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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

State Matters - 10 July 2023


ENERGY ASSISTANCE


THE National Energy Bill Relief Fund is set to provide support to 1.6 million eligible households and 320,000 eligible small businesses in New South Wales.


Jointly funded by the Australian and NSW governments to reduce cost of living pressures, the scheme will automatically assist most eligible households and small businesses from Monday 31 July.


The state government is encouraging eligible people who don’t automatically receive relief to apply from Tuesday 1 August.


Eligible low-income households, pensioners, self-funded retirees, families and carers will receive a one-off $500 bill relief payment towards their electricity bills.


Eligible small businesses using less than 100 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity per year will receive a one-off $650 bill relief payment towards their electricity bill.


For further details on the Energy Bill Relief Fund visit: www.energy.nsw.gov.au/households/rebates-grants-and-schemes/national-energy-bill-relief


OVERSEAS DRIVER LICENCING


Temporary visa holders, who intend to live in NSW for more than six months, are encouraged to convert their licence as soon as possible so they can continue to drive with confidence.


The new regulation changes now in force are designed so all road users understand the state’s road rules and abide by the same standards, with any temporary visa holder required to convert their licence within six months.


The process for converting to a NSW licence will differ depending on the age of the applicant and the country where their licence was issued.


Overseas licence holders from certain recognised countries with similar licence systems to Australia as well as experienced drivers aged 25 or older from other recognised countries can visit Service NSW to convert their licence without the need to sit a knowledge test or a driving test.


All other overseas licence holders will be required to pass a knowledge test and driving test at a service centre but will be exempt from the learner driver logbook requirement.



VETERINARY WORKFORCE INQUIRY


The Legislative Council Portfolio Committee No. 4 – Regional NSW is currently calling submissions for an inquiry into the veterinary workforce shortage in NSW.


Workforce shortages across all aspects of veterinary practice including small and large animal practice, government, academia, research, industry and pathology are the focus for the inquiry.


The committee wants to hear from vets, vet nurses, pet owners, farmers, industry and others about the factors that may be impacting access to veterinary care.


It’s also interested in learning about issues which may impact on the veterinary workforce in Australia, including aspects of the current legislative and regulatory framework.


Submissions can be lodged until 21 July at the committee's website: www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/inquiries/Pages/inquiries.aspx


FIRE SAFETY UPDATE


Fire and Rescue NSW continues to urge residents to download the winter fire safety checklist and ensure your home is properly prepared for winter.


Cold weather brings with it an increased fire risk to families, so have working smoke alarms on every level of your home.


What do you have lying around your heaters and is it far enough away – keep everything a metre from the heater.


Before using an electric blanket, test for any frayed cords or damage, turn it on for five minutes then feel for any uneven hot spots and always roll-up your electric blanket after use before placing it into storage.


Never sleep with a wheat bag, only use them for aches and pains, because the bags can catch fire or leave you with serious burns.


See what else should be on your winter safety checklist at: www.fire.nsw.gov.au/winter


VOTE, NOW!


The clock is ticking to get behind Upper Hunter Electorate organisations vying for a share of the Essential Energy Community Choices program.


Essential Energy’s customers have the opportunity this week to vote for community groups, not-for-profit and registered charities, in its network area, that could benefit from a funding boost.


Funding has increased to $250,000 with each zone eligible for $12,500 comprising $5,000 for first, second receives $3,500, third $2,750 andSmall Communities $1,250.


Thirty projects are nominated in Zone 20 which covers Dungog-Forster-Bulahdelah & surrounds including 13 from the Upper Hunter Electorate communities of Paterson, Gresford, Stroud, Gloucester and Murrurundi.


Awards are based on community votes which close 5pm Monday 17 July at:


NEW CHIEF VET


Dr Joanne Coombe has been appointed as the NSW Chief Veterinary Officer, within the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI).


Dr Coombe moved to Australia from Wales in 2001, completed undergraduate, doctoral and post-doctoral studies at Melbourne University and worked for several years as a dairy vet in rural Victoria.


Dr Coombe said she was looking forward to working with government, industry and the community to strengthen and protect NSW primary industries.


Outgoing Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Sarah Britton has been thanked by the NSW Government for her service over the past five years.


MOBILE SERVICE DATES


Service NSW returns to Stroud on Tuesday 25 July when the mobile centre team sets-up outside the Uniting Church in Cowper Street, 10am-3pm.


Clarence Town hosts the mobile centre on Wednesday 2 August, 10am-3pm outside the School of Arts in Grey Street.

The following day, Thursday 3 August, 10am-3pm, Service NSW will be in Duke Street Paterson.


The Mobile Service Centre heads up the New England Highway to the Murrurundi Visitor Information Centre at 113 Mayne Street on Wednesday 9 August, 9am-3pm.


Upper Hunter Shire Council hosts Service NSW at its Liverpool Street Scone offices on Thursday 10 August, 9am-3pm.


For further information visit www.service.nsw.gov.au/campaign/mobile-service-centres or contact 13 77 88.


NGO FUNDING COMMITMENT


Vulnerable groups across the state have been given much needed certainty through a decision to ensure funding indexation for some non-government organisations.


Tens of thousands of frontline workers providing essential services in the community sector will now not have to wait until the NSW Budget on 19 September to see pay rises.


Affected sectors include domestic and family violence services, community mental health services, homelessness services, neighbourhood centres, and child and family services.


The decision follows the Fair Work Commission’s award wage increase decision on 2 June and recognises that the primary cost for NGOs is employees on the minimum award.


It indexes grant payments to non-government organisations by the NSW Department of Communities and Justice and NSW Health at 5.75 per cent for 2023-24 effective from 1 July.


NEXT RESTORATION PROJECT


Thank you to The Rail Motor Society (TRMS), Paterson for the June edition of ‘Paterson Points’, which has information on the society’s latest project.


TRMS has embarked on the restoration of its 600/700 two-car diesel train to running order with the eventual aim of using it for heritage train operations.


Completion will make train 602/702 the only 600/700 class diesel set in operation.


Being a not-for-profit organisation, the society would appreciate financial assistance from train buffs and people in the community who appreciate heritage rail.


If you can assist with a tax deductible donation visit the TRMS website: www.trms.org.au


FISHING HOOKS ‘PHONE


Anglers who enjoy casting a line to get away from their mobile telephone may just have to reconsider their desire to be ‘phoneless.


The Department of Primary Industries free FishSmart app provides recreational fishers with 24/7 access to essential info they need to know to fish in NSW.


Features include a pictorial guide of common recreational species, bag and size limits, closed seasons, fishing gear rules, real-time maps, local weather, tide, moon phase and barometric pressure to help choose best time to fish.


The latest version of the FishSmart NSW app can be downloaded from Google Play at http://bit.ly/2hO7jLZ or the iTunes app store at https://appsto.re/au/FY3gbb.i

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