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Welcome to My Community Update Newsletter

Don Punch MLA, Member for Bunbury

Things have changed rapidly. A month ago regional borders were still closed as were cafés, restaurants and pubs and we couldn’t have gatherings of more than two We were scared about what the future would be. Today we are still concerned but it is very different
At the end of May, I hosted a virtual townhall meeting with Minister for Regional Development Hon. Alannah MacTiernan and Bunbury business owners to talk about what it alol meant for business. 
I was struck by the number of people who saw the experience as an opportunity to do things differently and how being in a region could even provide new opportunities. It was a positive, forward looking conversation that produced ideas and suggestions for  recovery. I would like to thank everyone who participated.
As the restrictions have eased, I have really enjoyed being able to get back out into the electorate and catching up with members of the community. For example it was great to be able to catch up with Francis and Mary Joy from the local Filipino community to give them my best wishes for Independence Day for the Philippines. I also caught up with the Bunbury Writers’ Group to receive a copy of their latest anthology, Pandemic Prose, to present to Premier McGowan.
It seems catching up with the Bunbury community was an attractive option for a number of people In recent weeks I have hosted visits from Premier Mark McGowan and Ministers Alannah MacTiernan and Simone McGurk.

Finally I had an opportunity to meet with the President and Secretary of the Friends of Gelorup Group to discuss the Outer Ring Road and the group's concerns about the route. 
The Premier was really impressed during a visit to Newton Moore Senior High School to tour the newly built STEM centre, an election commitment that has now been delivered. Students use advanced engineering and maths  to build projects such as model prototype submarines and solar cars to enter into national competitions.
Minister MacTiernan came down to announce $15 million of new works at the Bunbury Port that will deliver a project that truly makes sure everybody wins. The project will see a new road constructed to provide public access to Turkey Point without the need to travel through Port land.
This is a significant project that will support local jobs at a time when secure jobs are really needed. It will allow the flexibility the Port needs to reconfigure and strategically plan for the next stage of development that will deliver long term economic benefits to Bunbury and it will support our local lifestyle by giving the fishing and nature loving community land access to Turkey Point and the Cut.
Minister McGurk participated in a round table meeting of key stakeholders and service providers to consider the issue of homelessness in Bunbury and what solutions can be applied to ensure more people are able to access and maintain secure, safe housing.
I know this is an issue that is really important to the community so it was very satisfying to hear the Minister announce the funding for a new housing first initiative for Bunbury will be brought forward with the intention of getting the programme underway in the coming months.
We may have been a bit isolated for the last couple of months but we have certainly been at the front of mind of our Government.


What's Coming Up

I will be closely following how things progress over the coming weeks now that restrictions have been eased. I am very keen to be able to re-engage with the community.
Within the next month or so I will be able to re-schedule a number of community Town Hall meetings. I am also looking forward to getting my mobile offices in our suburban parks up and running again. Keep an eye on my Facebook page and in the local paper for updates on my upcoming events.
Bunbury continues to be popular with Government Ministers and I am looking forward to hosting a couple more visits in the next few weeks. But, before I can do any of that, I still have one more week of Parliament to attend before we rise for the winter break.

Parliamentary Update

It has been a very busy but very productive past month in the Parliament. The McGowan Government has passed some substantial legislation that will create some much improved outcomes for our community.
As part of our response to the COVID-19 crisis, we passed the Planning and Development Amendment Bill 2020. This legislation will help fast-track major projects to stimulate the economy and create jobs, but just as importantly it will make it easier for you to make some small changes to thing like patios and sheds at home.
One of the principles that was very important to me when we debated the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill last year was that of ensure people were able to experience a “good death”. That is to say individuals and their families are supported in their choices when facing the end of life. I was, therefore, very pleased to see the Parliament last month establish the Joint Select Committee on Palliative Care in Western Australia. This committee will undertake some very important work to develop a series of recommendations that will improve the end of live choices available to people in our community.
We also passed the Fines, Penalties and Infringement Notices Enforcement Amendment Bill 2019. This law will see the end to an average of 100 Western Australian every going to jail because of unpaid fines.
From now on, only a Magistrate can jail a person for the non-payment of fines and only in the most extreme of cases. People experiencing hardship will not be jailed but other arrangements like the garnishing of wages of payment will be put in place to ensure the fines are recouped  in a way that is manageable. This is a piece of legislation that improves fairness and ensures people fullfil their obligation and I am very proud to have been a part of passing it through the Parliament.
I have had a number of chances to speak in the Parliament this month and to talk up Bunbury. On 20 May I gave a speech about how innovative Bunbury businesses have been in adapting to the COVID environment. It was a great opportunity to recognise the resilience of a number of small local businesses and to spruik the Buy Local message.
I also delivered a grievance to the Minister for Community Services, Hon. Simone McGurk about homelessness in our community. The result was the Minister’s visit to Bunbury and the convening of the round-table meeting as described above which was great outcome.
Finally, I had the opportunity to deliver a tribute to South West woman Shirley Hayward who passed away earlier this year. Shirley and her husband Norm made an amazing contribution to children services in the region, particularly within the Noongar community, and while the circumstances were very sad it was fitting for her contribution to be recognised in the State Parliament.

It has definitely been a busy month and as we continue down the path of recovery and restrictions are eased even further I expect to only be even busier still in the coming weeks and months.
Can I remind everyone that these are still difficult times and one of the best things we can all do to support our community is buy local. I still have some Proudly Bunbury Buy Local shopping bags and bumper stickers in my office, so if you would like to help promote the message, stop by a pick some up.

Copyright © 2020 Don Punch MLA, All rights reserved.

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