Restrictions to ease in LGAs of concern

Restrictions in local government areas of concern will start to align with other lockdown areas, as vaccination rates continue to rise in Sydney’s West and South-West.

From 12.01am Monday, 20 September, the following restrictions will ease for those who live in LGAs of concern:

  • No limit on the duration of outdoor exercise and recreation (previously a two-hour limit);
  • Outdoor gatherings of up to five fully vaccinated people (not including children aged 12 and under) will be allowed in a person’s LGA or within 5km of home (previously only fully vaccinated household members could gather outdoors, or up to two fully vaccinated people from different households);
  • Shopping, exercise and outdoor recreation can be done 5km from home or within your LGA (previously only 5km from home);
  • Attend a small wedding (maximum 11 people) in Greater Sydney as a guest (previously only allowed in their LGA); and
  • A person’s single’s bubble buddy can live in Greater Sydney (previously must have resided within 5km of a person’s home). A person from a LGA of concern can also now be a buddy for someone in Greater Sydney.

Nearly all restrictions in the LGAs of concern are now aligned with other lockdown areas, with the main differences being authorised worker conditions and travel permit requirements which remain in place in the LGAs of concern.

From 12.01am Monday, 27 September outdoor pools across NSW will be able to open, provided councils have a stringent COVID safety plan approved by NSW Health. Natural pools are already permitted to be open.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian thanked those in Sydney’s west and south west who have come forward and received their COVID-19 vaccine.

“We are so grateful to everyone who has come forward to get a jab, helping bring first dose vaccination rates in some LGAs up to 90 per cent,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“There’s still more work to do to push those vaccination rates higher and everyone must continue to follow the lockdown rules until we reach that 70 per cent double dose target when further restrictions can be eased for those who are fully vaccinated.”

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said that after all the hard work getting vaccinated and complying with lockdown requirements, it’s fantastic that some restrictions can now be relaxed.

“The NSW Government is determined to ensure everyone can benefit from increasing vaccination rates. Outdoor pools are part of Australian life, and enjoying a Summer splash no matter where you live is a big plus for families.”

If you have not booked in for a COVID-19 vaccine please book in as soon as possible, to protect not only yourself but also your family and friends.

For the latest information or to book a vaccination appointment visit nsw.gov.au/covid-19

World’s largest shark management program deployed to NSW beaches

The world’s largest suite of shark management tools and technologies will be deployed to NSW beaches after funding was nearly tripled to $21.4 million to expand the NSW Government’s Shark Management Program.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said this increased funding would support the expansion of the effective, evidence-based shark management program already in place, with a host of successfully trialled technologies to be rolled out along the NSW coastline.

“The NSW Government has done the research and invested in new technologies to bring added protection to our beaches including SMART drumlines, VR4G listening stations and shark-spotting drones,” Mr Barilaro said.

“Over the coming weeks we will continue to work with coastal councils from Tweed to Bega Valley and everywhere in between to deliver the world’s largest shark management program to increase beachgoer safety.

“There is no other jurisdiction in Australia or across the globe which has done as much testing and trialling of technology and approaches to mitigate shark interactions.”

Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall said the NSW Government is committed to doing everything possible to keep swimmers and surfers safe while minimising the impact on marine life by using non-invasive technologies where possible.

“We have always said there is no silver bullet when it comes to protecting beachgoers from sharks in NSW,” Mr Marshall said.

“But the NSW Government will now be operating the world’s largest shark management program aiming to get the balance right, between keeping swimmers and surfers safe, and protecting our marine life.

“In partnership with Surf Life Saving NSW, we will deploying the world’s largest domestic fleet of drones to the state’s beaches thanks to an extra $3 million to scale up operations. This will mean more than 50 beaches will have a shark-spotting eye in the sky.

“This summer season, we will be deploying over 100 SMART drumlines in nearly every coastal council area starting with Kingscliff, Tuncurry and Coffs Harbour next month.

“We will also continue the deployment of shark nets as part of the Shark Meshing Program in the Greater Sydney Region while we measure the success of the expanded technology-led solutions.

“Finally, we will be blanketing our coast with 37 VR4G shark listening stations to make sure that when a tagged shark comes close to the coast, everyone using our SharkSmart app will know about it instantaneously, including SLS NSW and council lifeguards.”

The NSW Government encourages all beachgoers to be SharkSmart when entering the ocean or estuarine environments and download the SharkSmart app.

For more information on technologies used, visit www.sharksmart.nsw.gov.au.

In the coming weeks, the NSW Department of Primary Industries will be working with each council to determine the optimal location for SMART drumline and VR4G listening station deployments in their local area.

The 2021-2022 Shark Management Program includes:

Technology Current New Change
Drone surveillance 34 beaches 50 beaches +16
VR4G listening stations 21 stations 37 stations +16
SMART drumlines (SDLs) 35 SDLs 170 SDLs +135
Beach meshing 51 beaches No change
Shark tagging 926 996 +70*

*White, Tiger and Bull sharks, subject to environmental conditions.

Protecting children through innovation

At-risk children are being prevented from slipping through the cracks when their families move interstate with a new database helping child protection authorities access critical information from interstate agencies.

Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Alister Henskens said NSW child protection workers used the landmark digital platform, Connect for Safety, more than 800 times in the last month alone.

“The simple act of sharing information across borders could be the difference between preventing child abuse or neglect, and having it go undetected,” Mr Henskens said.

“This world-leading platform has been developed in NSW and is creating a stronger safety net for at-risk kids, by enabling the exchange of data quickly, easily and securely between state and territory child protection agencies.”

Prior to the pandemic, on average about 330,000 Australians moved interstate each year. Vulnerable children are often at heightened risk of harm if their background in a previous jurisdiction is unknown, or not easily accessible to child protection authorities.

All state and territory jurisdictions, except Tasmania, are currently sharing information on Connect for Safety, with Tasmania to come onboard later this year.

Under the roll out, every statutory child protection officer in Australia will have access to Connect for Safety by July 2022.

Federal Minster for Social Services Anne Ruston said the ground-breaking project is about preventing children falling through the cracks.

“This national approach will make it easier for child protection caseworkers to get clarity around a child’s life story and provide an effective response,” Ms Ruston said.

“Our aim is to improve outcomes for children no matter where they live, with inter-jurisdictional information exchange a vital part of keeping kids safe.”

Connect for Safety aligns with the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020 and goes towards addressing recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Sydney’s west to boom with $139 million in new infrastructure

A share of $139 million is up for grabs for eight Western Sydney councils as applications have opened for round two of the Accelerated Infrastructure Funding (AIF).

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes said round two includes high-growth greenfield precincts in Blacktown, The Hills, Hawkesbury, Penrith, Liverpool, Camden, Campbelltown and Wollondilly local government areas (LGAs).

“We launched this funding to support our economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and in the first round more than $145 million was invested to deliver 14 projects,” Mr Stokes said.

“All of these projects are now underway and will support the development of up to 40,000 new homes, 115 hectares of employment land and create up to 1,000 new construction jobs.

“Delivering important infrastructure such as roads, stormwater drains and public space is key to our economic recovery and the second round of the AIF brings the NSW Government’s support to more than $210 million.”

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said the AIF would also create thousands of jobs in the construction phase, helping to meet the future needs of Western Sydney.

“Western Sydney is ripe for growth and this funding will provide the necessary infrastructure to support an expected 20,000 plus new greenfield homes across these LGAs over the next five years,” Mr Ayres said.

“This is a great example of state and local government working together to accelerate projects that stimulate the economy and create jobs as we start to emerge from the pandemic.”

Councils will be allocated funding according to anticipated growth in each LGA, the amount of development the funding will support and the amount of co-funding that councils can provide. All projects must commence construction within two years to qualify for funding.

Project nominations are now open and councils will need to apply by 31 October 2021 to be considered.

For more information visit: www.https://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/accelerated-infrastructure-fund.

Man dies after motorbike crash – Raymond Terrace

A man has died following a single vehicle motorbike crash in the Hunter Region this afternoon.

About 2.45pm today (Saturday 18 September 2021), emergency services attended the intersection of Bailey Avenue and Sailors Way, Raymond Terrace regarding a crash involving an unregistered motorbike.

Police have been informed that the motorcycle collided with the curb where the 36-year-old male rider and a 6-year-old female passenger were ejected the from the motorcycle.

The male died at the scene and the girl was treated by NSW Ambulance paramedics for minor injuries. The man was not wearing a helmet.

Officers from Port Stephens-Hunter Police District established a crime scene and commenced an investigation.

A report will be prepared for the information of the coroner.

Who Corrects Corrective Services?

Staff at the Alexander Maconochie Correctional Centre have breached the Australian Capital Territory Human Rights Act, after forcibly strip searching a First Nations woman and sexual assault survivor. The woman has multiple lung and heart problems, the latter requires a pacemaker.

A review found that there was no legal basis for the ACT’s mandatory search policies.

DjabWurrung, Gunnai and Gunditjmara Senator for Victoria Lidia Thorpe, the Greens spokesperson for Justice and First Nations said:

“This is outrageous! The Inspector of Correctional Services’ report stated that corrections staff were not required to consider human rights when conducting a forced strip search. Is this how we treat Black women?

“Our nation signed on to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) which requires a culturally safe, properly resourced, effective and independent oversight mechanism of places of detention.

“It’s critical that the Commonwealth Government shows leadership and provides the necessary resources to implement OPCAT. This is far too important to be patchy and inconsistent across state lines. We need federal leadership to ensure the dignity of everyone in this country is respected.

“First Nations people should be able to feel safe around people working for the government, instead of worrying if they’ll be another statistic in this country’s violent past. Everyone, no matter where they are, has the right to be treated fairly and free from torture.

“We’re talking about a woman who had just been denied release to go to her grandmother’s funeral and threatened to self harm. Before she could enter the Crisis Support Unit, policy required a mandatory strip search. How can they justify forcing a strip search on someone experiencing a mental health crisis?

“Up to 12 staff held her down. Footage shows the woman yelling that she couldn’t breathe, while staff said that this was ‘for her own safety.’ This is a gross miscarriage of justice. She could have died.

“This is a matter of life and death and we can’t rely on Corrective Services to correct themselves. First Nations people are dying in police custody and being traumatised by prison policies that ignore our human rights.

“The Greens are committing to keeping this Government accountable in relation to OPCAT – so that our people are culturally safe, consulted and empowered, every step of the way. Without independent monitoring of places of detention, more of our people will die in custody.”

Polling puts animal welfare on the agenda for federal election

Opinion polling of 1,052 Australians commissioned by the Greens and conducted by Lonergan Research has found Australians are overwhelmingly concerned about animal welfare and supportive of key animal welfare policies ahead of the next federal election. Crucially, strong animal welfare policies can impact voting intention.

Quick statistics:

  • 4 in 5 of respondents (80%) are concerned about animal welfare, with 42% being at least ‘very concerned’.
  • 46% of voters are more likely to vote for a candidate with strong animal welfare policies.
  • 59% of respondents support a ban on live animal export.
  • 54% of respondents support a ban on greyhound racing.
  • 55% of respondents agree that racing animals like horses and greyhounds for gambling and entertainment is cruel.
  • 68% of respondents agree we need stronger animal welfare standards for farm animals.

Key findings and background:

The nationally representative poll found that 80% of Australians are concerned about animal welfare, with 42% being ‘very concerned’ or ‘extremely concerned’. 46% of voters are more likely to vote for a candidate with strong animal welfare policies.

Support for a ban on live animal export remains strong, with 59% of respondents supporting a ban, including a majority of Greens, Labor, and Liberal/National voters. In the most recent comparable survey, conducted in 2019 through ABC Vote Compass, support for a ban stood at 58%.

For the first time, national support has been tested for a ban on greyhound racing. A clear majority (54%) of Australians agree that greyhound racing should be banned, with 28% strongly agreeing and 43% more likely to vote for a candidate who wants to ban greyhound racing.

Further, a clear majority (55%) agree with the statement that “racing animals like horses and greyhounds for gambling and entertainment is cruel”, and 51% are more likely to vote for a candidate who advocates for stronger animal welfare standards for racehorses.

More than two-thirds (68%) of Australians agree we need stronger animal welfare standards for farm animals, with a majority (53%) more likely to vote for a candidate who advocates for this.

Senator Mehreen Faruqi, Greens spokesperson for Animal Welfare said:

“So many Australians are passionate about animal welfare, and want to see the government do more to improve it.

“Both Labor and the Coalition are lagging behind the majority of voters, who want to see live export banned, greyhound racing shut down, and much stronger animal welfare standards for farm animals. Instead, the major parties continue to prop up and actively support cruel industries.

“There’s this assumption that voters don’t usually consider animal welfare when they vote. Well, they do, and they want to elect candidates who care for animals and will act to protect them.

“The turbulence of the pandemic has not diminished Australians’ love for animals. In fact, it possibly has strengthened it, with so many companion animals across the country keeping people company during very difficult and lonely times.

“The time of exploiting animals for profit is coming to an end. More and more people want to see an end to animal cruelty and for animals to be treated with compassion and care.

“I’ve always known that our communities care deeply about animals. Now, we have even more evidence.”

Methodology Statement:

The research was commissioned by The Office of Senator Mehreen Faruqi (Australian Greens) and conducted by Lonergan Research in accordance with the ISO 20252 standard, and in compliance with the Australian Polling Council Quality Mark standards (www.australianpollingcouncil.com). Lonergan Research surveyed 1,052 Australians 18+ between June 25 and June 29. After interviewing, data was weighted to the latest population estimates sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and from the AEC. Our long methodology statement and questionnaire can be found at http://projects.lonergan.team/2427-2/

Wrong way, go back on nuclear subs

The Greens have slammed the Morrison Government for upping its assault on lutruwita/Tasmania’s oceans and waterways.

Greens Senator for lutruwita/Tasmania, and Greens spokesperson for Healthy Oceans, Peter Whish-Wilson said:

“Make no mistake today’s announcement is the unofficial start of Scott Morrison’s election campaign.

“This is clearly sabre-rattling, preparing Australia for a khaki election and designed to be a distraction from the fact this Government is plagued with scandal and corruption.

“Short on detail but deeply concerning in its intent; building nuclear submarines in a new alliance with the US is a major provocation that ups the ante in a regional arms race and makes all Australians less safe. This in particularly risks the health of our oceans and coastal communities.

“lutruwita/Tasmania’s oceans have been under constant attack from this Government.

“The last thing we want is dangerous nuclear reactors lurking off our coastlines.

“This is the contempt the Liberals hold for Tasmanian communities: they want to blast our oceans with seismic testing, expand oil and gas drilling in Bass Strait, pollute our waterways with fish farm expansion, and now they want to expose our oceans to floating nuclear reactors.

“The potential for accidents is significant, as has been shown recently with hundreds of safety issues reported in Scotland, and the European Union found that further research was needed on the impact of radiation on oceanic ecosystems resulting from nuclear submarines.

“A nuclear submarine accident off any coastline could spell disaster for the thousands of Tasmanians and Australians whose livelihoods depend on our fisheries and healthy oceans.

“The Greens are a party of peace and non-violence and have a long history of opposing nuclear submarines and nuclear energy projects. We simply won’t let this stand.”

Incredulous, infuriating: the Tasmanian devil recovery plan set to be axed by Morrison Government

The Greens have condemned the Morrison Government for proposing changes to conservation planning decisions that would see the Tasmanian devil recovery plan scrapped.

Greens Senator for lutruwita/Tasmania Peter Whish-Wilson said:

“Tasmanian devils are endangered and their recovery from the infectious cancer that decimated their population is far from over.

“Australia’s in an extinction crisis and recovery plans are one of the key instruments that we have to help threatened species recover.

“The proposal to scrap the Tasmanian devil’s recovery plan is frighteningly short-sighted, but what we have come to expect from this government.

“This is a case in point example of the federal government’s attempts to offload their environmental responsibilities to the states.

“Abandoning the Tasmanian devil now, after so much time and money and love has been poured into keeping the treasured species alive and healthy, is a cruel death sentence.

“Aside from the facial tumour disease the Tasmanian devil still faces significant threats from land clearing, mining, forestry and from becoming roadkill.

“Federal funding has been critical to the Tasmanian devil’s survival, but this ended in 2017. I recently wrote to Environment Minister Sussan Ley urging her to provide more federal assistance to help the devil recover – but this has clearly been disregarded.

“The public now has a limited time to oppose this reckless proposal, and I urge them to jump through the unnecessary hoops the Government has put in place to have their voice heard.

“The Greens will continue to fight for stronger federal environmental laws including a zero-extinction target, stronger environmental protections and an independent watchdog to hold governments, miners and developers to account.”

Environment Minister puts up white flag on saving our wildlife and native plants

Greens Environment Spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young responded to the Minister for Environment’s proposal, released for public comment today, to not have recovery plans for 28 ecological communities and 157 threatened species:

“By seeking to rewrite the government’s obligations, the Minister is putting up the white flag on saving our wildlife and native plants.

“Downgrading the level of obligation the on the Minister is downgrading the protection of our native animals and species.

“Let’s call a spade, a spade, this is all about letting the Minister off the hook – the Morrison Government has dropped the ball on protecting our environment and wildlife and now they want to change the rules and responsibilities.

“Pressure is building on Australia to sign up to global targets to stop extinction. This move takes Australia in the opposite direction. We need more effort and stronger laws for species protection, not less.”

Senator Hanson-Young questioned the Minister, Department, Threatened Species Commissioner and Threatened Species Scientific Committee about this proposal in Senate Estimates in May. At that time, she was advised 167 recovery plans were outstanding and that 150 species would instead just be required to have Conservation Advices which each of them already have. See here from page 54.