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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

State Matters - 25 September 2023


NSW BUDGET: UPPER HUNTER


UPPER HUNTER projects committed to by the former NSW Nationals and Liberals Government have avoided being cut in the NSW Labor Government’s ‘slash and burn’ budget.


Even though they received funding, the Singleton Bypass and Muswellbrook Bypass projects remained parked in the early works zone awaiting the green light for construction.


Among the funding cuts is the Regional Growth Fund, which includes Resources for Regions funding to mining-affected communities and the Stronger Country Communities Fund, with the Regional Seniors Travel Card also cut.


The Minns government will roll out new means-tested $50 Active and Creative Kids vouchers in February next year.


Bill relief will be extended from 1 July 2024 for families, seniors and households struggling with rising costs through increased funding of the Family Energy Rebate, Seniors Energy Rebate, The Low-Income Household Rebate and Medical Energy Rebate.


MOVING FORWARD


Sunrise has been getting earlier and sunset progressively later – so, being the end of September it must mean that Daylight Saving is drawing closer.


Australian Eastern Summer Time will begin this weekend when clocks are turned forward one hour at 2am Sunday 1 October.


We return to Australian Eastern Standard Time on Sunday 7 April next year at 3am when clocks are turned back one hour.


For those travelling interstate over the next six months Daylight Saving is also observed in the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Norfolk Island.


Queensland, the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Christmas Island or the Cocos (Keeling) Islands do not change their clocks for summer.


VARROA MITE UPDATE


A new Varroa mite Emergency Order is now in place after the National Management Group (NMG), decided to move from an eradication program to a management approach.

The NMG considered the major factors for why eradication has not reached its desired objectives, which included non-compliance by some bee industry actors with the NSW Movement Orders and the mandatory hive testing (alcohol washes), and evidence of illegal movement of bees resulting in further spread of the varroa mite.


In the interim period, NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) will immediately cease mandatory euthanasia of hives in what were eradication emergency zones (red zones).


The Surveillance Emergency (Purple) zones cease, as will any of the smaller regional outlier Eradication Emergency (Red) zones and these join the previous General Emergency (Blue) zone to become the Suppression Zone.


The Red zones in the Hunter and Central Coast regions become Management Zones.


The Minister for Agriculture has directed the DPI to immediately engage industry stakeholders and beekeepers to provide guidance and assistance so that they can quickly respond to the transition of the Varroa mite management program.


Keep up to date with the latest Varroa mite Emergency Response at:


PREPARATION TIME


The NSW Rural Assistance Authority is urging farmers to prepare for drought now with the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) forecasting widespread drought is highly likely in the next 12-18 months.


Farm Innovation Fund loans can be used for drought preparedness so that businesses are more resilient when conditions deteriorate: www.raa.nsw.gov.au/loans/fif


NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) State Seasonal Update is a monthly update by the Climate team to provide a snapshot on conditions for the past month and a summary of climate outlook advice by other organisations like the BoM: www.droughthub.nsw.gov.au


Despite the dry winter, WaterNSW reports Regional NSW is enjoying the best water security in years leaving almost all major supply dam storages above 90 per cent of capacity:


EV STRATEGY CIRCUIT


A new NSW Electric Vehicle (EV) Strategy will be developed in partnership with industry stakeholders to boost investment in critical EV infrastructure.


As part of the Minns Labor Government’s reform package, rebates for EV purchases and exemptions for stamp duties will cease on 1 January next year.


Transitional arrangements will apply for those who have purchased or placed a deposit on an eligible EV and are awaiting delivery of the vehicle.


The incentives are being phased out because they risk driving up the cost of EVs, resulting in increased profits to manufacturers.


A Road User Charge will commence as planned from 1 July 2027 or, possibly earlier, when battery EVs make up 30 per cent of new light vehicle registrations, and will apply to all zero and low emissions vehicles, including plug-in hybrids, registered for the first time or transferred from 1 January 2024.



FARM WORKER HOUSING


SafeWork NSW is reviewing the Accommodation for Rural Agricultural Work code of practice and is asking for public input.


The Code provides information and guidance to make sure health and safety risks are identified, assessed, eliminated or controlled according to Work, Health and Safety laws.


If you own, manage, or occupy accommodation to work at a rural location in an agricultural or pastoral occupation you can advise the review on whether the code is still relevant, easy to understand as well as supporting current and emerging work practices and technologies.



SCHOOL IS OUT, LET’S PLAY!


Seven Upper Hunter electorate public schools will open to the public as part of the Share Our Space initiative over the next two weeks.


Barrington, Broke, Dungog, Kirkton, Martins Creek, Muswellbrook and Scone public schools will welcome members of the community to use their outdoor spaces during the spring school holiday period.


Public schools are public assets and through Share Our Space the outdoor facilities and playgrounds of schools are open to the public.


Share Our Space operates at participating schools from Monday 25 September to Friday 6 October between 8am and 5pm.



HOLIDAY HOME SAFETY


The NSW Police Force is advising residents to ‘lock it or lose it’ with the spring school holiday and October long weekend upon us.


Police point to car theft data to back-up their point with 80 per cent of homes entered by car thieves, who use unlocked doors or windows.


So, ensure premises are always locked and secure when absent, even for a short time.


Measures that can be taken include deadlocks for external doors, keylocks for windows,

a deadlock for an internal door between the garage and the house and avoid leaving keys in locks.


Make sure vehicles are always locked, that no items of value are left in vehicles and garage remotes are secured or removed from the vehicle.


Anyone with information about criminal activity in their community should contact the local police station or Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au.


SPOTLIGHT ON WOMEN


Regional women are the cornerstone of our communities and deserve to be celebrated.


Nominations for the 2024 NSW Regional Woman of the Year are now open with the nomination date extended until Sunday 8 October.


If you know an inspirational woman you believe deserves the title, please nominate them:


And, women from across rural, regional and remote NSW can also now register for the revamped 30th annual Rural Women’s Gathering.


The milestone event was moved to the weekend of November 25-26 as it returns to the home of the first gathering in Orange.


Tickets are $80, so register at the NSW Women's Gathering website: https://nswwomensgathering.com.au


ABORIGINAL CULTURAL GRANTS


Aboriginal Community Organisations can now apply for grants to promote traditional and contemporary expressions of Aboriginal culture.


The program will help deliver a key priority of the Closing the Gap agreement that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people enjoy high levels of social and emotional wellbeing.


Grants from $500 to $20,000 are on offer over two rounds to stage events and activities with round one to close on 9 October.


Round two will be held next year between 15 January and 26 February with applications to be lodged via Smarty Grants: https://aboriginalaffairs.smartygrants.com.au


For more information visit the Aboriginal Affairs website: www.aboriginalaffairs.nsw.gov.au


NEW MILESTONE


Return and Earners can feel very proud of themselves after chalking up a new milestone for the program.


NSW Return and Earn recently passed 10 billion recycled cans and bottles being deposited at return points, with more than 923,000 tonnes of materials recycled.


Users have earned $1 billion in container refunds since the scheme began in 2017 and raised $47 million for charities and local community groups.


Reusing these materials instead of new products has saved enough energy to power 110,000 homes for a year and enough water to fill 23,000 Olympic swimming pools.


Return and Earn continues to grow with more than 620 return points now operational across the NSW network.

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