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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

State Matters - 4 March 2024


FOREIGN driver licence holders now have a maximum of six months to convert to a NSW licence if they want to remain on the road.


Under the NSW Government’s regulation change, anyone who has been driving on an overseas licence, regardless of when they arrived, will be required to switch to a NSW licence.


Drivers who have been using a foreign licence before 1 July 2023 and want to remain on the road must now obtain a NSW licence by 1 March 2025.


Many drivers, some of whom have spent years on a foreign licence, will need to pass a practical driving test to remain behind the wheel.


Others, whose licenses are from countries which have road systems more compatible with NSW, will need to simply convert their licence.


In the five-year period between 2018-2022, there were 23 fatal crashes and 468 serious injury crashes in NSW involving a driver or rider on an overseas licence.



Congratulations to the Upper Hunter Electorate for your efforts which have helped Return and Earn surpass all expectations.


The Liberals and Nationals in government commenced the scheme around six years ago with new figures showing Upper Hunter has contributed over 125 million of the 11 billion containers recycled.


The data reveals Singleton contributed 48,554,723 containers, Muswellbrook 46,953,233 bottles, cans and cartons, Upper Hunter Shire chipped-in 23,342,830 and Dungog delivered 7,122,596 containers to local return points.


Gloucester and Stroud contributed to Mid-Coast Council’s tally of 182,085,096, residents of Lorn, Bolwarra and Largs added to Maitland’s 120,722,535 containers collected and the Branxton district helped Cessnock to a 138,547,545 total.


More than a billion dollars in container refunds have gone back to the people of NSW and almost a million tonnes of materials have been recycled.


Charities and local community groups and schools are also benefitting from the scheme, with a massive $54 million raised state-wide via donated refunds and return point hosting fees.


For more information about Return and Earn or your nearest return point:



Dungog Shire Council has successfully lobbied the NSW Government for a Regional Housing Strategic Planning Fund grant.


Clarence Town has been recognised as a regional town primed for growth with the $170,000 to allow council to expedite the strategies, plans and studies needed to support the delivery of housing that meets community needs into the future.


To implement the plan, Council intends to engage with the community, businesses, and relevant stakeholders to define a preferred growth direction for Clarence Town.


In addition to the grant, Dungog Shire Council also received just over $76,000 to conduct a Floodplain Management Program – Clarence Town Flood Study to ensure flooding risk of any future development zone is reduced.



Hunter region paramedics are using cutting-edge technology as part of a world-first collaborative trial for the rapid assessment and triage of stroke patients being transported to hospital.


NSW Ambulance in partnership with Hunter New England Local Health District, Medfield Diagnostics, Hunter Medical Research Institute and Titan Neuroscience Research Australia anticipate reporting trial results later this year.


A revolutionary new brain scanner, the Medfield Diagnostics Strokefinder MD100 helmet, is currently being piloted by NSW Ambulance paramedics, the first time the Strokefinder helmet technology is being utilised on the frontline and outside of hospital.


When combined with an innovative telehealth app, intensive care paramedics on the ground can consult with the neurology team at John Hunter Hospital to optimise the care and overall outcome for the stroke patient.


The innovative trial could enable even faster stroke diagnosis and treatment, meaning more patients stand to benefit from timely stroke interventions in the vital ‘golden hour’.



Two months in and the new year already has traction, with local business awards approaching on the horizon.


Singleton Business has called nominations by 29 March for its 2024 Awards to celebrate the hard work, dedication and innovation that drives the local economy.


To learn more or nominate visit the Singleton Business website:


Nominations open for Muswellbrook Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s 2024 Awards on Monday 8 April with entries to close Friday 3 May.

The awards ceremony black-tie event is at Muswellbrook RSL on Friday 21 June - with details at:



Sydney-based independent medical research organisation, The Centenary Institute, has put out an invitation for seniors to participate in a free online event.


The NSW Seniors Festival sponsor will have expert presenters on how to maintain an active lifestyle with the demands of life.


Associate Professor Andy Philp and Professor Sue Kurrle AO will share their expert knowledge on the impact of not being able to include exercise in your life.

Life events such as being hospitalised, away from your normal routine and environment, injury and the onset of chronic illnesses can impact a senior’s capacity to retain their exercise regimen.

The Centenary Institute’s free interactive online event is being held on 25 March, 12.30-1.30pm with webinar details at:



Fossicking is a popular recreational activity involving the small-scale search for, and collection of minerals, gemstones or mineral bearing material.


Whilst fossicking is a lawful activity in NSW, there are some limitations which have prompted a public warning.


For example, fossicking on Travelling Stock Reserves (TSRs) is illegal under the Local Land Services Act 2013.


While the public can legally access TSRs for recreation such as walking, fishing, swimming or horse riding - fossicking and mining is not legal with heavy fines apply for causing damage to a TSR or removing soil, gravel and other materials.


There are also laws to protect NSW’s natural environment and the rights of landowners and others with legitimate claims on the land, including native title.


The NSW Resources Regulator has developed a revised guide to fossicking in NSW to provide clarity of relevant legislation and restrictions relating to fossicking equipment:


A reminder that since December last year - everywhere smoking is banned, so too is vaping.

The ban covers areas such as shopping centres, cinemas, public transport stops and platforms, outdoor dining areas, sports grounds, playgrounds and many other spaces.


The ban on smoking and using e-cigarettes in outdoor public areas have been made because they are often visited by children and families and can be crowded, also it provides limited opportunity for people to avoid second-hand smoke or vapour from e-cigarettes.


On the spot fines can be issued for breaking the smoking bans and it is an offence to smoke or use an e-cigarette in a car with children under the age of 16 years in the vehicle.



Put a note in your diary or on the calendar that Pedalfest is set to return September 20-22 this year.


Rotary, in conjunction with Ride Dungog, is planning the 2024 event which includes several new events as well as the old favourites.


There will be the Motorised Scooter ‘Gofor’ Challenge, Antique Single Gear Australian Criterium, Penny Farthing Inaugural Australian Criterium Championship and the Kids 5 Lap Challenge.


The ‘ride’ schedule features the family pedal along Fosterton Road and the Alison Road ride to Thalaba Church for jam and scones.


Get a feel for Pedalfest ’24 at: 



Teachers are being asked to consider registering their school for the NSW DPI Fisheries free Get Hooked... It's Fun to Fish program!


Students are introduced to all things ‘fishy’, when schools register with the program designed for students from Stage 2, including High School students.


The program covers the basic skills necessary for recreational fishing and introduces students to the concept of sustaining quality aquatic habitats by practicing safe and responsible fishing.


Visit NSW DPI's website to find out more or to register your school for this “fin”tastic program to build a healthy fishing future:


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