As the New South Wales Parliament returns for the first day of sitting for the year, Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke has raised concerns around parliamentary transparency and accountability, after the NSW Labor Government opted to minimise the sitting calendar in 2024.
Ms Cooke said the NSW Parliament is scheduled to sit for 48 days this year, which contrasts starkly with other years in which the Parliament has sat for up to 65 days under previous Coalition Governments.
"Fundamentally, less sitting days means less Question Time and less scrutiny," Ms Cooke said.
"The decision to cut the number of sitting days, drastically reduces the ability of the Parliament to put forward bills, scrutinise legislation, raise matters of community concern, and ask questions on the record.
"I am very concerned about what this means for transparency and accountability in decision making, and I think the public is entitled to question why the NSW Labor Government is trying to avoid scrutiny," she said.
Ms Cooke said that despite the shortened calendar, she will use the time to advocate for key issues across the Cootamundra electorate.
Mayor attend Cootamundra summit
"Just last week I convened the 6th annual Cootamundra Summit, bringing together representatives from the local governments that make up our wonderful electorate.
"The Summit was a chance for me to reaffirm my advocacy agenda for the year," Ms Cooke said.
"Chief among the priorities identified is securing a safe and secure water supply for various communities, including for Boorowa residents, which is a project we've already made great inroads in achieving, with news this week the Government - together with Hilltops Council - has agreed to invest close to $1 million in a feasibility study to investigate further the option of a Harden to Boorowa water pipeline.
"Ensuring we have adequate police resources for our communities was another key priority identified at the Summit, and I will continue to lobby the Police Minister to ensure our towns and villages are equipped with the staff and infrastructure we need, and most importantly, deserve.
"Other issues on my agenda include continuing to fight for the Tresillian in-patient beds to be included in the Cowra Hospital redevelopment, as well as continuing to campaign loudly for the de-merge of the Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council.
"Road and rail funding, including the rollout of safety upgrades at local level crossings are high on the list, and I will be demanding answers around the delay in commencing work on the Wallendbeen Bridge.
"This is by no means an exhaustive list; it's going to be a big year and I look forward to once again working hard to achieve meaningful outcomes for the more than 170 small communities that make up our wonderful Cootamundra electorate," she said.