Commit to driving safely this Anzac Day period

Motorists are being asked to drive safely over the Anzac Day period so that everyone can get home safely to their families and loved ones.

Roads across the state are expected to be busy from today as people move around to Anzac Day events or take Wednesday and Friday off to make the most of an extended long weekend.

The break also coincides with the end of school holidays, creating extra traffic around major centres like Sydney.

NSW Police will be out in force and double demerits apply from today until 11:59pm on Sunday 28 April.

The NSW Government is asking motorists to slow down and drive to the conditions so everyone can make it home safely.

As of midnight Tuesday, 111 lives have been lost on NSW roads in 2024 – 11 higher than at the same time in 2023.

The NSW Government has introduced a number of measures to counter the rising number of fatalities on our roads, including:

  • doubling roadside enforcement sites used for mobile speed cameras, with the addition of 2700 new locations where a camera can be deployed. Enforcement hours will remain the same
  • removing a loophole to force all motorists driving on a foreign licence to convert to a NSW licence within 6 months
  • the introduction of seatbelt enforcement by existing mobile phone detection cameras from Monday 1 July
  • the demerit point trial to encourage motorists to maintain a spotless record over 12 months to have a demerit point removed from their record
  • hosting the state’s first Road Safety Forum of international and local experts.

Acting Minister for Roads Jo Haylen said:

“Road safety is a shared responsibility, and we are asking everyone to have that front of mind over the Anzac Day period.

“There are simple steps to help keep all road users safe: Make sure you are well rested before heading out, stick to the speed limit, wear a seatbelt or helmet, put the phone away and never get behind the wheel if affected by drugs or alcohol.”

Minister for Police Yasmin Catley said: 

“Police will be out on the roads across the state in a high-visibility operation that will target high-risk behaviours such as excessive speed, alcohol and drug driving, illegal use of mobile phones and not wearing seatbelts.

“During the double demerit period for Anzac Day last year, which also fell over 5 days, we tragically lost 4 people on NSW roads. That is 4 too many and I don’t want to see a repeat of this again in 2024.”

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Jenny Aitchison said:

“Regional NSW represents a third of the state’s population and two-thirds of the state’s road fatalities. For this reason, it is even more important that motorists in regional areas comply with the speed limit and drive to the conditions.

“If you’re a local please don’t be complacent – even if you drive these roads every day and think you know them like the back of your hand – mistakes can happen, and tragedy can result.

“Make sure you’re sticking to the speed limit, and if you start to notice signs of fatigue, pull over and have a rest. It’s better to arrive late than to risk the alternative of a serious crash or worse.”

Expanded urgent care services for older people in south-west Sydney

Elderly residents across south-western Sydney have access to more tailored, timely healthcare in the comfort of their own homes via the Community Older Persons Intervention and Liaison Outreach Team (COPILOT).

This community-based integrated geriatric urgent care service eases pressure on emergency departments by responding urgently to the medical and physical health needs of older people in the community for non-life threatening conditions.

Care is provided in the patient’s own home by a multidisciplinary team of geriatricians, nurses, social workers, physiotherapists, pharmacists, dietitians and occupational therapists.

Patients are referred to the geriatric urgent care service through a number of channels including local GPs, NSW Ambulance, and emergency department aged care teams.

The service has been in operation in Liverpool and Campbelltown since late 2023 and was officially launched today at Fairfield Hospital as part of the NSW government’s commitment to delivery of 25 Urgent Care Services by June 2025.

It operates 8am-4.30pm seven days a week, with phone consultations between 4.30pm-8pm.

Minister for Health Ryan Park said:

“Our government is rolling out Urgent Care Services like this one across the state, to increase access to healthcare within the community, and reduce the immense pressure on our hospital system.

“Data has shown thousands of patients have been treated by Urgent Care Service and Clinics, allowing people to receive the care they need quicker, without the stress of visiting ED”.

“Improving access to healthcare is a ministerial priority of mine, and I am really pleased with the results we have seen with other Urgent Care Services across NSW.

Member for Prospect, Hugh McDermott said:

“As our population grows, our community will get older. COPILOT will become even more essential, and important service to ensuring their success in an ever-changing society.

“Our community is growing, and by 2031 there will be more than 155,000 Fairfield residents over the age of 70. It’s important we invest in their success early.”

Member for Fairfield, David Saliba said:

“It’s essential as the number of older residents in our community grows, we have the right services in place to meet their needs. COPILOT is an important part of ensuring we achieve this.

“The COPILOT team – which consists of geriatricians, nurses, allied health staff as well as administrative support – is designed to help meet this growing local need.”

Member for Cabramatta, Tri Vo said:

“Delighted to be part of this important announcement which will make a huge difference to everyone in our community, delivering care to older people while easing pressure on wait times in ED.

“COPILOT is one of many exciting new initiatives the NSW Government is investing in to benefit communities all over southwestern Sydney.”

South Western Sydney Local Health District Chief Executive, Sonia Marshall said:

“We all have times in our lives when we need care quickly, but don’t need the full suite of care available at a hospital.

“COPILOT ensures older people have access to multidisciplinary teams that can provide expert care wherever they are.”

NSW Government supports establishment of Commercial Fishing peak industry body

The NSW Government is delivering on its election commitment by supporting a peak body for the commercial fishing sector.

Minister for Agriculture Tara Moriarty announced the NSW Commercial Fishing Industry Association (CFIA) at the Sydney Fish Market Seafood Excellence Awards on Tuesday evening (23 April 2024) and the CFIA appointed inaugural chair, Mr John Wilson.

The newly formed CFIA will provide an opportunity for the NSW commercial fishing industry to be represented to Government, key stakeholders and the wider community, through a united voice.

Mr Wilson, from the Southern Tablelands of NSW, comes to the position with a diverse background including as the Company Secretary of the Seafood Co-operative Centre Company, Director at the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation, General Manger Business and Chief Financial Officer at the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC).

The CFIA has been developed through an industry-facilitated process involving stakeholder-wide consultation to establish an allied peak industry body to provide advocacy to Government.

The annual total value of NSW wild harvest commercial fisheries is in the order of $90 million at first point of sale, and contributes $170 million to the states production each year, employing more than 1,661 people directly.

The NSW commercial fisheries are carefully managed as the resource is shared amongst over 1,000 commercial fishers who catch fish for the whole community to enjoy.

The NSW Government also continues to push ahead with establishing a peak body to represent the NSW recreational fishing sector.

Minister for Agriculture Minister Moriarty said:

“The CFIA will help ensure commercial NSW seafood continues to be viable, profitable, and sustainable.

“This peak body for commercial fishing will focus on industry representation, advocacy, building the industry’s capacity to participate in shared decision-making as well as consultation and communication with commercial fishers.

“The NSW Government recognises the challenges in making commercial fisheries sustainable and has worked closely with the industry to lead many of the changes to improve environmental performance.

“I also congratulate the winners at last night’s Sydney Fish Market Seafood Excellence Awards. NSW has some of the best seafood in the world and all entrants are great examples of the excellence happening across the industry.”

Sydney Fish Market Seafood Excellence Awards winners & highly commended 2024:

Primary Producer Award (NSW)

  • Winner: Troy Billin (Yamba Fisheries)
  • Highly Commended: The Byrnes Family

Primary Producer Award (Interstate/Overseas)

  • Winner: 4 Seas

Seafood Business Award

  • Winner: Coffs Harbour Fishermen’s Cooperative
  • Highly Commended: Fish in the Family

Restaurant Award

  • Winner: The Poyer’s Restaurant
  • Highly Commended: Besuto Omakase

Promotion Award

  • Winner: Narooma Oyster Festival
  • Highly Commended: Professional Fishers Association (Taste of Seafood Festivals)

People Development Award

  • Winner: Professional Fishers Association (Fishers Business Skills Program)

Safety Award

  • Winner: Tuna Australia (Research to improve worker safety and reduce bycatch)

Environment Award

  • Winner: OceanWatch Australia
  • Highly Commended: Mitch Sanders

Research Development and Extension Award

  • Winner: OceanWatch Australia (East Coast Whale Entanglement Program)

Snowy Mountains Highway safety improvements on the way at Pine Valley

Motorists using the Snowy Mountains Highway at Pine Valley will benefit from a series of upgrades, as part of the Albanese and NSW Labor Governments’ commitment to improving the safety and reliability of regional road networks across the state.

With $400,000 from the Australian Government’s Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program, and $900,000 from the NSW Government’s Network Efficiency Program, the safety works will involve widening multiple sections of the Highway to provide more space for light and heavy vehicles to co-exist.

This includes widening the left-turn lane eastbound at Kosciuszko Road and installing safety barriers as part of the jointly funded works.

As an access route for the Snowy 2.0, there has been a noticeable increase in traffic along this section of the Snowy Mountains Highway, including frequent heavy vehicle movements.

Work is already underway to widen and seal one kilometre of southbound shoulders, which is expected to take around six weeks.

Work on the intersection upgrade is due to commence soon and is expected to be completed by the end of May, weather permitting.

All works will be carried out weekdays between 7am and 6pm and Saturdays between 8am and 1pm.

Federal Member for Eden-Monaro Kristy McBain said:

“The Snowy Mountains Highway is busier than ever, as more people flock to enjoy everything we have to offer across this part of the mighty Eden-Monaro.

“That’s why I’ve worked hard to secure $400,000 in federal funding towards these important safety upgrades, which we’ll deliver in partnership with the Minns Labor Government.

“We know during our peak snow seasons the highway really is bumper to bumper – which is why widening multiple sections of the road will make it safer for motorists to pass turning vehicles.”

Minister for Skills, TAFE and Tertiary Education and Member for Monaro Steve Whan said:

“As the gateway to the Snowy Mountains Region, this Highway is the key arterial route between Cooma and Jindabyne or Tumut, servicing high volumes of tourist and visitor traffic during winter, providing access to the Selwyn Snowy Resort from the southeast.

“These upgrades will go a long way to providing a much safer journey for all motorists and improving the travel experience for everyone in our beautiful region.”

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Jenny Aitchison said:

“The NSW and Australian Labor Governments are working together and getting on with the job of improving road safety in our regional communities.

“The investments we are making will reduce the likelihood of rear end crashes and reduce congestion on this busy Highway.

“I thank Ministers McBain and Whan for their ongoing advocacy and efforts on behalf of their communities, to secure vital road safety investments like this.”

Opposition urgently calls for wanding powers

Recent events in NSW warrant tougher powers for law enforcement to combat knife crime.
 
The NSW Opposition is calling for legislation to grant the NSW Police Force powers to use metal-detecting wands to enhance community safety.
 
Given the recent tragedy at Bondi Junction Westfield and the alleged terrorist event at Wakeley, the powers should be designed in the interests of public safety and to protect people who are lawfully going about their everyday lives. There are many circumstances where these powers would enhance public safety.
 
We already have a large range of public activities that are routinely accompanied by non-invasive searches of the kind that the NSW Opposition supports. 
 
The activities where searches currently take place go beyond airport or transport facilities and include sporting events, concerts and even the Royal Easter Show.
 
The legislation proposed by the Opposition is a natural extension of the contemporary trend towards non-invasive searches to support public safety.
 
Our proposal would go further than legislation that began operating in Queensland in March of 2023, which allows police to conduct non-invasive metal detector searches of people without a warrant in transport and safe night precincts. In the first nine months of its operation, the Queensland law saw 400 weapons seized by the police. 
 
The NSW Opposition offers to work with the NSW Government in a bi-partisan manner to urgently legislate broad wanding measures to support public safety.
 
The NSW Opposition notes that there is widespread support for these powers from a range of organisations, including the Police Association and a range of public service trade unions, which support an expansion of police search powers to include the use of metal detecting wands.

Snow season covered with extra transport and new SMS service rolled out

The NSW Labor Government is making it easier than ever for snow lovers to make the most of the ski season this year with an expansion of the Snowy Mountains bus service and roll out of a new SMS alert service.

Tickets are now on sale for the popular Snowy Mountains bus service, which is being expanded this year to include a Cooma via Berridale to Jindabyne service. 

The service, which continues to grow in popularity and carried out more than 80,000 passenger journeys completed in 2023, will this year run from 8 June to 6 October. Extra services will also be available during school holidays.

As part of the NSW Labor Government’s efforts to improve the ski season experience for all road users, Transport for NSW has also introduced a subscription-based SMS service that will send alerts when Kosciuszko Road or Alpine Way need to close due to parking at the ski fields reaching capacity. 

Customers who subscribe to the service will receive three text messages to alert them of road closures, before, during and after the closures are in place. 

Find out more information or subscribe to the SMS alert service. 

For more information on the bus service and ticketing options.

Minister for Skills. TAFE and Tertiary Education and Member for Monaro Steve Whan said:

“The Snowy Mountains bus service is as a safe and affordable alternative to driving, and has steadily grown in popularity, with 95 per cent of passengers surveyed last year saying they would use the service again. 

“This year we are excited expand the reach of this popular service and add a new initiative that will deliver important real-time messaging directly to customers when they need it most.

“Locals and regular snow visitors will know the frustration of arriving at the Kosciusko Road and Alpine Way intersection, only to be turned around. This new SMS alert system will now allow them to make more informed travel decisions before departure.”

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Jenny Aitchison said:

“The Snowy Mountains Bus allows a stress-free journey to the snow fields for snow goers. The service allows motorists, who might not be experienced in driving in alpine conditions, an alternative to ensure their families make it safely to the snow fields.  

“Increased services in 2023 led to improved safety, reliability and social and economic outcomes, and contributed to fewer journeys by car on roads impacted by ice and snow, a reduction in road incidents and reduction in vehicle recoveries performed in the alpine area.

“The NSW Labor Government is proud to invest in this new SMS alert service that gives motorists another tool they can use to better plan their journeys and avoid being inconvenienced this snow season. 

“Importantly, this service has been developed in response to feedback from motorists who told Transport for NSW they needed more notice of closures. I’m pleased we’re acting on that feedback and delivering an improved service that will benefit all road users.”

Protect yourself and your community this flu season

People across NSW are being urged to protect themselves against serious illness by booking in for their influenza vaccine ahead of the 2024 flu season.

The latest respiratory surveillance report shows more than 4700 people in NSW were diagnosed with influenza in the last 4 weeks, a 16% increase compared with the previous year.

NSW hospitals received 480 influenza-like illness admissions between the 6 January and 14 April 2024. This is compared with 284 during the same period in 2023.

The NSW Government is encouraging people to book in for the influenza vaccine through a local GP or pharmacist ahead of winter.

People who are considered to be at higher risk of severe illness from influenza are eligible for a free flu vaccine. Priority groups include:

  • children aged 6 months to under 5 years
  • people aged 65 and over
  • Aboriginal people from 6 months of age
  • pregnant women
  • those with serious health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, immune disorders, obesity,
  • severe asthma, kidney, heart, lung or liver disease.

NSW Health also recommends considering getting a COVID-19 booster at the same time as the flu vaccination.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation’s latest COVID-19 vaccine advice recommends:

  • a COVID-19 vaccination every 6 months for all adults aged 75 years and over
  • a COVID-19 vaccination every 12 months for adults aged 65 to 74 years, and adults aged 18 to 64 with severe immunocompromise; these people can consider a vaccination every 6 months
  • a COVID-19 vaccination every 12 months can be considered for all other adults aged 18 to 64 years those aged 5 to18 years with severe immunocompromise.

Some steps to help protect ourselves and our loved ones from COVID-19 and flu include:

  • stay up to date with recommended influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations
  • stay home if you have cold or flu symptoms and wear a mask if you need to leave home
  • gather outdoors or in well-ventilated indoor spaces
  • talk with your doctor now if you are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or influenza to make a plan about what to do if you get sick, including what test to take, and discussing if you are eligible for antiviral medicines
  • don’t visit people who are at higher risk of severe illness if you have cold or flu symptoms or have tested positive to COVID-19 or influenza
  • consider taking a rapid antigen test before visiting vulnerable loved ones, particularly when COVID-19 transmission is moderate or high in the community.

More information on influenza and the COVID-19 booster vaccines can be found on the NSW Government website.

Premier Chris Minns said:

“Influenza is highly contagious, and it can be life-threatening, especially for vulnerable groups such as young children, pregnant women, older adults and people who have chronic medical conditions.

“Getting the flu jab is the best way to protect yourself and the wider community.”

Minister for Health Ryan Park said:

“Influenza has started to increase in some parts of Australia, and it’s expected to start to increase across NSW soon, so it is very important you get vaccinated to protect yourself and others as you don’t want to end up in hospital or put vulnerable community members at risk.

“Everyone 6 months and older is recommended to get a flu vaccine and these are available through GPs for any age group, as well as through pharmacies for everyone aged 5 years and over.”

Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said:

“Last year, we saw an increase in ED presentations among young children with some being admitted to intensive care with life-threatening complications from the flu. We don’t want to see a repeat this year, so we are reminding families to book their children aged under 5 years in for their free flu vaccine now.

“It is a very quick and easy process to book in with your local doctor or pharmacist who can also administer your COVID-19 vaccine at the same time if recommended. This simple act can help you and your family stay healthy this winter.”

New government workplace hub opens up in the Hunter

The NSW Government has revitalised one of its key regional workplaces, following the completion of a $13.8 million workplace hub that consolidates three government agencies under one roof.

Employees from the Department of Regional NSW (DRNSW), Department of Customer Service (DCS) and Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure (DPHI) have moved into the freshly fitted out Maitland Workplace Hub in High Street.

The new hub is the base for up to 650 regional workers and provides flexible and agile workspace for all government employees visiting the Hunter region for work. The project has supported 40 construction jobs for local tradespeople and subcontractors.

The NSW Government’s central property agency, Property and Development NSW (PDNSW) has delivered the Maitland CBD Workplace Hub as part of its ongoing work to consolidate agencies into modern, sustainable hubs.

By consolidating three agencies under one roof, the NSW Government has reduced the rent and associated costs from having multiple leases, while creating a modern working environment that will support enhanced collaboration and improve service delivery to communities in regional NSW.

Work is also underway to upgrade the building’s environmental credentials to achieve a 5-star NABERS energy rating and a 4-star NABERS water rating, which will support the NSW Government’s net zero emissions targets as it works to reduce its environmental footprint.

Find out more about the Maitland Workplace Hub

Minister for Lands and Property Steve Kamper said:

“This fantastic new hub provides high quality facilities for government employees who call this region home, and a place to work for visiting employees when they are in town for the day.”

“We have other regional hubs on the way in Dubbo and Coffs Harbour to continue to attract, support and retain talented employees from regional NSW.”

Minister for Finance Courtney Houssos said:

“Quality workplaces like this ultimately lead to better service delivery and outcomes for the wider community.

“Reducing the number of commercial leases is part of our government’s work to address the state’s budget challenge.”

Minister for the Hunter Yasmin Catley said:

“The opening of the new government workplace hub is a win for the Hunter region. It means more jobs, more opportunities, and a brighter future for our community, helping lay down the groundwork for sustainable growth and prosperity.”

“We recognise the immense talent and potential of our rural workers, and the opening of the hub highlights our commitment to preserving local jobs and fostering economic growth in rural areas.”

“We strive to bridge the gap between urban and rural employment and this commitment will help decentralise opportunities and spread economic success beyond the metropolitan areas.”

Member for Maitland Jenny Aitchison said:

“This is a great boost for the Maitland community, as it keeps jobs in this area and will deliver economic benefits.

“The new fit-out provides 5,500 square metres of work space across two floors, and more than 250 underground and street level car parking spaces to support government workers based in Maitland.”

Hunter Mason Founder and Managing Director Matthew Callender said:

“We are delighted that along with leading the construction of the new Maitland Workplace Hub, we have supported 11 apprentices, 20 local tradespeople, and committed $850,000 towards Aboriginal participation in construction, which is an important driver for Hunter Mason.”

Experience tourism at the centre of visitor economy growth strategy

NSW is leading Australia’s post-pandemic visitor economy rebound, surpassing $50 billion in visitor expenditure for the first time in history in the year ending December 2023. This record-breaking contribution from both domestic and international visitors positions NSW as a leader in Australia’s post-pandemic visitor economy rebound.

Despite the devastating impacts of COVID-19, visitor expenditure had a compound annual growth rate of 6.4% over the last ten years.

The NSW Government has ambitious plans to drive that economic growth to even greater heights. To unlock our state’s full potential, the Visitor Economy Strategy 2030 is being reviewed and evolving to showcase the best of NSW to the world by focussing on the diverse experiences on offer for visitors.

The Governments new tourism strategy seeks to improve cultural experiences for tourists while also expanding visitation to western Sydney and Regional NSW. The impending opening of Western Sydney International and Newcastle International Airports represents further potential for growth in the sector. The review of the NSW Visitor Economy Strategy 2030 presents a pivotal opportunity to shape the future of the visitor economy in NSW.

The strategy review will seek to formalise the NSW Government’s focus on experience tourism and ensure that the state’s approach to tourism, the NSW Government’s Arts, Culture and Creative Industries Policy (Creative Communities), the night-time economy agenda and the regulatory environments that underpin them, are in lockstep.

Destination NSW is inviting visitor economy stakeholders from across the state to contribute their insights and expertise.

Individuals and organisations are invited to join the conversation and share their perspectives by submitting written submissions online via Have Your Say which will be available in late April.

The NSW Visitor Economy Strategy 2030 was launched in 2021 and included a commitment to review it after three years.

Minister for Jobs and Tourism John Graham said:

“NSW has recently achieved a historic milestone, surpassing $50 billion in visitor expenditure for the first time ever. The visitor economy is going from strength to strength. With the looming opening of the Western Sydney International and Newcastle International Airports, it is a perfect time to reassess the opportunities in the sector.

“Three years on from the development of the strategy, not only does the tourism context in NSW look different, so does the policy direction of the new government.

“An experience tourism focus means thinking about not just bringing people here, but about what they do when they arrive and encouraging them to come back over and over again. Culturally-rich and vibrant communities are what keep people in NSW but they’re also what bring people here.”

Stop the budget blame game

NSW Premier Chris Minns and Treasurer Daniel Mookhey have to take responsibility for the state of the New South Wales Budget, stop blaming everyone else for their budget blowouts and rule out further cuts.
 
Leader of the Opposition Mark Speakman said that before the election Chris Minns’ promises to union bosses weren’t going to cost anything – after the election they turned out to cost billions, and Labor chose to cut cost of living supports, funding for schools, palliative care, and infrastructure to pay for their union promises.
 
“Chris Minns must now rule out any further cuts to our schools, hospitals, infrastructure or services,” Mr Speakman said.
 
“The Liberals and Nationals Government had to deal with the GST redistribution, a once in a century COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters and numerous global headwinds, but we still managed to maintain a strong Budget and the AAA credit rating.”
 
“Chris Minns keeps agreeing to Canberra’s demands – from housing targets to NDIS – without properly considering the implications, and then he refuses to pick up the phone to Canberra. He failed to do it on immigration, on infrastructure cuts and on GST.”
 
Shadow Treasurer Damien Tudehope called on the Treasurer to take responsibility for the NSW Budget and stop playing the blame game.
 
“Daniel Mookhey is addicted to the blame game. He’s blamed WestInvest, the debt servicing arising from natural disasters and COVID-19, and now the GST system for losing NSW’s AAA credit rating,” Mr Tudehope said.
 
“However, the Treasurer fails to mention the $9.5 billion blow out in unfunded public sector wage rises so far, with more to come as numerous other unions seek significant wage increases.”
 
“All the factors that led to the lower GST determination were known to the Treasurer – coal royalties, higher land prices and 2021 census data. His optimistic predictions of Budget surpluses were based on pretending not to be aware of these factors,” Mr Tudehope said.
 
“The Minns Labor Government is more focused on finding excuses than making the right Budget decisions for NSW.”