Appointment of Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Consuls-General

Today I announce new appointments of Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Consuls-General, who will advance Australia’s interests abroad.  

Our diplomats drive opportunities for closer cooperation, support Australians overseas and help uphold the norms and rules that underpin peace and prosperity.

I am pleased to announce the following appointments:

I thank outgoing ambassadors, high commissioners and consuls-general for their contributions to advancing Australia’s interests in these countries during their respective tenures.

Metro West to supercharge housing supply across Sydney

The Minns Labor government is today announcing an enhanced Sydney Metro West project will be delivered, with the potential addition of new stations to help drive new housing supply.

The government is moving to link the construction of major new transport infrastructure in Sydney to major new housing uplift, and this focus will underpin Metro West.

It’s why the NSW Government has also directed Sydney Metro to work on increasing the delivery of new housing supply along the Metro West alignment, to support the government’s plan to build more well-located homes near new and existing transport infrastructure.

If we are going to tackle this crisis, to create more housing supply that will drive down the cost of renting or buying a home, our city is going to have to change.

We need well-located houses and apartments near well-connected transport infrastructure, so people have a place to call home, where they can move around our city easier. Metro West is the beginning of this.

More sustainable timeline to be adopted following Sydney Metro Review

The project will be reset to a more sustainable timeline, with the project expected to be completed by 2032.

The additional construction time means taxpayers will not be paying a premium to deliver the project and will provide the necessary timeframe to explore additional station and housing options.

The previous government left a 7-kilometre gap between Sydney Olympic Park and Parramatta metro stations.

To continue this project without maximising its potential to underpin the construction of thousands of new homes would have been an incredibly wasteful missed opportunity.

To that end, the NSW Government has directed Sydney Metro to complete scoping studies for up to 2 new stations to be constructed west of Sydney Olympic Park, along the existing planned route, with a decision made based on their ability to drive greater urban infill housing.

The announcement today has been endorsed by the recommendations of the Sydney Metro Independent Review.

Independent reviewers Amanda Yeates and Mike Mrdak have concluded their thorough analysis of the Sydney Metro project. Their findings include:

  • The government should commit to the current 9 station alignment of Sydney Metro West at a minimum, targeting an opening date of 2032. The reviewers made a point of noting the “arbitrary” nature of the previously announced delivery date determined by the former government.
  • Ensure the current design and construction plans do not preclude additional stations from being considered as station locations in future.
  • That Sydney Metro to provide a consolidated property and placemaking strategy across all existing lines to support the government’s priorities regarding housing supply.
  • That a business case should be prepared to improve bus and active transport connections to broaden the catchment of the existing alignment.

Sydney Metro West will ensure tens of thousands of people will be able to live next to a ‘turn up and go’ service that connects them to their jobs, their services and their communities with a train every 4 minutes.

Sydney Metro will move to shortlist delivery partners and develop a procurement model that provides opportunities to get the most housing and the best return from this significant investment for the people of NSW.

MOU with the Australian Turf Club on Rosehill Racecourse

The critical need to deliver housing in well located areas, along transport links means the Minns Labor government has commenced discussions with the Australian Turf Club (ATC) on a proposal to relocate Rosehill Racecourse and build up to 25,000 new homes, surrounded by greenspace and a new Sydney Metro West station.

The proposal, which was brought to the NSW Government by the ATC, centres around the potential to build more than 25,000 new homes on the Rosehill Racecourse site. This would allow the government to explore the feasibilty of a new Metro West Station at Rosehill.

The plan will secure the long-term future of horse racing in NSW and the 90,000 jobs it supports with several sites across Sydney to be earmarked and investigated for a new, world-class racecourse track and facilities.

The NSW Government and the ATC have signed an MOU on the potentially historic plan, which would be subject to the NSW Government’s unsolicited proposals process.

Read more about the MOU.

The Minns Labor government is today also announcing further work will also be considered to broaden the catchment of all Metro West stations with enhanced land transport links, like rapid buses to ensure that more communities will be able to benefit from this once-in-a-generation investment.

Sydney Metro has been tasked with preparing a rapid assessment to create new bus connections to broaden the catchment of the existing alignment.

This work will be subject to a future NSW Government investment decision, which would seek to have this infrastructure and services operational in time for first passenger services on Metro West.

The government will use the already legislated Housing and Productivity Contributions system to ensure some of the value created by government investments will fund future infrastructure.

NSW Premier Chris Minns said:

“Sydney Metro West is the biggest public transport project in the country. But we’re resetting Metro West to ensure it will be the city-shaping project it always should have been.

“This project won’t just change the way people move around our city; it will now also provide the well-located homes for future generations to live in.

Transport Minister Jo Haylen said:

“Our review into Metro projects delivers Sydney an improved version of Metro West. It’s a new project for the whole of Sydney, building more housing and doubling rail capacity between the Parramatta and Sydney CBDs.

“It won’t just mean a new metro service, it means better train services for Western Sydney too, including in the outer west and Blue Mountains on the T1 Western line.

“Metro West will also cut crowding by 30% at stations like Strathfield, Redfern and Burwood.”

Sydney Metro Chief Executive Peter Regan said:

“Sydney Metro West has made great progress this year, with 4 out of 6 tunnel boring machines in the ground building our new 24-kilometre metro line from Westmead to the Sydney CBD.

“We welcome the findings of the Sydney Metro Independent Review and the certainty they provide to our hard-working teams across Western Sydney delivering Australia’s biggest public transport project.”

Overheight truck incidents fall to lowest in seven years

Incidents involving overheight trucks have dropped to their lowest level since 2017 as the NSW Government continues to work with truckies and their industry to reduce traffic-clogging breaches in the Sydney tunnel network.

There have been 107 overheight trucks incidents in 2023 so far this year, down from a high last year of 161.

In 2023, detections peaked in June but have trended down since the Minns Labor Government introduced a zero-tolerance approach which included six-month registration bans for offending trucks and the establishment of an industry-wide overheight vehicle taskforce led by Transport for NSW.

Under a deal with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator in June, all incidents of overheight breaches in tunnels are now being referred straight to Transport for sanction.

There were four overheight incidents recorded in November this year, compared to 25 in November 2022.

The Sydney Harbour Tunnel, which is impacted by the most overheight breaches, has recorded a 22% decrease this year. The M5 East Tunnel has also seen a 65% reduction in incidents and a nearly 43% decrease has been noted at the Lane Cove Tunnel.

This year, Transport for NSW has stripped 19 heavy vehicles of their registration, taking them off our roads for up to six months, and a further 21 drivers have had their licence suspended.

An investment of $5 million has been invested in infrastructure and improving the Sydney Harbour Tunnel. Improved signage was installed and 31 advertising billboards erected.

More information on the driving safely through Sydney’s tunnelslaunch

Minister for Roads John Graham said:

“The NSW Government was firm in its commitment to stopping overheight trucks shutting down our city and the efforts of Transport for NSW and the industry taskforce has begun to pay off in a busy time of the year for freight.

“Incidents are dramatically down in November with just four breaches recorded but we cannot and will not claim the job is done as it still only takes one overheight incident to ruin the day of driver’s all over Sydney.

“The vast majority of truckies and operators do the right thing, but the public have no patience for any unnecessary incidents involving overheight trucks.

“I want to thank Duncan Gay and his team at NHVR, all the taskforce participants, including, Transport, NSW Police Force, Road Freight NSW and the TWU, for their collaboration and contributions to drive this positive change on our roads.”

Chairperson of National Heavy Vehicle Regulator Duncan Gay said:

“To ensure drivers are adhering to the safety measures that keep themselves, their load, and other road users safe, we inform, educate, and where necessary, enforce the Heavy Vehicle National Law.

“Our working relationships are key in the management of overheight incidents across the Sydney tunnel network, essentially involving the coordinated actions of four parties – the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR), the NSW Police Force, Motorway Tunnel operators and managers and Transport for NSW.

“The efforts include educating industry through advertising on social media, online, radio and through key trucking channels, developing a brochure which was translated into three languages for NHVR Safety and Compliance officers to hand out at Heavy Vehicle Safety Stations, and investigating other parties in the Chain of Responsibility that may have been contributing to these incidents.

“The NHVR has undertaken 21 Chain of Responsibility investigations into breaches of over height trucks, and these involved investigating the companies that have trucks that breached or nearly breached the tunnel regulations, resulting in four Improvement Notices, to ensure better safety outcomes across the industry.”

$60 weekly toll cap to provide cost of living relief to 720,000 motorists

Almost three-quarters of a million motorists who will benefit from the Minns Labor government’s toll relief scheme are being encouraged to familiarise themselves with the claims process and eligibility criteria released today.

The $60 weekly toll cap, starting Monday 1 January next year, is targeted cost-of-living relief, with claims for rebates to be made quarterly through Service NSW from April 2024.

The scheme, which is expected to be used by 720,000 motorists, is designed to provide toll relief where it is needed most, with motorists in Western Sydney (where public transport options are fewer) benefiting the most:

  • Kellyville is forecast to have the most motorists to benefit, with 13,240 account holders expected to claim.
  • Baulkham Hills has an expected 10,952 account holders claiming.
  • Greystanes has an expected 10,366 accounts holders claiming.

To be eligible, you must:

  • be a NSW resident
  • hold a personal toll account with a NSW toll service provider, taking private trips, and
  • spend more than $60 a week from your individual tag or licence plate on tolls on eligible trips.

This includes any private trips taken on a NSW toll road, excluding those on the M5 South-West for customers registered for the M5 South-West Cashback Scheme at the same time.

Rideshare, taxis, cars registered with businesses and heavy vehicles are not eligible for the rebate.

Customers eligible for the scheme will have to register and claim through Service NSW. Quarterly rebates will be transferred to an account holder’s nominated bank account starting from early April.

Drivers who spend on average $200 per week from their individual tag or licence plate on tolls can expect to receive approximately $7280 in rebates per year.

A fair use provision will ensure the integrity of the scheme, with motorists able to claim up to $400 in tolls – or a maximum rebate of $340 a week. Anything above this limit will not be refunded.

Trips made on interstate toll roads, interstate toll accounts, casual toll products or tolls paid outside of an account are not eligible.

Trucks using the M5 East and M8 will benefit from toll rebates on track for Monday 1 January 2024.

The ‘truck multiplier’ rebate includes all NSW and interstate registered trucks that travel on the M5 East and M8 with a valid E-Toll, Linkt or Eastlink account.

These trucks will receive a rebate for a third of their trip travelled on the M5 East and M8, costing an estimated $54 million over the 2 years of the trial.

Customers registered for the truck rebate will automatically see the toll cap credits applied to their toll account quarterly starting in April 2024.

Registrations and claims for the $60 toll relief cap will open in April 2024 via Service NSW. Toll spend from Monday 1 January 2024 will be automatically included.

To find out if you are eligible for the $60 toll cap rebate, visit the Service NSWlaunch website. 

The NSW Government is currently undertaking an independent review of toll roads, led by Professor Allan Fels AO and Dr David Cousins AM who will report back with recommendations to make the system simpler, fairer and more efficient.

The $60 Toll Cap scheme is set to run as a trial for 2 years.

Minister for Roads John Graham said:

“The $60 dollar toll cap starting 1 January is part of the Minns Labor government’s number 1 priority to deliver cost-of-living relief to families at a time when they are doing it tough.

“Motorists in western Sydney where access to public transport alternatives are more limited than in other areas will benefit the most from this targeted toll relief.

“This is another election promise delivered and I am happy that nearly three-quarters of a million people will access rebates in 2024.

“The era of the Liberal Party’s obsession with privatisation, which has led to ‘toll mania’ is over and we will continue to look at ways to make the toll network more equitable for all with the assistance of the independent Toll Review being led by Professor Allan Fels, one of the toughest customers out there.

“The toll cap criteria has been designed very carefully to prevent anyone trying to game it. We are working with rideshare companies to ensure work trips are not claimed. This will include random audits.”

Minister for Customer Service Jihad Dib said:

“Service NSW will provide a user-friendly experience for motorists to access much-needed toll relief via a quarterly claim.

“Eligibility criteria is simple: you must be a NSW resident, a private motorist, hold a personal toll account, reach $60 in spend a week on eligible trips and you will be able to claim.

“Western Sydney will particularly reap the benefits that they deserve with over 44,000 motorists eligible in Kellyville, Baulkham Hills, Greystanes and Moorebank.”

NSW music festival-goers urged to prepare for heatwave

People attending music festivals during severe heatwave conditions over coming days have been urged to take precautions to stay safe.

Dr Darren Roberts, Medical Director of the NSW Poisons Information Centre said most of NSW is forecast to experience dangerous conditions and festival-goers can take simple steps to keep themselves as cool and safe as possible.

“Several music festivals of different styles are taking place this weekend in New South Wales, and very hot weather is predicted. Without the right precautions, people will be putting their health at risk,” Dr Roberts said.

“Overheating during activities in dangerous heat is a huge risk, and people need to take a break from dancing, seek shade, drink water and cool down to reduce the risk of overheating at festivals.

“Festivals will have special measures in place this weekend including chilled water and misting fans to help keep people cool. Everyone attending festivals this weekend should make use of these measures.”

Dr Roberts said hot environments can increase the risk of harm from some drugs.

“If you or a friend have taken drugs, please watch out for each other and know the warning signs that you need help,” he said.

“If you or a friend feel unwell, you won’t get into trouble for seeking medical care. Please seek help immediately at the onsite medical centre.

“There are experienced onsite medical providers and teams of well-trained peer educators from programs such as DanceWize NSW who are ready to support you at many major festivals. Other event staff are also trained to help.”

NSW Health and NSW Ambulance, provide risk management advice for festival organisers and NSW Health has issued Guidelines for Music Festival Event Organisers and pre-hospital clinical guidelines for onsite medical care providers.

At locations other than festivals, call emergency services on Triple Zero (000) and ask for an ambulance. For more information about staying safe, including the warning signs to seek help, see Stay OK at Music Festivallaunch.

For support and information with alcohol, MDMA and other drugs, please contact the Alcohol and Drug Information Service on 1800 250 015launch. This is a 24/7 service offering confidential and anonymous telephone counselling and information. NUAA also provides a range of harm minimisation resources and advice and can be reached on 1800 644 413launch.

Information on how to stay safe in the heatlaunch

Mega move this weekend on regional roads

While most of the state is sleeping this weekend, one of the biggest road movements in New South Wales’ history will be taking place.

After starting its journey late on Friday night, the second of six massive spiral cases for the Snowy 2.0 power station is being transported 442km from Port Kembla to Lobs Hole in the Snowy Mountains.

Spread out over three nights, the drive time for each load is 20 hours with the latest spiral case on track to reach its destination early on Monday morning.

Each spiral case weighs 153t and is more than 13m long, 7.5m wide and almost 3m high.

The total combined size of the truck and load is a huge 63m long, 7.5m wide and 4.4m high, weighing more than 306t.

Two prime movers are needed to pull, and a third to push the load on a 14 axle specifically built trailer.

The road movements will follow Springhill Road, Masters Road, Princess Motorway M1, Picton Road, Hume Highway, Federal Highway, Monaro Highway, Snowy Mountains Highway as primary routes.

The convoy communicated its approach to each roadway to assist with safe passage through the Transport network.

To safely shift the spiral cases through the road network, the prime movers have three police cars and three pilot vehicle escorts, a supervisor ahead to help navigate cornering, bridges and traffic control and a mechanical support vehicle on standby.

Transport for NSW worked with freight company Lampsons, Snowy 2.0 principal contractor Future Generation Joint Venture, and NSW Police who helped facilitate the transfer, to identify a safe window to start moving the spiral cases.

A headcover was transported the weekend of 18 November, with the first spiral case transported over the weekend of 1 December.

The second spiral case is being transported this weekend, following the same route and itinerary. The remaining four cases will be transported in early 2024.

The spiral cases are essential components from Snowy 2.0 electromechanical subcontractor, Voith Hydro, to build pumped hydro units for Snowy Hydro’s underground power station at Lobs Hole.

Transport for NSW’s Development Services, Network Operations, Freight, and Customer Coordination and Service Delivery teams assisted in enabling the moves with some temporary network adjustments put in place to facilitate this massive movement.

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Jenny Aitchison said:

“The safe and smooth transportation of these spiral cases is just one part of the freight operation for Snowy Hydro’s Snowy 2.0 project.

“It’s also another example of great team-work between Transport for NSW, NSW Police, the freight industry and the Snowy 2.0 team.

“While most of these spiral cases will be transported at night when there is minimal traffic on the roads, anyone who does see them being moved should slow down and obey all road rules and follow the directions of police and all other road users.”

For the latest traffic updates download the Live Traffic NSW app, visit livetraffic.comlaunch or call 132 701launch.

Information about the Snowy 2.0 projectlaunch

Route detailsEstimated time
Start at Tom Thumb Road, Port Kembla, NSW Day 1 – 11pm
Turn left onto Springhill Rd 
Turn right onto Masters Rd 
Turn left onto Picton Rd 
Turn left onto Hume Hwy 
Turn to contraflow southbound bridge at Black Bobs Ck 
Turn to continue correct side after Black Bobs Ck 
Arrive truck parking bay, Goulburn, NSW6:30am
Start at Hume Hwy, Goulburn, NSWDay 2 – 9:30pm
Turn left onto Federation Hwy 
Arrive ACT border, Eagle Hawke 
Turn left onto Majura Parkway 
Arrive NSW border, Williamsdale 
Arrive Four Mile, Cooma4:48am
Start at Four Mile, CoomaDay 3 – 9:30pm
Turn right to continue on Snowy Mountains Hwy 
Arrive Rock Forest 
Turn left onto Link Rd 
Finish at Link Rd Turnaround Bay, Lobs Hole, NSW3:14am

Man charged over alleged visa breach 

An Eritrean born man is expected to appear in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court tomorrow (9 December, 2023) for allegedly failing to comply with a curfew.

The AFP arrested and charged the man, 36, late tonight (Friday, 8 December, 2023) after locating him in Melbourne’s inner west.

It will be alleged the man breached conditions of his Commonwealth visa early on 8 December, 2023, by failing to observe his residential curfew obligations.

The man has been charged with one count of fail to comply with a curfew condition, contrary to section 76C(1) of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth). This offence carries a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment and a $93,900 fine.

2nd UPDATE: AMBER ALERT Police appeal to locate boy taken from Coffs Harbour

The NSW Police Force is still seeking urgent public assistance to locate two-year-old Jax Kossen-Wilson who was abducted from Coffs Harbour about 2pm today (Friday 8 December 2023).

Jax was allegedly taken by a man and woman known to him; police will allege the family member Jax was with was assaulted by the couple before he was taken.

It’s believed they are travelling in a black 1996 Volkswagen Golf sedan, with Victorian registration OAH 707.

Police are asking the public to be on alert and report any sightings of Jax, who is described as being of Caucasian appearance, 70cm tall with blond hair, a fair complexion and blue eyes.

He was last seen wearing a brown shorts and a colourful shirt.

Further information has been given to police that the couple may be travelling around Inverell and Tenterfield areas.

Ring Triple Zero (000) to provide any information about this abduction.

UPDATE AMBER ALERT Police appeal to locate boy taken from Coffs Harbour 

The NSW Police Force is still seeking urgent public assistance to locate two-year-old Jax Kossen-Wilson who was abducted from Coffs Harbour about 2pm today (Friday 8 December 2023).

Jax was allegedly taken by a man and woman known to him; police will allege the family member Jax was with was assaulted by the couple before he was taken.

It’s believed they are travelling in a black 1996 Volkswagen Golf sedan, with Victorian registration OAH 707.

Police are asking the public to be on alert and report any sightings of Jax, who is described as being of Caucasian appearance, 70cm tall with blond hair, a fair complexion and blue eyes.

He was last seen wearing a brown shorts and a colourful shirt.

Further information has been given to police that the couple could be travelling in a white van with Victorian registration PJJ033.

Ring Triple Zero (000) to provide any information about this abduction.


The Senate inquiry into the FOI system has reported today and recommends an urgent investigation into the deep dysfunction within the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner as identified by former FOI Commissioner Hardiman. 

The report finds the FOI scheme is not fit for purpose and is creating serious barriers to access to information. 

The 15 recommendations of the committee are designed to speed up access to information by: 

  • Substantially increasing resources to the FOI system to remove historic backlogs
  • Abolishing the pointless and time-wasting internal review process
  • Simplifying and streamlining the independent merits review process overseen by the FOI Commissioner, and 
  • Allowing those seeking information to rapidly access the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to force the release of documents 

These are realistic and achievable reforms that when adopted will provide essential accountability and transparency to the workings of the Commonwealth government.

Greens Senator and Committee member David Shoebridge said: 

“The degree of dysfunction the committee observed at the most senior levels of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner was disturbing.

“The majority report calls for an urgent and independent review of the workplace behaviour matters within the OAIC that were raised by former FOI Commissioner Hardiman to address the dysfunction.

“It is hard to understand how the Attorney General thought it prudent to appoint two fresh statutory office holders to the OAIC without first addressing the extensive management and organisational failings we observed.

“These are credible, achievable and important reforms that will help turn around the mess that is FOI in 2023.

“Simplifying procedure, speeding up decisions and a serious investment in resources underpin these recommendations.

“I want to put on record the gratitude of my party, The Greens, for the courage and tenacity shown by Mr Hardiman in both his work as FOI Commissioner and his evidence to the Committee,” Senator Shoebridge said.