Man charged over shooting – Hunter

A man will face court today charged after shots were allegedly fired following a neighbour dispute in the Hunter region overnight.

About 7.30pm (Friday 29 April 2022), police were called to a rural property home on Durridgerie Road, Turill, about 125km west of Scone, following reports of a shooting.

Police have been told the occupants of neighbouring properties, who are known to each other, were involved in an argument before one allegedly produced and discharged a firearm while the other ran into nearby bushland.

The 42-year-old man was not physically injured.

Officers attached to Hunter Valley and Orana-Mid Western Police Districts responded and a Nissan Navara was stopped on Durridgerie Road

The driver, a 56-year-old man, was arrested and taken to Mudgee Police Station.

He was charged with fire firearm manner likely injure persons/property, possess unauthorised firearm, contravene prohibition/restriction in AVO (Personal), possess prohibited drug, and possess prohibited lant.

The man was refused bail to appear at Dubbo Local Court today (Saturday 30 April 2022).

Inquiries continue.

Auditor General report shows Morrison Government is failing to save koalas from extinction

The Auditor General’s report into threatened species paints a bleak picture for the survival of Australia’s koalas and wildlife, the Greens Environment Spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has said today.

“The report by the Auditor General into the management of Australia’s threatened species and wildlife is a damning assessment of the Morrison Government’s treatment of our environment and native animals. 

“The independent audit report reveals that Australia’s most endangered species like the koala, the leadbeater’s possum and the swift parrot stand no chance against a bureaucracy that is ineffective and ill-equipped, and a Minister that is ignorant to their plight. 

“The figures themselves paint a dark picture for the survival of our threatened and endangered species. Some of our most iconic animals are on a pathway to extinction – that means gone forever. 

“The report details a litany of delays and missing information that is leaving almost 2000 threatened species without any plans to save them from extinction. 

“A lack of funding and concern from the Government is putting our Australian wildlife on death row. 

“It is no wonder Australia leads the world when it comes to extinction rates. It is a shameful record and one the Morrison Government should be ashamed of. 

“Our environment laws are failing to protect our animals and native species. Big developments, land-clearing and mining are destroying habitat and pushing our environment and wildlife to brink.  

“We need stronger laws, including assessing climate impacts of projects, and an independent watchdog to enforce them – because it clear the Environment Minister and the Government cannot be trusted to protect the environment.”

Greens condemn Woolnorth Road Virtual Fence Project vandalism

The Greens have condemned the alleged vandalism that occurred last night to the Woolnorth Road Virtual Fence Project, designed to mitigate roadkill of a healthy Tasmanian devil population in north west Tasmania. 

Greens Senator for Tasmania, Peter Whish-Wilson said:

“This senseless and infuriating act of vandalism is to be condemned, but we must not allow it to deter or slow our efforts to protect Tasmanian devils from becoming roadkill, especially not in one of the last remaining bastions for healthy devils in Tasmania. 

“I expect the police to conduct a thorough investigation into this incident, and hope Circular Head Council will now put in place security measures – such as hidden cameras – to protect this critical mitigation project. 

“There are numerous factors threatening the Tasmanian devil’s chance of survival, and what this frustrating event highlights very clearly is that our response to these threats must be diverse.

“Increased signage, awareness/education campaigns, changes to speed limits, high density devil crossing mitigation measures, removal of roadkill, roadside mowing, and other measures must all be considered in the fight to protect the Tasmanian devil.” 

$25.5 million to improve Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service infrastructure

The Morrison Government has opened a $25.5 million funding round for critical infrastructure projects at Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) to support these services to continue their critical work.

The Service Maintenance Program (SMP), which provides funding for repairs, maintenance and minor upgrades for ACCHS is part of a $1 billion national commitment to help achieve Closing the Gap (CTG) Outcomes, and part of the $254.4 million CTG health infrastructure measure announced by the Prime Minister in August 2021.

Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the funding round will give priority to projects related to ventilation and infection control.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said that ACCHS are a core part of the Australian health system, delivering comprehensive primary health care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

 “ACCHS set the benchmark for delivering holistic, culturally safe and responsive care and services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities and have played a major role in the Government’s response to COVID-19. This funding will improve their facilities so they can maintain the high level of care they offer their communities”, Minister Hunt said.

“These grants help ensure fit-for-purpose health infrastructure, which is integral to closing the gap in life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

The SMP and the Major Capital Program make up the Closing the Gap health infrastructure measure.  The opening of the Major Capital Program, which will fund the building and purchase of health clinics and staff housing, as well as major renovations, is due to be announced shortly.

Minister for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, said the funding round announced today showed the Government was serious about closing the gap in health outcomes and life expectancy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“This investment in the ACCHS sector is a key component of the Government’s commitment to closing the gap through improved health infrastructure,” Minister Wyatt said.

“Key to making real progress, and one of the fundamental principles in the National Agreement on Closing the Gap, is to work in true partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders.

“Accordingly, we worked in partnership with the ACCHS sector, through the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO), to co-design these grant opportunities”.

Lead Convenor of the Coalition of Peaks and CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, Ms Pat Turner, said, “NACCHO has advocated for a long time for increased funding for infrastructure for the health sector and this funding supports and recognises the critical role that ACCHS play in the Australian primary health care architecture”.

“I am pleased to see that this funding is being delivered in line with the Priority Reforms in the National Agreement, where programs and services are developed in partnership with our peoples and where funding is delivered through our community-controlled organisations”.

Information about the SMP grant opportunity can be found on GrantConnect.

The Morrison Government continues to prioritise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and ageing outcomes, providing $781.1 million in the 2021-22 Budget and ongoing funding through the Indigenous Australians Health Programme of more than $4 billion from 2021-22 to 2024-25 to deliver culturally appropriate initiatives to increase access to health care and improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Fast-tracking jobs and technologies for space

The Morrison Government is injecting more than $65 million to get Australian technologies into space sooner and to make our nation a leading destination for launch.

And in another major boost for the Australian space sector that will drive jobs and technology investment, the Government has also instructed the Australian Space Agency to embark on a mission to put an Australian astronaut back into space.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the new $65 million funding was part of the Government’s ongoing mission to expand the sector, invest in cutting edge technologies and create new jobs.

“Australia is ready to launch and we are backing Australian companies and workers to look up and aim high,” the Prime Minister said.

“The journey to sending an Australian into space means serious investment in local jobs, local technologies and local businesses.

“Any astronaut and any spacecraft has a team of thousands behind them, not to mention invaluable technology and research and carefully manufactured parts.

“All of that means new technologies that make things simpler and safer, the job opportunities that come from a booming industry or the technology advancements that can be applied in our everyday lives.

“That’s why, since 2018, we have invested more than $800 million as part of our mission to triple the size of the sector to $12 billion and create up to 20,000 new jobs by 2030.”

The Government will co-invest more than $32 million into the development of up to three new or existing spaceports or launch sites across Australia.

The Australian Space Agency will also receive more than $32 million to procure and provide spaceflights and services for the Australian space sector.

This will help the sector gain an important ‘flight qualification’ – a common barrier to transitioning space technology from the laboratory to space.

The more than $32 million includes a $3.5 million national student space challenge that would see student payloads sent into orbit.

The Agency has also been tasked with international partners to put an Australian astronaut back into space.

South Australia Premier Steven Marshall said the investment was a major boost for South Australia’s space sector.

“This election is all about building a stronger future and opening new opportunities for South Australians – the space sector does both,” Premier Marshall said.

“South Australia is unequivocally the Space State – we have already created nearly 1600 space jobs in the State and today’s announcement is going to see that number take off.

“We are the home of the Space Discovery Centre, Mission Control, the Australian Space Agency, the Australian Space Park and more than 90 space-related companies are already based right here in SA.

“This sector is going gangbusters and it’s going to mean our young South Australians can have a rewarding career in the space sector right here without having to move interstate or overseas.”

Minister for Science and Technology Melissa Price said this latest investment would provide Australian industry with further opportunities to grow their capability and access global supply chains – and support more launches taking off on home soil.

“This is about so much more than just the excitement or inspiration of launch,” Minister Price said.

“By investing in the growth of the Australian space sector we’re investing in the future of all Australians.

“We’re doing that through investments via the Australian Space Agency and prioritising the space sector through our Modern Manufacturing Strategy and Australia’s Economic Accelerator.”

Head of the Australian Space Agency, Enrico Palermo, said the Fast-Tracking Access to Space package would help address gaps in the local sector.

“By supporting Australian businesses and researchers to get their products into space more quickly, we are helping them to demonstrate their capabilities to the world, which in turn will create new opportunities that see them grow,” Mr Palermo said.

“This co-investment in the development of spaceports makes Australia’s intentions clear – we want to become a launch nation of choice to attract further private sector investment.

“We are already a desirable launch location thanks to a range of factors, including our unique geographic perspective and political stability – this investment will cement that reputation.”

Ukrainian troops Surrendering: Putin

Ukrainian troops are leaving their positions in large numbers, dropping their weapons, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Thursday, citing intelligence.

“According to intelligence, the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ troops and service members are leaving their positions in large numbers, dropping their weapons. No strikes are being carried out on the positions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ units that have laid down their arms,” the statement reads.

According to the ministry, precision weapons are being used to disable military infrastructure facilities, air defenses, military airfields and aircraft.

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a special military operation based on a request from the heads of the Donbass republics. The Russian leader stressed that Moscow had no plans to occupy Ukrainian territories.

NSW 17U team for 2022 National Champs named

Netball NSW is delighted to announce the athletes who have been selected for the 2022 NSW 17U Team which will contest the National Netball Championships later this year.

The final list of 12 players was selected after a rigorous selection process which brough the best of metro and regional talent together.

The squad will begin their campaign this weekend in preparation for the Nationals in Hobart in April.

“Head Coach Amber Cross and her players and support staff are looking forward to driving growth, cohesiveness and Waratah pride within this team of talented and determined athletes,” Margaret Hamley of Netball NSW said.

The team will benefit from the experience of three athletes returning from the 2021 campaign with Eugenie Little, Freddie Schneideman and Tumut local Grace Whyte selected again. All three are in the QBE Swifts Academy – which underpins the NSW Swifts – and they also play for the Manly Warringah Sapphires in the Origin Energy Premier League.

Talented shooter Monika O’Tai is in GIANTS Academy and will play for UTS Sparks in Premier League, while Hunter pair Hope White and Brooke Rooney play Premier League for the Central Coast Heart and Panthers respectively.

Eliza McKenzie is a proud Eastwood Ryde junior and will represent ERNA Hawks in Premier League while Nicola Barge, Nevaeh Matenga, Isabella Degei, Jayla Dicker (along with White) are all bottom-age athletes with big futures ahead.

Barge (Stingrays), Degei (GWS Fury) and Dicker (Panthers) will also play in Premier League and Matenga (Liverpool City) will foster her growth in the DOOLEYS Metro League competition.

Midcourt player Laicy Costigan will train with her local Hastings Valley team as they prepare for the HART Regional League competition and will travel the eight-hour return trip each week for State Team training.

In 2022 Netball NSW has also selected a 17U Train-On Squad. The squad of 15 athletes will train each Sunday for the next 11 weeks with a focus of individual growth and maximising readiness to progress on the Netball NSW Pathway.

Each of these athletes will have the opportunity to be a part of the Metro Emerging, Regional Emerging or Indigenous All Stars teams in a competition planned for later in 2022.

2022 NSW 17U Team

Brooke Rooney (Newcastle)
Eliza McKenzie (Eastwood Ryde)
Eugenie Little (Manly Warringah)
Frederika Schneideman (Randwick)
Grace Whyte (Manly Warringah/Tumut)
Hope White (Newcastle)
Isabella Degei (Penrith District)
Jayla Dicker (Penrith District)
Laicy Costigan (Hastings Valley)
Monika ‘Otai (St George District)
Nevaeh Matenga (Liverpool City)
Nicola Barge (Sutherland Shire)
2022 NSW 17/U Train-On Squad

Angelina Ballas (Baulkham Hills Shire)
Ashley Vasquez (Camden)
Ava Moller (Wagga Wagga)
Charlie Hawkins (Randwick)
Charlee Belcher (Baulkham Hills Shire/Newcastle)
Ellie Hart (Campbelltown District)
Hinemoa Boylan (Campbelltown District)
Katarina Sincek (Penrith District)
Laura Ashwin (Baulkham Hills Shire)
Maraea Paea (Wyong District)
Mia Blackett (Coffs Harbour)
Nicola Gastelaars (St George District)
Sara Kent (St George District)
Tahlia Robertson (Sutherland Shire)
Yasmeen Janschek (Randwick)

Teachers’ union says pay rises of 2.04% are not enough

The IEU welcomes a letter from Catholic Employment Relations dated 27 January 2022 agreeing to commence negotiations for new enterprise agreements covering over 25,000 principals, teachers and support staff in NSW and ACT Catholic systemic schools. The previous agreements expired on 31 December 2021. However, up until this week, employers had stalled on commencing bargaining for pay rises and new agreements.
The Independent Education Union of Australia NSW/ACT Branch first wrote to the Directors of all 11 Catholic Dioceses on 30 November 2021 setting out its claim for principals, teachers and support staff employed in Catholic Diocesan schools in NSW and the ACT.
The IEU represents nearly 20,000 members in over 600 Catholic Diocesan schools throughout NSW and the ACT. The union’s claim for a new agreement mirrors the one made by the NSW Teachers Federation for teachers in government schools. It includes:

  • a pay rise of 10% to 15% over two years for all members
  • effective strategies to deal with the accelerating teacher shortage
  • reduced teaching time to allow teachers time to plan, prepare and consult with colleagues
  • easing excessive workloads by removing administrative tasks that don’t support teaching and learning.
  • pay parity for support staff with their counterparts in government schools.

“Teachers’ salaries have slid steadily backwards since the NSW Government introduced wage caps more than a decade ago – wage caps in the government sector have a strong impact on the non-government sector,” said IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Acting Secretary Carol Matthews.
“The IEU believes the pay increase of 2.04% offered by Catholic Employment Relations in their letter of 27 January is not good enough. We look forward to robust discussions.
“Our members have gone above and beyond their duties for years, but especially in the past two, ensuring teaching and learning continued during the upheaval and anxieties of a global pandemic. Now is the time to recognise this in substantial pay rises and improved conditions.”
IEUA NSW/ACT Branch President Christine Wilkinson said: “It is time teachers were paid what they’re worth. Teachers’ workloads have steadily increased over the years while conditions continue to be eroded. This is not reflected in their wages.
“Young graduate teachers are leaving the profession in droves, intensifying the shortage of teachers. If the Government wants quality teachers, it is time to pay them what they’re worth.”

Tragic spike in NSW coastal drownings

Beachgoers are being urged to take responsibility for their safety and swim between the flags, after NSW recorded an increase in the number of drownings this summer.
Since December 1, there have been 15 coastal deaths and drownings, including three rock fisherman, which is two more than the same time last year.
Premier Dominic Perrottet is reminding the public to swim between the flags, observe safety warnings and look after loved ones when close to the water.
“Australia Day is traditionally a high-risk holiday on our waterways. While our lifesavers and first responders are always vigilant, this is one of the days where more rescues and sadly drownings often occur,” Mr Perrottet said.
“Whether you’re at a beach, pool, river or lake, my message to swimmers is to know the risks, be aware of your surroundings and look out for each other.”
Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience Steph Cooke said beachgoers can take simple precautions in and around the water to keep themselves safe.
“A tragedy can unfold in seconds on our beaches. Please supervise children, swim between the flags, wear a life jacket when required and always listen to the warnings from emergency services,” Ms Cooke said.
“I want to thank the 75,000 Surf Life Saving NSW volunteers and 129 surf clubs who have worked tirelessly this summer to keep locals and visitors safe on our beaches.”
Member for Pittwater and Surf Lifesaver Rob Stokes thanked the Warriewood surf club for their tireless efforts, after a difficult summer holidays.
“Tragedy has struck here at Warriewood with the death of a rock fisherman on New Year’s Day. We ask all beachgoers be vigilant and make sure their trip to the beach is one to remember for all the right reasons,” Mr Stokes said.
Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steve Pearce said despite the recent wet weather, Surf Life Saving NSW has had an extremely busy holiday period across the State.
“The NSW coastline boasts beautiful beaches and everyone can enjoy them safely by checking the conditions before swimming, wearing a life jacket when boating or rock fishing and remembering that alcohol and water activities don’t mix,” Mr Pearce said.
Over the Australia Day long weekend last year, surf lifesavers and lifeguards rescued 815 people, which accounted for 22 per cent of all rescues recorded in the entire year.
Since July 1, there have been more than 31 coastal drownings and deaths in NSW, including five rock fishermen.

Man wounded during armed robbery – Morpeth

Police are investigating an armed robbery where a man was wounded in the Hunter early this morning.
About 5.15am (Thursday 20 January 2022), three men entered a grocery store on Swan Street, Morpeth, and approached the tills.
The group began removing cash from the drawers before the employee, a 47-year-old man, approached the trio and challenged them.
One of the men struck the employee with an unknown object. All three fled the scene a short time later in a white sedan.
The injured man suffered a wound to his abdomen and was treated by NSW Ambulance paramedics before being taken to John Hunter Hospital for treatment.
Officers from Port Stephens-Hunter Police District attended and established a crime scene.
As inquiries continue, detectives are urging anyone who may have dashcam footage from the Morpeth area between 4.50am and 5.30amto contact Raymond Terrace Police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.