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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

State Matters - 29 January 2024


AS PREPARATIONS for the new school year ramp-up this week, it is also time for motorists to switch on with school zones back in force.


School zones are operational from the school development days on Tuesday 30 January and Wednesday 31 January ahead of students returning from Thursday 1 February.


Back to School vouchers are absent from the 2024 start of the school year with the NSW Nationals calling on Premier Chris Minns to reinstate the vouchers immediately, to support parents and students across the state.


Last year, nearly 3.5 million Back to School vouchers were redeemed by families but the first NSW Labor Budget in September 2023 axed the Liberals and Nationals Government’s cost of living assistance package.


The $150 per child voucher helped with the costs of school supplies, uniforms and technology.


NSW Department of Primary Industries is holding a TUFF workshop in the Upper Hunter Electorate.


TUFF, which is a ‘Tune Up For Fellas’, is a workshop for farmers, fishers and rural blokes to support themselves and each other, to tackle what life throws at them.


'Riverwood Downs', Monkerai is the venue on Tuesday and Wednesday 13-14 February, with the experience free of charge and the only cost being your travel to and from the venue.


The TUFF workshop agenda includes reducing stress levels, hearing from other men about their life challenges, learning ways to support yourself and others in stressful times as well as enjoying good food and sharing a laugh or two.


For further information, contact Henry Goodall at 0438 744 267 or Brett Hall at 0438 828 872


Fire and Rescue NSW has appealed to users of rechargeable batteries to recognise the warning signs of a lithium-ion battery under stress.


This includes not using and charging batteries that are swelling or bulging, leaking, or overheating and don't use or charge the device if it is cracked, dented, punctured, or crushed.


Once the device has a full battery, disconnect it from the charger - if the charger didn't come with the device or battery don't use it - just because the plug fits, doesn't mean it's compatible.


Ensure a smoke alarm or heat alarm is working in rooms where batteries are charged or stored and do not charge batteries when sleeping or not at home.


Lithium-ion batteries cannot be placed into home garbage or recycling bins because they can cause fires during waste collection, transportation, handling and processing. 


For more information on how to charge safely visit:



COVID-19 case numbers in the Hunter New England Local Health District increased over the past fortnight according to the latest NSW Respiratory Surveillance Report.


NSW Health data for the two weeks ending 20 January shows 478 reported cases in the local health district, up from 442 in the previous fortnightly reporting period.


COVID-19 activity remains high with NSW Health advising us to stay home when you have any cold or flu symptoms to help stop its spread.


If you have symptoms and need to leave home, please wear a mask.


Information and advice remains still available online at:



Return and Earn reverse vending machines collecting bottles and cans for recycling are also currently providing assistance to Rural Fire Service firefighters.


Until April you can donate to the RFS Benevolent Fund by contributing some or all of your 10 cent refund via the screen on the machine or the Return and Earn App.


The RFS Benevolent Fund provides RFS members and their families with practical, tangible and compassionate relief from poverty, distress or other significant hardship, including the families of firefighters killed on duty and those injured on the fireground.


The fund is available for all RFS members and their families with more information available at:



Clean Up Australia Day is on Sunday 3 March with individuals, friends, family, youth groups, faith-based groups and local community groups encouraged to register to participate.


The events starts gathering momentum from Tuesday 27 February when the Business Clean Up Day is held.


Schools Clean Up Day follows on Friday 1 March giving preschools and early learning centres, primary and secondary schools the opportunity to inspire students to learn about the impact of rubbish on their local environment while playing an active role in their community.


Now is the time to register to host or participate in a Clean Up event and receive your free kit of materials.




Application closes on 19 February for the second round of the Women in Construction Industry Innovation Program.


The NSW Government program supports a range of industry-led initiatives to increase the number of women working in construction, improve workplace culture, create inclusive and safe work environments, and to empower women in leadership roles.  


Initiatives also include embedding flexible work practices and providing a variety of child-care support mechanisms for parents and carers, which helps address the obstacles that prevent women from considering a career in construction.


For information on how to apply visit the NSW Government Industry Innovation Program Year 2 grants page:


Nominations are currently open until 1 March for the 2023-24 Landcare Awards program.


The awards recognise and celebrate the individuals, groups and organisations making outstanding contributions to care for the environment and vital agricultural lands in their local communities for the benefit of all Australians.


Nominating is free and you can nominate yourself, and/or an individual, group or organisation in your community making a difference in their community.

The awards recognise the achievements that encompass climate action, environmental leadership, sustainable agriculture, First Nations, Women in Landcare, young adults, Coastcare and children.


For further details and to nominate an Upper Hunter Electorate group or project go to:


Tickets to the annual NSW Seniors Festival Comedy Show are available from 10am this Thursday, 1 February.


Seniors Comedy is back for 2024 with the free show on Tuesday 19 March at Sydney Town Hall, 11am-12.30pm.


Book to see comedians including He Huang, Tommy Dean, Bruce Griffiths, Sarah Gaul, Peter Berner, Cam Knight and Chris Ryan at:


For those wanting to livestream the 2024 Premier's Gala Concert you can register to watch online on Wednesday 13 March at 2.45pm:


The NSW Police Force Rural Crime Prevention Team is asking farmers if they know the whereabouts of their firearm?


Firearms must be stored in a safe receptacle that is not easily penetrable and if a receptable’s weight is less than 150 kilograms when empty, it must be fixed to prevent easy removal.


Ammunition must be stored in a locked receptacle separately within or external to the firearms safe.


Firearm owners are also reminded that a change of safe storage address must be updated within 14 days with non-compliance potentially resulting in 12 months imprisonment and/or a $2200 fine.


Further information is available at:


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