NSW Senator Brian Burston has heard that a declining population and a loss of important medical services are high on the list of concerns for Cobar residents.
Senator Burston visited Cobar on Monday as part of a western area tour.
“I’m in Cobar getting feedback as to what the issues are locally, seeing if we can take something back to Canberra to see if we can help out where we can,” Senator Burston told The Cobar Weekly in an interview on Monday.
He said Cobar locals spoke of their concerns of shop fronts closing and about the negative effects fly in/fly out workers were having on the town.
“I wasn’t aware of that, and with that comes a lot of issues like mental health issues and flow on effects to different areas of health. Some suicides have been linked to fly in/fly out occupations so that’s a major concern. I am quite concerned about the flying doctor service being required for live births in Cobar and fracture settings and so on,” Senator Burston said.
He said while a number of matters that have been raised with him on this visit are State Government issues (such as health services) he’s happy to try and help out where he can.
“I don’t mind tackling state issues and talking about them with State Members and they have been quite receptive to that.
“I am probably one of few members who will talk and get you direct feedback and, if there is more information to it, then we will follow up with it in another 12 months and, through me, not hear-say and not through other departments, I’ll reply directly to the public.
“When I have finished here [on his western area tour], I will look at the issues, I will formulate who I write to in regards to State Ministers, the Prime Minister or Federal Ministers and tackle it that way, that’s what I do,” Senator Burston said.
“If there is some controversial issue that I don’t get a response from State or Federal Ministers on then I’ll make a speech in parliament and address it that way and name and shame if I need too, which I have done in the past,” he said.
Mr Burston won a NSW Federal Senate seat under the Pauline Hanson One Nation party in the 2016 federal election.
Born and bred in Cessnock, he started working as an apprentice boilermaker, and went on to become a draftsman, TAFE teacher and lecturer at Newcastle University.
He was an alderman with Cessnock City Council for 12 years and served a term as Deputy Mayor.
Senator Burston said having grown up and lived in a regional mining town, he can relate to Cobar people.
He said One Nation’s policies and goals also very much align with the needs of rural people.
“We are a rural and regional Australia political party, and its concerns are foremost in our minds. We have found that the rural and regional Australia are very much ignored,” Senator Burston said.