Serious concerns held for woman missing in Lake Macquarie

A large search is underway for a woman missing in the Lake Macquarie region as serious concerns are held for her welfare.

Ashly Bates, aged 37, was last seen on Wednesday (13 February 2019) at a home in Whitebridge.

Police were alerted when she failed to contact her family. Her mobile phone was then located by a member of the public near Dudley Bluff.

Police from Lake Macquarie Police District are conducting a large search of the area for Ashly, with assistance from PolAir and the Dog Unit.

Ashly is described as being of Caucasian appearance, approximately 168cm tall, with dark shoulder-length hair, fair complexion and tattoos on the inside of her wrists.

She was last seen wearing a black long-sleeved shirt and pyjama pants.

Anyone who sees her or believes they know her whereabouts is urged to contact police immediately.

Man wanted on outstanding warrant – Hunter region

Police are appealing for public assistance to locate a man wanted on an outstanding arrest warrant in the state’s Hunter region.

Dwayne Perry, 32, is wanted on an outstanding arrest warrant over an alleged stabbing on Sunday 3 February 2019.

He is described as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander appearance, of a slim build, with tattoos of the words ‘MAY’ on his neck and ‘Perry Brothers’ on his back, and with brown hair and blue eyes.

Dwayne Perry is believed to be frequenting the Raymond Terrace and Hunter Valley areas.

Anyone who sights Mr Perry is urged not to approach him but to contact Triple Zero (000) immediately.

NEWCASTLE SEAFARERS RALLY IN CANBERRA

Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon has joined in solidarity with the recently sacked workers from Newcastle and surrounds at rally in Canberra to save Australia’s shipping industry. The seafarers are among 80 who lost their jobs when Bluescope and BHP dumped the last two Australian-crewed coastal bulk iron ore carriers last month.

“The treatment of these hard-working seafarers has been utterly shameful – they were on the high seas thousands of miles away from home without any support or union representation when they found out they’d lost their jobs,” Ms Claydon said.

“Many of these seafarers have families and mortgages. Now they’ve been kicked in the guts, and will almost certainly be replaced by foreign workers on as little as $2 an hour. This is corporate greed at its most corrosive.”

Tighes-Hill based seafarer David Grant was in the middle of the China Sea on the MV Mariloula  when the email came through to the ship saying BHP had cancelled the ship’s contract and the crew had lost their jobs.

“It came out of the blue. And it didn’t help that we were in the middle of the ocean with terrible internet so it was really hard to get any information or contact our families,” Mr Grant said.

“We took a two-year wage freeze because they said they couldn’t afford to pay us. Now, when they’re recording bumper profits, they turn around and sack Australian workers.”

Mr Grant, who had worked on the MV Mariloula for three years, said he’d love to stay working on the water.

“I’ve been on the sea for seven years and that’s what I want to continue doing. But if we keep going this way, we’re not going to have an Australian shipping industry – full stop,” Mr Grant said.

“I’d like to see a cabotage model that prioritises Australian workers with Australian conditions on Australia’s coast. You can’t bring a foreign worker to run goods by road. Why are they allowed to do it on the Blue Highway?”

Ms Claydon said the Morrison Government is totally complicit in these job losses.

“Since the Liberals came to power they have relentlessly attacked the Australian shipping industry and tried to install legislation that would encourage companies to sack their Australian crew and hire foreign workers on as little as $2 an hour,” Ms Claydon said.

“The Morrison Government needs to stop granting temporary licences for routes like the ones travelled by the MV Mariloula and MV Lowlands Brilliance that are clearly permanent. This is a blatant abuse of the intent of the legislation.”

Ms Claydon said the revitalisation of Australia’s shipping industry would be a core priority for Labor if it wins Government.

“Aussie seafarers are among the best in the world but the Liberal Government has worked tirelessly to do everything they can to undermine these jobs.

“As the largest island nation, a strong national shipping industry is critical to the environment, to our skills capability and to our national security.”

MORE BENEFITS EXTENDED TO MORE NSW SENIORS

For the first time all NSW residents over the age of 60 will be eligible to receive discounts on products and services offered by businesses through the NSW Seniors Card program.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Ageing Tanya Davies today announced the new Senior Savers Cardwould be available from July 1, for senior residents who are not yet eligible for the existing Seniors Card.

“The NSW Liberals & Nationals have worked hard to deliver more savings than ever before to our Seniors Card members and this new card will mean no one is left out,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“Seniors give so much to our communities and every single senior across NSW deserves some relief from the growing costs of everyday living.”

The NSW Seniors Card will continue to provide existing benefits to its 1.6 million members on anything from mechanics, to hairdressers, to phone bills, while Senior Savers Card holders will have access to the same discounts and deals with the exclusion of NSW Government rebates and transport concessions.

Mrs Davies said that welcoming seniors into the program who still work more than 20 hours a week made sense.

“We understand a lot of people are working longer and retiring later. The introduction of the Senior Savers Card is a way for the NSW Government to give back to these individuals for their tireless contribution,” Mrs Davies said.

“The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government is committed to reducing the cost of living for seniors through the Seniors Card program.”

In the past 12 months, members have enjoyed increased benefits from an additional 1800 businesses and a major supermarket deal. More than 7300 businesses currently offer savings to members statewide, a 32 per cent increase on this time last year.

Ms Berejiklian also announced those with a Gold Senior/Pensioner Opal card will not face any fare cap increases under the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government.

“The current Gold Opal card cap will stay the same across the Opal network, meaning customers can enjoy unlimited travel across Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Hunter, Illawarra and Southern Highlands for just $2.50 a day,” she said.

For more information about the NSW Seniors Card program, visit www.seniorscard.nsw.gov.au.

DALEY IGNORES THE EXPERTS AND SYDNEY COMMUTERS SUFFER

Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance condemned Labor’s plan to cancel the Sydenham to Bankstown Metro upgrade following revelations today that Infrastructure Australia has ranked the project as a “high priority” for NSW.

Labor’s cancellation plan will stop rail improvements across the Sydney Trains network, affecting hundreds of thousands of people on seven different lines.

“This is yet more evidence that Labor’s plan to axe infrastructure projects will take NSW backwards.

“Labor’s only infrastructure plan is to cancel projects. Under Labor there would be no F6 Extension, no Western Harbour Tunnel and no Sydenham to Bankstown Metro rail upgrade,” Mr Constance said.

“Labor’s reckless decision to axe Sydney Metro Southwest will deny hundreds of thousands of commuters from Sydney’s South, Southwest, South Coast and Southern Highlands faster and more frequent services.

The desperately needed upgrade, which the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government will deliver, removes the bottleneck that prevents increases in services on the T1 Western Line, the T2 Inner West & Leppington Line, T4 Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra Line and T8 Airport and South Line.

“We have seen a huge uplift in the number of train services across the train network under the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government, with record levels of investment in service numbers and new trains to deliver them,” Mr Constance said.

“Labor’s recent metro announcement on Monday said they would make all investment decisions based on the advice of Infrastructure NSW and Infrastructure Australia. Yet Labor is already ignoring the experts by pushing ahead with their commitment to cancelling the Sydenham to Bankstown Metro upgrade.

“Our rail network is over 100 years old and it needs continued investment to meet the needs of the people of NSW.

“That is why the Metro City and Southwest project is a critical investment allowing us to upgrade services across the network. By cancelling this project, Labor is ruling out service upgrades for decades to come.

“The critical need for this project is further justified in Infrastructure Australia’s latest report released today, which lists Sydney Metro City and Southwest in the top three high priority projects.

“Michael Daley is a L-plate leader of a L-plate party which isn’t listening to the needs of the state or its people.”

Labor’s plan to cancel the Metro City and Southwest project would see:

  • T8 Airport & South Line: up to 48 fewer services across the peaks;
  • T4 Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra Line and South Coast Line: up to 108 fewer services across the peaks;
  • T2 Inner West & Leppington Line: up to 72 fewer services across the peaks;
  • T3 Bankstown Line: up to 72 fewer services across the peaks; and
  • T1 Western Line and Blue Mountains Line: up to 72 fewer services across the peaks

NSW TO HALVE HOMELESSNESS BY 2025

The NSW Government has signed a global agreement to halve street homelessness across the State by 2025.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Social Housing Pru Goward, together with service providers and the City of Sydney, signed the agreement today at NSW Parliament, making Sydney the tenth city to join the fight against street homelessness.

“We are working hard to break the cycle of homelessness with the latest street count showing a significant reduction in the number of rough sleepers in Sydney,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“We have already invested $1 billion in funding for homelessness services over four years to break the cycle of homelessness, but we cannot become complacent and by signing this agreement we are pushing ourselves to do even more.

“We know that homelessness is not just a city issue, which is why we have set this target to halve street homelessness across the entire State by 2025.

“Homelessness is a complex social issue that cannot be solved by government alone – that’s why we will be inviting the best and brightest from the frontline and from the community to collaborate with us to find new ways of tackling street homelessness.”

The ‘A Place to Call Home’ initiative – founded by the Institute of Global Homelessness – will support homelessness services in Sydney to set goals and strategies to reduce rough sleeping numbers and to measure and track their progress.

Chair of the Institute Dame Louise Casey said ‘A Place to Call Home’ gives cities a focused way to share knowledge among leaders who might not otherwise learn about each other’s work.

“There is an emerging global movement to end homelessness and NSW is leading by example and will help other cities around the world set ambitious, achievable goals to end street homelessness,” Ms Casey said.

The City of Sydney last year recorded the lowest number of people sleeping rough in five years – evidence that the NSW Government’s record spending and intensive outreach efforts are helping more people facing homelessness to find housing and support.

The NSW Government’s assertive street outreach program in Sydney has already housed nearly 300 rough sleepers since May 2017 and 94 per cent have successfully maintained their tenancies for more than 12 months.

Minister for Social Housing Pru Goward said the drastic drop in people sleeping rough in Sydney in 2018 showed the Government’s focus on prevention and early intervention was working.

“Homelessness is not a simple issue to solve – you cannot simply put a person who has been sleeping on the streets for years into a home and expect it to work – you need to give them the right wraparound support,” Ms Goward said.

“Complex mental health and substance abuse issues are often the underlying causes of homelessness which is why we are focusing on early intervention.”

The NSW Homelessness Strategy sets the direction for the next five years, focusing on prevention responses that address the root causes of homelessness and early intervention responses that will reduce the longer-term impact of homelessness.

Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich said: “The issue of homelessness in NSW needs urgent attention and the setting of this target and signing of this agreement kick starts this vital action.”

The following parties have signed the agreement:

  • NSW Government
  • City of Sydney
  • Institute of Global Homelessness
  • St Vincent de Paul, St Vincent’s Health, Mission Australia, Salvation Army, Wesley Mission, Neami National, Yfoundations.

NSW LIBERALS & NATIONALS BOOST DROUGHT SUPPORT TO $1.5 BILLION

The NSW Government today boosted the State’s Farm Innovation Fund from $650 million to $1 billion – giving farming communities affected by the drought a long-term guarantee that they have a strong future in NSW.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the additional funding brings the NSW Liberals & Nationals investment in drought support to almost $1.5 billion.

“We know that our farmers and drought-affected communities are doing it tough, which is why we are doing everything we can to make sure they have every support they need,” Ms Berejiklian said.

The Farm Innovation Fund has already helped more than 1700 farmers across the State drought-proof their properties, providing low-interest loans to fund capital works such as new cattle yards, solar power systems, silos or bore water systems.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the NSW Government is also giving farmers the opportunity to invest in infrastructure that will last for generations by increasing the value of low interest loans available through the Fund from $250,000 up to $1 million.

“The additional $350 million we have added to the Farm Innovation Fund is another signal to our farmers that no matter what conditions you face we will continue to stand side-by-side with you, now and into the future,” Mr Barilaro said.

“We want farmers to approach this fund as a low interest resource they can draw on to make sure they are in a stronger position today to face whatever challenges are coming in the future.

“Every dollar our farmers spend gets circulated through regional towns and cities making this billion dollars an investment in our regional communities.

“The NSW Government will continue to back our farmers who make a living under some of the toughest conditions in the world, growing the food and fibre we all rely on.”

NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair said the NSW Government will further strengthen its Drought Relief Package to provide urgent support for those who need it most.

“When we announced our drought package last year we said we would continually respond to changing conditions and adjust our assistance measures accordingly.  Today’s announcement is a reflection of this commitment,” Mr Blair said.

“We know NSW farmers are among the best in the world and that’s why we will continue to stand with them. This fund will back farmers to be even more resilient and better placed when these conditions arise again.”
Key changes include:

  • providing an additional $5 million for emergency water supplies to ensure towns have access to safe and reliable water;
  • increasing the amount farmers can claim on Drought Transport Subsidies from $30,000 to $40,000; and
  • providing an additional $2 million to connect people to support services through the Rural Resilience Program.

For more information on the Farm Innovation Fund, visit https://www.raa.nsw.gov.au/assistance/farm-innovation-fund..

City launches convenient civil works mapping tool

ity of Newcastle (CN) has today launched a new interactive mapping tool to help residents track the latest civil works projects happening across our LGA.

From large road maintenance activities to major development projects, the interactive map provides a location and overview of the types of activities the City is delivering – all on the one page.

Its intuitive design makes it easier for people to stay informed and in touch with the City’s 2018-19 Civil Works Program.

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“This online mapping tool will streamline communication to residents and fastrack important information about the current projects that have commenced,” Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

“By simply logging on to the City’s Civil Works Update page, users can get an instant snapshot of the various works that are taking shape across the City in real time.”

A number of significant projects which will be delivered before 30 June include a $7.1 million upgrade of local bridges, $8.2 million towards Newcastle’s Smart City program, $8.1 million to renew and upgrade the existing storm water network and $7.9 million on a solar farm to be built at the Summerhill Waste Centre.

Renewing parks, open spaces and sporting facilities ($5.4 million), allocating money to our cultural facilities ($5.1 million) and increasing cycling links around the City ($2.6 million) are also included in the delivery program.

To take a look at the online map, visit http://www.newcastle.nsw.gov.au/Council/News/Projects-Works/Civil-works-update

Greens Welcome Cosmetic Animal Testing Ban and Vow to Keep Up Pressure on the Government

Australian Greens Senator for NSW and Spokesperson for Animal Welfare, Dr Mehreen Faruqi, has welcomed a ban on animal testing for cosmetics. A full ban is conditional on the Government enacting further measures outside Parliament, and Senator Faruqi has vowed to keep the pressure on the Government. The Greens have been at the forefront of pushing for a ban on cruel cosmetics for years, including introducing the first bill to ban animal tested cosmetics in 2014.

Senator Faruqi said:

“This is a great step forward for animals. Animals shouldn’t suffer and die to test cosmetics or other ingredients. I am proud that the Greens have been at the forefront of this campaign against cruel cosmetics.

“The Government had previously tried to pass a partial ban that would not have come close to ending animal testing. Thanks to the crossbench, the opposition and the Greens standing together, we have been able to extract commitments from the Government for a full ban. The Greens will be pursuing the Government relentlessly to ensure that it follows through with its commitments.

“Australia has lagged behind the world in banning animal testing which is both cruel and completely unnecessary.  People quite rightly expect that animals should not have to suffer significant pain and distress, and in many cases die, for cosmetics.

“I want to pay tribute to former Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon who introduced the first bill to ban animal testing for cosmetics and strongly pushed to protect animals from unnecessary and cruel procedures,” she concluded.

Infrastructure Australia priority list shows Morrison government leaving Australia in the electric vehicle slow lane, say Greens

The Morrison government is leaving Australia in the slow lane when it comes to preparing for the electric vehicle revolution, say the Australian Greens, following Infrastructure Australia’s listing of a rapid rollout of a national electric vehicle fast-charging network as one of its top priorities.

“The Morrison government is sitting by while other countries zip past us when it comes to encouraging EV uptake,” said Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens transport spokesperson.

“The world is experiencing an electric vehicle revolution that is transforming how we move people and goods, but Australian people and businesses need the government to show some leadership.”

“Infrastructure Australia says that electric vehicles are a “game changer” for improving national productivity and environmental benefits. So why isn’t the government doing more to get Australia on track?”

“It’s ludicrous that don’t already have a national charging network nor any plans for one.”

“The Labor party is no better, having endorsed a report of the Select Committee on Electric Vehicles that was short on detail and low on ambition.”

The Greens’ policy to get Australia back in the race is to put $150 million towards a national fast-charging network, as well as ambitious targets and incentives to drive the uptake of electric vehicles.”

Other Infrastructure Australia priorities include large investments in rail network upgrades in Melbourne and preserving a high-speed rail corridor between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

“The Greens would give priority to funding public transport and fast tracking high-speed rail. In contrast, Liberal and Labor are prioritising spending billions on polluting tollways, leaving people packed like sardines on trains, trams and buses.”

“This report is the canary in the coal mine that we must start seriously investing in 21st century public transport for our cities immediately.”