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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

State Matters - 18 December 2023


TO THOSE hitting the road over the summer holiday break please plan ahead and avoid peak travel times, especially if you want minimum stress and optimum cheer.


Historical data suggests the heaviest traffic is expected on Friday 22 December and between Boxing Day, 26 December, and the New Year's Eve weekend starting Friday 29 December.


Drivers should have vehicles serviced in advance, check the weather forecast, plan regular rest stops and a tip from Transport for NSW (TfNSW) is to expect potential delays.


But most importantly, to stay safe this holiday period wear your seatbelt and put your phone away while driving.


Remember speed limit signs show the maximum speed you can drive in good conditions if your licence type allows, not the speed you must drive, plus keep watch for livestock and wildlife, especially around dusk or dawn to avoid collisions with animals.


To find the best times to travel to your destination, use the TfNSW journey planning tool at, visiting or call 132 701.



Staying healthy during the December-January festive period can be more about good planning rather than just good luck.


Healthdirect is free Australian health advice you can call 24 hours on 1800 022 222 or go to for Symptom Checker advice on whether you should see a doctor or care for yourself at home.


If you think the injury or illness is critical or life threatening, call triple zero (000) for an ambulance immediately.


The NSW Food Authority has these tips on storing and cooking food properly to prevent you and yours getting sick this season and maybe avoiding the hospital emergency department.


Avoid eating food that has been left out of the fridge for more than four hours.


The supermarket hot roast chicken, if freshly cooked and properly stored, should be eaten within three days – but beware of the ‘temperature danger zone’ for food poisoning bacteria which is a maximum of four hours without refrigeration.


And, avoid BBQ boo-boos, such as, pouring a raw meat marinade over cooked meat, using the same plate/utensils for raw and cooked meat – not cooking sausages, burgers, chicken and pork thoroughly – no pink, please cook!


To ensure you eat healthy check out:



A reality of our 24/7 world is that chemotherapy, accidents, and births won’t take a break for the festive season — and neither does the need for blood.


One donation you can make that only costs you your time is to spare some and meet the team at Australian Red Cross Lifeblood.


The Maitland Donor Centre is normally open Monday to Saturday at 39 St Andrews St, Maitland but check for public holiday arrangements.


The Mobile Donor Centre hits the road for the Charlton Street Cessnock car park,

between Saturday 6 and Tuesday 9 January 2024.


Then, Wednesday 10 to Saturday 13 January 2024 the Mobile Donor Centre will be at

Singleton Square, 1 Gowrie St, Singleton.


Book your donation appointment now and give the gift of life this holiday period:



Limited data is available but from NSW Health’s reported information we do know that COVID-19 continued to ebb and flow through the Hunter New England Local Health District this year.


So, if you do have a positive Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) to COVID-19, remember that there might be eligibility for COVID-19 antivirals.


This includes people aged 70-plus, 50 to 69 years of age with one additional risk factor for severe illness, an Aboriginal person aged 30-plus and with one additional risk factor for severe illness, aged over 18 and immunocompromised or have been previously hospitalised with COVID-19.


Antivirals work best when taken as soon as possible, and within five days from when your symptoms start.


Speak to your doctor right away, who can send you a prescription for antivirals if you’re eligible.

If symptoms become severe, call Triple Zero (000) straight away and tell them you have COVID-19.


Further NSW Health advice is available at:


If you head to the river, weir or dam these holidays be aware that outer regional, rural and remote communities face a higher risk of drowning compared to metropolitan areas.


Royal Life Saving NSW, ACT and Tasmania encourages us to be Summer Ready which means understanding the risks and knowing how to assess dangers to make smarter choices around water.


Also, make sure your first aid and CPR skills are up to date so you’re prepared if an accident happens particularly in remote and rural areas where help may be far away.


Regional dam and water manager, WaterNSW, expects thousands of people to visit its recreational areas and has this simple message – “look out for your mates, and stay safe in the great outdoors.”


It wants visitors to enjoy its dams, waterways and recreational areas whilst staying switched on to safety.


If you see a hazard or an incident at any dam site, please let WaterNSW know by calling 1800 061 069.


Remember to check the website before visiting: and for more safety tips visit:



According to latest figures, NSW National Parks remain hugely popular.


A recent visitor survey highlighted that the 895 national parks and reserves across the state received over 53 million visits, up by nearly 50 per cent over the past decade.


Children and young people made up 24 per cent of visitors with over 12 per cent of visits made by people with disability and those supporting a person with disability.


Closer to home, there are plenty of natural attractions to enjoy these summer holidays with the popular, family-friendly Booti walking track in Booti Booti National Park near Forster recently reopened after significant upgrades.


In Blue Mountains National Park, the Conservation Hut at the Valley of the Waters in Wentworth Falls has also recently reopened with uninterrupted views of the surrounding Jamison Valley and Mount Solitary.


Plan your visit to NSW National Parks at:




Cost of living has been an issue for many households during this year and one who knows that well is the Energy and Water Ombudsman of NSW (EWON).


Ombudsman Janine Young received 7,026 complaints in the September quarter to start Financial Year 2024 with a bang.


Increased energy prices and cost of living stress were the major drivers of complaints which rose by 58 per cent compared to the June quarter.


EWON’s office is closed from 5pm on Friday 22 December 2023 to reopen at 9am on Monday 8 January 2024.


Customers can still make a complaint during this time using EWON’s online complaint form


NSW Maritime’s advice for those taking boats out on the water this summer is - if in doubt, don’t go out!


Boaters are nearly seven times more likely to be involved in a serious incident when weather conditions are rough, so check the Bureau of Meteorology forecasts and have a plan ‘B’.


At the boat ramp, don’t forget the 3 C’s – care, courtesy and common sense - so that when it’s your turn to launch, you are good to go.


Log On with Marine Rescue NSW on VHF channel 16 or use the free Marine Rescue NSW app – and importantly, log off when you return.


Other tips to keep ship-shape on the water are to wear a lifejacket, slow down around swimmers, surfers and paddlers, and make sure everyone can locate and ignite the right flare - orange smoke flares for daytime and red hand flares for day and night.


For the latest tips visit: and for the free Marine Rescue NSW app:


If DIY home renovations are on your agenda over the summer break then the NSW Asbestos Coordination Committee has this advice - don’t risk your health or anyone else’s.


One in three Australian homes contains asbestos especially if the building was erected before 1990.


Dealing with asbestos is risky without proper knowledge, so if you are unsure seek expert advice and help from a licensed asbestos professional.


Planning ahead for asbestos will save money down the track by avoiding any project delays or cost blow-outs.


For expert advice and resources, visit


NSW Police Traffic and Highway Patrol Command is urging all vehicle owners to avoid making non-compliant modifications to their vehicles.


Hunter Valley Highway Patrol with the assistance of Transport for NSW Compliance Inspectors recently conducted a joint light vehicle compliance operation.


It was part of an ongoing operation targeting the issuing of fraudulent vehicle safety inspections with 40 vehicle owners issued with a direction to produce their motor vehicle for inspection.


Examples of identified defects included modifications completed without certification, vehicle ride height exceeded, non-compliant steering and suspension components, non-compliant exhaust systems, non-compliant wheels and tyres, aftermarket turbo/supercharger, non-compliant bullbar and white lightbar overhead or on the top of the bullbar.


Traffic and Highway Patrol Command and Transport advise motorists to ensure their vehicle is inspected at an Authorised Inspection Station by a licenced mechanic.


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