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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

State Matters - 22 January 2024


A PROMISING start to 2024 for the Upper Hunter Electorate’s thoroughbred breeding industry at the first major yearling sale of the year – the Magic Millions on the Gold Coast.


Eight days of auctions saw gross sales of almost $240 million with 1,128 horses sold for a clearance rate of 84 per cent, which is down slightly on the 2023 results.


Coolmore Stud, Jerry Plains topped the sale when a Wootton Bassett sired filly by mare, Avantage, was snapped up by New Zealand buyer David Ellis for $2.1 million.


Aberdeen’s Newgate Farm was the leading seller with 49 horses fetching $16.8 million followed by Segenhoe, Widden, Coolmore, Arrowfield and Yarraman Park studs with gross sales of between $12 million and $16.6 million.


Bell River Thoroughbreds, Glen William gave Dungog shire reason to celebrate with a colt sold for $1.2 million.


The studs now focus their attention on the Australian Easter Yearling Sale at Sydney’s Warwick Farm on 7-8 April.



Singleton will begin local Australia Day celebrations on Thursday with the annual sunset community event at Townhead Park.


The fun continues on Friday with a barbecue breakfast, citizenship and Citizen of the Year award ceremony at Singleton Civic Centre.


A BBQ breakfast and official ceremony from 9am precedes the Australia Day Awards and a Citizenship Ceremony at Muswellbrook Indoor Sports Centre in Rutherford Road.


Upper Hunter Shire’s Australia Day celebrations include a grand parade from 9am at Murrurundi, Scone Memorial Swimming Pool hosts activities with free entry from noon and Merriwa Sports Club is the first stop for the Australia Day Ceremony followed by free entry to the local pool between 2pm and 6pm.


Dungog Shire Council has a barbecue breakfast on Australia Day before an official ceremony at James Theatre in Brown Street from 9am.


And, Gloucester Showground is the location for the Australia Day program with CWA, Quota, Lions and Rotary Clubs serving the Australia Day breakfast from 8.15am followed by free entry to the Pool, 2–6pm.



Stroud has hosted the Hunter and Coastal Region Scout Corroboree with the town’s showground the venue for last week’s five-day camp.


It was great to have 550 young people and their leaders enjoying outdoor activities in the fresh air of the Stroud Valley including the opportunity for a bivouac overnight hike.


The Stroud Corroboree also gave the Scouts the opportunity to get their nightsunder canvas to attend the Australia Jamboree 2025 being held in Maryborough, Queensland.


I hope the Scouts enjoyed the camaraderie of their gathering and will return to Stroud in the future to enjoy more of what the Upper Hunter electorate has to offer.



Congratulations to Singleton PCYC which wrapped up 2023 by being rewarded with the PCYC Club of the Year Award.

Club manager David Andrews acknowledged the work of his wonderful staff and a number of tireless volunteers, who are always willing to answer the call when required to make Singleton PCYC a successful organisation.


Achievements of the last year included expanding the club’s ‘Friday Afternoon Fun’ Disability Program, Fit4life and DRIVE Program for Learner Drivers plus presenting the first ever Emergency Services Internship program.


Cost of living concerns created challenges for Singleton PCYC last year, but the efforts to maintain activity costs as low as possible for participants has in turn resulted in membership growth.



New information from Marine Rescue NSW could help mariners to have a better outing on our region’s waterways.


The volunteer organisation completed a record 4,786 search and rescue missions across the state’s coastal and inland waterways in 2023, safely returned 10,645 people to shore.


Lake Macquarie was the busiest area for rescue missions in NSW with locations of highest demand also including Port Stephens and Forster/Tuncurry.


More than half the incidents could potentially have been avoided with better boat maintenance, with 57 per cent of calls for mechanical, battery or fuel issues.

Boat users can stay safe by ensuring they log on and off with Marine Rescue via VHF Channel 16 or use the free Marine Rescue NSW app available for mobile telephones.



NSW Health continues to remind the community to stay COVID-safe with COVID-19 remaining at high levels across the state.

The key thing to keep in mind is if you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, they may be infectious for up to 10 days.

They are most infectious for two days before symptoms start and while they have acute symptoms such as runny nose, sore throat, cough and fever.

Hunter New England Local Health District had 442 recorded cases for the fortnight to 6 January taking the total between 1 January 2023 and 6 January to 37,636 compared to 7,401 Influenza and 4,065 RSV cases for the same period.

The best way to keep everyone COVID safe is to entertain outdoors or in well-ventilated spaces because infectious particles are more quickly diffused in the open air.


For the latest advice on COVID-19 go to:



Applications are open for a study subsidy of up to $12,000 for nursing, midwifery, paramedicine, medicine and allied health students.


The initiative will create a future pipeline of health workers with up to 850 nursing students, 400 medical students and 150 midwifery students expected to enter the subsidy program each year.


Subsidies are also available for students of Aboriginal health, dentistry and oral health therapy, psychology, pharmacy, physiotherapy and medical physics.


There are a limited number available and applications will remain open until all subsidies are awarded.


Students must be willing to make a five-year commitment to work in the NSW public health system.


See the full list of eligible workforce groups and locations on the NSW Health study subsidy webpage:


Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) has a new $470,000 state-of-the-art firefighting truck at Branxton enhancing emergency response and rescue capabilities for the local community.


The Compressed Air Foam System (CAFS) Class 2 Pumper enables firefighters to tackle structural, chemical, petrol and grass fires using up to five times less water than normal.


The new appliance also carries additional technical rescue equipment, including hydraulic tools, which can be used to free people from the wreckage of motor vehicles involved in crashes.


FRNSW Commissioner, Jeremy Fewtrell, has advised that the new truck has been strategically positioned at Branxton, which increasingly responds to land-based rescues, in addition to structural fires and other incidents.



A two-year trial has commenced allowing an additional 64,000 families with three-year-old children in eligible preschool programs at long day care centres to receive $500 in fee relief.


Families with children aged four-or-up, who are enrolled in a preschool program at an eligible long day care centre, will continue to have access to fee relief.


Families need to complete a declaration form at their service to access the fee relief with services to pass on the savings as a weekly reduction in fees.


The cash savings are in addition to the Australian Government Childcare Subsidy (CCS), which most families in long day care are eligible to receive.


For more information on the Start Strong Program Guidelines visit the NSW Department of Education:



The Hunter region will be represented by one of the seven interim members of the NSW Government’s Regional Development Advisory Council.


Alison Stone has had a 40-year career in land and infrastructure management, commercial development, forestry, fire and emergency management, and primary industries at local, state and national levels in executive, board and advisory roles.


The appointment of members for an interim 12 months enables the council to be fast tracked into existence and advise the minister on establishing a robust governance framework for the $350 million Regional Development Trust Fund.


A call for expression of interest to become an advisory council member with a three-year tenure will get underway mid-year with the new council established by the end of 2024.


Consultation is underway until 18 March on the NSW Government’s discussion paper into the effectiveness of the Clubgrants scheme.


Clubgrants enables eligible registered clubs to contribute a portion of gaming machine profits to local community services, projects and infrastructure through grants, and receive a tax concession in return.


The current consultation process allows key stakeholders, participants, and members of the public to provide feedback and have their say as part of the review.



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