A number of local business people attended a breakfast hosted by the New England Credit Union recently Thursday at the Bingara Returned Services Club. Guest speaker at the function was Member for Northern Tablelands, Richard Torbay.
Mr Torbay delivered the message that unity is critical to the success of projects or organisations in the community. “When I work with communities to forward their projects with the government, money is rarely the problem. The success comes from people power and taking a united front. If a whole community or a whole region unites behind a project, it is hard for any government to resist.”
“There are a lot of opportunities out there at the moment and we can have a share of them if we work cooperatively,” he said. “For our region, it is as bright as it has ever been,” Mr Torbay said.
Mr Torbay was asked a number of questions after his address. Mayor, John Coulton asked about the worth of abolishing State governments. Mr Torbay said that it is simplistic to think that “ripping out State governments” will solve anything. He said the argument ought to be about increasing co-operation and consistency between the States.
There was also a question about student allowances from Mrs Debbie Wade. Mrs Wade is concerned about the changes to the Independent Youth Allowance which make it impossible for her second daughter, Ellie to go to university after taking a year off. Mrs Wade said she has been talking to everyone she can about the new rules brought in by Education Minister, Julia Gillard.
The changes were meant to close a loophole that saw city students receiving the allowance while living at home but which potentially will have a huge negative impact on regional students.
Mrs Wade has three daughters, Jess at university in Newcastle, Ellie doing the HSC now and Alex still at school. Jess currently receives the Independent Youth Allowance having met all the criteria that existed at the time.
The changed rules which apply to students who are leaving school this year state that to receive the Independent Youth Allowance, applicants must have worked full-time (at least 30 hours per week) for at least 18 months or worked part-time (at least 15 hours per week) for the last two years.
According to Mrs Wade, New England University is the only university offering a two year deferral at the moment, which means there will be a lot of rural students who will be hoping Ms Gillard changes the rules very soon, otherwise it will be at least two years before they can start university, if they need financial support to do so.
Mr Torbay said that Ms Gillard can be a very stubborn woman, which is a major concern for those students doing their HSC in 2009.
NECU Branch Supervisor, Mrs Chris Kneller said that the business breakfasts are held twice a year at the moment and any business people are welcome, as long as they let the branch know that they are coming.