Councils raise awareness to prevent car theft this Christmas

Having a car stolen is stressful, inconvenient and costly, particularly during the festive season.

However, it’s the unfortunate reality that many residents across the Lower Hunter will face, with motor vehicle thefts traditionally spiking over summer.
CarTheftPreventionProgram-(1).jpgMayors from the Greater Newcastle Area including Lake Macquarie, Cessnock, Port Stephens have joined forces to reduce vehicle thefts in a region-wide initiative that aims to educate people about how to prevent falling victim to thieves.

“One of the biggest factors to motor vehicle theft is home break-ins. It’s common for a home burglar to steal car keys,” City of Newcastle Community Safety Facilitator Lisa Davis said.

“The majority of home burglaries are opportunistic, with burglars targeting houses they perceive as providing the easiest and quickest access points.”

Some simple tips for preventing motor vehicle theft include:

·         Keeping your vehicle keys out of sight when you are at home

·         Never leaving them near doors or windows

·         Do not include your name and address on key ring tags.

In 2017, 50 per cent of stolen motor vehicles had been parked on the street and 37 per cent were taken from residential dwellings in Newcastle.

Getting in the habit of checking your keys are not still in your vehicle after taking the grocery bags inside can also help reduce the risk of your vehicle being stolen.

Historically, televisions and computers were among the items stolen in home burglaries, however vehicles are now the most common target, with keys the sole item stolen in roughly 1-in-4 break and enter cases.

NSW Police has advised this trend for residential addresses is due to a shift in car theft practices, with thieves targeting homes to steal keys of vehicles, rather than pursuing vehicles in public areas as likely to be under surveillance.

City of Newcastle secured $15,000 of funding from the National Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council (NMVTRC) to roll out a car theft prevention campaign which is supported by surrounding local councils.

Police investigate attempted armed robbery – Singleton

Police are investigating an attempted armed robbery at Singleton early this morning.

About 4am today (Thursday 5 December 2019), a 32-year-old male employee was inside a newsagency on John Street, Singleton, when two men entered through the rear door armed with a tomahawk and an iron bar.

The men demanded cash before the 32-year-old became involved in a struggle with the pair and forced them out the door.

Officers attached to Hunter Valley Police District attended a short time later and established a crime scene.

The man was taken to Singleton Hospital for treatment to minor cuts and grazes to his arms and forehead.

Investigations into the incident are continuing.

Police are appealing for anyone who may have noticed any suspicious behaviour in the area at that time or who may have CCTV or dashcam vision to contact Singleton Police on 6578 7499 or to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Newcastle’s environmental initiatives win major award

City of Newcastle’s efforts to bring the city up to world-leading environmental standards through initiatives such as a 5MW solar farm, 5,000 new LED street lights and electric vehicle charging stations have earned it the leading prize in Local Government NSW’s (LGNSW) Excellence in the Environment Awards.

LGNSW President Linda Scott said Newcastle led an impressive array of 16 category winners at this year’s awards.

Enviro-award-courtesy-CN-1-inside.jpgJames Griffin MP, Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment and Veterans, with the City’s Adam Clarke, Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen, Linda Scott and and a Local Government NSW representative.

“Each year NSW councils invest around $1.7 billion in environmental management and these awards recognise and celebrate their achievements,” she said.

“The City of Newcastle is an outstanding example of the environmental leadership councils provide, implementing a whole-of-council sustainability framework based on leading-edge United Nations’ sustainable development goals.

“They delivered more than $10 million in projects to improve sustainability, using CSIRO-predictive modelling to reduce air conditioning loads on buildings, established a network of sky cameras to predict cloud impact on solar power, created an e-transit hub with a solar car park and built a 5MW solar farm.

“They also planted 1,000 street trees and 100,000 native plants.

“The outcome is a city that is well positioned for environmental sustainability well into the future.”

The initiative also saw the prestigious Louise Petchell Memorial Award for Individual Sustainability go to City of Newcastle’s Innovation and Sustainability Coordinator Adam Clarke.

“Adam showed great leadership in driving many of these initiatives through a combination of inspiration, education and enthusiasm, and is a deserving winner of this year’s individual award,” Cr Scott said.

Enviro-award-courtesy-CN-cropped.jpgWaverley Council was also a big winner on the day, receiving awards in the Towards Net Zero Emissions, Water Management, Behaviour Change in Waste and Sustainable Infrastructure categories.

Other individual category winners at this year’s awards included:

  • Parkes Shire Council’s ‘Water Story’, an effective communications program, including a giant frog mascot, to educate the community on broad water issues and important upgrades to recycled water infrastructure;
  • Bayside Council’s Community Recycling Hub, which allows residents to drop off unwanted items at two locations, resulting in the collection of 44 tonnes of community waste, 90 per cent of which was recovered;
  • Tweed Shire Council’s Tackling Mosquitoes Together project, which saw collaboration with seven Northern Rivers councils prepare for potential disease vectors in a changing climate such as Asian tiger mosquitoes, known carriers of Dengue fever, through the establishment of rapid response networks.

“NSW councils have a strong environmental record and LGNSW supports their efforts through these awards as well as a range of initiatives,” Cr Scott said.

“We are also joining councils on calling for the NSW Government to fund and help deliver a fresh approach to waste and recycling through our Save Our Recycling campaign.”

City powers into sustainable new era

City of Newcastle confirmed itself as one of Australia’s most environmentally progressive councils today when it opened a new $6 million resource recovery facility and switched on an $8 million five-megawatt solar farm.

With a 5,000sqm undercover sorting area, the Resource Recovery Centre (RRC) at the Summerhill Waste Management Centre is now offering Newcastle residents the chance to drop off pre-sorted recyclable materials free of charge.
SolarFarm-Copy-(1).jpgThe RRC will increase waste diverted from landfill each year by around 5,700 tonnes, the equivalent of more than 30 Boeing 747s in weight, thanks to a 30,000-tonne processing capacity, with around 20 per cent of materials recycled.

Summerhill’s previous receival centre, by contrast, could process just 10,000-12,000 tonnes a year and saw just three per cent of dropped-off material recycled.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes hailed the environmental win and the incentives offered by the RRC at today’s official opening.

“Residents who separate their waste before arriving at Summerhill will benefit from the new ‘Sort & Save’ drop-off service,” Councillor Nelmes said.

“This allows them to place scrap metals, sorted yellow bin recyclables, paper and cardboard, clean untreated wood and soft plastics directly into the identified stockpiles at no charge.

“Businesses who pre-sort their loads for drop-off at the RRC will also benefit from reduced tip fees. Unsorted waste is also welcome but will continue to be subject to the normal fees that cover staff and equipment needed to extract recyclables from mixed loads.”

While at Summerhill, the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen also inspected a newly completed solar farm built to save ratepayers around $9 million over its 25-year lifespan.

Covering an area the size of five football fields on a capped landfill that was once a coal mine, the solar farm’s 14,500 photovoltaic cells are now producing 7.5 million-kilowatt hours of renewable electricity each year.

“The solar farm is generating enough energy to power the equivalent of 1,300 households, which is a significant environmental gain as well as reducing Council’s electricity costs by millions of dollars,” Councillor Clausen said.

“We will also become the first local government in NSW to move to 100 per cent renewables on January 1 thanks to our recent purchase-power agreement to source electricity from the state’s largest windfarm.

“The solar and wind farm combination will mean enough clean energy will be put into the grid to power every sportsground floodlight, local library, park BBQ and every other facility the City operates.”

The solar farm was partly funded with a $6.5 million loan from Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation and $1 million was granted from the NSW Government’s Environmental Trust, through its Waste Less, Recycle More Initiative, to the RRC.

Fatal single vehicle crash sparks bushfire – Hunter region

Police remain at the scene of a fatal single vehicle crash in the Hunter region.

About 10.15am today (Tuesday 3 December 2019), emergency services were called to Leggetts Drive, south of Pelaw Main, following reports a vehicle had left the road and collided with a pole.

A driver was located deceased at the scene; they are yet to be formally identified.

Officers from Hunter Valley Police District attended and established a crime scene.

As a result of the crash, the vehicle caught alight and has sparked several spot fires around the area.

Leggetts Drive is currently closed in both directions between Neath Street and Lake Road. All vehicles are advised to use the M1 Motorway or the Hunter Expressway.

Drivers are urged to avoid the area as firefighters work to extinguish the blazes.


I recognise the commitment and determination of those taking part in the climate change ‘Solidarity Sit Down’ in Newcastle today to highlight the Morrison government’s unconscionable lack of action on climate change.

If there ever was time to act on climate change, it is now, as we witness some of the most severe and widespread fires Australia has ever seen.

While no weather event can be attributed directly to climate change, there can be no question that it is feeding longer, more intense weather patterns and an increased likelihood of natural disasters.

This isn’t about politics. It’s about scientific reality. Climate change is real and it requires real leadership to address it.

The Morrison Government urgently needs to get over its pathological aversion to science and take meaningful action on climate change.

Regretfully, the Liberals have not only failed to deliver an energy policy and set a wholly inadequate emissions reduction target, but they’ve also set about trying to axe every mechanism put in place by the former Labor Government to assist.

Labor went to the last election with a strong plan to reduce emissions and meet Australia’s climate targets. Regretfully, we weren’t able to form Government.

While Labor remains deeply committed to real action on climate change, it’s the Morrison Government that must ensure that Australia does its share to avoid a global climate catastrophe.

I encourage students and activists to keep putting strong pressure on the Morrison Government to act in the interests of the planet and future generations, as I and my Labor colleagues will continue to do.

Man in court over attempted sexual assault of girl and child exploitation offences

A man will re-appear in court today charged over child exploitation offences and the attempted sexual assault of a young girl in the Hunter region.

In June this year, detectives from the State Crime Command’s Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad commenced an investigation following reports a man attempted to sexually assault a young girl known to him.

The investigation was assisted by the Joint Anti Child Exploitation Team (NSW-JACET), which comprises of members from the Australian Federal Police and NSW Police Force.

Following extensive inquiries by the Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad and NSW-JACET, detectives arrested a 34-year-old man at a home in the Hunter region about 1pm on Saturday (30 November 2019).

Shortly after the arrest, police searched two homes in the Hunter region, where detectives seized several electronic storage devices.

The man was taken to Cessnock Police Station and charged with attempt sexual intercourse with child under 10 years (DV x5), use carriage service transmit/publish/promote child porn (x2), possess/control child abuse material using carriage service, produce child abuse material, disseminate child abuse material, and possess child abuse material.

Police will allege in court that the man attempted to sexually assault the girl at a home on a number of occasions between December 2018 and June 2019.

It will be further alleged that the man produced, sent and received child abuse material online.

He was refused bail and appeared at Newcastle Bail Court on Saturday where he was formally refused bail to re-appear at Cessnock Local Court today (Monday 2 December 2019).

The Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad is comprised of detectives who are specially trained to investigate matters against children and adults, including sexual assault, serious physical abuse, and extreme cases of neglect.

Girl dies after being found in family car – Tanilba Bay

A girl has died in hospital after being found in a vehicle at Port Stephens last week.

Emergency services were called to a home at Tanilba Bay about 4.30pm on Tuesday (26 November 2019), after reports a five-year-old girl was found unresponsive inside a car parked in the driveway of the home.

The girl was airlifted to John Hunter Hospital in a critical condition.

She died early this morning (Sunday 1 December 2019).

Officers from Port Stephens-Hunter Police District will prepare a report for the information of the Coroner.

Fatal fail to stop pedestrian crash – Maitland

Police have appealed for witnesses to come forward after a pedestrian was killed and the vehicle involved failed to stop at Maitland last night.

About 11.30pm (Saturday 30 November 2019), emergency services were called to Flat Road, near the intersection of Paterson Road, Bolwarra, following reports of a crash.

Officers from Port Stephens-Hunter Police District attended and found a male pedestrian who had been struck by a vehicle.

The 62-year-old man was treated at the scene by NSW Ambulance paramedics before being taken to John Hunter Hospital, where he was pronounced deceased.

The vehicle left the crash scene and was last seen travelling south on Paterson Road.

Officers from the Metropolitan Crash Investigation Unit attended and examined the crime scene.

Investigators are now appealing for anyone who may have witnessed the crash or have dashcam vision or information about the vehicle involved to come forward and contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

A report will be prepared for the Coroner.


The important work of CSIRO’s flagship Energy Centre in Newcastle is being compromised by an arbitrary staffing cap.

Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon and Shadow Minister for Science, Employment and Industry Brendan O’Connor met with Newcastle representatives from the CSIRO Staffing Association today to discuss the issue.

“Labor is concerned that the Morrison Government’s cap on public sector staffing numbers is hurting the CSIRO and undermining its role in advancing science and innovation,” Mr O’Connor said.

“The CSIRO staff association recently made a submission to a Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee inquiry outlining the impact of the 5,193 person cap on full time staff on Australia’s scientific capability.

“The submission highlights reports of increased use of external contractors, which is putting a number of major projects at risk and is sidestepping secure local jobs.”

Ms Claydon said, “The Government’s irrational Average Staffing Level policy has capped staff numbers at 2006/7 numbers. This has essentially created a staffing freeze that is forcing CSIRO researchers to fill vacancies with external contractors at a premium price.

“Staff have told me that job vacancies are being placed on hold even if projects have private external funding.

“Not only does this mean that taxpayers are spending more to get less, this also undermines the pay and conditions of existing workers and locking a generation of STEM graduates out of long-term scientific work.”

Mr O’Connor said research and innovation like that at the CSIRO is under threat under the Morrison Government which is overseeing an overall downward trend in R&D under their watch.

“This is the world-class institution that invented wifi, plastic bank notes and Aerogard, to name just a few,” Mr O’Connor said.

“It’s foolish to shackle Australia’s top scientists from making new important breakthroughs.

“The Morrison Government has no regard for scientists and this staffing cap is a clear continuation of their war on science.”