Pages tagged "Primary Industries and Regional Development"
17 August 2023
In reply to the Hon. R.A. SIMMS (27 June 2023):
My questions to the minister are:
1. Is the minister concerned about the impacts of teacher shortages on development in the regions, and educational opportunities for regional people?
2. What actions has the minister taken to address the problem?
3. Has she made representations to the Minister for Education in relation to the matter?
Response by the Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN MLC:
The Minister for Education, Training and Skills has advised:
1. A teacher supply shortage is being experienced across Australia, with teacher supply and retention being a focus for all jurisdictions. The Malinauskas Labor government is acutely aware of this issue and has been taking action since coming to government to address teacher shortages in country South Australia.
2. The Malinauskas Labor government made important election commitments to tackle teacher shortages, particularly in the country. We are delivering on our election commitment to make the country incentive zone allowance ongoing for all teachers who are eligible to receive it in the 2024 school year, rather than it cease after 5 or 8 years. This will help attract teachers to work in the country, and support teacher retention in regional areas.
To build the teacher pipeline for country schools and preschools the Department for Education has also developed two new initiatives aimed at pre-service teachers.
Firstly, they are being supported to undertake funded professional experience placements in country sites to increase their visibility of career opportunities and the lifestyle of these locations. This initiative aims to remove a major barrier for pre-service teachers to participate in country professional experiences by providing financial support recognising the need to relocate for a period.
Secondly, the department has developed an employment program to support pre-service teachers who move to country locations in their first teaching appointment. This initiative is designed to support their transition from study to employment, and to support their induction into the local community and teaching.
To support these initiatives we have developed a country campaign to profile what it looks like to live and teach in regional South Australia
This campaign includes the inspiring personal stories of teachers from across the state
The government is also delivering the Country Education Strategy, which aims to provide quality leadership and expert teaching in every country school and preschool; better access to digital infrastructure, student support services and business administration systems for country schools and preschools; and access to quality learning and career, study and training opportunities for country children and young people. A key intent of this strategy is to make our country schools more attractive for staff to work in.
Alongside specific actions targeting country teachers, the Malinauskas Labor government has joined with other jurisdictions in developing the National Teacher Workforce Plan, which sets 27 priority actions the commonwealth, state and territory government are taking to improve teacher supply and keep teachers in the profession.
Our government will continue to make the important investments needed to address teacher shortages, including in the country.
3. I am in frequent discussion with my cabinet colleagues about regional issues.
27 June 2023
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:28): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development on the topic of teacher shortages at regional schools.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: On 4 April, The Advertiser reported that our four regional schools were struggling to fill teacher vacancies for any longer than 19 days, which is the maximum length of a relief teaching contract, and that one of those schools, Lucindale Area School, has been unable to find a permanent replacement to teach its year 8 to year 10 maths and science since the start of the year. My office has also been advised that Whyalla secondary school has been carrying three unfilled vacancies in 2022 and that there have been as many as eight unfilled vacancies during 2023.
The problem is not limited to Whyalla. I understand some reports have been heard from Port Augusta and the broader country regions. Across the state there are between 40 and 50 unfilled teacher vacancies, according to the Department for Education.
The Advertiser quoted the Australian Education Union of South Australia's President, Andrew Gohl, who said finding qualified educators was a widespread problem and that 'most country schools will be experiencing this now or have experienced it in the last 12 months'. He went on to say that short-term solutions such as offering $10,000 extra as an incentive to find a qualified maths or science teacher are proving ineffective, and that the excessive workload for teaching needs to be addressed.
He has also added that there needs to be additional country incentives, such as access to quality housing, as some teachers are starting their teaching career living in a caravan or in a motel room. I note that the official government of South Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regions website states that the minister is committed to regional development, improving educational opportunities, along with supporting small business and promoting the importance of primary industry sectors. My question therefore to the minister is:
1. Is the minister concerned about the impacts of teacher shortages on development in the regions and educational opportunities for regional people?
2. What action has the minister taken to address the problem?
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (15:30): I thank the honourable member for his question, and certainly I echo some of the quotes that he made in there that attracting qualified educators is a widespread problem, and in common with other professional occupations in regional areas it is a widespread problem. It is something that we have been acutely aware of and have been working in a number of ways to address.
Specifically in terms of the teacher workforce, one of the initiatives that I know that our government has done was make the country teachers retention allowance—forgive me if that is not the correct name—permanent. Previously, as I understand it, it was only available for the first five years of someone's tenure in a country area, teaching in a country school, so that was one step that was an important part of encouraging those teachers who had been in regional areas for five years to continue their stay, and hopefully to actually become permanent.
Secondly, housing, as the honourable member mentioned, can be a limiting factor, and certainly I have told in this place stories of schools that have attracted teachers and have unfortunately then seen those teachers living in a caravan park for two terms, resulting in them returning to Adelaide. That type of experience is one of the reasons the Malinauskas Labor government has implemented the program for regional housing for essential workers, which we announced last year and then alluded to also in this year's budget.
The importance of that can't be underestimated. That is about ensuring that regional professions, be they healthcare workers, be they police, be they teachers, or a number of others, can access housing. The program has been established in such a way as to hopefully make it self-sustaining in the sense of long-term leases being taken on, which gives confidence in building housing in some of those regional areas where perhaps the market by itself would not provide that. In terms of other issues, I am happy to refer to the Minister for Education in the other place and bring back a response.
14 June 2023
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (14:35): It is hard to follow that, but I will try. I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Minister for Regional Development on the topic of regional rail.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I am sorry the Leader of the Opposition is missing it; she would be very interested. In February, the parliamentary inquiry into public and active transport handed down its report. This contains several recommendations related to regional rail, including the incentivisation of passenger rail between Adelaide and Melbourne and the reactivation of rail for passengers and freight in the regions.
The Australian Labor Party recently released its draft National Platform for members ahead of their national conference. In chapter 1 of the document, which is published on the Labor Party's publicly accessible website, it states under sections 54 and 55:
Labor will…continue to invest in faster rail and upgraded rail corridors across the nation. Labor will work with state governments to address regional rail infrastructure needs and will ensure more trains are built in Australia to create skilled manufacturing jobs.
The document also goes on to state that:
Labor will work to ensure the resilience of our supply chain and freight networks, including considering the importance of rail in the movement of freight across Australia.
Given the synergies between the recommendations of this council's committee on public and active transport and the draft ALP National Platform, my questions to the minister are:
1. Has the minister yet read the report of the public and active transport committee, and has she raised the potential for regional rail with her Labor colleagues in the Albanese government in Canberra?
2, What action has she taken to progress the recommendations contained in the select committee report?
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:37): I thank the honourable member for his question. I can see that there is a media release imminent from the honourable member, where he will try to get some coverage on the fact that, as Minister for Regional Development, I should be reading the reports of every other portfolio.
It kind of links in a little bit with the question we had from the opposition yesterday, and my comments that there are some who seem to think that, as minister, I should be minister for all the portfolios here. As one of my colleagues said in jest earlier today, perhaps I should be flattered. Perhaps those opposite and perhaps some on the crossbench think that I am so capable that I can actually be across every other minister's portfolio.
That was a light-hearted quip from one of my colleagues. I certainly don't expect or even hold myself out to be able to be across every single other portfolio. If the honourable member and those opposite are interested in the Labor government's response to reports, I am very happy to refer that to the relevant minister in the other place, the Minister for Transport, and bring back a response.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Supplementary.
The Hon. H.M. Girolamo interjecting:
The PRESIDENT: We will have a supplementary from the Hon. Mr Simms when the Hon. Ms Girolamo is silent.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (14:39): Why hasn't the minister read the recommendations relating to the regions contained within the report of the select committee of this chamber, and when will she undertake to read it? How many times have I asked about this?
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:39): I again reiterate: we have a collegial team on this side of the chamber. We have portfolio responsibilities. The Minister for Transport is responsible for transport.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (14:42): Supplementary: has the minister discussed the recommendations of the select committee report with the transport minister in the other place?
The PRESIDENT: Minister, you did talk about the transport minister in the other place in your original answer.
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries) (14:42): Certainly. I am pleased to be able to say that I have frequent discussions with the transport minister across a range of matters, all of which are always very fruitful.
18 May 2023
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:45): I rise to indicate the Greens' support for the Rail Safety National Law (South Australia) (Fees) Amendment Bill. The Greens believe that high-quality national freight and passenger rail is essential to our modern economy and our society. Many in this place know of my ongoing interest in rail as a mode of transport, particularly in regional areas. Rail transport is accessible, it is low emission and safe.
This bill establishes a new cost-recovery method to fund the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator. This model will align accreditation fees with the risk profile and regulatory effort expended by the regulator. These provisions will create a more equitable fee structure for rail operators. Furthermore, heritage and tourist rail operators will be exempt from accreditation and registration fees.
Currently, these operators are charged an annual fee of $2,000, which is sometimes covered by the government as a community service and usually only covers less than 5 per cent of regulating the sector. There are a number of these heritage and tourism operators in South Australia, including the mostly volunteer-run Pichi Richi Railway and the SteamRanger.
I actually went on the Pichi Richi Railway many times as a kid and I was surprised to know that they were paying a fee. These organisations are preserving the heritage of our rail networks and it is welcome news that they will now be exempt from these fees. The Greens support these changes, which will create a model with equitable fees as agreed by the Council of Australian Governments and the transport ministers. The introduction of a more proportionate fee structure to fund the Office of the National Safety Regulator is a positive step forward.
I want to use this opportunity to urge the government to look seriously at rail, particularly rail in the regions. As you would know, Acting President, I was chair of the parliamentary inquiry into public and active transport. I have not yet had an opportunity to meet with the transport minister. He has not responded to any of my requests to meet. I would welcome the opportunity to talk to him about the myriad issues in the transport portfolio, particularly relating to rail.
This bill plays an important role in addressing one issue but there are a whole heap of other issues that could be addressed. Of course, the Hon. Connie Bonaros asked questions today about the end of Rex in some of the regions. There are regional communities that are at risk of being cut off and they really rely on rail as a way of connecting them with the broader South Australian community. I urge the government to dust off that report and to meet with me so that we can discuss what might be done.
16 May 2023
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Minister for Regional Development on the topic of regional bank closures.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Supplementary: in addition to making a submission, has the minister written to Westpac and, if not, why not?
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Supplementary: why hasn't the minister taken action following the resolution of this council? Why hasn't she written to Westpac? That was what this council directed.
16 May 2023
Regional Development Minister Clare Scriven still hasn’t raised the issue of regional bank closures with Westpac, despite a motion calling on the State Government to do so passing the Upper House unanimously in March, the Greens have today revealed.
The motion by Greens MLC Robert Simms noted that Westpac has decided to close their branch in Coober Pedy, leaving the community without a bank, and called on the Malinauskas Government to formally raise the matter with Westpac and advocate for the retention of bank branches in the regions.
In Question Time today, Mr Simms asked the Minister whether she had written to Westpac. Her answer revealed that she had not.
“I’m stunned that more than two months after this motion passed the Upper House with the support of all parties, the Minister for Regional Development still hasn’t put pen to paper to advocate to Westpac for a bank in Coober Pedy.”
“Local bank branches are essential to regional businesses and community life. I think regional communities would expect that the Minister would act promptly to ensure that they are not denied access to this basic service.”
“It seems the Minister for Regional Development really is missing in action on regional banks.”
22 March 2023
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Minister for Regional Development on regional rail.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Today, the Adelaide Advertiser reported that planning minister Nick Champion has written to councils, many in the regions, asking for more development. This comes after the Minister for Planning announced a plan to rezone land in Murray Bridge to build a thousand new homes. Currently, the only way to get to Murray Bridge by train is on the Overland, which costs $65 and only runs twice a week. Other regional areas, such as Port Augusta, have no access to rail at all.
Earlier this month, when asked if the Minister for Regional Development had considered the recommendations from the public and active transport committee to reactivate regional rail, the minister simply replied, 'I haven't read the report.' My question to the minister therefore is: given the government's intention to increase population in the regions, has the minister now read the report of the public and active transport committee, in particular the recommendations relating to reactivating regional rail, and what action has she taken?
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): I thank the honourable member for his question. Certainly, in regard to the Overland, I am very pleased that that is continuing. Members might recall that under the former government, the former Liberal state government, they wanted to, in fact they did, cut the funding, modest though it was, to the Overland. It was a pre-election promise that the now Malinauskas Labor government made to reinstate that funding, which indeed we have done. Of course, it was only the Victorian Labor state government coming to the table with additional funding that allowed the Overland to continue.
In terms of a proposed trial of rail at Mount Barker, which I think is one of the things that the member is referring to, I have received a briefing about that. The purpose of the trial is to prove the viability of a passenger rail service from Mount Gambier to Adelaide Railway Station. My advice is that the proposal is from Talgo and is based on the use of a tilt train, which is also a gauge-convertible vehicle and could potentially operate on the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) standard gauge network, the Adelaide metropolitan broad gauge network and the current broad gauge connection to the Mount Barker station.
Talgo, I am advised, has not indicated if the proposed trial would demonstrate gauge conversion. Talgo needs to demonstrate to ARTC, the Department for Infrastructure and Transport, and the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator the ability to provide a safe, reliable and effective public transport service that can be supported by a business case to inform further consideration. I am advised that the initial advice from Talgo is that the process to undertake modelling and secure necessary safety accreditation before undertaking the trial could take 12 to 18 months, and the trial will be undertaken on a no obligation basis to the South Australian government.
Discussions between the department, Talgo's local representative and the ARTC, I am advised, commenced in June 2022. Further to this, the chief executive of the department met with the President of Talgo, Mr Carlos Palacio Oriol, in September 2022 at the InnoTrans conference in Berlin to discuss the proposal to undertake the trial of the tilt train technology. I am advised that a draft non-refundable financing agreement was provided by the Secretary of State for Trade of the Spanish government. The Crown Solicitor's Office has reviewed the terms and more information, I am advised, is being provided.
The suitability of the trains for operation between Adelaide and Mount Barker, and over longer distances, was also recently discussed with Talgo at a meeting in Spain. The Chief Executive of the Department for Infrastructure and Transport facilitated a meeting with Talgo and ARTC executives on 27 February 2023 to gain an understanding of the current status of Talgo's access request to ARTC and seek to progress discussions.
I am further advised that the department has met with the Economic and Trade Commission of Spain to Australia, and she advised that an in principle agreement to enter into a formal deed with the South Australian government would be required before the application could be assessed. I am very happy to take any other questions on notice and provide an answer from the relevant minister in the other place.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Supplementary: has the minister read the other recommendations in the report relating to reactivation of regional rail—not just in Mount Barker?
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): There are a number of other regional rail issues which, whilst they are in the purview of the Minister for Transport in the other place, I have been able to be apprised of and have the following advice. One of those of course is in regard to the potential for commercial rail lines to operate successfully on Eyre Peninsula. Our government would be supportive of that, but of course it does need to be commercially viable. We are generally supportive of new rail infrastructure, but would need to look at this proposal and make an assessment on its merits, including the degree of private investment proposed.
To date, I am advised no detailed proposal has been presented to the South Australian government. The previous closure of Viterra's rail network has led both directly and indirectly, of course, to significant investment in port developments, but had other significant impacts as well, perhaps some of those not so positive. The government has spent significant funds improving the local road network to facilitate greater use for freight in response to Viterra's 2019 decision to cease its rail operations in the region. The government will continue to investigate options that can provide better services as we go forward.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Supplementary: has the minister read the report herself or has she simply obtained a briefing?
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): I did answer that in the beginning of my first answer to this question.
8 March 2023
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Minister for Regional Development on the topic of regional rail.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Last month, the Select Committee on Public and Active Transport handed down its report. Two of the recommendations contained in the report, recommendations 2 and 3, relate to regional rail. Under recommendation 2, the committee recommended that the state government—and I quote from the report:
…as a high priority conducts a trial of passenger train services from Mount Barker to Adelaide, with a view to adopting similar trials of services from Roseworthy to Gawler, Aldinga to Seaford and Adelaide to Port Augusta.
Under recommendation 3 the committee recommended that the state government:
(a) considers reactivation of regional rail for freight (particularly grain) and passenger services;
(b) in regards to regional rail, considers the environmental, health and wellbeing benefits of rail versus roads; and
(c) reports on expenditure on public transport in regional versus metropolitan areas per capita.
A story in yesterday's Stock Journal reports that grain producer Viterra is pushing for reinstatement of rail freight in Eyre Peninsula. Over the last five years, groups such as the South Australian Regional Rail Alliance have been calling for investment in rail infrastructure in areas including the Limestone Coast for passengers and freight. My question to the minister therefore is:
1. Has the minister read the report of the Select Committee on Public and Active Transport?
2. Does the minister support the reactivation of regional rail?
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): I thank the honourable member for his question. I haven't read the report that the member refers to. In terms of supporting regional rail, I think what is needed when we look at any infrastructure is a cost-benefit analysis.
The benefits to industry, the benefits to passengers, the economic impacts—both positive and also the costs—all of those things are appropriate before any decision is made. I am happy to refer details to the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure in the other place and if he has further information to add I am happy to bring that back to the chamber.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Supplementary: given the focus on the regions, why hasn't the minister read the report of the committee and will she do so?
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): The Minister for Infrastructure and Transport is the minister who is responsible for that type of matter—transport, funnily enough—so I am sure that he is being briefed by his department on all appropriate literature that is available on the subject.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Supplementary: does the minister not consider regional rail—and in particular regional freight—to be relevant to regional development?
The PRESIDENT: Order!
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): Of course, every aspect of regional living is relevant to regional development, but that is different from being directly responsible for that. If I was to take a different view then I would potentially become minister for regional health, minister for regional transport, minister for regional education, the list would go on.
I am very fortunate that, as a regional member, I am able to have input when those discussions come up around the cabinet table as well as, of course, other discussions with my cabinet colleagues and my caucus around so much of this. Stakeholders who I meet with—which I do of course on a very regular basis, both here in Adelaide but importantly out in their own areas as well—do bring up issues which intersect with all areas of regional life. I am very fortunate to be able to have input into those discussions, but in terms of direct responsibility we of course have appropriate ministers for that.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Supplementary: as part of the input into these discussions that the minister has, will she be advocating for regional rail?
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): I advocate for a wide range of issues. As I mentioned in my original answer, a cost-benefit analysis has to be appropriate for any type of decision that is made.
2 May 2023
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): The Minister for Infrastructure and Transport has advised:
The reactivation of regional rail is supported, where there is evidence that it sustainably meets a defined service requirement. Viterra and Aurizon's current investigation of Eyre Peninsula rail is an example of investigating rail, as part of a defined supply chain solution.
The Department for Infrastructure and Transport is assisting Viterra and Aurizon in their investigations and look forward to the outcome of their assessment and business case.
8 March 2023
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I want to thank all my colleagues for their contributions: the Hon. Clare Scriven, the Hon. Nicola Centofanti, the Hon. Frank Pangallo, the Hon. Connie Bonaros and the Hon. Ms Game. I recognise that all parties and indeed all members in this place are supporting this motion and I really welcome that. It demonstrates the depth of concern that runs through the parliament and indeed through our community about the actions of these banks and it is one that crosses partisan divide. I think all members of this place are very concerned about the actions of the banking sector and the disregard they show for vulnerable members of our community.
It is worth noting some of the events that have unfolded over the last 24 hours. Yesterday, the Reserve Bank of Australia lifted the cash rate by 0.25 percentage points. This means the cash rate in Australia is now at an 11-year high of 3.6 per cent. This surpasses all the interest rate hikes that we saw since the 1990s, and this is the 10th successive interest rate hike in a row.
We know that the big banks are already passing these interest rates on to their customers. They are doing this despite the fact they are making enormous profits. The Commonwealth Bank made a profit of $5.1 billion for the second half of 2022. The NAB made a $2.15 billion profit for the fourth quarter of 2022. Westpac made a $5.3 billion full-year cash profit in November 2022, and ANZ made $6.5 billion in its full-year cash profits in October 2022.
They are making these huge profits, they are hiking up interest rates, and while they are making these huge profits and hiking up interest rates they are shutting down regional banks and they are dudding their customers in those communities of vital services. They are not recognising the role that these institutions should play in terms of offering a community service. I think it is outrageous. What we are seeing is corporate greed, and I welcome the clear message that this motion will send.
I indicate that we will be supporting the amendment put forward by the honourable Leader of the Opposition, and I appreciate her speaking to me about that. The honourable member made a fair point in that she noted the fact that the motion mentions one particular financial institution. That was because the decision regarding Coober Pedy was imminent at the time the motion was originally crafted, but as all members have identified, this is a matter that extends beyond one institution. It relates to all four of the big banks.
Hopefully, this will send a very clear message that, as members of parliament, we stand shoulder to shoulder with the community and we will fight for their interests against these big institutions and their corporate greed. With that, I commend the motion.
22 February 2023
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question without notice to the Minister for Regional Development on the topic of regional bank closures.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: Yesterday, I asked the Minister for Regional Development about what action the government was taking regarding the bank closure in Coober Pedy and in other regional towns. The minister responded that:
…South Australia was amongst the worst impacted states in terms of regional bank closures. However…these are corporate decisions that are very much independent of the government of the day.
This morning, the ABC reported that locals in Coober Pedy are buying safes and are scared of being robbed while driving 500 kilometres to Port Augusta to make major deposits after the closure of the town's only bank. David Kelly, the Chief Executive of the District Council of Coober Pedy, was quoted in the article as saying that people are 'feeling pretty anxious about being pulled over on the road and robbed'.
My question to the minister therefore is: in light of these reports, what action has the minister taken to ensure the safety of people in Coober Pedy trying to access banking services? Specifically, has the minister raised the issue with the Minister for Police? Have any additional resources been allocated to manage this problem, or does the minister simply maintain her view that this is a corporate decision, independent of the government of the day?
The Hon. C.M. SCRIVEN (Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Minister for Forest Industries): I thank the honourable member for his question. I will certainly make inquiries with the Minister for Police. I haven't seen the article to which the honourable member is referring, but it may well be that the Minister for Police has done so. I think it's also worth mentioning that the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee of federal parliament is currently undertaking an inquiry into bank closures in regional Australia. They are taking submissions until, I think, the end of March. They intend at this stage to report by the end of this year.
I think that is also an important opportunity to make a number of these issues known, and I would encourage the honourable member, if he is in contact with people who are affected, to encourage them also to make such a submission. I think it's an important opportunity to be able to shine even greater light on the inconveniences and difficulties faced by people in regional areas when banks do close, and that the banks are constantly making these decisions. They are independent decisions, but they seem to take no account of the difficulties that they place on regional people when they do take these decisions.