SEVERAL topical issues were raised at Thursday night’s forum with Andrew Constance , including TAFE, homelessness funding, commercial fishing reforms and the potential of improved traffic links with Canberra.
Councillor Russell Fitzpatrick, who is also the administration manager of Bobbin Transport, raised the prospect of a changed focus from north-south freight corridors to east-west ones.
He said the region is more geared towards a link with Canberra than Sydney and the Valley could benefit greatly from movements of freight – or, with public service changes in the capital, people - in either direction.
Mr Constance pointed out the Bemboka Bridge has been picked as a recipient of Bridges for the Bush funding to allow heavier loads, but he agreed the inability of B-doubles to drive uninterrupted along the Snowy Mountains Hwy and Princes Hwy was a “ridiculous” limitation on growth.
As for the resoundingly deplored commercial fishing and netting reforms, Mr Constance described them as outrageous and “a thought bubble from the DPI they need to go and pop”.
“I don’t envisage them getting up – we’ve put a pause on it and we expect better homework done.”
While addressing the Bega Valley Business Forum, Mr Constance also raised the reforms to vocational education and homelessness services, both of which have many in the Bega Valley up in arms.
“Smart and Skilled is simply about a better course alignment with the needs of regional communities,” he said.
“We don’t want to see courses taught right across TAFE that have nothing to do with driving vocational employment, especially youth employment, in particular regions.”
On the topic of new homelessness funding arrangements, Mr Constance said services would be “focused on preventative strategies rather than crisis care”.
He also reiterated Mission Australia’s message (BDN, 1/8) that refuges would continue to operate.
“We are investing record money into homelessness services and child services.
“No child anywhere should be living anywhere other than in a safe environment.
“There are still going to be refuges that exist, and women and children-focused services.”