Two-vehicle crash near Newcastle

Emergency services remain at the scene of a two-vehicle crash near Newcastle.

Just after 9.30am this morning (Wednesday 31 October 2018), emergency services were called to the intersection of Church Street and Maitland Road at Mayfield, following reports a motorcycle and a car had collided.

The rider, a man aged in his 50s, was treated at the scene before being taken to John Hunter Hospital with serious head injuries.

The male driver of the car was uninjured and is currently assisting police.

Officers from Newcastle City Police District, with assistance from the Crash Investigation Unit, have established a crime scene and are investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Church Street and Maitland Road are closed, and a number of traffic diversions are in place. Motorists are urged to avoid the area and check www.livetraffic.com for the latest information.

As inquires continue, anyone with information or dashcam footage from the area, is urged to come forward.

CONSUMERS AND SMALL BUSINESSES WIN BIG WITH BETTER BUSINESS REFORMS

Consumers and small business owners around the State will save more than half a billion dollars over 10 years thanks to the NSW Coalition’s sweeping Better Business Reforms.

The package of reforms, which passed Parliament this week, includes significant red tape reductions for small businesses and better transparency measures for consumers.

Minister for Better Regulation Matt Kean said it’s the biggest shakeup of NSW consumer law in more than three decades.

“We’ll be saving consumers at least $150 million over 10 years by giving them greater transparency to help them make more informed decisions. This will save our NSW families precious time and hard-earned money.

“The NSW Coalition is determined to help small business owners compete for a stronger, better future. This suite of common sense red tape reductions will save small business owners at least $495 million over 10 years.”

The key reforms to help small businesses thrive include:

  • Extending the durations of more than 70 licenses, which will save more than 410,000 licence holders $216 million over 10 years;
  • Introducing specialised licenses for motor vehicle dealers and repairers, saving them $175 million over 10 years and helping regional businesses keep their doors open; and
  • Making 13 types of home building licenses ongoing, meaning tradies will only have to notify Fair Trading every 5 years to confirm they want to maintain their licence.

The key reforms to empower consumers include:

  • Making businesses clearly tell consumers up front about the potential effects of terms and conditions which could prejudice their interests;
  • Giving consumers the right to report dodgy or dangerous products to Fair Trading, despite non-disclosure agreements; and
  • Making brokers and product comparison businesses come clean on the kickbacks and commissions they receive.

In May, Mr Kean asked more than 100 business groups, academics, think tanks and members of Parliament for ideas to remove red tape and make it easier to start and stay in business.

The Better Business Reforms for small business and consumers are the culmination of this consultation process.

PATIENTS MOVE TO NORTHERN BEACHES HOSPITAL

Almost 150 patients will move to the new Northern Beaches Hospital from Manly and Mona Vale hospitals in a carefully executed convoy over the next two days.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard greeted patients as they arrived and congratulated the 100-strong team of staff and volunteers for a smooth, safe transfer.

“This is a momentous occasion for the people of the Northern Beaches who now have a world-class public hospital right on their doorstep under the $600 million Northern Beaches Health Services redevelopment,” Mr Hazzard said.

“When they were in Government, Labor promised redevelopments at Tamworth, Dubbo, Parkes, Forbes, Bega, Wagga Wagga and the Northern Beaches.

“Not one of those hospitals was redeveloped under Labor. Not one. So I am extremely proud that the NSW Liberals & Nationals have yet again, delivered what we promised.”

Mr Hazzard said about 74 patients will transfer from Manly Hospital to the new ninestorey facility today, and another 74 will be transferred from Mona Vale Hospital tomorrow.

The first transfers began at 9.30am with patients from mental health, surgical and intensive care, as well as new mums and babies, moved at four-minute intervals by ambulance or patient transport vehicle, depending on their clinical condition.

The patients will be transferred in a series of carefully timed ambulance departures to ensure patient safety and continuity of care.

“Since January, nurses and other staff have been practicing the transfer of patients, with safety and comfort the number one priority,” Mr Hazzard said.

“I want to thank all those involved from Healthscope, the Northern Sydney Local Health District, NSW Ambulance, HealthShare NSW Patient Transport Service, Transport for NSW and Police. It has been a wonderful team effort.”   The 488-bed hospital will be officially opened next month.

NSW LAUNCHES FIRST POPULATION REVIEW

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has appointed an expert panel to develop a population policy for NSW.

“It is increasingly frustrating that as the largest and most successful State in Australia, NSW doesn’t have a seat at the table at a national level when it comes to policies impacting population,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“As a daughter of proud migrants, I have and always will advocate for a NSW that is open and welcoming to new migrants.

“But it is becoming increasingly clear that the current high rates of population growth are putting even more pressure on our infrastructure. NSW’s economic success is attracting a far greater share of total immigrant numbers than it has in the past.

“Since the Liberals & Nationals came to office, NSW has been catching up on the backlog. It is now time for us to take stock and get ahead.”

The Premier renewed her call for net overseas migration levels to return to more sustainable Howard-era rates when NSW net overseas migration was steady at around 45,000 a year, until a proper population policy is put in place.

Since then, the average net overseas migration to NSW has increased to around 73,000 and over the last two years it has ballooned to almost 100,000.

“We are in the midst of an unprecedented infrastructure boom in NSW with more than $87 billion being invested in new roads, transport, schools and hospitals over the next four years alone,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“But it is clear that despite that record infrastructure pipeline, Sydney and NSW are still playing catch up. This review will allow NSW to take a strategic approach to planning around population.”

The members of the expert panel, which will provide advice to the Premier within two months, are:

  • Jim Betts, CEO, Infrastructure NSW;
  • Peter Shergold, Chancellor, University of Western Sydney, former Secretary, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, NSW Refugee Resettlement Co-Ordinator; and
  • Carolyn McNally, Secretary, Department of Planning and Environment.

The Panel will consider:

  • The current rate of population growth and infrastructure pipeline;
  • How long is needed for infrastructure to catch up with population growth rates;
  • NSW’s role at upcoming discussions with the Commonwealth regarding population; and will
  • Recommend next steps for more detailed work on the issue of population.

Ms Berejiklian wrote to former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull earlier this year seeking his support for a special COAG dedicated to the issue of population growth and planning.

The Premier then wrote to Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier this month to welcome the Federal Government’s announcement that it would work with the States regarding the issue of population and renewed her request for a COAG meeting in 2019 on the issue.

While the extinction crisis deepens our Environment Minister is in hiding

Australia’s Environment Minister has let the public down yet again with her silence on the WWF’s damning report into human-driven mass extinction, the Greens say.

“Today’s WWF report is harrowing. But, as usual, we have not heard a peep from our Environment Minister Melissa Price on how the Liberal Government is going to act,” Greens environment spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

“Australia has a terrible track record when it comes to extinction. We need to stand up, take responsibility, and ensure that we slow this trend down before it is too late.

“Between the WWF report today and the latest IPCC report, we can no longer look away from the impact we are having on our planet.

“Our Environment Minister’s silence in the face of this report is deafening. Yet again, she is missing in action on a vitally important issue that needs to be taken seriously and acted on urgently.

“We need an eco-system wide approach to protecting natural habitats and saving our native flora and fauna. We created this extinction crisis, we need to ensure it doesn’t get worse.”

Greens slam Liberals for continuous attacks on research and academic freedom

Greens science and research spokesperson Adam Bandt MP today slammed the Liberals for their continued attacks on research and academic freedom. Mr Bandt said actions of Minister Birmingham and his successor, Minister Tehan, show the contempt with which the government holds the science and research community.

“The Liberals anti-science and anti-research agenda started with Tony Abbott and has continued long after his departure,” said Mr Bandt.

“Simon Birmingham’s decision to veto 11 research projects that were recommended by experts for funding is a disgraceful attack on academic freedom and independence.

“This veto is another example of power being wielded in secrecy. This latest politicisation of research represents yet another capitulation to the hard-right backbench.

“This government is putting Australia’s international reputation at risk.

“I will be writing to Minister Tehan to call on him to reverse the decision and commit to fully-funding the previously rejected grants and to provide a full explanation for what occurred in November last year.

“The new so called ‘national interest test’ announced today is another example of policy on the run and another attack on academic freedom. I understand there is already a requirement for each grant application to show the ‘national benefit’.

“The Greens will be investigating any legislative or regulatory options available to ensure that the Minister is compelled to publicly disclose the reasons why any grants recommended by the ARC are rejected and to safeguard academic freedom and independence of research funding decisions in Australia.”

Being fired or expelled for being LGBT+ is discrimination, not religious freedom: Greens

The joint letter from Sydney Anglican school principals shows they want to continue to be able to discriminate against LGBT+ people just because of who they are, say the Greens.

‘If what the Sydney Anglicans are saying is that merely being out as LGBT+ is enough to ‘undermine or denigrate the beliefs and teachings of an employing school’, then that’s homophobia and transphobia, not religious freedom,’ said Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens LGBTIQ+ spokesperson.

‘The simple fact is no student should be expelled and no teacher or other staff member should be fired just because of who they are. Jesus taught love for all people, not that love is conditional.’

‘The Greens support freedom of religion to be included in a Charter of Rights, and I call upon the Anglican Diocese of Sydney to support us in achieving that. But freedom of religion is not a licence to discriminate against LGBTIQ+ people.’

No more chances on Live Export: Moss Review shows it is time for a ban.

Australian Greens Animal Welfare Spokesperson, Senator Mehreen Faruqi, has reiterated her call for a ban on live exports, following the release of the Moss Review which shows that the Department and the Government have failed animals. Senator Faruqi has called for a complete ban on live exports, saying the industry is well beyond saving.

Senator Faruqi said: “While I welcome Mr Moss’s review and proposed changes, it clearly shows the reality that a culture of tolerating animal cruelty is completely entrenched. The shortcomings of the system encompass legislation, regulation, capability and culture. The whole industry and its regulation are based on money, not animal welfare. The writing is on the wall for this cruel trade and now is the time to begin the transition away from it.

“If you need evidence of the contempt this Government has for reform, the Agriculture Minister was handed this damning report in late September and he promptly went ahead and allowed live exporters to increase stocking density and granted an export licence to a company closely affiliated with disgraced live export company Emanuel Exports. The department has even allowed some live export ships to sail without independent observers.

“The Greens remain resolute and stand with the community in demanding a shutdown of this cruel trade. No amount of reviews or tinkering around the edges can get around the fact that this is a trade in misery and is incompatible with animal welfare. The live export industry is well beyond redemption.

“I for one am so sick and tired of second and third and fourth chances being given to the live export industry. They have proved they are incapable of reform and we know as soon as the spotlight is off live exports, we will see any changes weakened.

“My bill to ban the worst aspects of the live exports trade passed the Senate and is stuck in limbo in the House of Representatives. I call on members of the crossbench and those in the Government who care about animals to take action now and bring on the bill for debate and a vote. We could take a huge leap forward to animal welfare if Prime Minister Scott Morrison allowed the bill to be debated.”

Research ‘National Interest’ Test a Smokescreen for Political Interference

Australian Greens Education Spokesperson, Senator Mehreen Faruqi, has rebuked Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan’s proposed national interest test as a smokescreen for political interference.

Senator Faruqi said:

“When the Liberals and Nationals say national interest, we know what they really mean. They have such a narrow understanding of the importance of research in all fields, who knows what will be on the chopping block. Perhaps the Minister would like to cut off research relating to trade unions, climate change or asylum seekers?

“A national interest test is a smoke screen for allowing the government of the day to insert their political priorities into the independent research approval process.

“This is a desperate beat up on research and academics to try and revive the Government’s vote which is in freefall.

“If the Minister wanted to act for the national interest he would allow academics to continue the centuries-old tried and tested process of peer review,” she concluded.

Australian Greens Education Spokesperson to speak at anti-Ramsay Centre rally at Sydney University today

Australian Greens Education Spokesperson, Senator Mehreen Faruqi, will today speak at ‘Stop the Ramsay Centre! Protest at the USYD Senate’ and will call on Sydney University to drop plans to engage with the Ramsay Centre. Senator Faruqi is a former academic of the University of New South Wales.

When: Today (31/10), 12:30PM

Where: Sydney University (F23 Administration Building, Eastern Ave).

Senator Faruqi said:  “As a former academic, I can unequivocally say that allowing any organisation to control curriculum, let alone one as shady as this centre, is a huge mistake. Sydney University should not even be having this conversation.

“There are multiple schools in Sydney University already studying Western Civilisation already, so what do they really want? They want control. And they want to churn out students with an unquestioning view of what they believe Western Civilisation is. That is their agenda.

“They are seeking a nationalistic and uncritical view of Western civilisation with all the imperialism and colonialism airbrushed out. This is deeply offensive. We must push back hard against this idea cultural supremacy.

“We must stand up strongly and proudly for academic freedom and critical thinking. We will not hijacked by a narrow ideological agenda.”