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  • Writer's pictureDave Layzell MP

State Matters - 8 July 2024


TWO of the Upper Hunter Electorate’s proposed renewable energy projects have been declared Critical State Significant Infrastructure (CSSI) by the NSW Government.

Muswellbrook Pumped Hydro and Stratford Pumped Hydro and Solar are among six projects given a CSSI declaration along with the New England Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) transmission infrastructure.

A CSSI declaration means a project is deemed essential to NSW for economic, social and environmental reasons with the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces being the consent authority.

Following the CSSI declaration, the Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure (DPHI) will issue Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements to the proponents so they can prepare an Environment Impact Statement (EIS) for community feedback.


A comprehensive all-of-government assessment will still need to be undertaken on the projects including exhibition and an opportunity for submissions from the public.

To follow the progress of the projects view:



What an achievement for Upper Hunter Electorate festival organisers who have been recognised with funding from the NSW Government’s Regional Events Fund.

Broke Fordwich Wine and Tourism Association’s ‘A Little Bit of Broke’, The Gum Ball staged by Dashville at Belford and the Tocal Field Days, Paterson will receive Flagship Event funding for 2024-25.

Tocal Field Days Association also has Incubator Event seed funding for the new Heartbeat of the Hunter which debuts on 28 September along with support for Muswellbrook Shire Council to assist with ‘Rock'n the Brook.’

The Regional Event Fund, managed by Destination NSW, bolsters event organisers with equipment hire, venue hire, market research, photography, videography, publicity and marketing to attract out-of-region visitors.


NSW Health warns that Influenza activity is at a high level with the number of presentations to emergency departments and the number of notifications both increasing.

Rates of influenza notifications have continued to increase across all age groups with the highest rates in the younger age groups, from babies to 16 years, with the rise observed across all Local Health Districts.

The NSW Respiratory Surveillance Report for the week ending 29 June showed Hunter New England had 1,343 Influenza cases up from 830 the previous week.

COVID-19 activity remains at high levels with 459 reported cases and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) 209 infections.

NSW Health is asking people who are unwell and not sure where to go to call Healthdirect anytime day or night on 1800 022 222 or check:


Healthdirect is free and a registered nurse will answer your call, ask some questions and connect you with the right place for care.


If it’s an emergency, call Triple Zero (000) or go to an Emergency Department.



Young driver education is the Upper Hunter could soon explore new territory with a survey currently being conducted to gauge support.

Expressions of interest are invited for the Night Driving Workshop which is designed for youth and learner drivers.

NSW Police, in partnership with Upper Hunter, Muswellbrook, and Singleton Councils, and supported by Transport for NSW (TfNSW), are proposing the workshop to give young drivers a safe space to improve night driving skills and gain confidence on the road.

Better vehicle handling, reverse parking practice and a relaxed Random Breath Test (RBT) experience are potential starters for the Night Driving Workshop.

Share your thoughts by completing the survey on the Upper Hunter Shire Council Facebook page:



Motorists and their passengers must buckle up or face the consequences now that mobile phone detection cameras are enforcing seatbelt offences.

There is no grace period or warning letters for seatbelt offences, with fines of up to $410 and at least three demerit points being issued to the driver if they or their passenger are caught by camera not wearing their seatbelt or not wearing it correctly.

The implementation of seatbelt enforcement via camera will be closely monitored by Transport for NSW and Revenue NSW over the next few months.

This will include daily monitoring to ensure that if any issues arise they are quickly identified and dealt with.

Seatbelt enforcement by cameras follows a string of new road safety measures launched by the NSW Government, including removing a loophole to force all motorists driving on a foreign licence to convert to a NSW licence within six months.



Constituents who encounter planning issues are encouraged to get the latest information now available from several new publications.

The Parliamentary Research Service has released ‘How the NSW Planning System Works’ ​

which covers land use planning and development control.​

The paper provides information on the NSW planning system that is current as at May 2024, and enables easier navigation across the system including through the use of diagrams:

Meantime, Singleton Council has launched, the ‘Delivering Your Dream’ booklet to help people building in Singleton to understand and successfully navigate the development assessment process.

The booklet is available to pick up for free from Singleton Council’s Administration Building.



People experiencing domestic and family violence can help to increase their personal security by installing the free safety app, Empower You.

The app can be used to obtain contact details of support services, send messages with your location to trusted friends, or to gather information about your experiences to send to a friend for safe keeping.

The diary feature allows a victim to collect their thoughts – including photos of injuries and property damage, and screenshots of emails or messages – and document an incident when it happens, no matter how minor or whether you report it to police at that time.

This is especially important in terms of coercive control, where a victim often feels helpless, so with ‘Empower You’, the abuse is clearly demonstrated, and the power comes back to the victim.

Before downloading this app or sharing it with anyone, please consider your safety – call Triple Zero (000) if you are in danger.


If you travel for specialised healthcare the NSW Government may provide financial assistance towards your travel and accommodation costs.

The Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS) assists those who need to travel long distances for specialised health treatment that is not available locally.

You can claim financial assistance towards travel and accommodation costs if you need to travel more than 100 kilometres one way, or 200 kilometres in a week.

Ask your social worker or healthcare team, call 1800 478 22 or visit to check if you are eligible.



Fire and Rescue NSW and the NSW Rural Fire Service want all residents across the state focussed on the one metre rule this winter.

That’s ‘one metre from the heater’ – to prevent clothes, curtains, tablecloths and bedding from catching alight.

Heaters and electric blankets contribute to an increase in home fires in the cooler months and last year nearly half of the homes impacted did not have a working smoke alarm.

Our firefighters want everyone to be safe this winter which includes have a working smoke alarm, a home escape plan and always keeping items a metre from the heater.

For more information on winter fire safety, visit the Fire and Rescue NSW website:



The make-up of the new Hunter Local Land Services board has been determined following the recent elections.

William Stacy, Patrick Ryan and Fred Paton are the newly elected regional board members.

They join Hunter LLS chair, Allison Mudford, and appointed board members - Brynnie Goodwill of Wollombi Valley, Dr Elizabeth McEntyre from Tea Gardens and the Hon. Robyn Parker of Terrigal.


The board determines local delivery priorities for important services including pest control, land protection and assistance for productive land use.



NSW bicycle riders will be able to pick a helmet based on a simple safety rating from one to five stars in an Australian first.

Modelled on ANCAP safety ratings for motor vehicles, the Helmet STAR (Safety Testing and Assessment Ratings) will provide an easy-to-understand safety rating for new helmets based on comprehensive testing.

Each helmet is impact tested at the NSW Crashlab where Transport for NSW technicians conduct examinations including vertical drops, a strap strength test and drop tests with moving platforms.

One star means the helmet “meets the crash protection required by recognised helmet standards” in Australia, while five stars means the helmet is “exceptional in crash protection and well above the recognised helmet standards.”

The first set of ratings found a $22 helmet for toddlers was the safest on the market in its category.

To view the ratings visit Helmet STAR - Safety Testing and Assessment Ratings:


NSW Fisheries wants anglers to grab the free “Go Fishing Guide” which is available online and in hard copy.


The “Go Fishing” series of handbooks are a handy tool that can be downloaded to your mobile telephone for free, packed full of useful information with easy-to-read maps detailing popular local fishing locations, tips, and techniques for common species plus rules, regulations, and other relevant information.


Even better, it covers 21 popular locations in both fresh and saltwater, with the newly added Port Macquarie guide plus Lake St Clair and Lake Macquarie


Anglers can also let NSW Fisheries know in the comments if there is a region they would like included in the “Go Fishing” series!


Hard copies of the guides are available from your local NSW DPI Fisheries office:


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