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December 3, 2012

As the festive season approaches, most Gippslanders will have the opportunity to catch up with family and friends, and take a well-earned rest.

Many of us are probably wondering how another year passed so quickly and pledging to spend more time on the things that are really important to us in 2013.

We are blessed to live in a beautiful part of the world and although politicians like myself often get involved in debates about services and facilities that we don’t have – it’s important to remember the positives.

Our communities are strong and innovative; our environment is spectacular and generally well cared for; and people who are prepared to work hard can earn a respectable living.

There’s always going to be challenges and there’s always room for improvement, but we do have a lot to be thankful for as a region.

As a nation, it is generally the same. There are some major problems for our Federal Government to contend with but at the same time, the fundamentals are strong.

Our government needs to work in partnership with the community to make sure we head in the right direction in 2013.

We need to address the issue of asylum seekers and border security in a firm but humane and respectful manner. The National Disability Insurance Scheme remains unfinished business and indigenous Australians continue to languish on key indicators such as health, education and employment outcomes.

These are all challenges that a modern nation like Australia can overcome through good decision making and hard work on the ground.

In uncertain economic times, we need to see the Federal Government committed to achieving value for money from taxpayers’ dollars and improving the resilience of our economy.

Locally, we can all work together to create jobs, particularly for young people in our region.

By supporting local businesses and shopping locally throughout the year, we can help more young school leavers remain in East Gippsland in 2013. ‘Putting Locals First’ helps to create jobs and ensures that our communities continue to thrive.

Finally, I would like to thank all East Gippslanders for their wonderful support and encouragement throughout the year.

Merry Christmas and best wishes to you and your family for 2011.