A focus on road and infrastructure funding, youth mental health and small business is a priority for the electorate, newly inaugurated Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke MP highlighted in her Maiden Speech.
Standing before her parliamentary colleagues in the NSW Legislative Assembly, Ms Cooke reaffirmed her pledge to the people of the electorate of Cootamundra.
“I am here to fight for you and alongside you. While we might not always win everything we want, everyone will know that we fought until there was no fight left. I will earn your trust, I will earn your belief, and I will be your voice. I have never been more humbled nor more determined in my life.”
Ms Cooke applauded the $500 million that had been spent on roads by the Coalition government in the electorate since 2011, but acknowledged that there was still more work to be done.
“Roads are the lifeblood of our region. They connect our communities and our families, businesses and corporations. They connect producers to ports. For our regions to flourish, for this state to work to its strengths, our focus must remain on roads and rail.” Ms Cooke said.
“Special attention must shine on the now infamous Bells Line of Road and improving the Lachlan Valley Way—to name but two of our critical routes.”
Ms Cooke is also a passionate advocate for youth mental health.
“For the thousands of educators in rural and regional NSW, the mental health and
wellbeing of our students is as important as physical learning spaces and quality curriculum. Too often we hear of our young people—our future—engaging in self-harm and even taking their own lives.”
“For those of us who had the most simple and delightful upbringing in our idyllic towns, these tragedies are as distressingly perplexing as they are heartbreaking.”
The Member for Cootamundra was also keen to highlight her small business roots, noting how the $50 million announced through the Connecting Country Communities Fund would go towards addressing mobile blackspots.
“Having toiled through the 10,000-hour mark in owning and operating a small business, I will always be a strong and passionate advocate for the needs of this critical sector across my electorate,”
“Small businesses provide goods and services, drive innovation, creativity, industry and growth, contribute to local charities and causes, and employ people. We all know that jobs change lives,” she said.