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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

State Matters - 22 April 2024


UPPER HUNTER roadwork projects are currently in the spotlight with earthmoving equipment on site and upgrades underway.


Daracon Group has the contract to rebuild Coulsons Creek Road between Merriwa and Willow Tree Road with work expected to be completed by mid-next year, weather permitting.


Transport for NSW, Infrastructure NSW and Public Works Advisory worked closely with the Upper Hunter Shire Council on a new design for the road.


More than $48 million in Australian and NSW government money is funding the road’s restoration following significantly damage by heavy rainfall and subsequent land slips which caused its closure in 2021.


The NSW Government's Restart NSW Fixing Country Roads Program and Maitland City Council are jointly funding a $1.9 million upgrade of Tocal Road, Bolwarra Heights between Maitland Vale Road and Lang Drive.


Work is expected to take six months to complete, weather permitting – for updates check: and click Council supplied information.


Upper Hunter electorate residents on the northern side of the Hunter River have until 9 May to show their support for the new Melville Ford Bridge and associated road improvements.


Maitland City Council’s Draft Delivery Program and Operational Plan 2024-25 are currently out for public comment and include the design and construction of the Melville Ford Bridge replacement and Maitland Vale Road improvements.


A new dual lane, concrete bridge will be constructed over the river to replace the existing timber bridge and the bridge raised to reduce the time that the road is closed or avoid road closures completely.


The new bridge will be funded by all levels of government, including $2.5 million from the NSW Government Fixing Country Bridges Program.


The NSW Government has also committed $6 million towards improvements with Maitland City Council to rebuild two sections of Maitland Vale Road and a section of Melville Ford Road.


All feedback and submissions made during the public exhibition period will be reviewed and considered before Maitland councillors finalise the Operational Plan 2024-25:



Three Upper Hunter Electorate councils have received additional assistance following the rainfall and flooding at the beginning of this month.


The Mid-Coast, Dungog and Maitland council areas have been included in more than 20 areas eligible for the Natural Disaster Waste Levy Exemption.


Residents can now dispose of flood-affected items at landfill sites without incurring the waste levy fee.


Meantime, the Primary Industries natural disaster damage survey allows farmers to record damage to primary production and animals following the recent natural disaster.


The damage survey provides an avenue for landholders to record the number of crops, animals, infrastructure and other primary industries damaged in a single event, add photos to the assessment and see the severity of damage in their area.


Following the recent weather events, NSW DPI encourages those impacted to submit a survey:


Congratulations Dungog on your recycling efforts being rewarded with an upgrade of the local Return and Earn machine.


The improvement will require temporary closures this week and next week with all major works and capacity upgrades completed by the second week of May.


It is being recommended that residents hold onto containers until the works are completed, however, recyclers can visit the nearest Return and Earn machine at Raymond Terrace.


For more information on Return and Earn visit:, or call the TOMRA Cleanaway Customer Service line on: 1800 290 691.


Dungog Shire Council’s Facebook page also has information on the changes during the Return and Earn upgrade:



I am sure the Upper Hunter will join with me in publicly thanking NSW State Emergency Service (SES) Commissioner Carlene York APM for her service to our state following the announcement she will retire from the role in May.


Commissioner York joined the SES after almost 40 years in the NSW Police Force, where she served as the Northern Region Commander and led Strike Force Durkin which captured convicted murderer Malcolm Naden in March 2012.


Naden, one of Australia's most wanted fugitives, was arrested during a dramatic police operation in a remote area 30 kilometres west of Gloucester following a tip-off which put an end to a seven-year manhunt.


Commissioner York will step down next month after almost five years leading the SES and hand over to Deputy Commissioners Damien Johnston and Deborah Platz.



The latest NSW Respiratory Surveillance Report shows that Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) activity is at higher levels in the Hunter New England Local Health District.


For the week ending 13 April, 217 RSV cases were recorded lifting the Year-to-Date total to 1,543.


Confirmed COVID-19 cases numbered 146 for the week taking the 2024 total so far to 2,794 with 79 Influenza infections raising Hunter New England’s Year-to-Date tally to 768.


NSW Health advises you to stay home if you have cold or flu symptoms, wear a mask if you need to leave home and talk with your doctor now if you're at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses:



Motorists will need to be focussed this week with the ANZAC Day public holiday Double Demerit period in place from Wednesday 24 April to Sunday 28 April.


The latest enforcement comes with the NSW Government’s demerit point trial allowing

more than 1.1 million of an eligible 1.7 million motorists beginning to see a demerit point scrubbed from their licence following the 12-month program.


The trial has been extended for anyone with a NSW unrestricted licence, including professional drivers, and a demerit point on their record, to have a point scrapped if they remain offence-free between 17 January 2024 and 16 January 2025.


Meantime, motorists and residents can contribute to road safety by suggesting a location for a speed camera.


You can nominate where you think a speed camera should be and once submitted, road safety experts will review your comments together with crash data and other road safety information to prioritise future speed camera locations.



A dozen Upper Hunter Electorate school grounds are open during the second week of the autumn school holidays and everyone is invited to make use of them.


The NSW Department of Education program helps to build stronger ties between local schools and the broader community.


Outdoor play and recreation areas of the Share Our Space schools are open 8am-5pm, including ANZAC Day, until Sunday 28 April.


Participating local schools are Barrington Public School, Bolwarra Public School, Booral Public School, Dungog Public School, Glen William Public School, Kirkton Public School, Martins Creek Public School, Muswellbrook Public School and Stroud Public School.


Broke Public School, Gloucester Public School and Scone Public School are open 8am-5pm ANZAC Day, Saturday 27 April and Sunday 28 April.


Check for information on a school near you at:


If you are looking for somewhere to camp or enjoy recreational activities during the current school holiday then Hunter Local Land Services (LLS) has some advice.


LLS’s top tip is to be sure not to set up camp on Travelling Stock Reserves (TSRs) to avoid damaging vegetation and habitats or potentially leaving rubbish behind.


You can, however, use TSRs for mountain bike riding and Singleton Mountain Bike Club has just the layout with the Maison Dieu Mountain Bike Track it manages on Prices Main TSR.


The reserve is currently leased under a long-term grazing permit overlapping with the 10 kilometre mountain bike track which is open to the public during daylight hours every day of the week.


The LLS’s suggestion for good camping sites is to visit the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Services’ camping and accommodation website:



Public consultation is underway until 22 May to reform the way the state’s emergency services are funded.


Only households and businesses that pay for insurance currently contribute to the Emergency Services Levy (ESL) which funds Fire and Rescue NSW, the NSW Rural Fire Service and the NSW State Emergency Service.


The Minns Labor Government last November announced the levy would be removed from insurance and applied instead to property.


The ESL Consultation Paper, which is now online, is seeking feedback on four possible models to create a sustainable system that will spread the costs across all property owners.


The consultation paper follows the announcement of a Stakeholder Reference Group which is providing the NSW Government with a broad range of expert advice on a new model.




The closure of the 3G mobile telephone network is heading toward its next milestone with Telstra scheduled to switch-off at the end of June.


Telstra customers, or those who have a device that uses Telstra’s mobile network, can find out if your mobile phone is impacted by texting ‘3’ to 3498. 


The company will respond to let you know the status of the device you are messaging from, and whether you need to take any action. 


Some older 4G and 5G phones still use 3G to call Triple Zero, so when Telstra closes 3G, these phones won’t be able to call 000 – so the SMS checker will advise of this scenario and the need to upgrade your device.



TPG Telecom/Vodafone has already switched off its 3G network and Optus plans to switch off its 3G network from 1 September.


The Australian Communications and Media Authority website is another source of information on the network closure:



Nominations are open for the annual celebration of volunteering in our state - the NSW Volunteer of the Year Awards.


Hosted by The Centre for Volunteering, the awards have eight categories to recognise the incredible dedication, effort and community service of volunteers, volunteer leaders and volunteer teams.


If you know someone who deserves to be celebrated for their community service make sure you nominate them before 14 June.


To learn more about the awards including nomination guidelines, visit the 2024 Awards page:


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