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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

State Matters - 20 November 2023


SPOTLIGHT ON RENEWABLES


FEEDBACK is being requested by the NSW Government on draft guidelines to accelerate the planning approval and construction of wind, solar and transmission infrastructure.


The draft document covers clarity on how noise, visual and other community impacts should be evaluated and managed through the development assessment process.

It also proposes new benefit-sharing arrangements through planning agreements with councils across NSW.


The Department of Planning and Environment will review submissions and finalise the proposed guidelines in early next year.


All stakeholders including industry, councils and residents are encouraged to have their say before Friday, 15 December: www.planning.nsw.gov.au/policy-and-legislation/renewable-energy/energy-policy-framework


CASES INCREASE


COVID-19 cases continue to increase across the state with community transmission now considered to be moderate to high.


NSW Health is asking us to consider whether we need to refresh our COVID-safe behaviours to stop the spread of illness and protect others.


The simple things you can do include staying at home if you have cold or flu symptoms, maintain up to date COVID-19 vaccinations and wash your hands regularly with soap and water or hand sanitiser.


For more on staying COVID-safe, visit: https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/protecting-yourself


DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITY


Singleton’s Wonnarua Nation Aboriginal Corporation is one of the three Aboriginal community-owned businesses selected to participate in the Aboriginal Fisheries Business Development Program.


The program is run by NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and Department of Regional NSW, together with program partners the Aboriginal Fishing Advisory Council, NSW Aboriginal Land Council, the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation.


A state-wide expression of interest process saw 16 Aboriginal-community owned fisheries business proposals apply for participation in the program.


Wonnarua Nation and the other successful applicants will now join the program partners and be mentored and supported to progress through the program to build their feasibility assessments, business proposal and business case.


MAINTENANCE CHANGES


A new one stop 'Maintenance Hub' will be established by the NSW Government within Homes NSW to streamline requests for maintenance.


Homes NSW will triage, scope and issue work orders for the state's 95,000 social housing properties while contractors will attend site the for work delivery.


Tenants will be able to see the status of their requests with of a new Maintenance App under development and expected to become operational in mid-next year.


The 'Maintenance Hub' will have a strong focus on supporting small businesses, local tradies and local jobs especially in regional areas, as well as, new jobs created for disability and community service providers, Aboriginal trades and businesses and social housing tenants.


VILIFICATION LAW


A new law that prohibits vilification on the grounds of religious belief, affiliation or activity has now taken effect.


The Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Religious Vilification) Act 2023 makes it unlawful to, by a public act, incite hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of, a person or group of persons, because of their religious belief, affiliation or activity.


A ‘public act’ includes any form of public communication or conduct, verbal and non-verbal.


The new law also protects people who do not hold a religious belief or affiliation, or who do not engage in religious activity.


If a complaint is substantiated, NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) may make a range of orders, including for an apology or for damages of up to $100,000.


SCHOOLIES ADVICE


Upper Hunter electorate HSC students participating in schoolies activities are encouraged to stay safe and look after your mates so that you can have the best time.


NSW Health says young people should not feel pressured to drink and feel okay when they say no.


Other tips are to have something to eat if you’re drinking and spacing out the drinks by replacing every second one with something non-alcoholic or opt for a lower alcohol drink.


If you plan to drink, leave the car at home, and organise for someone to pick you up or catch a taxi home.



EQUIPMENT UPGRADES


Parts of the state most at risk of flooding are being prioritised during the rollout of almost 200 new vehicles and vessels for the NSW State Emergency Service (SES).


Delivery of the SES flood rescue fleet assets is well underway and set to be completed by the end of this financial year.


The $25 million upgrade comprises over $14.7 million towards 142 additional boats, rafts, trucks, cars and trailers with a further $10.9 million under the NSW Government’s Fleet Replacement Program for new vessels, storm and rescue vehicles, command vehicles and trailers to replace existing assets.


All new vehicles are being equipped with ‘vehicle as a node’ technology, allowing crews to communicate using 4G and satellite networks while deployed, in addition to regular radio networks and overcome any dangerous communications blackspots.


CHARGER ROLLOUT


A $6 million program is almost complete to deliver 25 more electric vehicle fast chargers in regional NSW.


The partnership program is funded with a $3 million contribution each from Transport for NSW and the NRMA, to extend the existing chargers to more than 100 in around 70 NSW locations, creating the most comprehensive regional charging network in the country.


The fast chargers further unlock regional corridors including the New England, Kamilaroi, Newell and Barrier highways as well as completing the Castlereagh, Hume and Kings Highway connections.


Most locations on the NRMA fast charger network are expected to be no more than 150 kilometres apart, with the latest area rolled out including Inverell, Narrabri, Moree and Dorrigo with Walcha due by the end of the month.

The program also has chargers at Scone, Armidale, Tenterfield, Casino, Coonamble, Nyngan, Cobar, Wilcannia, Broken Hill, Walgett, Brewarrina, Bourke, Gilgandra, Jerilderie, Temora, Yass, Wagga Wagga, Wollongong and Braidwood.


Find NRMA fast charger locations at: www.mynrma.com.au/electric-vehicles/charging


HAVE YOUR SAY!


Feedback is being called for by the National Parks and Wildlife Service on a draft amendment to the national park management plan to create the Wollemi Great Walk.


It aims to facilitate the establishment of a multi-day, Wollemi great walk through the Wollemi and Gardens of Stone national parks, including the development of a campground for walkers.


The proposed new walking track would be constructed from Gardens of Stone State Conservation Area through Gardens of Stone National Park to connect with the Glow Worm Tunnel track in Wollemi National Park.


The consultation for the draft amendment provides the community with an opportunity to have a say on the management directions for the park until Monday 11 December at: www.nsw.gov.au/have-your-say/wollemi-national-park


CENTRAL CHANGES


Central Station, Sydney’s landmark new Chalmers Street entrance has opened its doors featuring two new lifts and six escalators.


The Chalmers Street upgrades to Australia’s busiest railway station provide direct access from the east and allow easy transfer between Sydney CBD and south-east light rail services.


Opening of the new entrance for passengers marks the completion of all major Sydney Metro upgrade works at Central.


It includes Central Walk, which is a new underground pedestrian concourse connecting all areas of the station and a revitalised Northern Concourse transforming pedestrian thoroughfares and a new roof canopy.


There is also a brand-new North-South Concourse, where commuters will have access to metro platforms and metro services every four minutes during peak periods from next year.


For more information, visit the Sydney Metro website: www.sydneymetro.info/station/central-station

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