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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

State Matters - 26 February 2024


MOTORISTS using the New England Highway, north of Scone are urged to exercise caution while roadwork is carried out between Wingen and Murulla.


Transport for NSW is undertaking a $3 million upgrade to stabilise and reseal the existing road pavement and make improvements to drainage.


Work on the 2.7-kilometre section of the highway starting at Burning Mountain is being carried out 7am-5pm weekdays with the upgrade expected to be completed by mid-April, weather permitting.


The Burning Mountain Rest Area remains open to all motorists while the work is undertaken. 


Traffic controllers will direct motorists through alternating (stop/slow) traffic conditions with a 40km/h speed limit in force outside work hours.


Motorists can get updates on the project and traffic conditions at:



COVID-19 activity is at moderate to high levels according to the latest NSW Respiratory Surveillance Report.


For the fortnig​​​​ht ended 17 February, Hunter New England Local Health District had 399 COVID infections - down from 449 two weeks earlier, 39 reported Influenza cases, however, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) rose from 94 to 154 cases.


NSW Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, is asking the community to consider organising gatherings outdoors to reduce the risk, and to reschedule for another day if you, or someone else has any cold or flu symptoms.


Top tips to stay COVID Safe - stay up to date with your recommended COVID-19 vaccinations, stay home if you have cold or flu symptoms and talk with your doctor if you are at higher risk of severe illness because you may need a PCR test and be eligible for antiviral medicines.



The NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC) may have given its approval to the Bowmans Creek Wind Farm earlier this month but the project still has another hurdle to clear.


The project is regarded as a controlled action under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), and must now be approved under the EPBC Act before it can proceed.


The EPBC Act assessment has been completed by the NSW Government under a bilateral agreement, however, final approval is required from the Australian Department of Climate Change, Energy the Environment and Water (DCCEEW).


Proponent, Ark Energy, proposes to develop the Bowmans Creek Wind Farm, east of Muswellbrook in the Hunter-Central Coast Renewable Energy Zone with the IPC approval for the construction and operation of up to 54 wind turbines and associated infrastructure.


Details of the project’s assessment and determination are available from the Bowmans Creek Wind Farm page on the NSW Government’s Major Projects portal at:



Landholders, key stakeholders and the community can discuss the Hunter Gas Pipeline project with proponent, Santos, during community information sessions next week.


East Maitland Bowling Club is the location for the first drop-in session on Monday 4 March, 2pm-6pm.


Singleton Diggers in York Street hosts a session on Tuesday 5 March, 2pm–6pm.


Wednesday 6 March, Muswellbrook Workers Club is the venue for the morning session 10am –1pm, with an afternoon session at Scone RSL, 2pm–6pm.


Murrurundi has its drop-in session on Thursday 7 March at the Bowling Club, 12pm–3pm.


For more information, call 1300 427 546, email or visit: 


Concession cardholders are encouraged to check whether they are eligible for NSW Government energy rebates to help pay their energy bills.


Commonwealth Pensioner Concession Cardholders may be eligible for the $285 NSW Low Income Household (electricity) Rebate and $110 NSW Gas Rebate.


Self-funded retirees with a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card may be eligible for the $200 NSW Seniors Energy Rebate.

There are also electricity rebates for people with certain medical conditions and Family Tax Benefit recipients.

Households receiving a NSW electricity rebate and carers may be eligible for a temporary National Energy Bill Relief payment of up to $500 in the current financial year.

Check your eligibility and how to apply at, call 13 77 88 or visit your local Service NSW Centre.



The significance of mining to the Hunter region’s economy is highlighted by the latest NSW Minerals Council’s Member Expenditure Survey.


In the last financial year, participating mining companies directly injected $8.2 billion into the Hunter economy, which is up nearly $2 billion on the previous year and the highest survey result ever reported.


The industry supported over 15,300 jobs in the Hunter, a rise of over 1,700 jobs compared to the previous year, and again it is the highest number of jobs reported in the survey’s 12 year history.


The $8.2 billion included almost $1.9 billion on wages and salaries, and $6.3 billion for goods and services purchased from over 2,700 mining supplier businesses across the region.



University and school students interested in a future career in the energy industry can now express their interest in several programs offered by Transgrid.


Applications for the final round of the Transgrid Civil Engineering Scholarship at Charles Sturt University will close on March 4.


The scholarships give first year students studying a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil), Bachelor of Technology (Civil) or a Master of Engineering (Civil) at CSU, $20,000 over four years for their studies.


Expressions of Interest are open for the 2025 Apprentice Program ahead of applications being received from May 1 for the Electrical Substation Technician Apprenticeship, Transmission Lines Technician Apprenticeship and the Electronics and Communication Technician Apprenticeship.


Discover more details at:


Additional tickets to the NSW Seniors Festival Comedy Show will be available from 10am this Thursday.


More seating is being made available to allow more seniors to join in on all the laughs at Centennial Hall inside Sydney Town Hall on Tuesday 19 March at 11am.


This year's line-up includes Bruce Griffiths, Cam Knight, Chris Ryan, Peter Berner, Sarah Gaul, Tommy Dean and He Huang who will join event emcee Jean Kittson.


And, a reminder if you can't make it in person to the Premier's Gala Concert then register for the live stream and watch the concert online on Wednesday 13 March at 2.45pm.




Applications are open until Thursday 14 March for Hunter Water's 2024 Love Water Grants.

Lower Hunter community groups, schools and organisations can apply for a one-off grant of up to $10,000 to support initiatives that promote water conservation and sustainability.


This year, there is over $120,000 in grant funding to give back to the community.


Hunter Water has been supporting the community with grants for water conservation and sustainability initiatives for over 30 years.


To learn more about the Love Water Grants program visit:



Olympic Park Muswellbrook is preparing to host the Girls Day Out on Saturday March 2.


The one-day event for girls aged 5-16 years allows them to try new sports, meet professional female athletes, learn new skills and be inspired.


The 45-minute mini-clinics will give the young girls a taste of sports offered locally in the Hunter and played by incredible female athletes at the highest levels.


It will include netball with Sam Poolman and the Aspire program, football with Newcastle Jets Wleague players, Rugby League with the premiership winning Newcastle Knights NRLW team, Rugby Union with players from the Newcastle Wildfires and NSW Waratahs plus cheerleading with Valley Athletics Cheerleading and Dance.


To secure your tickets got to:



Entries open next Monday, March 4 for the Mullins Conceptual Photographic Prize (MCPP).


Staged by the Australian Photographic Society and the Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre, the 2024 MCPP is a $30,000 winner takes all competition.


The entry portal for the Prize remains open until 12 June with the team of adjudicators including Eloise Maree, Len Metcalf, as well as Victoria Cooper and Doug Spowart to then assess the offering.


The finalists will be revealed on 28 June with the winner of the prize announced on 15 August at the formal opening of the exhibition at the Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre.


The 2024 MCPP exhibition will continue until 12 October providing exhibitors and their printed works with a lengthy public exposure period.


Discover more at the Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre website: with the competition portal accessible directly at:


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