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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

State Matters - 4 December 2023


DISAPPOINTMENT on the final sitting day of the NSW Parliament for 2023 when the Minns Labor Government gagged debate on the Regional Seniors Travel Card.

Over 10,000 signatures achieved the petition debate held last Thursday which requested the Legislative Assembly save the $250 travel card.

It is the second time the Government has prevented Nationals and Liberals MPs from speaking on behalf of their constituents on the floor of Parliament.

The Regional Seniors Travel Card was a lifeline for our local seniors, boosting their travel budget and helping them get out to see friends and family, or to go to medical appointments.

Labor cut the program in the NSW budget, replacing it with a 4 cent per litre discount at one petrol station chain, despite promising before the March election to continue the cost of living measure.


Additional NSW locations can now access free Japanese encephalitis (JE) vaccinations.

Upper Hunter is one the 55 Local Government Areas with identified JE risk which also includes the neighbouring council areas of Mid-Western, Liverpool Plains, Gunnedah and Tamworth.

JE is a rare but serious illness spread to humans by infected mosquitoes with the vaccine available from General Practitioners (GPs), pharmacists or Aboriginal Medical Service.

The vaccination is available for people aged two months or older, who regularly spend time outdoors placing them at risk of mosquito bites, are engaging in prolonged outdoor flood recovery efforts, live in conditions with limited mosquito protection or are experiencing homelessness.

Further information on JE virus and ways to protect yourself is available at:


Community input is currently being taken on the draft Mid Coast Bush Fire Risk Management Plan (BFRMP).

The document maps and describes the level of bush fire risk across the area and sets out treatment strategies to minimise and mitigate the risk to the community.

There are 12 Focus Areas within the Mid Coast draft plan which includes the Barrington Tops National Park - Environmental Focus Area.

The Mid Coast Bush Fire Management Committee considered the number and location of Neighbourhood Safer Places (NSPs) within the area including those at Stratford School and Barrington Community Hall.

There are three ways to submit your feedback by Monday 18 December including the online consultation, a formal submission and email.

You can view the plan at MidCoast Council, local Fire Control Centres and online at:


Congratulations to the Lions Club of Branxton Inc. on its 2024 NSW Seniors Festival grant of $2,000 for the Cessnock City Council Seniors Festival.

Next year’s state-wide event is being held 11-24 March, with Branxton Lions one of 47 organisations the NSW Government is assisting to develop and deliver NSW Seniors Festival projects.

The theme for Seniors Festival 2024 is ‘reach beyond’ encouraging seniors to expand their horizons by trying a new activity or meeting new people.

The Premier’s Gala Concerts will be held on Wednesday 13 and Thursday 14 March 2024 at the International Convention Centre, Sydney with ticket dates and performers to be announced early next year.


For those heading to the North Coast over the summer holiday break, a quick update on what to look for following the detection of Red Imported fire ants at Murwillumbah.

Fire ants can look similar to other ants, but their nests give them away.

Fire ant nests are mounds of loose, crumbly or fluffy looking soil with a honeycomb appearance on the inside, up to 40 centimetres high, with no obvious entrance holes.

Fire ants are dark reddish-brown with a darker black-brown abdomen and from two to six millimetres long.

They can damage electrical and agricultural equipment, sting people causing allergic reactions, sting pets and livestock, kill native plants and animals, and also damage ecosystems beyond repair.

Report any suspicious ant activity to 1800 680 244 or visit the Department of Primary Industries website:


An amendment to the State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) will be exhibited for public comment from this week.

The NSW Government’s proposed changes aims to fast-track a greater diversity of homes like residential flat buildings of three to six storeys, terraces, townhouses, duplexes and smaller single-storey to two-storey apartment blocks.

The reform aims to create capacity for industry to deliver up to an estimated 112,000 new homes across the Hunter, Central Coast, Greater Sydney region and Illawarra.

Proposed changes include allowing dual occupancies in all R2 low-density residential zones across NSW as well as terraces, townhouses and two-storey apartment blocks near transport hubs and town centres in R2 low-density residential zones.


Applications are now open for those interested in joining the boards of Local Land Services (LLS).

If you have an interest in strategically growing agricultural productivity, healthy environments and sustainable communities, you are encouraged to apply for the board chairs and local board member positions.

There are 10 LLS Board and 12 local board member roles available with LLS Board members also chairing the local boards.

Applications close Sunday 17 December more information about the Local Land Services board positions at:


The NSW Government is urging people to be alert to cybercriminals targeting busy online shoppers ahead of Christmas.

Consumers should be wary of ‘impersonation scams’ where perpetrators seek to trick victims into thinking they are from well-known businesses or organisations as well as even pretending to be a friend or family member wanting to access personal information.

Urgent requests for personal details or money, an apparently legitimate business asking for different bank details from previous payments and messages threatening immediate arrest or deportation are all examples of impersonation scams.

Also be cautious when opening emails and text messages - if you are unsure if the message is legitimate, contact the sending organisation using details listed on the organisation's website or another public platform.

Other steps include not opening or downloading any attachments or apps, as these can install malicious software on to a computer or phone and keep an eye out for slight variations in Caller or Sender IDs like dots, special characters, or numbers.

For more information visit ID Support NSW:


Do you know what you are vaping? It’s the question NSW Health wants vape users to consider sooner rather than later.

Health experts are encouraging people to get the facts after the discovery that vapes can contain the same harmful chemicals found in weedkiller, nail polish remover, bug spray and cleaning products.

NSW Health has developed a Vaping Toolkit to provide young people aged 14-17 years, parents and carers, and school staff with the facts about vaping.

To Get the Facts on Vaping, go to:


Travel to and from school is currently under the microscope as the NSW Government consults with the community until 29 February 2024.

Data shows that less than one in four children currently walk or ride to school which is a substantial decline compared to previous generations.

Making it easier to walk or ride would provide enormous benefits to children including improved health and self-confidence, learning how to navigate our streets and public spaces safely and setting lifelong sustainable travel habits.

Parents and carers can contribute to the Active Travel to School Survey by completing a survey, taking a quick poll or sharing your ideas at:


Following the annual three-month breeding closure, Murray Cod season officially opened at the start of December.

NSW DPI Fisheries Officers will be out on the water to ensure that recreational fishers adhere to the bag and size limits for cod along with all other fishing rules that apply.

A daily bag limit of two Murray Cod per person and a total possession limit of four applies when fishing in any inland waterway.

Fishers are required to release Murray Cod smaller than 55cm or bigger than 75cm, with the least possible harm.

Anyone with information on suspected illegal fishing activity is urged to contact their local Fisheries office, call Fishers Watch on 1800 043 536 or make an online report:


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