I would like to take this opportunity in wishing you an enjoyable Christmas/New Year period, hopefully bringing moments with family, friends or a chance to simply grab some down-time.

Spare a thought for those where Christmas can also be a tough time through whatever circumstance – and a big thank you to our local police and emergency service people who are still at work looking after us over the summer.

With many likely to be near a pool or inland waterway over the break, a reminder to be extra watchful of young children and remind visitors of the risks posed when swimming in local rivers, dams or creeks.

Our electorate offices are closed over the Christmas/New Year break, however we are checking in regularly so please feel free to call and leave a message for me to assist you on return.

During the coming 12 months regional development will remain a key focus for our government, with the $297m Building Better Regions Fund providing investment in new rural infrastructure and community projects, helping create jobs and grow our region.

2017 also brings an exciting new ‘youth jobs’ incentive program, the advancing nbn rollout and switch-on for a number of local mobile phone blackspot towers, through to more roads and heavy vehicle safety funding, increased support for our Murray Darling Basin communities and much more.

Within my ministerial responsibilities, we will continue to address a shortage of doctors in rural Australia, work to ensure high-quality aged care is readily available for regional areas, and expand our school sport participation programs from kinder through to year eight.

Best wishes for a happy and safe holiday season.
Take care – shop local – and enjoy this wonderful time across our region.