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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

State Matters - 20 May 2024


A NSW PARLIAMENTARY inquiry will investigate new and innovative approaches to post-mining land use.


It comes as future use opportunities are being explored for three Upper Hunter Electorate mine sites including Idemitsu’s Muswellbrook coal mine, Yancoal’s Stratford and BHP’s Mt Arthur collieries.


The NSW Legislative Council’s Standing Committee on State Development inquiry will consider how to accelerate and facilitate future uses with submissions to close 25 June at:


Meantime, separate research by a University of Newcastle student is gathering perspectives on open cut mine land reuse in the Hunter Valley.


Elizabeth Watts, who is undertaking a PhD (Anthropology and Sociology), wants to hear your views to inform insights on community sentiment towards coal mine land reuse in the region.


The survey of Hunter Valley residents is being conducted until 15 June with prospective participants encouraged to email for a link to be sent.



Merriwa Central School is one of the 26 regional, rural and remote schools which have been added to the NSW Government’s Priority Recruitment Support program.


The program, now available to 111 schools, gives intensive recruitment assistance to address significant teacher staffing challenges.


Long-standing vacancies at Merriwa Central School can be advertised with a recruitment bonus of up to $20,000 and a relocation support package of up to $8,000 for eligible teachers.


Other incentives include 50 to 90 per cent rental subsidy, a retention bonus of $5,000 per annum for up to 10 years, experienced teacher benefit of $10,000 per annum for up to five years and a one-off stamp duty relief payment up to $10,000.



A proposed change to the NSW planning system could make it easier for regional landholders to build sheds and carry out earthworks without a development application.


The Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure is currently taking feedback on the changes to the complying development codes for rural earthworks and sheds to align the Rural Housing Code and the Inland Code.


There are currently inconsistencies between the Rural Housing Code, which applies east of the Great Dividing Range, and the Inland Code, which applies to the west.


The proposed changes would create a shared set of rules so that all rural and regional LGAs are subject to the same provisions.


Subject to specifications, the complying developments would include hay, machinery and shearing sheds, storage tanks and retaining walls, stormwater drainage works and rehabilitation of eroded or disturbed land areas.


The changes are on the NSW Planning Portal until Friday, 14 June:



Scone and the Upper Hunter was blessed with good weather for much of this year’s Horse Festival which finished on a high over the weekend with the two day racing carnival.


Congratulations to all who were acknowledged at the Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association (HTBA) and Scone Horse Festival awards.


The HTBA inducted Dr Cameron Collins as a Lifetime Member, Tony Scott of Emirates Park honoured with the Murray Bain Award and Catherine Chicken of Scone Equine Hospital received the HTBA Presidents Award.


Employee of the Year awards were presented to Emma Parkinson of Vinery Stud for administration, the Horsemanship award recipient was Matt Lawler and Newgate Farm’s Jackson Beirs was recognised with the Leadership Award.


Scone Horse Festival VIP Awards winners include Julee Gilmore named VIP of the Year,

Paige Baxter won Young Achiever of the Year, Lifetime Membership Awards were presented to Bill Howey, Jim Callinan, and Mike Pritchard with Outstanding Service Awards for Brett Jones and Steven Wicks.



Coaches and buses are replacing train services on the Hunter Line during a three-day Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) trackwork shutdown this week.

The line is closed between Kooragang Island and Muswellbrook, west to Ulan and north to Narrabri from 6.30am on Tuesday 21 May to 6.30am on Friday 24 May.


Buses replace trains between Scone and Maitland from 4am Tuesday to 7.30am Friday.

Trains between Dungog, Maitland and Newcastle Interchange may run to a changed timetable.

Tuesday and Wednesday nightly from 7.20pm to 4.30am, buses replace all trains between Scone, Dungog and Newcastle Interchange and also replace the 18.01 Maitland to Dungog service.

The Sydney-Armidale and Sydney-Moree Xplorer services are replaced by road coaches for the entire journey in both directions between Sydney, Armidale and Moree in both directions during the shutdown.



ARTC reminds motorists and pedestrians to remain vigilant for altered traffic conditions near the rail corridor, pay attention to signage and obey all road rules at level crossings with rail machinery and freight train movements still occurring on the adjacent rail lines.



The NSW Government in partnership with the Advocate for Children and Young People (ACYP) and the Office for Regional Youth has launched a major new survey.


Young people aged 12 to 24 are encouraged to participate in the ‘Your Voice, Our Future’ survey to engage with young people on the issues that matter most to them.


The results will be shared across the whole of government to ensure policy and programs are being developed in a way that best supports the views and needs of young people.


This survey will also inform decisions around the design of a new permanent voice for young people within the NSW Government and how the government can better engage with them.


‘Your Voice, Our Future’ is open until the end of the year at:


Thousands of women will have expanded access to treatment for uncomplicated urinary tract infections (UTIs) following the successful completion of the 12-month NSW pharmacy trial.


From 1 June, all pharmacists with suitable facilities in NSW who have undergone the required training will be able to provide consultations and prescriptions for these medications.


Pharmacies at Murrurundi, Merriwa, Scone, Aberdeen, Muswellbrook, Denman, Singleton, Branxton, Paterson, Dungog, Clarence Town, Stroud and Gloucester have been among more than 1,000 pharmacies that have helped women access UTI treatment quicky and conveniently from their local community pharmacist.


Women will continue to be eligible for UTI treatment at a participating pharmacy provided they are aged 18 to 65 years (inclusive), displaying symptoms consistent with an uncomplicated urinary tract infection and have not had other recent UTIs or have a high risk of complications.


The University of Newcastle is undertaking an independent evaluation of data collected during the trial, with a final report to be provided to the NSW Ministry of Health early next year.



Supervising drivers are encouraged to participate in the Helping Learner Drivers Become Safer Drivers workshop at Singleton next week.


Singleton Council is teaming up with Transport for NSW and an accredited driving instructor to help improve the confidence and knowledge of supervising drivers.


Singleton Youth Venue is the workshop location on Wednesday 29 May, 6-8pm with refreshments available on the night.


The free, two-hour workshop aims to help refresh your knowledge of the road rules, review your own driving habits, and learn how to convey road information calmly and clearly with your learner and P plater.


Numbers are limited, so booking by contacting Road Safety Officer Hayden Vella via email or call 0429 072 078.



Wildlife rehabilitation is receiving NSW Government attention with consultation launched to gain a detailed understanding of how care for our native animals can improve.


The consultation will examine the challenges facing the sector, identify best practices and recommend next steps.

It will consider issues including resourcing, connections within the sector, service gaps and duplication, involvement in emergency response and significant wildlife events and support for wildlife hospitals and veterinary practices.


The consultation will inform the next steps for the NSW Volunteer Wildlife Rehabilitation Sector Strategy 2020-23, with that strategy extended until 30 June 2025 while this review is underway.



Beekeepers will be assisted by eight new NSW Varroa Development Officer (VDO) to understand how to manage the Varroa mite pest under the National Varroa Management program.


The new roles follow national agreement to move to a Varroa mite Transition to Management Plan (T2M), adopted by the National Management Group (NMG) in February.


The VDOs will play a key role in supporting beekeepers with information and practical assistance as they learn to manage Varroa in their apiaries, building skills, resilience and understanding as the nation continues to transition to ongoing management of Varroa.


Beekeepers can learn more and register for an upcoming workshop by visiting the Varroa Management Training tab located on the dedicated NSW DPI Varroa Mite website or contact the VDO network by calling 1800 084 811.


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