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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

State Matters - 5 February 2024


FUNDING of palliative care is under the spotlight with an online petition to the NSW Parliament currently taking signatures.


The petition, ‘Restore palliative care funding to support people throughout New South Wales with a life-limiting illness’, follows the NSW Government’s $150 million Budget cut last September.


The 2022-23 NSW Budget had allocated an additional $743.4 million over the five years to 2026-27 to enhance palliative care for people through improved pain and other symptom management options.


Shadow Minister for Regional Health, the Hon. Bronnie Taylor MLC, supports the petition calling on the NSW Government to reverse last year’s cut and fully restore the additional funding for enhanced palliative care services.


You can sign the petition until 3 April at:



Whenever we have an incident that requires medical attention our first thought is often to call an ambulance or go to a local public hospital emergency department.


NSW Health has renewed its request that we consider the options that are now available when we require medical help and information.


The message being please keep emergency departments and ambulances for emergencies and saving lives for people who have symptoms such as chest pain, difficulty breathing, uncontrollable bleeding, sudden collapse or overdose.


For non-life-threatening health concerns when you can’t visit your doctor contact healthdirect – a free service, available 24 hours a day/7 days a week, operated by registered nurses.


You can also use the healthdirect online Symptom Checker or healthdirect Service Finder at or call 1800 022 222, where a nurse will answer your enquiry and connect you with the right care for people of all ages including children and adults.


The Port of Newcastle is an immediate priority for an Independent Advisory Panel appointed by the NSW Government to assist in the development of a new freight strategy for the state.


The panel will consider the determination of compensation to be paid by the Port of Newcastle for increasing container operations as part of the NSW port policy.


The overall policy reform will focus on the different parts of the supply chain with ports, rail, road and intermodal facilities all considered as part of a coordinated supply chain to determine the right policy framework to optimise safety, sustainability and productivity.




A new campaign has been launched by the NSW Government to engage young people on the health impacts of using e-cigarettes or vapes.


The campaign, developed in consultation with young people and medical experts, amplifies the voices of people aged 14–24, who have experienced the harm of vaping.


NSW Cancer Institute advises that vapes can be highly addictive, with many containing even higher levels of nicotine than cigarettes and have been known to cause cancer.


The ‘Every vape is a hit to your health’ campaign builds on NSW Health’s successful ‘Do you know what you’re vaping?’ campaign and Vaping Toolkit and provides a range of support pathways for young people.


For support and advice, young people are encouraged to contact their general practitioner, download a quit vaping app, or call the Quitline on 13 78 48.



The new year is underway, the last month of summer has arrived and landholders now have a heads-up that their Local Land Services (LLS) rates notice is coming soon.


Rates notices are expected to be issued in early-February with payment terms of 30 days after the issue date.


Landholders are encouraged to call their local team on 1300 795 299 if you have any questions or concerns.


Rates help LLS put boots on the ground to protect NSW communities contributing to biosecurity, animal health and emergency management work to maintain a secure, healthy and productive landscape.


Learn more about where your rates money goes at:


Congratulations to John Quayle on his re-appointment to the board of Venues NSW.


Mr Quayle is one of Australia's most accomplished and highly regarded sporting administrators and calls the Upper Hunter home.


He is a former Chief Executive of the NSW and Australian Rugby League and was the events manager for SOCOG for the 2000 Olympic Games.


Venues NSW has a range of opportunities and challenges on the horizon with the inclusion of CommBank and Accor Stadium management, as well as the revitalisation of its Hunter and Wollongong venues.



The NSW Labor Government will implement a review of the financial model for local government to address rising cost pressures facing the state’s councils.


The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) will examine the financial model for councils and key factors impacting councils’ financial sustainability.


The resources currently available to councils, their capacity to cover ongoing expenses and ability to fund core council services and infrastructure will be assessed during the review.


It will also identify ways to improve budgetary performance and accountability within the sector so democratically elected councillors are empowered to make decisions for the effective running of their councils.


IPART will consult with councils and the public to develop a report due to the Government 12 months after the Terms of Reference have been finalised. 


Public comment on the draft Terms of Reference close on 15 March:



A trial registration exemption has been launched for farmers to help rural firefighting efforts over the closing stages of the current bushfire season.


Farmers can play a key role in protecting their own or neighbouring properties in the event of a bush or grass fire, particularly before an emergency response is able to attend the fire.


Until 31 March, Transport for NSW and the NSW Rural Fire Service have partnered to allow farmers to drive unregistered vehicles they use for firefighting purposes with the trial to inform future options for Farm Fire Fighting Vehicles (FFFVs).


The vehicle must be maintained in a safe operating condition, have fire-fighting equipment permanently attached and stay within a 100 kilometre radius of the storage address to be eligible for the exemption.


Farmers can nominate a vehicle for the trial by contacting Service NSW on 13 77 88 or visiting your nearest Service NSW centre with further information at:


The free virtualKIDS Urgent Care Service trialled by Hunter New England Local Health District is now available to all children and families across the state.


VirtualKIDS is for children up to 16 with non-life-threatening health concerns and can be accessed via referral from healthdirect on 1800 022 222.


The successful virtualKIDS pilot began in August 2021 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and saw more than 20,000 COVID-positive children receive specialist care in the comfort of their own home.


Expansion of the service is expected to continue supporting at least 500 children and their families each month.



Councils are encouraged to apply now to hold more community events with assistance available from the NSW Government’s Open Streets program.


Under Open Streets, councils can apply for up to $150,000 to facilitate the closure of streets to vehicles to host creative and cultural events that are free to access and safe to enjoy.


Depending on the community and the location, it could include markets, live performances, outdoor dining, artistic installations or street parties.


Applications are open for activities and events funded under the program to be held by January next year.




Muswellbrook is featured on a new state government website hoping to entice more workers to regional NSW.


The Welcome Experience, launched by the NSW Nationals and Liberals Government in late-2022, is showcasing some of the Upper Hunter experiences being enjoyed by those who have made the move.

The new Make the Move campaign aims to boost the number of essential workers such as nurses, police, teachers, firefighters and midwives, to move from metropolitan NSW to regional NSW.


The latest campaign is targeting those living in Sydney and will share how a move to a regional area has provided lifestyle benefits and fresh opportunities to pursue new interests and hobbies outside of work.


Check out Make the Move at:


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