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Rural News

Rabobank appoints new Armidale branch manager to head up New England business 

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Rabobank appoints new Armidale branch manager to head up New England business

Leading agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank has appointed Scott Neilson to head up its business in the New England region.

Based out of the Armidale branch, Mr Neilson brings extensive banking experience to the role, notching up more than three decades in financial markets in Australia and abroad.

Announcing the appointment, regional manager for northern New South Wales and southern Queensland Brad James said Mr Neilson brought a wealth of experience to the role and as “no stranger to the local area” he had a good understanding of the wool, sheep, beef and sugar sectors in which his clients operated.

“With Rabobank well established as a leading ag bank in rural Australia, Scott’s skill set is ideal for our operating model as he is passionate about agriculture and working with clients to assist them in building and expanding their farming enterprises,” he said.

Mr Neilson – who moved from Sydney, where he headed up a spot trading desk with a major retail bank, to Armidale in 2012 – said he loved the area with its genuine community.

“I was not home much in Sydney so we moved our young family up here so I could work with farmers to help manage their FX, interest rate and commodity price risk,” he said.

Melbourne-educated, Mr Neilson has had a long connection to agriculture with his father “off the land down near Hay” and close ties to the land through friends over the years, particularly at Dungog where he ran his horses.

Mr Neilson says after finishing up in the financial markets last year, he was initially hesitant to get back into banking but it was Rabobank’s global cooperative structure that drew him to the role.

“I took some time off to help a mate out with harvest by driving a chaser out at Moree, as well as a stint helping out other friends with lambmarking and cattle work,” he said.

“But I was drawn to Rabobank’s principles and values, which align with my own, as their metrics are not solely revenue generated but focussed on ensuring we have a genuine relationship with our clients, which leads to a far greater banking relationship and mutual long-term goals.”

The team-working environment was also important, he said, with Mr Neilson heading up a team of 10 agri bankers – that collectively have 173 years of experience between them – and a remit covering the cane fields on the north coast down to fine wool-breeding country at Walcha.

“The region is looking magnificent at the moment,” he said, “with full water profiles and grass up to your knees. The only thing lacking is the number of sheep and cattle on hand, and to that end we are working closely with our clients assisting them in their efforts to rebuild stock numbers.”

Mr Neilson takes on the role from previous long-standing branch manager Mike Stace who has moved with the bank to Perth.

Mr Neilson joins head of relationship manager for northern New South Wales and southern Queensland Nick Pearce in the Armidale branch as well as rural managers Kyle McDonald (based in Inverell), Duncan Whan, Ben Muirhead, Charles Hope (based in Lismore), Donna Matheson and Michael Clark and analysts Megan Kliendienst, Jenny Brown, George Sedgwick and Anna Hoy.

To contact Scott Neilson or Rabobank Armidale please call 02 6738 7300 or 0418 902 743.

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Health News

RURAL HEALTH INQUIRY REVEALS LACK OF FUNDING FOR TAMWORTH OPERATING THEATRES

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Tamworth Hospital

RURAL HEALTH INQUIRY REVEALS LACK OF FUNDING FOR TAMWORTH OPERATING THEATRES

The NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into rural health has revealed today that three operating theatres in Tamworth Hospital are used for storage instead of much needed surgery because of a shortfall in funding from the NSW Government.

The inquiry also revealed that it takes a two and a half hour round trip for Gunnedah locals to get a script due to a shortage of GP’s in the area as well as long waits for appointments, and lack of access to specialist appointments.

Shadow Minister for Health Ryan Park said the hearings have continued to highlight the desperate need for more support and resources.

“At each hearing we are seeing undeniable evidence that there is healthcare crisis going on across rural and regional NSW,” Mr Park said.

“It is just not good enough that three operating theatres in Tamworth Hospital are being used for storage when people are in desperate need of surgery. What is the point of having operating theatres that are empty?” Mr Park said.

“The Government’s neglect of public health services in rural and regional NSW must be addressed.”

Ms Rebecca Dridan, Chair, Gunnedah Early Childhood Network, said that for parents needing to get an appointment for their child with behaviour issues the wait is in excess of two years unless parents can afford to “pay a lot of money” to attend a private practice.

Ms Dridan went on to say “…a lot of children just get missed. They fall through the cracks.”

Cr Jamie Chaffey, Mayor of Gunnedah Shire Council said he was concerned for his community. “Unless there is change, dramatic change in a short period of time, the community of Gunnedah is at a crisis point, there is no doubt about it” he said.

Dr David Scott, Chair Tamworth Medical Staff Council said the ratios of patients to specialists was worse for those living in rural NSW compared to those living and working in the City.

“For example if I worked in the City I would be expected to look after around 20,000 people in Sydney, while for almost 10 years I was the only person for almost 200,000 people” Dr Scott said.

Labor’s representatives on the committee are Greg Donnelly and Walt Secord.

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Rural News

NEW $30 MILLION FUND TO ACTIVATE TOURISM IN REGIONAL NSW

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New $30m fund to activate tourism in regional NSW
Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh at today’s announcement at Forest Sky Pier with Bularri Muurlay Nyanggan executive officer Clark Webb, Coffs Harbour Mayor Denise Knight and Deputy Premier John Barilaro

NEW $30 MILLION FUND TO ACTIVATE TOURISM IN REGIONAL NSW

Big ticket tourism attractions that will put regional towns on the map and improve accessibility for people with disability are set to receive a significant funding boost, thanks to the NSW Government.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh were in Coffs Harbour today to announce the new $30 million Regional Tourism Activation Fund which will deliver new or upgraded tourism infrastructure as well as improve accessibility and inclusion for people with disability.

“This brand new fund will support the construction of new iconic visitor experiences, such as cliff-top walks or unique event spaces, boosting the profile of regional NSW towns and giving people even more reasons to take a holiday in the regions,” Mr Barilaro said.

“We are also supporting accessibility and inclusion improvements by funding upgrades such as a lift in a multi-level venue and clear access pathways to give more people with disability the opportunity to experience what our regions have to offer.”

Mr Perrottet said supporting tourism also supports local jobs and expands local economies, creating beneficial flow-on effects for traders and creates new opportunities for investment.

“With few overseas travel options available, the NSW Government is strengthening tourism in regional NSW. This funding will ensure the industry prospers and continues to play an important role in our economy,” Mr Perrottet said.

Mr Singh welcomed the funding announcement which happened today at the Coffs Harbour Forest Sky Pier, saying the funding will bring even more visitors to regional NSW each year.

“Coffs Harbour recently held the Sharks VS Titans NRL match and next week the Super W Rugby tournament starts, putting the North Coast on the map, not only as a place to host word class events, but as a place to come enjoy your holidays,” Mr Singh said.

Under Stream One, grants between $200,000 and $5 million are available for projects delivering unique and high impact visitor experiences, while Stream Two provides grants between $50,000 to $500,000 for projects that will improve the accessibility and inclusion of tourism experiences for people with disability.

The $30 million Regional Tourism Activation Fund is part of the $2 billion Regional Growth Fund. Applications open 16 June and close on 11 August 2021. For more information, go to:www.nsw.gov.au/RTAFund.

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Local News

Long awaited good news on the Ag Visa

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Agriculture Minister David Littleproud

Long awaited good news on the Ag Visa

AUSVEG, the peak industry body for the Australian vegetable industry, has welcomed the announcement that the Federal Government will make a new agriculture work visa available to all 10 countries across South-East Asia.

The new visa would provide a wider pool of workers available to Australian agriculture from the UK and the ten ASEAN countries and will help to meet ongoing seasonal workforce gaps that continue through the pandemic.

According to the announcement from Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, the new seasonal agricultural worker visa would mirror the existing Seasonal Worker Programme and will add to the pool of workers available to work on Australian farms.

“The horticulture industry has been calling for a dedicated and productive workforce for many years and this morning’s announcement is great news for the sector,” said AUSVEG National Manager – Public Affairs Tyson Cattle.

“Growers require access to a productive, reliable and competent workforce and while Working Holiday Makers will always have a role to play within our industry, giving growers and workers a pathway to primarily work on-farm should be seen as a major step froward for the development of the horticulture sector.”

“The ASEAN countries are some of our closest trading partners, so extending the Agriculture Visa to these countries makes economic sense and demonstrates our commitment in helping our regional neighbours.”

“What we need now is timely action to get this visa class up and running so that we can start bringing in workers as soon as possible when borders open up and international workers are able to enter the country.”

“While we await more details around the visa arrangements for this visa class, we understand the new visa will build on the successful Seasonal Worker Programme and Pacific Labour Scheme visas that have proved invaluable to the agriculture sector over the past 12 months.”

“This announcement is a positive development in our industry’s calls for a dedicated labour source to harvest and package fruits and vegetables.”

“We look forward to working with the Federal Government to ensure that the agriculture-specific visa meets the needs of growing businesses around the country and provides an effective solution to the industry’s growing labour shortages.”

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