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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

State Matters - 11 September 2023


AS A SUPPORTER for good mental health, I want to encourage everyone to take some time on Thursday 14 September to ask the question of family, friends and workmates - R U OK?

It is our national day of action when we remind ourselves that every day is the day to ask and start a meaningful conversation, whenever we spot the signs that someone we care about might be struggling with life.

I was encouraged to see recently that the 'Are You Bogged Mate?' mental health workshop for country blokes is coming to Moonan Flat on November 21st and Merriwa on November 22nd.

There are different things you can say or do to support your friends, depending on what they are going through, so for tips to help you be a better friend go to:


Congratulations on mission accomplished for Two More Trains for Singleton and Singleton Council with additional passenger services now permanently on the timetable.

The NSW Nationals and Liberals Government commenced the trial in January 2020 and persevered despite the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on public transport patronage.

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads, Jenny Aitchison, has recently advised council and the community that the extra services are here to stay.

Passengers now have six return options to Newcastle on weekdays and four on weekends.

The two additional daily return train services between Singleton and Newcastle depart Singleton at 3.34pm seven days a week and at 9.34pm weekdays and 9.20pm on weekends.


A two-week aerial survey of kangaroos is now underway taking in parts of the Upper Hunter.

The Department of Planning and Environment will count the kangaroos from a helicopter flying 300 feet above the ground.

Scone, Singleton and Merriwa are among ten districts being examined for the survey until 21 September.

The NSW Government has been researching and monitoring kangaroos under the NSW Kangaroo Management Program since the 1970s with more information available at:

For further details on the current survey call the Kangaroo Management Program on 1300 173 376 or email


I am looking forward to welcoming Gloucester High School to Parliament next month.

Congratulations Mitchell Davies, Alicia Martin and Isabel Jeffreys on being chosen as a finalist in the 2023 NSW Parliament Short Film Awards.

Mitchell, Alicia and Isabel’s entry is in contention for the Best Regional category.

Parli-Flicks has three other categories including Best Metropolitan, Best Junior Secondary (Years 7-9) and Best Senior Secondary (Years 10 – 12).

The overall winner chosen from the finalists by the judging panel will receive the $250 prize and a trophy for their school.

Parli-Flicks Award Night is being held at the NSW Parliament on Wednesday 11 October from 5pm.


Service NSW will have its Mobile Service Centre in the Upper Hunter Electorate next month.

Stroud is first stop outside the Uniting Church in Cowper Street on Tuesday 3 October between noon and 3pm.

On Wednesday 11 October, Clarence Town is the location 10am-3pm, outside the School of Arts.

The Mobile Service Centre visits Duke Street Paterson, 10am-3pm, on Thursday 12 October.

Murrurundi hosts the mobile centre on Wednesday 18 October, 9am-3pm, at the Visitor Information Centre in Mayne Street.

Driver testing will be conducted by appointment during the Scone visit on Thursday 19 October with the Mobile Service Centre at the Upper Hunter Shire Council Offices, 9am to 3pm.


Rural Crime is in the spotlight when NSW Farmers holds workshops across the Hunter Valley next week and during October.

The state-wide program aims to enhance the safety and security of rural communities by creating a secure and thriving environment.

The NSW Police Force Rural Crime Prevention Team is the special guest for the series of workshops.

Merriwa hosts the event on 19 September, Tamworth on 24 October and 25 October at Maitland with registrations at:


Santos has advised that the next round of community engagement sessions will be held during October at various locations along the pipeline alignment.

Information regarding these sessions will be available on the Hunter Gas Pipeline website and I continue to encourage landholders to use these opportunities to raise concerns about the project with the company.

Survey activities are continuing as the project team works to refine the pipeline route with the final alignment to take into account feedback received from landholders, constructability and environmental considerations identified during the survey process.

For further information on the community engagement sessions on the Hunter Gas Pipeline project visit:


Applications for the Local Land Services (LLS) 2024 graduate program close next week.

LLS is currently looking to recruit 10-12 graduates across the state in the disciplines of

veterinary science, agriculture science and environmental science.

Graduates receive dedicated support and development opportunities through on the job experience, mentoring, training and engagement with landholders and stakeholders.

Applications close no later than Tuesday 19 September with more information on how to apply at:


The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has recommended an additional COVID-19 booster dose for some people at higher risk of severe illness.

ATAGI recommends that all adults aged 75 years or older should receive an additional 2023 COVID-19 vaccine dose if six months have passed since their last dose.

All adults aged 65 to 74 years, and/or adults aged 18 to 64 years with severe immunocompromise are advised they should consider an additional COVID-19 vaccine dose if six months since their last dose, after discussion with their healthcare provider.

Latest NSW Health data for the Hunter New England Local Health District shows there have been 34,326 reported COVID-19 cases so far this year.

For the latest COVID-19 vaccination advice visit:


The federal government and Crime Stoppers have launched a permanent national firearms amnesty to keep Australians safe while ensuring those with a legitimate need to access firearms are able to do so.

People who have an unregistered firearm or firearm-related item will be able to surrender it to a police station anonymously without penalty, for registration, sale or destruction.

Licensed firearms dealers can also receive surrendered firearms in most states and territories allowing any unwanted firearm to be handed in.

No unregistered firearms is the aim of the amnesty, so discover more at:


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