LAST week I announced a $40 million investment in the next generation of regional NSW.
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It's part of a record investment in the NSW Budget, driven by the NSW Nationals, in regional youth.
And I want to ensure we're building a future for the next generation that is not limited by geography.
The Our Region, Our Voice program is an investment that has been shaped by youth for youth.
We've surveyed more than 2000 young people living across regional NSW to understand what matters to them.
And it's helped shape a program that will fund local projects that meet local needs with grants from $150,000 up to $3 million.
From developing work-ready skills to improving health services to improving access to digital technology, young people will be empowered to build their own future.
This is all about helping our young people reach their full potential. I want them to have every opportunity to work in high-tech jobs without leaving their home town and to have access to the transport services they need.
I want them to be able to start their own families with the education and health services they deserve.
I want them to look to the future and know that it is bright and filled with endless opportunity. Not despite where they live, but because of it.
Our research shows that young people can experience challenges differently depending on where they live and this program will enable initiatives that are responsive to these local needs.
Applications are now open and we're urging local councils, schools, not-for-profit organisations and Local Aboriginal Land Councils to apply.
THERE are unprecedented ag worker shortages facing regional NSW.
According to the Food Supply Chain Alliance, Australia faces a shortfall of 172,000 agricultural workers this year alone and Labor's plan so far seems to have been to axe the Ag Workers Visa before it could be fully implemented.
Time and time again, people from across regional NSW raise with me the need for more workers in the bush.
I call on the Prime Minister to ensure he listens to their calls, rather than just those of city-based union officials.
If Labor is serious about fixing the big issues, it would begin by reinstating the Ag Workers Visa immediately, or demonstrate what its alternative plan is to get more boots on the ground.
In NSW, the Nationals have initiatives like AgSkilled 2.0, HelpHarvest NSW and our Agricultural Pathways Program, which are all aimed at getting employees out to the bush to help with seasonal and permanent work.
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