Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson ready to tackle 2018

FRESH START: Kevin Anderson has a number of items on his agenda for this year, starting with the Banksia Mental Health Unit. Photo: Peter Hardin
FRESH START: Kevin Anderson has a number of items on his agenda for this year, starting with the Banksia Mental Health Unit. Photo: Peter Hardin

THE NSW parliament is yet to sit for the first time in 2018, but work is already well underway for Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson.

This year, he plans to shine a light on the region’s health services, particularly the community’s mental health facilities.

“It’s a significant problem and one thing I really want to focus hard on this year, which is why I’m pushing to build a better Banksia [Mental Health Unit],” he said.

“It’s outdated and past its used by date, so I’ve asked community groups to start a petition, which they’ve done.

“I’m planning to table that petition in parliament in the first half of this year.

[The Banksia Mental Health Unit] outdated and past its used by date, so I’ve asked community groups to start a petition, which they’ve done.

Tamworth MP, Kevin Anderson

The NSW government’s audit of the state’s mental health facilities will reveal what is required to get the Banksia Mental Health Unit up to scratch and in line with the growing needs of the community.

The Tamworth MP say he’s “pushing very hard” on medical cannabis, and working closely with the NSW government to get patients better access to the drug.

“It’s been bogged down the last couple of years, which has been disappointing,” he said.

“I’m also working with the Department of Agriculture in terms of site allocation for medical cannabis.

“I still think Tamworth is absolutely the best placed regional city to house a medical cannabis plant and production facility.”

Mr Anderson is also keen to leverage his position as NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Roads and Rail to purse grants for local road upgrades. Securing funding for Port Stephens Cutting and Rangari Road are at the top of his list.

“I want to see Goonoo Goonoo Road upgraded, near the Longyard complex, to a dual-carriage way,” he said.

“That’s the missing link along that patch of road.

“We’ve also got $7.4 million for the intermodal hub, so I want to see that started and completed this year.”

Mr Anderson said he wants to continue tackling the maintenance backlog that is plaguing the region’s schools. In May 2017, the state government gave Tamworth High School $700,000 to help clear its maintenance backlog – however, another $1.7m is needed to finish the job. Farrer is behind by over $1.5 million, while Oxley High’s bill sits at $1.25 million.

“Over the school holidays, we saw some much needed maintenance and upgrades for our local schools,” he said.

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