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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

State Matters - 25 March 2024


SINGLETON is the venue next week for a community information session on the NSW Government review of how land is acquired for essential public infrastructure.


The Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure’s Land Acquisition Review team will make a short presentation before speaking with the community at Singleton Diggers on Wednesday 3 April, 10-11.30 am.


The review is considering a whole of government approach to acquisitions including processes undertaken by agencies when acquiring land and how best to ensure consistent acquisitions under the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991.


Potential legislative changes and improvements to acquisition processes will be considered to strike the balance between the rights of landowners and the benefits of infrastructure such as road, rail and renewable energy projects.


For further information and to make submissions visit:



The Aussie Hay Runners (AHR) have been very generous to the Upper Hunter electorate over the past six months – and they are coming back one more time.


On Saturday 6 April, 20 trucks will carry 640 bales of donated hay valued at $60,800 to the Upper Hunter Local Government Area to provide the final follow-up relief directly helping farmers, their families and in turn, their communities.


The convoy will travel the Golden Highway through Dunedoo, Merriwa, Denman and Aberdeen before splitting into six groups and heading to their respective depots to unload before returning to Victoria.


This run brings AHR’s combined deliveries to 144 trucks carrying an astonishing 4,807 bales of donated hay into the Upper Hunter LGA after travelled a total of 319,340-kilometres.


I thank Hayrunners’ Linda Widdup ably assisted by her volunteers and drivers, Scott Stevens and the Heyfield Lions Club, the NSW Rural Assistance Authority and everyone who has participated in these relief efforts over the past six months.


As we head into a busy couple of weeks with Easter, the end of Daylight Saving then school holidays, here is a rundown of the dates for these events that you will need to keep in mind.


Drivers will need to concentrate on speed limit signs during the Easter double demerit period which commences on Thursday 28 March, when school zones will still be in operation, and concludes on 1 April.


NSW Public Holidays apply between Good Friday and Easter Monday, so you may need to check retail trading arrangements for the long weekend.


It’s time to adjust the clock during the following weekend with Daylight Saving ending at 3am, Sunday 7 April, when clocks are turned back one hour to Eastern Standard Time.


And, finally, Upper Hunter electorate schools complete Term One on Friday 12 April for the

Autumn school holidays between Monday 15 April and Friday 26 April.


Term Two dates are Monday 29 April to Friday 5 July, however, check your school’s regular information sources for back-to-school arrangements because NSW Education has school development days scheduled for the Monday.


The NSW Government has now launched the revised 2024 Active and Creative Kids program.


If you are a parent, guardian or carer, who currently receives Family Tax Benefit Part A, Part B or both, you can apply for one voucher for each eligible child.


The $50 voucher is available twice a year with the first voucher to be applied for and used by 31 December.


Applications open for the second voucher on 15 July and it will be available from Term 3 

for use by 14 July 2025.


Once you've received both vouchers, you can use them together, as long as they have not expired.


Vouchers must be used with a registered activity provider for eligible activities such as dance, music, football (soccer), martial arts, craft, gymnastics, visual arts, drama, tennis, rugby league, singing, basketball, languages, netball, yoga, creative writing, choreography, circus arts and coding.


Check for activities near you with the Active and Creative Kids activity provider finder:


Nominations are now being received for the Local Land Services (LLS) election to fill the paid local board member positions in the 11 regions across the state.


Each local board has three positions available, providing an opportunity for LLS ratepayers to put their hand up and participate ensuring the local board reflects the needs of their unique region.


Candidates must nominate by Sunday 14 April with the eligibility criteria including that you must be aged over 18 and an occupier of a wholly or partly rateable landholding under the Local Land Services Act 2013.


To nominate read the Candidate Election Pack and submit a nomination on the LLS website:



Applications are open for Sound NSW’s new Touring and Travel Fund and Recording and Promotion Grants.


The local contemporary music sector has access to $3 million to deliver more new and original music, enable touring opportunities and open doors for career-defining professional development.


Touring and Travel Fund applications will be assessed on a quick-response basis against the eligibility criteria, which is designed to address the time-sensitive nature of venue availability and performance opportunities.


The Recording and Promotion Grants program will support NSW contemporary musicians to record and release new, original creative projects.


NSW artists can apply for grants of up to $25,000 for short-form releases such as a single or EP, up to $50,000 for long-form releases such as an album, and up to $25,000 matched funding for artists signed to a major label. 


An online information session on the grant programs will be held Thursday 28 March, 12.30-1.30pm with more information at:



Collaboration between TAFE NSW and Fire and Rescue NSW will enable the state’s emergency responders to have access to electric vehicle incident response training.


All Fire and Rescue NSW firefighters, including on-call firefighters, must complete the training, and will have an opportunity to do so over coming months.


Employees and volunteers of NSW Police, NSW Ambulance, NSW Rural Fire Service, NSW State Emergency Service, VRA Rescue NSW and incident response teams on major road networks and tunnels will also be offered free training.


Participants will learn how to identify and mitigate hazards and risks at an EV incident, safe working practices during EV incidents, firefighting and rescue techniques involving EVs, and the safe transportation and storage of damaged EVs.


The training program consists of a series of short online modules that can also be facilitated in face-to-face environments.



Dungog shire is preparing this week to be the centre of visitor attention on Easter Saturday.


The Rotary Club of Dungog is promising a rollercoaster of excitement and community spirit when the 22nd Gresford Billy Cart Derby is king of the road on Saturday, 9am-1pm.


Dungog Showground fires-up from 11am Easter Saturday for the annual Dungog Rodeo which will feature a wide range of horse and cow events.


There will be changed traffic arrangements for the rodeo with entry to the showground via Chapman Street.


For updates on these events visit the Gresford Billy Cart Derby and Dungog Rodeo social media pages.



Recruitment will commence in coming weeks to further boost the number of counsellors and psychologists in NSW schools.


Every public school student has access to the School Counselling Service, at no cost to families.


Counsellors and psychologists are registered as general psychologists with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency with school counsellors holding dual qualifications in teaching and postgraduate qualifications in psychology.


The NSW Government delivered a pay rise to school counsellors and psychologists last year lifting starting salaries from $75,791 to $95,317.


An additional 86 school counsellors and psychologists have started work in NSW public schools this year to support the mental health and wellbeing of students and improve educational outcomes.


Qantas is making $2 million in grants available this year to support Australian-based not-for-profit community groups and projects that benefit regional areas.


Applications for the Regional Grants Program are now open with the airline to provide a combination of cash, marketing support and flights according to the specific needs of each group.


Individuals, groups or not-for-profit organisation seeking funds to contribute positively to their regional community are eligible to apply.


Applications close on 10 May with successful recipients announced in July – for further details go to:



Public submissions are being taken until 26 April on the delivery of the NSW Koala Strategy.


The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water is looking for gaps in its approach and to harness new information in the state government’s efforts to protect and ensure the long-term survival of koalas in the wild.


Input from both a discussion paper and the recent NSW Koala Summit will help shape the actions to conserve koalas in the state.


The Reviewing the NSW Koala Strategy discussion paper is available at:


Comment can be provided by formal submission to the NSW Koala Strategy Review or completing an online consultation form:



The Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure (DPHI) wants community feedback on newly released draft guidelines for the use of synthetic turf on playing fields.


Two investigations into the use and impacts of synthetic turf have been conducted by the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer and the NSW Government.


The draft guidelines consider opportunities where synthetic turf can be used on sporting surfaces, while balancing the needs and expectations of each local community.


Once the guidelines are finalised, they will be accessible to all councils, sports clubs and local stakeholders to make informed decisions on the use of synthetic turf.


Councils and the public can submit feedback online until 29 April at:


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