NSW Opposition leader Luke Foley visited the town of Coonamble today to listen to business owners affected by the fire that swept through the town’s main street in the early hours of August 23.

Mr Foley took the time to listen to business owners while visiting Coonamble for its famous greyhound carnival. It is his third visit to the town since becoming Opposition Leader in January 2015.

The visit also provided Mr Foley with an opportunity to talk about Labor’s commitment to regional NSW, which includes a $50 million allocation to revitalise main streets in country towns. The main street initiative would be co-funded by local councils.

NSW Labor’s plan for main streets in regional areas includes investing in local infrastructure and leasing vacant shopfronts for community use. It is just one plank in Labor’s $4.1 billion Regional Jobs Fund, which Labor will establish with the funds from the transfer of NSW’s share in Snowy Hydro to the Commonwealth.

Mr Foley has also been calling on the major banks to halt their closures of bank branches in regional towns while NSW goes through its worst drought in a generation. And Labor has also released a policy to tackle the ice epidemic head on with the commitment to open six clinics – four of them in regional NSW - for the mandatory rehabilitation and detoxification of ice addicts.

On previous visits to the town Mr Foley has stood by the community when it was under attack from then Premier Mike Baird’s failed ban on greyhounds; the Coonamble Greyhound Club named a race in his honour at carnival.

Earlier this year Mr Foley met with 150 farmers when he was in Coonamble and made clear Labor’s opposition to the Pilliga coal seam gas project that threatens the community’s precious water resource.

Quotes attributable to NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley

“This was a valuable opportunity for me to listen and learn about what is on the minds of business owners in towns like Coonamble and there are ideas that I can take back to Macquarie Street such as the possibility of a PCYC here to help mentor young people and giving them team activities to participate in.

“There is real concern around the skills shortage among our young people and the reality that TAFE has been left to wither on the vine under the Liberals and Nationals. Businesses want to see a rebuilding of TAFE and Labor is absolutely committed to that.

“Labor will work with local councils to revitalise main streets and give them a facelift to bring life back to the main streets of country towns like Coonamble. Bigger country towns have grown at the expense of smaller country towns and I believe that government can do more to work with the private sector to address that.”