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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

State Matters - 11 March 2024


SINGLETON BYPASS design and construction contractor, ACCIONA, this week commences the latest stage of early work on the $700 million infrastructure project.


The work which continues until June, weather permitting, involves the New England Highway between Haggartys Lane and White Falls Lane, south of Singleton and Maison Dieu Road and Rixs Creek Lane, north of Singleton.


Work will also be carried out along the proposed project alignment to the west of the New England Highway and Singleton.


Motorists should observe speed limits and the direction of traffic controllers and signs during work hours, with temporary speed reductions and lane closures in place on the highway and adjoining local roads for the safety of workers and motorists.


Work hours are Monday to Friday, 7am-6pm and Saturdays, 8am-1pm.


Major work will start, weather permitting, in the middle of this year with the bypass expected to be open to traffic by the end of 2026.


Public contact points are the project information and 24-hour construction response line 1800 991 254 or email



Health Infrastructure has advised that it recently released the construction tender for the Muswellbrook Hospital Stage Three Redevelopment.


The tender seeks a builder to deliver the scope for a new operating theatre suite,  

a new sterilising department and relocation of community health into the existing hospital. 


Once the tender process determines the builder, the project team will finalise the design of the redevelopment with the aim to award the construction contract and for construction activities to commence later this year.


Stage Three builds on the previous staged redevelopments to provide a modern, fit-for-purpose health facility that supports contemporary models of healthcare.  




It was an honour to recently attend the State Emergency Service Awards for the Upper Hunter and Central Hunter clusters.


Congratulations to the Aberdeen, Dungog, Merriwa, Murrurundi, Muswellbrook and Singleton unit members, who were recognised for their years of service and commitment to the volunteer organisation.


If you would like to join the SES ranks then the welcome mat is currently out with a regional recruitment drive underway.


The SES plays a leading role during floods, storms and other emergencies, and their volunteers also assist police and other emergency services with bush searches and road crashes.


People from all walks of life are encouraged to consider joining the organisation where ‘everyone counts’ and there is a role for everyone.


To find out more about how to join go to:



Gresford has got the party started for this year staging its 92nd annual Show last weekend.


Congratulations to passionate horsewoman, Imogen Robertson, named the Gresford Show’s Young Woman ambassador and representative for the Zone 5 Young Woman final next year.


All roads lead to Muswellbrook for this Friday’s start of the Upper Hunter Show which continues until Sunday.


Gloucester Show holds the spotlight over Friday and Saturday, 22-23 March - before Stroud Show rolls out six bar showjumping, wife carrying, whip cracking and the demolition derby Friday to Sunday, 5-7 April.


This year’s spring show season dates are Merriwa 20-22 September, Singleton 27-29 September and Dungog 8-9 November.



Mobile telephone users reliant on the Telstra base station at Belford are being advised of an impending upgrade to be carried out at various times between 18 March and 29 March.


A series of temporary outages or reduction in mobile coverage are required whilst additional infrastructure is added to the New England Highway infrastructure to provide a better 4G user experience.


Telstra says the first phase of disruptions is scheduled from 7am Monday 18 March to 5pm Wednesday 20 March, with the network coverage restored each day.


A full site outage is required between Thursday 21 March and Monday 25 March, when there will be no mobile network coverage available. 


It will be followed by sector-by-sector disruptions for call testing until Friday 29 March with network coverage restored at 5pm each day.


If all goes to plan and weather permitting, residents should notice improvement in Telstra mobile services by the end of March.



The change of season will also see NSW Health return to a weekly release of the NSW Respiratory Surveillance Report from this week.


Latest data shows that Influenza activity is low and remains at inter-seasonal levels.


There has been a continued increase in presentations and admissions to emergency departments for children with bronchiolitis and an increase in Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) notifications, with the highest rates in the youngest children.


Hunter New England Local Health District had 362 COVID-19 cases for the fortnight ending 2 March, with 233 RSV and 101 Influenza patients.


The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has published new advice on COVID-19 vaccines.


If you are over 65 or severely immunocompromised you are recommended to get a vaccination every 6 or 12 months, depending on your individual circumstances.


Read more about COVID-19 vaccination recommendations at:



The community has until March 22 to provide input into a new drought resilience plan for the Upper Hunter Valley.


A $450,000 grant from the Regional Drought Resilience Planning Program, jointly funded by the Australian and NSW Governments, will allow Singleton, Muswellbrook and Upper Hunter Shire councils to work together to develop and start to deliver the plan.


The experience of locals, including farmers and other businesses, is required to help shape the plan to develop a prioritised list of actions to address the direct needs of the community. 


The draft plan will be provided to the CSIRO for independent review before being published on the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry website.

The short online survey can be accessed at:



The mobile service centre is on the road again and returns to the Upper Hunter electorate over the next few weeks.

Service NSW stops in Cowper Street Stroud on Tuesday, 26 March, 10am-3pm.

Clarence Town hosts the mobile service centre at 48 Grey Street on Wednesday, 3 April, 10am-3pm.

And, Duke Street Paterson is the stopover location for Service NSW on Thursday, 4 April,10am-3pm.

For more on services available go to:



If you enjoyed the debut edition, then issue two of the Upper Hunter Country Magazine is now available to guide you around the region’s tourism treasures.


The autumn/winter edition produced by Upper Hunter Country Tourism Association features the Barrington Tops winter wonderland, the Upper Hunter’s major events, Denman Heritage Village plus local walks and hikes.


Free copies can be found at Visitor Information Centres in Muswellbrook, Denman, Merriwa, Scone and Murrurundi as well as at attractions, cafes, accommodation houses and Newcastle Airport.


View the digital version at:



It is not too late to pursue an education opportunity this year with enrolments still open for a TAFE NSW short course.


Whether you want to follow your passion or take the next step in your career now is the time to expand your skillset in days or weeks.


A short course can allow you to gain skills to re-enter the workforce, specific training or get skills you need to move ahead.


Course offerings available include accounting and finance, animal care and horse industry, building, construction, farming and primary production plus healthcare.


Short courses vary in duration, from hours to a few months, depending on the course you enrol in:


NightDrive for Learners has returned to Sydney Motorsport Park for this year giving new motorists a unique driver education experience.


NightDrive is particularly suited to first-timers as well as L-Platers with some experience, providing a unique opportunity to increase their on-road experience especially at night, and without all the added stress of regular busy road traffic and oncoming vehicles.


The free program, courtesy of the Australian Racing Drivers’ Club, runs on the first Tuesday of every month and gives participants the opportunity to pull into pit lane and drive through a mock RBT site and ask questions of NSW Police Highway Patrol and Traffic Operations officers.


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