliver jobs for Gippslanders.
I want to keep working closely with my State colleagues to ensure any partnerships which can be formed to secure Federal-State funding, like we’ve seen at Latrobe Regional Hospital, deliver better services to local residents. Similarly, investment in improved water infrastructure needs to be secured with a mix of government funding and private capital to provide for future growth in various forms of agriculture across Gippsland.
I’m looking forward to continuing to support small businesses by promoting my #lovegippsland and ‘Putting Locals First’ campaigns which encourage people to shop locally and hire local tradespeople to create more jobs in our region.
Finally, I want to keep doing my little bit as a community volunteer whenever I can. Throughout the year, I volunteer as a water safety officer at local surf lifesaving carnivals and you can often catch me in winter, umpiring junior football.
I believe in the volunteer ethos that you only get out of life what you are prepared to put in. We are richly served by volunteers in all walks of life and it is one thing we can all do to help make a difference in the lives of others.
I wish all Gippslanders a safe, prosperous and healthy New Year.