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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

State Matters - 12 February 2024



RAIL SAFETY UPGRADES

THREE Upper Hunter Electorate railway crossings are set for upgrades following allocations from the Australian Government’s Regional Level Crossing Upgrade Fund.

 

The proposed list includes, Turanville Road Togar (between Aberdeen and Scone), Sandy Creek Road Muswellbrook and Bylong Valley Way Sandy Hollow, which are among the priority projects for the NSW Government’s $28 million in first round funding.

 

State and territory governments fund up to half of the cost of delivering railway crossing upgrades with the program of works across the NSW regional road network to be delivered in partnership with rail infrastructure managers.

 

The Regional Level Crossing Upgrade Fund aims to improve railway crossing safety and reduce serious and fatal crashes that have a devastating impact on regional communities.

 

Upgrades include the installation of retro-reflective boom gates, audible warning devices, updated signage and LED flashing lights to increase the visibility of crossings on both sides of the roadway in response to approaching trains.

 

SEASON AHEAD 

Hunter Local Land Services will provide an update on seasonal conditions during events being held later this month and into early March.

 

LLS staff will provide livestock, animal health and agronomy information tailored to the region for farmers as they head into autumn.

 

Merriwa receives an update during a field day on 28 February whilst an afternoon tea at Gloucester on 29 February allows farmers to hear from consultant Bill Hoffman.

 

Feral Pig Trapping workshops at Scone on 4 March and Broke on 6 March will include a seasonal condition update from local livestock officers.

 

Prospective participants are asked to register for your chosen location and learn more about what's happening by checking in at: www.lls.nsw.gov.au/regions/hunter/events

 

FOR THE DIARY

The NSW Government has now formally declared the local public holiday arrangements for this year’s Muswellbrook and Scone Cup race meetings.

 

Muswellbrook local government area has its half-day from noon on 5 April for locals and visitors to head to Skellatar Park for the afternoon of racing.

 

I am aware that there was some confusion in the Muswellbrook community on Melbourne Cup Day last year about the local event day arrangements – so, remember its April 5 not November.

 

Scone, your half-day public holiday is locked in for 17 May this year and 16 May 2025 for one of the highlights of Horse Festival and the local racing carnival.

 

The local public holiday from midday covers Aberdeen, Blandford, Bunnan, Ellerston, Gundy, Moonan Brook, Moonan Flat, Murrurundi, Parkville, Rouchel, Scone, Timor and Wingen within the Upper Hunter Shire local government area.

 

SUPERVISING DRIVER COURSE

MidCoast Council is hosting a learner driver workshop at Gloucester next week.

 

The free two-hour workshop is aimed at parents and supervising drivers to ensure you are well equipped to help your learner driver become a safer driver.

 

You will gain practical advice about the requirements for current laws for L and P licence holders as well as for supervising drivers, the benefits of supervised on-road driving experience and low risk driving.

 

The workshop is at MidCoast Council, Railway Street Gloucester on Wednesday 21 February at 6pm with light refreshments available.

 

 

NEXT MOBILE UPGRADE

Wingen is the next Upper Hunter Electorate location to have its mobile telephone base station upgraded by Telstra.

 

Additional infrastructure will be installed to deliver a better 4G experience for users but the works requires a series of temporary outages or reduction in mobile coverage.

 

The first phase of disruptions occurs from 7am on Monday 19 February to Friday 23 February at 5pm, with a full site outage and the network coverage being restored at 5pm on the Friday.

 

There will then be sector-by-sector disruptions for call testing on Monday 26 February and Tuesday 27 February with network coverage restored at 3pm each day.

 

For the latest information on the work check: telstra.com.au/outages


COVID-19 STILL PRESENT

COVID-19 remains present in the Hunter New England Local Health District according to the latest NSW Respiratory Surveillance Report.

 

For the fortnight ended 3 February, Hunter New England had 449 COVID cases down slightly from 478 in the previous fortnight, RSV numbers rose from 61 to 94 in the latest reporting period, whilst Influenza dropped from 73 to 49 cases.

 

Sewage surveillance in major population areas indicates COVID-19 community transmission remains high despite decreases for some indicators, such as laboratory notifications and emergency department presentations.

 

The key thing to remember if you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, is that they are most infectious for two days before symptoms start and may be infectious for up to 10 days.

 

Stay home if you have any cold or flu symptoms and do a COVID-19 test: 

 

CHARGING STATION GRANTS

Regional businesses and councils have until May 3 to apply for electric vehicle (EV) destination charging grants.

 

The NSW Government is investing $20 million to assist eligible businesses and councils by co-funding up to 75 per cent of costs to purchase and install EV chargers.

 

More drivers are switching to electric vehicles and are planning their trips around EV charging locations.

 


ELECTRIC TWO-WHEELER RULES

Transport for NSW has released information to clarify the use of e-bikes and e-scooters.

 

Bicycle riders and passengers, just as other road users, must comply with all applicable NSW road rules and wear an approved helmet that is securely fitted and fastened on the rider’s head.

 

There are two types of permitted e-bikes – an electrically power-assisted cycle and power-assisted pedal cycles.

 

Privately owned e-scooters can only be used on private property in NSW and cannot be used on roads or road-related areas including footpaths, shared paths, cycleways and cycle paths.

 

Hired share scheme E-scooters can only be used on roads and road-related areas in designated e-scooter trial areas.

 

And, for those wondering, E-skateboards are illegal in NSW unless they are being used as a mobility aid for people with a disability, who meet specific use conditions and if an E-skateboard does not meet these conditions it can only be used on private property.

 


APPRENTICE & TRAINEE OPPORTUNITIES

Applications are now open for the NSW Government’s Public Sector Apprentices and Trainees Program.

 

Over three years of training successful applicants will be able to earn and learn on the job,

build hands-on practical experience, gain support from highly experienced and skilled industry professionals and receive nationally recognised qualifications.

 

More than 50 qualifications are available through the program with more than half of the roles based in regional NSW.

 

 

YOUNG STUDENT SUPPORT

Upper Hunter Electorate families needing assistance to give school-aged children access to the internet are encouraged to apply for an Australian Government funded initiative.

 

Eligible families with no internet at home can now access a free National Broadband Network (NBN) service until 31 December 2025.

 

To be eligible, a family must have a child living at home who is enrolled in an Australian school, have no active broadband service over the NBN network and live in a premise where they can access a standard NBN service.

 

Families can contact the National Referral Centre directly to have their eligibility assessed which includes your residential address and current financial situation or be referred by a participating nominating organisation.

 

Call the National Referral Centre, on 1800 954 610 (Mon–Fri, 10am–6pm) or got to: www.anglicarevic.org.au/student-internet.

 

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