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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

State Matters - 24 June 2024


THE NEEDS of regional residents and businesses were not shown any consideration or awareness in the Minns NSW Labor Government’s second budget.


Vital cost of living measures like the Regional Seniors Travel Card, Active Kids, Back to School vouchers and more did not even get a look-in.


Significant cuts to education and health infrastructure will leave local residents worse off -

from youth justice resources to emergency services funding and biosecurity investment, the state budget completely neglected our community.


Whilst the Upper Hunter Electorate achieved construction funding for the New England Highway Singleton Bypass – planning for the Muswellbrook Bypass will continue.


Stage 3 of the Muswellbrook Hospital redevelopment has received $15.5m for the next financial year, Singleton Police Station $5.27m and the new Dungog Fire Station $2.8m.


After committing to build a new public primary and high school for Huntlee, the budget papers disappointingly revealed NSW Labor has only $630,000 allocated to the project in the next financial year.



A speed zone review for the flyover between the New England and Golden highways at Whittingham has been completed by Transport for NSW.


The new speed limit, effective from this week, has reduced the existing 70km/h zone to 60km/h in line with the new and changed road environment.


The sections of road affected includes the westbound lane of the Golden Highway from the New England Highway turn-off and from the vicinity of the Golden Highway roundabout eastbound to the New England Highway merging lane.


Transport for NSW thanks motorists for their compliance with the changes which add a maximum of 11 seconds to travel times.



COVID-19 activity remains at high levels as influenza presentations to emergency departments increase and the number of influenza notifications also rises.


The NSW Respiratory Surveillance Report for the week ending 15 June shows Hunter New England Local Health District had 525 local COVID infections, 489 Influenza and 179 Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) cases.


NSW Health says Pertussis and Pneumonia continue to be unseasonably high in school aged children.


It’s not too late to get your influenza vaccine, which is free for all Aboriginal people aged 6 months and older, children aged 6 months to under 5 years and adults aged 65 and over.


NSW Health advises if you have flu symptoms it is important to stay home and avoid contact with others until after your symptoms have gone – for further information visit:



Be Fire Safe is the current message from Fire and Rescue NSW and the NSW Rural Fire Service as the temperature drops for winter.


Both firefighting organisations are asking residents not to drop their fire safety standards by ensuring your electric blanket is turned off before going to sleep and to avoid overloading power boards.


Outdoor heaters, barbecues and charcoal should be left outside and never brought inside because they make carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas you can’t see, taste or smell which can kill quickly without warning.


If you think you may have carbon monoxide poisoning, call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 - or in an emergency dial triple zero (000) for an ambulance.


For more information on winter home safety visit: and to learn about the danger of carbon monoxide go to:



Now that winter is here it is probably a good time to remind prospective visitors to the Barrington Tops that it is vital to plan your trip.


Among the tips from Hunter Valley Police District, is that access to the ‘Tops from Scone involves unsealed road which is steep, narrow and winding, and ice and snow can make driving extremely dangerous, even for 4WDs.


During extreme weather the status of roads can change at short notice and mobile telephone reception is very limited – so always pack additional warm clothing and extra food and water, and tell someone where you are going and when you’ll be back.


If you plan to make a trip during the winter school holidays, 8-19 July, familiarise yourself with the current Upper Hunter Country Magazine: and MidCoast Council’s Winter Seasonal Edition newsletter available at local council libraries and online: or check:



The Wollombi Brook catchment, which spans from Laguna to Warkworth taking in Broke and Bulga, is showing promising signs of waterway health.


Hunter Local Land Services’ latest round of environmental DNA surveys has detected an even greater occurrence of platypus and rakali (native water rat).


A total of 54 sites were sampled for the autumn survey by members of the Catchment Program team, property owners and school students from Congewai and Laguna Public Schools using specialised kits to collect DNA into filters from water samples taken in creeks.


Sites samples included Watagan Creek, Stockyard Creek, Congewai Creek, Wollombi Brook and Ellalong Lagoon with Platypus DNA detected at 24 sites and rakali DNA at five sites.


The results highlight priority areas that will benefit from riparian improvement works including weed management, creekbank stabilisation and native revegetation.


The project is funded by Hunter Catchment Contributions and the NSW Environmental Trust.


Registration is open for the Get Ready Singleton: Disaster Dash being held at Singleton Civic Centre on Tuesday night 9 July, 6 – 8pm.


The interactive game is all about friends and family teaming up, to think outside of the box, as they navigate through local hazard scenarios.


Arts and game design collective Boho Interactive has specifically made the game for Singleton which includes remote and isolated villages and localities.


Putting the future of the region in your hands you will have the opportunity to lead Singleton through the trials and tribulations that may lie in wait for the region and help build a robust community that can withstand any disaster.




Transport for NSW has launched a new campaign to remind regional bus passengers to ‘Buckle up on the bus’.


The first phase of the campaign saw Transport install posters, stickers and decals on more than 2500 buses across regional NSW.


Part two of the program is to encourage regional bus passengers to recognise that buckling up is mandatory on all buses in the state fitted with seatbelts.


The rollout is a recommendation from the Bus Industry Taskforce formed last year to make recommendations to improve bus services, including ways to improve safety following the Greta bus crash.


BusNSW has welcomed the new campaign with the industry seeking community support to build a culture where passengers, including school students, understand that wearing a seatbelt on a bus is not a personal choice but a legal requirement.



A reminder for anglers that the only official Government site for purchasing a NSW fishing licence is the Service NSW website.


It does not charge any additional administration or service fees and once your transaction is completed you will be able to easily and quickly link your one year or three year licence digitally to the Service NSW app.


Official NSW fishing licence costs for are $7 for 3 days; $14 for 1 month; $35 for 1 year and $85 for 3 years.


Several non-government websites are currently offering to purchase a NSW recreational fishing licence online on your behalf but may charge additional fees for this service.


Any questions about buying your fishing licence can be directed to the dedicated recreational licensing team on 02 4424 7499, email -



Companion animal owners of Branxton are encouraged to get your dog microchipped for free, so lost pets can be reunited with their owners quickly and safely.


Cessnock City Council has issued the invitation for the Free Dog and Puppy Microchipping Day at Huntlee Park on Monday 8 July from 1.30pm.


No booking is needed, just bring proof of residency and keep your furry friend on a leash at all times.


Cats are not permitted, however, will be hosted at another event planned for August.


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