Community satisfaction increases as major projects are delivered throughout the city

Independent research shows communSatisfaction-with-CN-s-overall-performance-1.jpgity satisfaction with City of Newcastle (CN) has increased progressively since 2012, correlating with increased investment in capital works of almost 200 per cent in the same period.

CN undertakes a quarterly Community Survey to understand key issues, obtain community input to inform decision making, and measure satisfaction with the services and facilities it provides.

CN-capital-works-investment-and-satisfaction-results-web-1.jpgThe latest results show that in 2020 and 2021, satisfaction with CN’s overall performance rose to 55% and 61% respectively, up from 41% in 2019. Dissatisfied or very dissatisfied fell from 36% to just 13% during the same period. The mean satisfaction score in the 2021 survey is a favourable 3.7 out of 5.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said City of Newcastle’s leadership team and staff have remained focused on delivering projects in line with Newcastle 2030, City of Newcastle’s Community Strategic Plan (CSP), particularly amidst the challenging COVID-19 period.

“City of Newcastle has delivered The Bathers Way, Stockton Active Hub, Blackbutt Reserve upgrade and improved cycleways throughout the city, demonstrating our commitment to supporting our growing population with key infrastructure renewal and revitalisation projects,” Cr Nelmes said.

“We have continually met the objectives set out in our Community Strategic Plan, Newcastle 2030, which was developed based on extensive community consultation and has guided each and every project delivered under record capital works budgets in recent years.

“I’m also incredibly proud of the way City of Newcastle’s staff have adapted to COVID-19 restrictions in order to continue delivering for the community while coming up with meaningful ways to support vulnerable people and the local economy.

“During the early and uncertain days of the pandemic, we responded quickly to our community’s needs by implementing an award winning $5 million community and economic resilience package, along with additional investment in infrastructure to support 700 jobs.

“This year, we’re committed to continuing that support and recently announced a $10 million increase to our 2021/22 works program to help create more than 100 new jobs in the local government area and increase total economic output by more than $27 million.”

City of Newcastle regularly seeks opinions and ideas from the community across a range of topics from parks, playgrounds, beaches and ocean baths, to events, heritage, climate action and cycling.

In the past year, City of Newcastle has received feedback from over 20,000 people across 33 projects.

The 2021 Winter Quarterly Community Survey was carried out by Woolcott Research and Engagement, using a combination of random telephone surveying and online surveying. In total 409 people completed the survey from across the local government area, allowing CN to report the results at a 95% confidence level, with accurate representation in terms of respondent age, location and gender.

The survey report can be downloaded at newcastle.nsw.gov.au/quarterly-community-survey

Areas with strong improvement in satisfaction since 2016:

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NSW flying towards 80 per cent double dose target

The State’s rapid rate of second dose vaccinations means that next Monday, 18 October is firming as the day that the Reopening NSW Roadmap’s 80 per cent settings will come into effect for those who are fully vaccinated.

Community sport will resume, more friends and family will be reunited, and there will no longer be a cap on guests at weddings and funerals. Masks will also no longer be required in offices, and drinking while standing and dancing will be permitted indoors and outdoors at hospitality venues.

From 1 November bookings for hospitality venues will no longer be capped.

Also from 1 November, the NSW Government will remove quarantine requirements and caps for overseas arrivals who the Commonwealth Government recognises as fully vaccinated with a TGA-approved vaccine, helping Australians stranded abroad get home before the end of the year. Further advice about testing requirements for arrivals will be provided in the coming days.

Fully vaccinated travellers already in quarantine will also complete their quarantine requirements on November 1, even if it is less than 14-days.

Overseas arrivals who are not fully vaccinated will be capped at 210 people per week, and will be required to undergo mandatory 14-days hotel quarantine.

Travel between Greater Sydney (including the Blue Mountains, Wollongong, Shellharbour and the Central Coast) and Regional NSW will also be permitted from 1 November, to allow people in the regions more time to receive their second vaccine.

To support regional businesses likely to be impacted by this change the NSW Government will defer the second taper of the JobSaver program until October 31. Eligible regional businesses will receive 30 per cent of weekly payroll, before tapering payments to the scheduled 15 per cent from November 1.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said the easing of restrictions and return of overseas travellers would help reunite families and be a significant boost for the economy.

“We have reached this vaccination milestone quicker than anyone thought we could, and that is a testament to the hard work of people across the State turning out to get vaccinated,” Mr Perrottet said.

“Welcoming back fully vaccinated travellers will not only mean families and friends can be home in time for Christmas, it will also give our economy a major boost.”

Deputy Premier Paul Toole said the tough decision had been made to delay travel between Regional NSW and Greater Sydney, with the NSW Government extending the JobSaver program for regional businesses. By 1 November, it’s expected more than 77 per cent of regional LGAs will be fully vaccinated.

“Everyone has done a brilliant job of getting vaccinated and rates are rising fast; however we have looked at the health modelling and listened to feedback from regional communities who want more time to get their double dose vaccination rates up as high as possible before they welcome back visitors,” Mr Toole said.

“We know businesses in regional NSW were getting ready to welcome people back, but it’s important we get this right so that we can have greater confidence the vaccines will do their job – and that when we re-open travel to the regions, they can remain open and that businesses have continued support in the meantime. We thank people for their patience.”

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres welcomed the 80 per cent reopening and recognised it as an important step on the road to recovery.

“We are opening up locally and we are opening up to the world. Now is a time for people to come together in safe way whether it be returning home from overseas or enjoying your favourite local venue,” Mr Ayres said.

All premises continue to operate at one person per 4sqm indoors and one person per 2sqm outdoors.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the NSW community had done an extraordinary job to reach the 80 per cent double dose vaccination target and was leading Australia out of the pandemic.

“The people of NSW have pulled together to achieve this fantastic outcome and bring us closer to life as we knew it before the pandemic, but we’re not there yet,” Mr Hazzard said.

“We can’t forget that COVID is still circulating amongst us in NSW and we need to keep getting vaccinated to push the double dose rates even higher. We want to get as close to 100 per cent double vaccination as possible to keep everyone safe.”

NSW residents will still need to comply with COVID-Safe check-ins and provide proof of vaccination to staff in most settings.

More restrictions will be relaxed on 1 December, as previously announced in the Reopening NSW Roadmap.

To find out how to download a copy of your vaccination certificate visit Services Australia website.

If you are not booked in for a COVID-19 vaccine, please book an appointment as soon possible.

For the latest information and to view the 80 per cent Roadmap and lifting of restrictions, visit nsw.gov.au

Four new venues call The Rocks home

Sydney’s nightlife is making a triumphant return at The Rocks with four new dining and drink spots to open this summer.

Bringing a combined investment of $6 million, Hickson House Distilling Co, The Keel, Chateau Tanunda and Frank Mac’s are setting the pace for a strong recovery in the historic waterside precinct.

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes said the four bars are the first of many new retailers set to call The Rocks home, with the precinct undergoing a resurgence, attracting some of the best names in the food and beverage scene.

“It’s fitting that one of Sydney’s most stunning precincts is now home to even more top tier venues, opening in time for Christmas and our emergence out of lockdown,” Mr Stokes said.

“With the extension of relaxed outdoor dining restrictions, Dine and Discover vouchers, and the reactivated CBD dining vouchers, there are so many reasons for Sydneysiders – and tourists – to rediscover our city as we emerge from lockdown.”

The arrival of these four venues follows significant precinct activation over the last twelve months, including alfresco dining, outdoor yoga, live music, a laneway cinema and food and beverage events with retailers including St Patrick’s Day and Lunar New Year.

Chief Executive of Placemaking NSW Anita Mitchell said the time was right to reactivate one of the city’s most spectacular assets.

“Customer research from the last COVID recovery shows a third of Sydneysiders would choose The Rocks as their preferred place to socialise with friends and family – so come and fall back in love with this amazing part of Sydney,” Ms Mitchell said.

“The Rocks offers something for everyone – whether you’re looking for a long lunch with harbour views or a night out in one of its hidden laneways – and it’s easily accessible by public transport and is just a short walk from Circular Quay.”

To see more about what’s happening at The Rocks, visit: www.therocks.com

Integrated vaccination certificate opens to all on service NSW app

Residents across NSW will be able to integrate the COVID-19 digital vaccination certificate into their Service NSW app from today with the program now rolling out State-wide.

Minister for Digital and Customer Service Victor Dominello said with restrictions to further ease as the state approaches 80 per cent double vaccination, the integration of the vaccine certificate with the app will make things easier for the people of NSW.

“This is an extra digital service to make life easier for the businesses and customers of NSW as we open back up. NSW is the first jurisdiction in Australia to roll out an integrated QR code solution for displaying vaccination status State wide,” Mr Dominello said.

“When someone visits a venue, they’ll be able to show their green check-in tick and vaccination status simultaneously, saving staff and customers time.

“While integrating the COVID-19 digital certificate on to the Service NSW app will be optional, it will be the by far the easiest and quickest way to prove you’re fully vaccinated.”

The State-wide roll out follows a successful regional pilot with clubs, aged-care facilities and taxis in Port Macquarie, Tamworth, Wagga Wagga and Lismore, as well as internal government participants.

As the vaccine data sits in the Federal Australian Immunisation Register to integrate the COVID-19 digital certificate into the Service NSW app you will need to:

  • Ensure your Federal MyGov account is linked to Medicare
  • Download the Express Plus Medicare app and sign in with your MyGov account details
  • Select ‘Proof of vaccinations’ and then ‘View history’
  • Select ‘Share with check in app’ and then ‘Service NSW’

“I would like to thank the Federal Government, in particular Minister Stuart Robert, for his support and collaboration in making this happen and sharing the data at the end of last month,” Mr Dominello said.
“I also want to thank the businesses and individuals who participated in the various industry-based trials this week in Port Macquarie, Lismore, Tamworth and Wagga and Wagga. Your feedback has been invaluable in getting us to this point ahead of schedule.
“Integrating the vaccine certificate also helps future proof our State’s digital infrastructure in the event that proof of vaccination is ever required again or if it’s still needed in certain settings like international travel.”
There were already three ways to demonstrate the vaccine certificate. Customers can use the Express Plus Medicare app or the digital wallet on their phone. Customers without a smartphone can print a vaccination certificate from their Medicare account or contact Services Australia for a paper certificate in order to prove their vaccination status.

John Green, Director of Liquor and Policing at the Australian Hotels Association NSW, said venue operators were reporting the vaccination status combined with the QR check-in made it easier to check and validate.

“The convenience of having a customer’s vaccination status presented alongside their check-in will allow for a seamless entry and take pressure off venue staff,” Mr Green said. “It certainly makes the process quicker.”

The Service NSW app will include a number of security measures to help compliance officers and businesses with checking and validating a customer’s vaccination status, including a NSW Waratah logo hologram and rotating QR codes, similar to the Digital Driver Licence.

For more information, please visit nsw.gov.au or call 13 77 88.

Another day, another rort: Greens to push for vote on their National Integrity Commission bill

The Green says revelations that community grants from the Building Better Regions Fund were disproportionately awarded to Coalition seats once again shows the urgent need for a federal corruption watchdog.

On Monday the Greens will lodge a concurrence motion in the Senate, which could ultimately force the House to vote on the Greens’ National Integrity Commission Bill, which passed the Senate more than two years ago.

Greens deputy leader and spokesperson on democracy Senator Larissa Waters said:

“Sportsrorts 1 & 2, carporks, now ‘building better rorts’ – another day, another rort. And still no federal corruption watchdog! Are there any buckets of public money this government hasn’t used for its own electoral gain?

“The Australian people are sick of waiting for this government to deliver on their 1000-day-old promise for a corruption watchdog – so I will move a motion to seek to force the government’s hand.

“Next week in parliament I will move a concurrence motion which, if passed in the Senate, would force the House to vote on whether to debate my National Integrity Commission Bill, which passed the Senate two years ago.

“The Government has already twice blocked the bill from even being debated and voted on in the House but the Greens have been pushing for a federal corruption watchdog for 11 years now and we won’t stop despite this government using every excuse in the book to block and delay.

“This is the dodgiest government in Australian history. If we had an effective federal anti-corruption body more than half of the Morrison Cabinet would be facing serious questions about their integrity.

“Morrison’s ICAC proposal is a fraud. Many of the misconduct scandals involving current and former Government MPs would not be caught by his toothless model. It wouldn’t hold public hearings nor be able to initiate investigations without a referral from the government.

“But parliament doesn’t need to keep waiting for the long-delayed and pathetically weak Morrison model – because the Senate has already passed the Greens’ National Integrity Bill, which got top marks last week from the Centre for Public Integrity in a comparison of the various models.

“Our bill would establish a strong, independent, effective body that allows for public hearings, retrospectivity and the ability to investigate anonymous tip-offs, balanced with appropriate safeguards and privacy provisions.

“It passed the Senate more than two years ago – the PM just needs to bring it on for debate in the House and the Australian people could have a federal anti-corruption body in place by Christmas. There’s no more time to waste.”

Future Fund investments must be subject to FOI laws

The Federal Government has comprehensively failed to make the case for trying to exempt the Future Fund’s investments from Freedom of Information laws.

“We need far greater scrutiny of the Future Fund’s investment decisions, not less,” Greens Economic Justice Spokesperson Senator McKim said.

“It is through the Freedom of Information scheme that we learned of the Future Fund’s $3.2 million investment in Adani Ports.”

”The Government has completely failed to justify this exemption, and it is clearly trying to keep the investments away from public scrutiny.”

“The Greens will oppose this legislation and we urge Labor and the crossbench to join us.”

“This is public money, and the public have a right to know how it is being invested.”

The Greens’ additional comments on the Investment Funds Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 [Provisions] can be found here.

Gambling donations a stain on our democracy, but Liberals, Nationals and Labor happy to keep cashing in

Forensic research by the ABC has shed new light on just how important a ban on political donations from the gambiling industry is. The ABC’s Hitting the Jackpot investigation revealed that over $81million has been given since 1999 to Liberals, Labor, Nationals and minor parties.

With gambling industry profits completely at the mercy of government regulation, the Greens say it’s clear that the gambling industry is buying influence and favour, and the Liberal, Labor and National parties are happy to comply.

Greens deputy leader and spokesperson on democracy Senator Larissa Waters said:

“It’s time to ban political donations from the gambling industry. They have bought policy outcomes that reap them profits and increase misery for so many for so long. The Greens have been pushing for this for a decade in federal parliament but the big parties won’t bite the hand that feeds them.

“Australians are the world’s biggest losers to gambling, while the Liberal, Labor and National parties have hit the donations jackpot.

“Donations open doors to Minister’s offices, giving privileged access to industries profiting at the expense of the Australian public.

“Weak political donations laws mean that not only is it completely legal for the government to accept donations from industries that stand to benefit from weak government regulations, but that we don’t even know where more than a third of those donations are coming from. This is a stain on our democracy.

“The Greens Banning Dirty Donations Bill to ban donations from gambling, mining and other sectors while capping donations from everyone else is already before the Senate and ready to be voted on – but only if the major parties are willing to turn their back on the tens of millions in donations from the gambling industry filling their re-election coffers.

“The Greens have a comprehensive plan to clean up politics and stop politicians writing policies for the highest bidder.  We will:

  • Ban dirty donations from industries like gambling, fossil fuels, pharmaceuticals, banking, defence, alcohol and tobacco
  • Cap all political donations at $1,000
  • Require real-time disclosure of donations
  • Improve transparency of the Lobbyists Register
  • Release Ministerial diaries so the public can see who’s meeting with who
  • Stop the revolving door between politics and industry lobbyists
  • Establish a strong, independent corruption watchdog

$30 million investment in research to drive better health

The Morrison Government is investing up to $30 million in health and medical research to help bring ground-breaking discoveries to fruition.

Through the Medical Research Future Fund, our government will open two new grant opportunities across key areas of medical research.

Firstly, a new grant opportunity will open targeted at Chronic Musculoskeletal Conditions in Children and Adolescents, with funding up to $20 million over four years from 2021-2022.

An estimated 880,000 musculoskeletal problems in children and adolescents are managed in primary care in Australia each year.

Musculoskeletal conditions that affect children and adolescents include juvenile idiopathic arthritis, juvenile systemic lupus erythematosus, back and hip conditions, muscular dystrophies and musculoskeletal pain.

The intended outcome of this grant opportunity is to improve the health care for children and adolescents with chronic musculoskeletal conditions by developing superior diagnostic approaches and by building evidence for best treatment approaches, including improved therapeutic regimes and validated models of care.

Secondly, a grant opportunity will open to help researchers develop and implement new approaches for improving patient care and health outcomes through better use of health information.

The Research Data Infrastructure grant opportunity provides up to $10 million for projects that bring together information held in different systems or platforms or that use novel methods like artificial intelligence to answer important health questions.

Better use of data will help to enable earlier diagnosis and increase the effectiveness of treatments and improve health outcomes.

It will also help reduce the probability of adverse reactions, better prevent diseases by identifying risk factors, and improve the monitoring of the effects of medical drugs.

These grants will continue to help our world-leading health and medical researchers build evidence to develop superior diagnostic approaches, and best treatment approaches, including improved therapeutic regimes and models of care.

Health and medical research remains our best hope to improve health outcomes for all Australians. It saves lives and improves lives.

The $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) supports Australia’s world class health and medical researchers by investing in innovative and game changing discoveries for the health of all Australians.

To apply for these grants please visit the GrantConnect website (https://www.grants.gov.au/).

Fitch upgrades Australia’s outlook and affirms AAA credit rating

In a clear expression of confidence in the Morrison Government’s economic management, Fitch Ratings have affirmed Australia’s AAA credit rating and upgraded its outlook to stable from negative.

Emerging from a once in a century pandemic and the greatest economic shock since the great depression, Australia remains one of only nine countries to maintain a AAA credit rating from all three major credit rating agencies.

Despite the economic recovery being “temporarily disrupted by recent lockdowns, Fitch Ratings “expect Australia’s economic recovery to continue” with the economy forecast to grow by 4.5 per cent in 2022 compared to a median of 3.6 per cent amongst other AAA rated countries.

This strong economic outlook is expected to see the labour market “snap back rapidly with the unemployment rate forecast to average 4.7 per cent in 2022” which would be the lowest annual rate since 2008.

Fitch Ratings also noted “the pace of vaccination has accelerated in recent months, allowing a gradual easing in restrictions that will facilitate a strong rebound in consumption from pent-up demand, particularly as households have large accumulated savings to draw down, and targeted fiscal support has remained during the lockdowns.”

This fiscal support following the most recent delta outbreak has included $11.1 billion in COVID-19 Disaster Payments to 2.25 million Australians and around $5.2 billion in business support from the Commonwealth.

Fitch Ratings also expressed its confidence in the Government’s budget management stating it has “rising confidence in the path of fiscal consolidation and stabilisation of the public debt ratio over the medium-term and the underlying strength of the economic recovery.”

The Morrison Government’s economic recovery plan is working, but the job is not done yet. We must stick to the National Plan agreed to at National Cabinet to open up safely and secure our economic recovery.

NSW says Buon Appetito with a $66 million alfresco restart package

The streets of NSW will come alive post-lockdown, thanks to a raft of initiatives and $66 million in funding that will see alfresco dining, outdoor activations and events return.

Treasurer Matt Kean said as the state opens up to the fully vaccinated, NSW will be ready for people eager to enjoy a meal and a day out with friends and family.

“Alfresco dining is not only a great way to dine, it’s a safe way to socialise as we open up. That’s why we are supporting new outdoor entertainment and dining precincts to pop up right across the state through our $66 million Alfresco Restart initiative,” Mr Kean said.

Minister for Digital and Customer Service Victor Dominello said the NSW Government is doing all it can to revive the hospitality and entertainment industries, while ensuring people can safely socialise in the sunshine.

“After a long winter, it’s time for Sydney to enjoy a meal or drink in the sunshine and the NSW Government is committed to helping businesses do that in time for summer,” Mr Dominello said.

“We’re providing 5,000 hospitality businesses a $5,000 grant to get their outdoor dining venture off the ground – whether that’s to help set-up curb-side dining or a pub-style courtyard, we’re here to turn their ideas into reality.”

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes said the Government’s Alfresco Restart Package will help the hospitality, arts, and music sectors get back on their feet after a long winter in lockdown.

“After many months in lockdown, the people of NSW are ready to enjoy themselves, so we’ve thrown out the rule book with new temporary alfresco measures, while also making last year’s trials permanent,” Mr Stokes said.

“In addition to the permanent easing of rules for dining on footpaths and public spaces, we’re temporarily allowing outdoor dining on privately-owned bowling greens and carparks, meaning businesses can expand outdoors on almost any piece of land they own to welcome more customers.”

The Alfresco Restart initiatives being rolled out from November include:

  • The Festival of Place – including the Long Summer Nights Program at the Rocks, Darling Harbour and The Domain, Streets as Shared Spaces Program, Summer Night Fund Program and Open Streets Program;
  • Emergency temporary alfresco measures for outdoor dining in parks or on private land with the owner’s consent; and
  • $5,000 grants for hospitality businesses to establish new alfresco settings;
  • Permanent outdoor dining as an exempt development for pubs and small bars state-wide.

This package is part of the NSW Government’s efforts to slash red tape and support businesses and communities to recover from the pandemic.

For more info, visit: https://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/alfresco-restart-package