Easter 2024

Easter is a time of hope and renewal.

For Christians here and across the world, it’s a moment to reflect on the resurrection.

Celebrations and services across the country remind us of the importance of forgiveness, grace and kindness to those in need.

Qualities that are so much a part of the compassion and virtue of this, the greatest country on earth.

And as many of us take this chance to catch-up with family and friends, we think of everyone working through the long weekend. Thank you for what you do.

Finally, to everyone on the roads, please drive safely and take care.

You can view and download the Prime Minister’s Easter 2024 message here.

Appeal to locate man missing from Newcastle

Police are appealing for public assistance to locate a man missing from the Newcastle area.

Nathan Dargin, aged 25, was last seen on Beaumont Street, Hamilton, Friday evening (Friday 29 March 2024).

When he failed to return and could not be located or contacted, officers from Newcastle City Police District were notified and commenced inquiries into his whereabouts.

Police and family hold concerns for Nathan’s welfare as he lives with several conditions that require medical treatment.

Nathan is described as being of Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander appearance, about 185 – 190 cm tall, thin build, shaved brown hair and brown eyes.

He is known to frequent the Hamilton and Newcastle CBD areas.

Anyone who may have seen Nathan or has information on his whereabouts is urged to contact Newcastle Police Station or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Appeal to locate girl missing from Newcastle

Police are appealing for public assistance to locate a girl missing from the Newcastle area.

Lily Renyard, aged 12, was last seen when she was dropped off at school on Oakland Street, Glendale, about 9am on Thursday (28 March 2024).

When she could not be located later that morning, officers attached to Newcastle City Police District were notified and commenced inquiries into her whereabouts.

Police and family hold serious concerns for her welfare due to her young age.

Lily is described as being of Caucasian appearance, about 160cm tall, of a slim build, with long brown hair, blue eyes and a nose piercing.

She was last seen wearing a black ‘Caterpillar’ hooded jumper, shorts, black and white sneakers and carrying a black backpack.

Lily is known to frequent the Newcastle suburbs of Charlestown and Jesmond, Nobby’s Beach, Cardiff and Glendale areas.

Anyone with information into her whereabouts is urged to call Newcastle Police Station or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Surge in public art cement’s Newcastle’s reputation as a cultural destination

Newcastle’s reputation as an arts and cultural destination continues to grow thanks to an array of significant public art projects bringing colour to the city’s streets.

City of Newcastle’s (CN) Public Art Reference Group (PARG) considered six public art proposals relating to major private developments in Newcastle West and Adamstown during the past 12 months. An example of work approved by PARG is the Awabakal-inspired artworks on a recently constructed prominent commercial building on Hunter Street.

Councillor and PARG Chair Carol Duncan with PARG member Nikolas Orr in front of Fintan Magee’s mural in Civic Lane, Newcastle.

The projects were included in PARG’s 2023 Annual Report tabled at this week’s Council meeting, which also highlighted a range of community art proposals, CN related works and festivals partially funded by CN’s Special Business Rates program.

The proposals included murals, statues, video art, temporary artworks, chalk art, sculptures and suspended artwork.

Councillor Carol Duncan, who Chairs the group, said the last 12 months had seen major growth for both Newcastle’s public art collection and Newcastle’s reputation as a city that embraces the arts.

“Newcastle’s dynamic landscape has literally become a diverse and brightly coloured canvas for public art,” Cr Duncan said.
 “The public art panel have continued to come together to consult on all aspects of Newcastle’s public art, from advising on the commissioning of new proposals associated with large developments in the city, to supporting community murals. 

“The much-loved Paul McCartney mural by local artist Mitch Revs has been one such project that has brought colour and vibrancy to a prominent location in the city in 2023.”

PARG acts as an advisory committee to CN, providing guidance and advice to developers, artists, curators, CN staff and the community regarding public art in the private and public domain. 

The group also worked with applicants and artists to ensure proposed artworks were inclusive, culturally appropriate and added value to the city.

Its membership includes three Councillors and external community members specialising in art, design and heritage, as well as local Indigenous cultural representatives.

PARG panel member Cr Peta Winney-Baartz said the calibre of public art in Newcastle is of the highest standard.
“Newcastle boasts a proud public art scene which is not surprising when you consider that this city is home to the highest concentration of artists in Australia,” Cr Winney-Baartz said.

“Our public art consultation and approval process at City of Newcastle, reflected by the incredible art that adorns our city streets, has become the goal of many other local governments. 

“Public art does not just beautify our city scapes; its positive effect on the entire community sparks connection and proves that art does not just belong inside a gallery.”

Fellow PARG member, Cr John Mackenzie, said the panel has continued to raise the bar on public art in Newcastle.

“Our role has always been to help businesses incorporate relevant artworks that are reflective of Newcastle’s culture and heritage,” Cr Mackenzie said.

“We also provide opportunities for local artists to work and connect with appropriate projects that ultimately leads to creative visual artworks that both residents and visitors enjoy.

“The addition of local artists and creatives who joined the group in 2022 have added a wealth of expertise to our decision-making that has further enhanced our processes and outcomes for public art in Newcastle.”

Man charged over alleged fatal stabbing – Lake Macquarie

A man has appeared in court charged with murder after the death of a man at Lake Macquarie yesterday.

Just before 4.30pm yesterday (Friday 29 March 2024), emergency services were called to a home on Kankool Way, Windale, following reports of an assault.

Prior to their arrival, a 40-year-old man suffering stab wounds to his chest was driven to Belmont Hospital.

Officers attached to Lake Macquarie Police District attended and established a crime scene. Police were told the man was allegedly stabbed during a physical altercation in which a knife was produced.

As part of inquiries, police arrested a 21-year-old man on Cherry Street, Windale, just before 5pm.

He was taken to Belmont Police Station and detectives commenced an investigation under Strike Force Clent.

The injured man was transferred to John Hunter Hospital where he underwent surgery; however, police were later notified that the man had died.

The younger man was subsequently charged with murder.

He appeared at Newcastle Local Court today (30 March 2024), where he was formally refused bail to appear at the same court on Wednesday 3 April 2024.

City of Newcastle facilitates vital emergency response training

Newcastle’s Local Emergency Management Committee (LEMC) has tested the city’s preparedness for a major emergency while also familiarising themselves with City of Newcastle’s purpose-built emergency operations centre (EOC).

Conducted by NSW Police, the annual LEMC training simulation was attended by a variety of emergency service organisations including the SES, Fire and Rescue and NSW Ambulance, as well as utility providers such as Hunter Water, Telstra and Ausgrid.

Lake Macquarie Police Acting Superintendent Lisa Jones, City of Newcastle Executive Director Corporate Services David Clarke, Fire and Rescue Superintendent Garry Tye, Newcastle Police Superintendent Kylie Endemi and NSW SES Superintendent Ian Robinson attend the annual Local Emergency Management Committee training simulation at City of Newcastle's purpose-built emergency operations centreLake Macquarie Police Acting Superintendent Lisa Jones, City of Newcastle Executive Director Corporate Services David Clarke, Fire and Rescue Superintendent Garry Tye, Newcastle Police Superintendent Kylie Endemi and NSW SES Superintendent Ian Robinson attend the annual Local Emergency Management Committee training simulation at City of Newcastle’s purpose-built emergency operations centre.Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said it was vital for the city to be ready for any natural disaster or major hazard that can impact our community.

“Newcastle is no stranger to natural disasters having experienced the 1989 earthquake and the Pasha Bulker storm in 2007, so it’s important to be prepared for any emergency scenario,” Cr Nelmes said.

“We’re committed to working with emergency services to ensure an integrated and coordinated approach in order to provide the best support to our community in an emergency.”

CEO Jeremy Bath said creating the EOC was an important part of City of Newcastle’s move to the Administration Centre on Stewart Avenue in Newcastle West in 2020.

“Our emergency operations centre is the perfect place to conduct these simulations as it provides a fully equipped space for emergency services and welfare agency personnel to manage responses to natural disasters,” Mr Bath said.

“The EOC features screens with live-stream capabilities, a 32-seat room and a commercial kitchen capable of providing meals, all in a central location with access to backup power on site via diesel-powered generators.

“This ensures CN is able to deliver critical business functions if a major incident causes disruption in Newcastle.”

Police Superintendent Kylie Endemi said these types of training exercises are vital to ensuring agencies are always prepared.

“We conduct emergency operations training annually, covering a different crisis each year, from earthquakes to floods and tsunamis,” Supt Endemi said.

“In the face of overwhelming pressure, it’s important for every agency and utility provider to know what resources they have, what they might need and how they can best work within a coordinated response.”

It’s a busy time for the local SES as it prepares to move from its current base at Tighes Hill to a new home at the Steel River Industrial Estate at Mayfield West.

The new premises have been facilitated by CN under the State Emergency Service (SES) Act 1989, which requires Councils to provide accommodation for the SES in its local government area, including suitable training facilities, storage and office accommodation.

Solar SunShot for our regions and industries to deliver a future made in Australia

The Albanese Government’s $1 billion investment in the Solar SunShot program will supercharge Australia’s ambition to become a renewable energy super power at home and abroad.

The significant new commitment follows today’s introduction of legislation establishing the Net Zero Economy Authority to help catalyse investment in a clean energy future made in Australia’s regions.

Solar SunShot will help Australia capture more of the global solar manufacturing supply chain through support, including production subsidies and grants.

This will help ensure more solar panels are made in Australia, including in the Hunter Region, where the Prime Minister made the announcement at the site of the former coal-fired Liddell Power Station.

While 1 in 3 Australian households have solar panels – the highest uptake in the world – only 1% of those have been made in Australia.

In parallel with Solar Sunshot, the NSW Labor Government is delivering the NSW Net Zero Manufacturing Initiative, with the $275 million first round now open to support workers, small businesses, manufacturers and innovators to take advantage of the transformation of our energy grid.

In the second round, the NSW Labor Government will work with industry to leverage government procurement to offer offtake agreements to local manufacturers of renewable products and low carbon materials.

Initiatives like Solar SunShot and the NSW Net Zero Manufacturing Initiative, mean the regions that have long powered this country will continue to prosper in the net zero economy by deepening the industrial; base, largely located in the regions.

The $1 billion federal investment in the Solar Sunshot program builds on over $40 billion of investment committed by the Australian Government to make Australia a renewable energy superpower.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will now work with industry to design and deliver this initiative, along with the Australian Government. ARENA will look at the entire supply chain from ingots and wafers to cells, module assembly, and related components, including solar glass, inverters, advanced deployment technology and solar innovation. The consultation is expected to commence in mid-April.

This complements other processes underway such as the Hydrogen Headstart program also administered by ARENA.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese:

“Australia should not be the last link in a global supply chain built on an Australian invention.

“I want a future made in Australia. And I want a future made in our regions. Places like the Hunter that have powered our nation for more than a century will power our future.

“We have every metal and critical mineral necessary to be a central player in the net zero transformation, and a proven track record as a reliable energy producer and exporter.

“We can also invest in strategic manufacturing capability, particularly in components critical to the energy and economic transition, like solar panels.

“Historically, Australia has been good at going from the mining pit to port, and long may this continue. But the Australian Government will also invest in the path from pit to panels and capture more value for our economy and workforce.”

Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen:

“Australian research helped invent the modern solar panel – today’s announcement is about creating Australian jobs to help manufacture them.

“We know that the world’s climate emergency is Australia’s jobs opportunity, $1 billion to support Australian manufacturing in solar technology will help seize that opportunity.”

QMinister for Industry and Science, Ed Husic:

“Solar panels were our idea, we should be making them here and that’s what we’ll do. Aussie know-how is creating Aussie jobs, that’s what a future made in Australia is all about.”
NSW Minister for Climate Change and Energy Penny Sharpe:

“This will see NSW households putting NSW made solar panels on their roofs to deliver long term energy bill savings and a strong domestic renewable manufacturing sector.

“It’s great to be able to align NSW and Commonwealth funding to support clean energy manufacturing, with this fund bolstering our $275 million investment in Net Zero Manufacturing that’s currently open for NSW innovators and businesses.”

NSW Minister for Domestic Manufacturing and Government Procurement Courtney Houssos:

“We will leverage our government procurement spend to build in offtake agreements with local solar manufacturers and foster the industry’s growth.

“For every job created in manufacturing there are a further three-and-a-half jobs sustained in the supply chain.

“The NSW Labor Government is committed to rebuilding the domestic manufacturing sector and bringing jobs back to NSW.”

Rashelle Seiden SC appointed to the District Court of NSW

Sydney barrister Rashelle Seiden SC has been appointed a judge of the District Court of NSW, as well as a Deputy President and head of the Administrative and Equal Opportunity Division and the Occupational Division of the Civil and Administrative Tribunal of NSW (NCAT).

Ms Seiden brings almost 30 years of legal expertise to the bench, with her experience ranging from constitutional and administrative law, trusts, corporate and commercial law, insolvency and revenue, including tax crime.

Regarded as an astute strategist, Ms Seiden has represented government, private and corporate clients in her distinguished career.

Most recently practising at New Chambers, Ms Seiden will be sworn in as a judge of the District Court of NSW on 15 April.

Ms Seiden was first called to the Queensland Bar in 1996 before being admitted to the NSW Bar in 2000.

Appointed a Senior Counsel for the State of NSW in 2013, Ms Seiden has practised at Ground Floor Wentworth Chambers and, most recently, New Chambers.

She has also been a Principal Member (sessional) of the NCAT.

In addition, Ms Seiden has regularly accepted pro bono matters, provided mentorship to other barristers and has served on a number of committees.

NSW Attorney General Michael Daley said:

“I warmly congratulate Ms Seiden on her appointments to the District Court of NSW and the Civil and Administrative Tribunal of NSW (NCAT).

“Ms Seiden is highly regarded in legal circles for her incisive approach to thorny legal matters and ability to bring clarity to complex cases.

“Her skills and expertise will be welcomed by the District Court of NSW and NCAT.”

NSW Fair Trading checking fuel price displays ahead of Easter

NSW Fair Trading Inspectors are out in force in the lead up to the Easter long weekend to ensure service stations are displaying correct fuel prices on site and in the NSW Government’s FuelCheck app.

More than 2 million people have downloaded the FuelCheck app, which provides consumers with real-time prices for petrol at service stations across NSW and the Australian Capital Territory.

Under law, service stations in NSW must publicly publish fuel prices to NSW FuelCheck, display price information on signs visible to passing motorists and disclose fuel octane content ratings.

Inspectors have been checking to confirm the fuel and price shown on service station signs matches what is in the FuelCheck app in the lead up to Easter to ensure consumers can rely on the data to make informed decisions about where to fill up ahead of the break.

In 2023, NSW Fair Trading found 44 service stations non-compliant with the laws, which was a pleasing number given there were 2380 service stations across the state registered with NSW Fair Trading and appearing on the FuelCheck app at the time.

Service stations found to not be obeying the rules can be issued with a $1100 Penalty Infringement Notice.

The app includes a Favourite Stations function, allowing users to save their favourite petrol stations.

There is also a Trends page, showing the cheapest day of the week to fill up and the day’s price range for Unleaded 91 (U91), Ethanol 10 (E10), Premium 95 (P95) and Premium 98 (P98), as well as Diesel and Premium Diesel.

Find more information on FuelCheck and to download the app.

Minister for Better Regulation and Fair Trading Anoulack Chanthivong said:

“With the current cost of living challenges, FuelCheck provides consumers with the most comprehensive and reliable information on where the cheapest fuel is in their area.

“There can often be a price difference of more than 30 cents per litre between service stations located just a few kilometres apart, so motorists stand to bank big savings by using the FuelCheck app.

“For those planning driving holidays during the four-day weekend, now is the perfect time to download FuelCheck.

“While most service stations are doing the right thing, if motorists notice the price at the pump does not match what is shown in the app or if there is no sign at the service station, they are encouraged to make a complaint directly to NSW Fair Trading.”

Grants to help seniors stay water safe and connected

A NSW government funded program with Royal Life Saving NSW is helping seniors in the Hunter region learn to stay safe and build confidence in the water, while socialising with others in the pool.

It is one of 21 organisations across NSW to receive funding under the $600,000 Connecting Seniors grants program which aims to help older people stay connected.

The Royal Life Saving Active Adults program has been running in Lake Macquarie during the Seniors Festival and new programs have been released for Maitland, Central Coast and Bateman’s Bay. The sessions comprise three, one-hour sessions covering CPR and a review of health factors to consider when exercising, an in-pool water-safety session and a swimming or water activity.

The Connecting Seniors grant program builds on previous grants, which have been proven to reduce social isolation for thousands of seniors in NSW.

The recipients include 16 not-for-profit organisations and five local councils organising a variety of activities to cater to all interests. More than half of the projects will support seniors living in regional NSW and about one-third will assist Aboriginal people over 50 and seniors with disability.

The grants deliver on the Ageing Well in NSW: Seniors Strategy 2021-2031, with the Government committed to creating a more inclusive community and addressing isolation and loneliness.

More information about the grants program and the full list of recipients.

Find out more about the Royal Life Saving program.

Minister for Seniors Jodie Harrison said:

“The Connecting Seniors Grants support activities which can provide a social lifeline for seniors, especially those who live alone.

“The NSW Government is pleased to be partnering with Royal Life Saving NSW in this program, which not only provides seniors with a refresher in water safety to help them stay active, it also contributes to their wellbeing as they connect with others in and out of the pool.

“As our population ages, we want to make sure we provide our seniors with opportunities to socialise while enjoying engaging experiences.”

Minister for the Hunter and Member for Swansea Yasmin Catley said:

“This is a great opportunity for Hunter seniors to get out and try something new.

“Getting in the water is a part of the lifestyle here as anyone from the Hunter knows. That should be for everyone.

“This grant supports an important program run by Royal Life Saving NSW, making sure we support our seniors to enjoy the water with their families.”

Royal Life Saving NSW Manager for the Hunter Tanya Brunckhorst said:

“Building your fitness and confidence around the water as you age is as important as it was when you first learned to swim as a child, and we are calling all older adults to seek out new ways to get active.

“Last year, the leading contributing factors in drownings among Australians over 65 included low levels of fitness, trips or falls, lack of swimming and survival skills and underlying health conditions.  The 65 to 74 year age group is one of our most vulnerable populations, representing 30 per cent of those who drowned last year.

“Any regular, structured activity helps build fitness, improves your ability to manage in the water and offers fantastic social community benefits.”