Member for the NSW Legislative Council Daniel Mookhey was in Cobar last week to start what he called his “apprenticeship in all things Barwon”.
As part of his western area tour to find out the needs of towns such as Broken Hill, Cobar and Dubbo, Mr Mookhey spoke with Mayor Lilliane Brady, toured the Cobar Hospital and Cobar TAFE and met with their staff.
“One of the great pleasures of my job is I get to go all around NSW and I have specific responsibility for Labor to be the point of liaison to the seat of Barwon,” Mr Mookhey told The Cobar Weekly.
Mr Mookhey said prior to his visit he had been fascinated by the history of Cobar, it’s architecture and the early Labor movement in Cobar and also in Broken Hill.
“I’m the first to accept that I’ve got a lot more to learn about what’s happening in Cobar now and what the issues are,” he said.
“Prior to me coming here I spent a lot of time looking into the emergency hospital waiting lists at Cobar Hospital.
“I just wrapped up an inquiry into the TAFE.”
Mr Mookhey said a huge part of his focus with TAFE was to see what was happening in the far west, the reasons for its declining enrolment numbers and what’s the future of TAFE in towns such as Cobar.
He said with fees going up “enormously”, course hours being cut back and TAFE staff being sacked, the institutes were being “gutted”.
He said this was of particular importance to places like Cobar, where there are virtually no private sector learning/training alternatives open to students.
Mr Mookhey grew up in Parramatta, the son of migrants, and said while he lives in Sydney and has a passion for cities and urban spaces that that won’t come at the expense of rural and regional development.
He said he went into politics to ensure the generation after him has access to benefits such as good medical and education facilities that he had growing up. Mr Moohkey said he can identify with regional areas: his wife grew up in the New England region; they were married in Armidale; and he obtained his Masters degree at the University of New England.