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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

State Matters - 6 February 2023


IMPROVED TRAVEL ADVICE


TWO more local councils will soon be providing real-time traffic information for motorists with the NSW Government adding further local roads to Live Traffic NSW.


Muswellbrook Shire Council and Singleton Council are among the next group of councils being added to Live Traffic NSW from 23 February.


Mid Coast Council and Maitland City Council were among the initial 22 local government areas chosen to expand the Live Traffic website and app last October.


This will help ensure people travelling through the Upper Hunter electorate know the status of local roads, particularly during emergencies like floods and bushfires, in real time from Live Traffic with the data shared to third party apps like Google Maps, Waze and Tom Tom.


REGIONAL ECONOMIC GROWTH


Expressions of Interest (EOI) open this week for the state government’s $175 million Growing Regional Economies Fund.


Turbocharging economies and jobs growth are at the heart of the fund through investing in infrastructure and facilities projects that will unlock housing and economic growth in regional communities.


Housing must come hand in hand with these investments and the projects supported by the fund could include roads and other utility connections.


The EOI process closes on 23 May with further information such as program guidelines and eligibility criteria, at: www.nsw.gov.au/gref


TEACHING PROFESSION BOLSTERED


The return of students to the classroom for Term One 2023 has coincided with a record number of new graduates receiving approval to teach in NSW public schools this year.


There are 4,500 new graduates who have received their approval to teach which is the highest number since 2011.


In another major boost for the workforce, Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell has confirmed more than 15,000 existing temporary teachers and other school-based staff will be offered permanent positions during this year.


In other education news, the Premier's Back to School NSW vouchers have been extended for use on school excursions in Term One and Two.


Families have until 30 June to apply for and redeem their vouchers from Service NSW:


GOT YOUR ACTIVE KIDS?


Families are being reminded to download their new Active Kids voucher and save $100 per child on sport and recreational activities.


The Active Kids program has turbocharged sporting participation across the state, with more than 4.85 million vouchers redeemed, saving families $481 million.


The NSW Government has recently extended the Active Kids voucher program to include school holiday sports and recreation activities.


Families can access the voucher at a Service NSW Centre, by calling Service NSW on 137788 or via the Service NSW app or website: www.service.nsw.gov.au/active-kids.


For further information on the Active Kids Program, visit: www.sport.nsw.gov.au/active-kids


TESTS STILL AVAILABLE


Vulnerable communities continue to receive free Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) with the NSW Government extending the program until the end of April.


Tests are available from Gloucester’s Bucketts Way Neighbourhood Group, Dungog Shire Community Centre, Singleton Family Support Scheme, Singleton Neighborhood Centre, Upper Hunter Youth Service, Upper Hunter Community Services Inc, Scone Neighbourhood Resource Centre as well as Denman Pharmacy and Merriwa Pharmacy.


Service NSW centres and Service NSW agencies at Dungog Shire Council and Upper Hunter Shire Council, Merriwa also have free RATs.


Eligible Commonwealth Concession Card holders in NSW can access 10 tests until 30 April with more information at; www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/testing-managing/free-rat-tests


NEW TRAINS COMING


The new Intercity Train Fleet can now be delivered by the NSW Government after rail workers overwhelmingly voted in favour of a new Enterprise Agreement.


More than 10,100 employees voted in the one-week ballot with 93 per cent of employees casting a ‘Yes’ vote.


The Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink Enterprise Agreement will be lodged with the Fair Work Commission for approval with a nominally expiry date of May 2024.


It will mean no further industrial action over the life of the EA and allows the state government to now begin modifying the new fleet immediately.


For more on the intercity train to be known as the ‘Mariyung’ fleet, which will travel between Sydney, Newcastle and the Central Coast, the Blue Mountains and the South Coast visit:


STEP ON THE POWER!


Round three of the NSW Government’s Electric Vehicle fleets incentive is now open to fast track the state’s vehicle fleet of the future.


The government is investing $105 million to support commercial fleets to purchase new EVs and fuel cell electric vehicles with about 2,000 EVs incentivised through the initial two rounds of the program.


Successful bidders will also receive financial support to co-fund a total of more than 1,000 smart chargers.


Round three of the Drive electric NSW EV fleets incentive closes 23 May with more information at: www.energy.nsw.gov.au/business-and-industry/programs-grants-and-schemes/electric-vehicles/electric-vehicle-fleets


VRA RADIO UPGRADE


A funding injection by the NSW Government will overhaul the Volunteer Rescue Association of NSW radio network to bring it into line with other emergency services.


The $4.7 million investment will soon allow the VRA to have a consistent and reliable radio network which is compatible with other agencies and guarantees seamless communications coverage across the state.


The VRA is the only agency in NSW solely dedicated to rescue and its volunteers and staff have done an incredible job, particularly over the past 12 months, supporting flood operations.


The funding provides for 421 new radios and equips 100 vehicles with Vehicle as a Node technology that is resistant to ‘blackspots’ and also gives volunteers access to a centrally monitored duress button.


ON YOUR BIKE


Bike riders and regional communities are on track to benefit from a NSW Government plan to boost regional tourism and grow adventure cycling experiences.


The Adventure Cycling Strategy aims to strengthen local economies and promote the regions as top tourist destinations for riding enthusiasts around the world.


In the past five years, more than $30 million has been invested in tracks and trails across the state including significant projects that will bring more visitors to regional communities and puts more dollars in the tills of local business.


The Adventure Cycling Strategy, which is part of the NSW Government’s Visitor Economy Strategy goal to make NSW the premier visitor economy of the Asia Pacific by 2030, can be viewed at: www.nsw.gov.au/regional-nsw/resources/adventure-cycling-strategy

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