Coulton’s Catch Up
Monday, 27 February 2017
Natural disasters have hit the Parkes electorate on many occasions, but the
recent bushfires in the Narrabri and Warrumbungle local government areas have
been particularly devastating.
Scorching temperatures across the electorate and other parts of New
South Wales culminated in a number of fires breaking out across the State on
Sunday 12th February.
At Boggabri, fire destroyed property and burnt out grazing land, and the
very commendable efforts of firefighters prevented the blaze from spreading and
causing even more damage.
Unfortunately, in the area around Dunedoo the damage bill is in the
millions of dollars.
The so-called Sir Ivan fire began on Sir Ivan Dougherty Drive, just off
the Golden Highway, and was so intense it has been described as being
pyro-convective, meaning it burnt so big and so fast it created its own
This led to the fire burning out more than 50,000 hectares and
destroying homes, sheds, machinery, fences and sadly, a large number cattle and
As I met and spoke with affected property owners recently, many points became clear.
Stories of a catastrophic fire that was unpredictable and uncontrollable
were repeated over and over again.
I also heard how firefighters and farmers fought hard to stop the inferno,
many helping their neighbours, only to return to their own properties to find
they had lost everything.
The 12 house community of Uarbry was almost wiped off the map with a
number of homes reduced to ashes and the St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church,
built in the 1920’s, now nothing more than a pile of rubble.
However, it was also very heartening to see and hear how communities
have banded together to offer as much help as possible including the
co-ordination of several hay drives, the CWA Appeal and the Warrumbungle Shire
Council Mayor’s Bushfire Appeal.
Essential Energy and Telstra workers are to be commended for their
efforts to restore vital infrastructure to the bushfire affected areas.
From the government’s perspective, disaster assistance has been made
available through the jointly-funded Commonwealth-State Natural Disaster Relief
and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA).
I will continue to liaise closely with Councils and community leaders in
the affected areas and lobby for as much disaster assistance as possible to
The Coalition Government will facilitate faster access by qualified
doctors to administer medicinal cannabis.
The Government will authorise controlled importation by approved providers from
approved international sources for interim supply in Australia, until domestic
production meets local needs.
At present, doctors approved to supply medicinal cannabis products must import
the product as local production is only starting to be developed following the
passage of legislation to allow domestic
production late last year.
We are now making it easier to access medicinal cannabis products more rapidly,
while still maintaining strict safeguards for individual and community safety.
The Office of Drug Control, within the Department of Health, will implement
this policy – effective immediately.
As part of these changes, importers will be able to source medicinal cannabis
products from a reputable supplier overseas and store these in a safe, secure
warehouse in Australia.
Patients who have been prescribed medicinal cannabis by an authorised doctor
will be able to source the medication from a company in Australia – rather than
on an individual case by case basis from overseas which involves delays in
This will shorten timeframes to the supply of medicinal cannabis for patients.
It is expected that within 8 weeks, possibly sooner, Australia will have a
store of imported medicinal cannabis products so that approved patients can
have greater confidence in the supply arrangements for their doctors.
These imports will improve the timeliness of supply while work continues on
establishing the domestic cultivation and manufacture scheme.
More information is available on the Office of Drug Control website: https://www.odc.gov.au/