NSW GOVERNMENT COORDINATES BUSH FIRE CLEAN-UP

The NSW Government will coordinate the clean-up of residential and commercial properties destroyed by bush fires this season, at no cost to residents, so they can start rebuilding and communities can begin healing.

Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Disaster Recovery John Barilaro said work is already underway to clear insured and uninsured properties.

“The threat of bush fire is far from over this summer, but we need to help people across the State to rebuild and recover as quickly as possible,” Mr Barilaro said.

“The NSW Government will shortly appoint major contractors to do the clean-up, who will be encouraged to engage local contractors wherever possible.

“This work will include containment and removal of asbestos contaminated bush fire impacted materials, removal of all dangerous debris, including destroyed materials and hazardous trees and removal of concrete slab foundations.

“Cleaning up eligible destroyed properties will ensure that these costs are not deducted from funds available under residents’ insurance policies for rebuilding. For the uninsured, it’s one less thing to worry about.”
Clean-up arrangements coordinated by the NSW Government will include:

  • The appointment of contractors in the South and the North to clean-up bush fire impacted properties.
  • Costs for clean-up will be covered by the NSW Government in partnership with the Federal Government.
  • Where insurance companies have commenced clean-up works for safety reasons these will continue.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the NSW Government will work with insurance companies to ensure that any policy holders who have already had clean-up work completed will be at no disadvantage.

“I know people are anxious to have their properties cleared as soon as possible and with more than 2,200 homes destroyed it is a mammoth task, which is why the NSW Government has hit the ground running with the clean-up effort,” Mr Perrottet said.

“Impacted owners wanting their property cleared through this program need to call Service NSW on 13 77 88 to register their details and provide consent for access to their land.”

Details regarding the appointed contractors and clearing of commercial properties will be announced shortly.
Further information is available at: www.service.nsw.gov.au

NSW GOVERNMENT WEEKLY UPDATE – 18 JANUARY 2020

NSW BUSHFIRE RELATED UPDATES

PAYMENTS NOW AVAILABLE FOR RFS AND SES VOLUNTEERS WHO HAVE SPENT WEEKS KEEPING COMMUNITIES SAFE

  • NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) and NSW State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers who have spent more than ten days fighting fires and helping with the recovery effort can apply for loss of income payments from today.
  • Volunteers who have provided more than ten days service and are self-employed or employees of small or medium-sized businesses with a turnover of less than $50 million will be eligible for $200 per day up to a total of $6000 without evidence of income loss. A maximum payment of $300 per day will be provided with proof of income loss through pay slips or previous tax statements.
  • Payments to NSW volunteers will be administered by Service NSW through a convenient and secure process requiring a volunteer membership number and employer’s business name. Most applicants will receive their payment within five days of the application. For more information, visit a Service NSW Centre, go online to www.service.nsw.gov.au or call 13 77 88.

LIST YOUR HOLIDAY HOME TO HELP A NEIGHBOUR

  • People who own holiday homes in bushfire-affected communities are being encouraged to list them with local real estate agents for rent, to increase the supply of accommodation available for those who have lost everything.
  • The NSW Government can provide financial assistance through rental bond loans and advance rent payments to help get people into suitable accommodation.
  • People who are in need of housing assistance as a result of the bushfires can call the Disaster Welfare Assistance Line on 1800 018 444 or visit a local Department of Communities and Justice Housing office.

NSW GOVERNMENT COORDINATES BUSH FIRE CLEAN-UP

  • The NSW Government will coordinate the clean-up of residential and commercial properties destroyed by bush fires this season, at no cost to owners, so they can start rebuilding and communities can begin healing.
  • Costs for clean-up will be covered by the NSW Government in partnership with the Federal Government, irrespective of whether properties are insured or uninsured.
  • This means insured property owners will be able to use every dollar of their insurance policies towards rebuilding. For the uninsured, it’s one less thing to worry about.
  • Further information is available at: www.service.nsw.gov.au.

MORE ASSISTANCE FOR BUSHFIRE AFFECTED LANDHOLDERS AS STOCK LOSSES RISE

  • The NSW Government is ramping up its support for bushfire affected farmers in Southern NSW as the number of livestock confirmed to have perished across the State exceeds 13,000.
  • NSW Department of Primary Industries and Local Land Services staff are on the ground assisting fire-impacted landholders with livestock assessment and burial of dead animals.
  • Producers can report stock losses and infrastructure damage, or request animal assessment, or emergency fodder or water for stock by calling the Agricultural and Animal Services Hotline on 1800 814 647.

FIRE FIGHTING MISSION SAVES PREHISTORIC PINES

  • A specialist team of remote area firefighters have helped to save the prehistoric Wollemi Pines from this season’s bushfires.
  • The operation included large air tankers laying fire retardant and specialist firefighters being winched into the remote site from helicopters to set up an irrigation system in the gorge to increase moisture content of the ground fuels.

PREMIER APPOINTS MINISTER FOR DISASTER RECOVERY

  • The Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro will be the Minister responsible for disaster recovery, leading recovery efforts following the recent bushfires across NSW.
  • The unprecedented scale of the 2019/20 bushfire season requires additional arrangements to be put in place to ensure impacted communities recover and rebuild as quickly as possible.

SIGNIFICANT SCHOOL BUSHFIRE RECOVERY ON TRACK FOR DAY ONE

  • The NSW Government is undertaking unprecedented recovery work to ensure the 178 schools in bushfire affected communities are repaired and cleaned for staff and students for Day 1, Term 1.
  • Thanks to the efforts of department staff, emergency services, RFS and local tradies, it is expected that all schools be open for the first day of term.
  • For more information, visit the NSW Department of Education website: https://education.nsw.gov.au/public-schools/school-safety/.

OTHER NSW GOVERNMENT UPDATES

LOCKOUT LAWS REPEALED – GROWING SYDNEY’S NIGHT TIME ECONOMY

  • Sydney’s “lockout laws” have been repealed in the Sydney CBD Entertainment Precinct bringing in extended trading hours for venues and bottle shops and a relaxation of after-midnight drink rules, with existing arrangements maintained in the Kings Cross precinct.
  • Existing arrangements are being maintained in the Kings Cross precinct and will be reviewed next year along with the following changes which came into effect overnight:
    • Removal of 1.30am last entry for all venues in the Sydney CBD Entertainment Precinct, including those on Oxford Street.
    • Removal of restrictions on serving cocktails, shots and drinks in glass after midnight in this precinct.
    • Extending ‘last drinks’ at venues with good records in this precinct by 30 minutes.
    • Extending bottle shop opening hours across NSW until midnight from Monday to Saturday, with 11pm closing on Sunday.
    • Increasing small bar patron capacity from 100 to 120 across NSW.

COFFS TO PILOT REGIONAL SENIORS TRAVEL CARD

  • Up to 80 Coffs Harbour seniors will be the first to try out the NSW Government’s $250 Regional Seniors Travel Card from Thursday, 23 January ahead of applications opening statewide later this month.
  • The Coffs Harbor pilot would inform the statewide rollout of the card, with applications set to open from Wednesday, 29 January.
  • To be eligible to receive the $250 Regional Seniors Travel Card you must be an age pensioner with a valid Pensioner Concession Card or hold a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card issued by either the Department of Human Services or Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Seniors must also live in regional NSW outside Sydney, Newcastle or Wollongong City Council boundaries.

NOMINATIONS NOW OPEN FOR WOMEN IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT AWARDS

  • People across the State are encouraged to celebrate the contributions of inspirational women in NSW councils by making a nomination for the 2020 Ministers’ Awards for Women in Local Government.
  • Nominations will close on 12 February 2020. The awards will be presented at a ceremony at Parliament House in Sydney on 24 March 2020.
  • Full details of the categories and information on how to make a nomination can be found at www.olg.nsw.gov.au.

COFFS TO PILOT REGIONAL SENIORS TRAVEL CARD

Up to 80 Coffs Harbour seniors will be the first to try out the NSW Government’s $250 Regional Seniors Travel Card from Thursday, 23 January ahead of applications opening statewide later this month.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the new card would ease the burden of travel costs for eligible seniors living in rural and regional parts of NSW.

“We are committed to improving connectivity in the bush, which is why we announced the $250 Regional Seniors Travel Card,” Mr Barilaro said.

“We are delivering on this commitment to help our seniors travel to and from essential services and make it easier and more affordable for them to remain connected with friends and family.”

Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said the Coffs Harbor pilot would inform the statewide rollout of the card, with applications set to open from Wednesday, 29 January.

“We are running a three week pilot in Coffs Harbour to ensure every step of the process is a smooth and hassle-free experience for both seniors and retailers in the bush,” Mr Toole said.

“This pilot will allow us to test the card and work through any issues that may arise. Following a successful trial we anticipate the Regional Seniors Travel Card will start to reach eligible seniors from mid-late February.”

Eligible seniors will have a minimum of 12 months to use their card from the time of activation.

Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh said the pilot was great news for locals.

“I’m excited that a group of Coffs Harbour seniors will have the first opportunity to test the card. After they have applied through Service NSW, they will receive their card and can use it to purchase fuel, use taxi services or to book a NSW TrainLink fare,” Mr Singh said.

To be eligible to receive the $250 Regional Seniors Travel Card you must be an age pensioner with a valid Pensioner Concession Card or hold a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card issued by either the Department of Human Services or Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Seniors must also live in regional NSW outside Sydney, Newcastle or Wollongong City Council boundaries.

For more information go to service.nsw.gov.au, call 13 77 88 or visit a Service NSW Service Centre.

SIGNIFICANT SCHOOL BUSHFIRE RECOVERY ON TRACK FOR DAY ONE

The NSW Government is undertaking unprecedented recovery work to ensure the 178 schools in bushfire affected communities are repaired and cleaned for staff and students for Day 1, Term 1.

Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said the work will be a mammoth task, with the repair bill sitting at approximately $20 million.

Ms Mitchell and Member for Myall Lakes, Stephen Bromhead, toured the reconstruction of Bobin Public School today which is on track to be ready for students on the first day of term.

“Communities in both Northern and Southern NSW have experienced an absolutely harrowing bushfire season, impacting many of our local schools,” Ms Mitchell said.

“We have seen school damage ranging from critical in the communities of Bobin and Wytaliba, to lost fences, burnt outdoor play equipment and contamination from ash and fire retardant across other parts of the State.”

“We know schools are at the heart of communities, and will play an important role in the recovery from these fires.”

“It’s crucial for students to be reconnected with friends, share stories and return to their school routine after what has been a traumatic time.”

“Thanks to the efforts of department staff, emergency services, RFS and local tradies we expect all schools to be open for the first day of term.”

Ms Mitchell also welcomed the announcement of additional funding from the Federal Government, and said the payments will mean families have one less thing to worry about as Term 1 approaches.

“This funding will ease the pressure on families when it comes to back-to-school preparations, with the payments helping out with school necessities like stationery, school shoes, uniforms and backpacks, all of which may have all been lost in the fires.”

The NSW Government will also be implementing a number of additional strategies to support staff and students as they return back to school.

“We are very aware of the emotional impacts these bushfires have had on students across the State, so we will be focusing heavily on ensuring appropriate mental health support is available at every affected school,” Ms Mitchell said.

“We’re also looking at support for Principals and teaching staff to ensure they are properly equipped with the knowledge and skills to deal with recovering school communities.”

For more information, visit the NSW Department of Education website.

PAYMENTS NOW AVAILABLE FOR RFS AND SES VOLUNTEERS WHO HAVE SPENT WEEKS KEEPING COMMUNITIES SAFE

NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) and NSW State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers who have spent more than ten days fighting fires and helping with the recovery effort can apply for loss of income payments from today.

Minister for Natural Disaster and Emergency Management David Littleproud said the community was deeply grateful for each and every volunteer who has sacrificed their time to protect life and property.

“Our volunteers are a treasured resource who have shown tremendous dedication and bravery by helping local communities in trying circumstances,” Mr Littleproud said.

NSW Minister for Emergency Services David Elliott said the payments would go some way to help ease the financial stress for volunteers who have spent weeks on the frontline.

“Primary producers and small businesses are the backbone of many bushfire-affected regions and we want to ensure they don’t need to choose between protecting their communities and protecting their livelihood,” Mr Elliott said.

“We want these payments to get in the hands of dedicated volunteers as quickly and easily as possible, so we’re ensuring red tape and onerous processes don’t get in the way.”

Volunteers who have provided more than ten days service and are self-employed or employees of small or medium-sized businesses with a turnover of less than $50 million will be eligible for $200 per day up to a total of $6000 without evidence of income loss. A maximum payment of $300 per day will be provided with proof of income loss through pay slips or previous tax statements.

Drought-affected primary producers will be able to claim a payment of $200 per day without evidence of income loss. Payments are tax-free and are not means-tested.

“Many large organisations have leave provisions for emergency volunteers which is why this program is designed for volunteers who are self-employed or work for a small or medium-sized business,” Mr Elliott said.

Payments to NSW volunteers will be administered by Service NSW through a convenient and secure process requiring a volunteer membership number and employer’s business name. Most applicants will receive their payment within five days of the application.

For more information, visit a Service NSW Centre, go online to www.service.nsw.gov.au or call 13 77 88.

PREMIER APPOINTS MINISTER FOR DISASTER RECOVERY

The Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro will be the Minister responsible for disaster recovery, leading recovery efforts following the recent bushfires across NSW.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the unprecedented scale of the 2019/20 bushfire season requires additional arrangements to be put in place to ensure impacted communities recover and rebuild as quickly as possible.

“Our emergency services personnel and volunteers have been outstanding in dealing with the bushfire emergency to date but the scale of these bushfires has never been seen before and the recovery process will be unprecedented,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“Our Government focus is to get the clean-up underway, ensure residents and businesses receive the support they need and to rebuild the infrastructure destroyed or damaged.”

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said these bushfires have had a devastating impact on families, communities and a number of industries across NSW.

“The people of regional NSW are hurting. The drought is unprecedented and now these fires have devastated communities across the state,” Mr Barilaro said.

“From apple orchards in Bilpin, timber mills in northern and southern NSW, through to tourism operators in the Blue Mountains, Snowy Mountains and the north and south coasts, the impact has spread far and wide.

“Our priority is to support those families, communities and businesses affected, to make sure they have everything they need to recover, rebuild and get back on their feet.”

Minister Elliott will continue to lead the emergency response across New South Wales.

“Unfortunately the bushfire season is far from over. Bushfires continue to burn and some will take months to put out and our focus has to remain on protecting life and property,” Mr Elliott said.

LOCKOUT LAWS REPEALED – GROWING SYDNEY’S NIGHT TIME ECONOMY

Early this morning, Sydney’s “lockout laws” were repealed in the Sydney CBD Entertainment Precinct bringing in extended trading hours for venues and bottle shops and a relaxation of after-midnight drink rules, with existing arrangements maintained in the Kings Cross precinct.

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said while the extended trading hours will provide a boost for the night time economy, community safety will always be a focus.

“There’s been a cultural shift in the city’s night life since 2014, and it’s time to look towards a bright, safe, diverse Sydney after dark, by improving liquor laws and enhancing access to arts, entertainment, shopping and sporting activities that are inclusive and family friendly,” Mr Ayres said.

“Sydney is Australia’s only truly global city and can evolve to embrace an economy which is cranking around the clock, particularly now that light rail services have been running for a month.

“Stimulating the 24 hour economy is a joint effort and we’re working with the City of Sydney Council and the Committee for Sydney, as well as NSW Government agencies, council, businesses and the community to get this right.”

Existing arrangements are being maintained in the Kings Cross precinct and will be reviewed next year along with the following changes which came into effect overnight:

  • Remove 1.30am last entry for all venues in the Sydney CBD Entertainment Precinct, including those on Oxford Street.
  • Remove restrictions on serving cocktails, shots and drinks in glass after midnight in this precinct.
  • Extend ‘last drinks’ at venues with good records in this precinct by 30 minutes.
  • Extend bottle shop opening hours across NSW until midnight from Monday to Saturday, with 11pm closing on Sunday.
  • Increase small bar patron capacity from 100 to 120 across NSW.

To view the Government’s full response to the Committee’s recommendations, visit this link.

DAM WATER QUALITY NSW GOVERNMENT PRIORITY

The NSW Government is concentrating its efforts on ensuring dam storages critical to Sydney’s water supply are protected from ash and debris, following the recent fires.

Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey said WaterNSW has already deployed silt curtains and booms at Warragamba Dam to mitigate the inflow of ash to the system in the event of significant rainfall.
“Our priority is protecting Sydney’s drinking water supplies,” Mrs Pavey said.

“The recent fires threatened significant water infrastructure at Warragamba. While much of the catchment has been affected by fire, work by WaterNSW along with the RFS, helped prevent damage to the infrastructure.”

Following bushfires, water quality impacts are typically triggered by significant rainfall events. Low intensity rain is forecast for the next 7 days which does not pose a risk to water quality as the rainfall is not considered sufficient to wash material into dam storages.

“WaterNSW are on-site at Warragamba deploying silt blankets and floating booms to ensure key water inflow points to the dam storage are safe to access,” Mrs Pavey said.

“Silt curtains and floating barriers help to mitigate the inflow of ash into dams, reducing additional pressure on water treatment plants. WaterNSW has an additional 1,000m of silt curtains in case they are needed in either Nepean or Tallowa Dams.”

Water quality in key metropolitan supply storages, such as Warragamba and Tallowa, are being monitored by highly experienced scientists using sophisticated, real-time technology pioneered by WaterNSW.

“We have worked closely with the RFS to ensure fire retardant chemicals used near Warragamba Dam are appropriate, and that exclusion zones were in place to avoid the use of retardants in close proximity to water where possible,” Mrs Pavey said.

“The NSW Government is also assisting local councils as the utility providers in areas affected by the recent fires by deploying resources to help with the management of their water supplies, including carting water where necessary.”

LOCKOUT LAWS REPEALED – GROWING SYDNEY’S NIGHT TIME ECONOMY

Early this morning, Sydney’s “lockout laws” were repealed in the Sydney CBD Entertainment Precinct bringing in extended trading hours for venues and bottle shops and a relaxation of after-midnight drink rules, with existing arrangements maintained in the Kings Cross precinct.

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said while the extended trading hours will provide a boost for the night time economy, community safety will always be a focus.

“There’s been a cultural shift in the city’s night life since 2014, and it’s time to look towards a bright, safe, diverse Sydney after dark, by improving liquor laws and enhancing access to arts, entertainment, shopping and sporting activities that are inclusive and family friendly,” Mr Ayres said.

“Sydney is Australia’s only truly global city and can evolve to embrace an economy which is cranking around the clock, particularly now that light rail services have been running for a month.

“Stimulating the 24 hour economy is a joint effort and we’re working with the City of Sydney Council and the Committee for Sydney, as well as NSW Government agencies, council, businesses and the community to get this right.”

Existing arrangements are being maintained in the Kings Cross precinct and will be reviewed next year along with the following changes which came into effect overnight:

  • Remove 1.30am last entry for all venues in the Sydney CBD Entertainment Precinct, including those on Oxford Street.
  • Remove restrictions on serving cocktails, shots and drinks in glass after midnight in this precinct.
  • Extend ‘last drinks’ at venues with good records in this precinct by 30 minutes.
  • Extend bottle shop opening hours across NSW until midnight from Monday to Saturday, with 11pm closing on Sunday.
  • Increase small bar patron capacity from 100 to 120 across NSW.

To view the Government’s full response to the Committee’s recommendations, visit this link.

Australia v All Stars game to headline bushfire plan

Netball Australia, supported by Netball NSW and other Member Organisations, has today announced a bushfire relief fundraising showcase match between the Australian Diamonds and a Suncorp Super Netball All Stars team at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney on Sunday 1 March.

The Australian Diamonds will come together outside of official scheduled duties to take on the All Stars and raise funds to support those affected by the Australian bushfires. Further information on this match including match time, how to purchase tickets and how the All Stars team will be selected will be made available in the coming weeks.

In addition to the match, and in partnership with its state and territory-based member organisations, the Suncorp Super Netball league and clubs, the Australian Netball Players Association, corporate partners and NetFit, Netball Australia will utilise a range of initiatives to support fundraising for bushfire relief and recovery including:

The Suncorp Super Netball pre-season competition, the Suncorp Team Girls Cup, will be dedicated to raising funds to support the rebuilding efforts. More details on this event will be announced in coming days.

Netball’s elite athletes will donate a “volunteer day” outside of their contracted requirements to work with Netball Australia, member organisations and/or Suncorp Super Netball clubs on relief and recovery initiatives. Netball Australia staff will also donate two days.

The annual Give for a Goal initiative, coordinated by the Confident Girls Foundation, will run throughout 2020 and will raise funds through a range of netball events and competitions including Suncorp Super Netball and this year’s International Test Series.

Netball Australia’s member organisations will continue to work closely with communities to understand the full impact of the disaster and how Netball Australia can support recovery efforts.
Netball Australia CEO Marne Fechner has acknowledged that the entire Australian netball community has rallied to support those in need.

“The bushfires that have ravaged large parts of Australia over the past few months have been truly devastating, and netball is committed to providing both immediate and sustained relief for bushfire-affected communities,” she said.

“The Australian netball community has a wonderful resilience and determination. We’ll do everything we can to assist both the broader Australian community and also grassroots netball-specific recovery efforts around the country.”

Australian Diamonds captain Caitlin Bassett has been moved by the devastating events and is excited to be bringing her team together for such a good cause.

“Our entire squad has seen these devastating events unfold over the past few months and our hearts go out to those affected. As a group, we’re eager to do anything possible to help and looking forward to getting out there in front of a packed house in Sydney.”

Former Australian Diamond, Swift and Giant Susan Pettitt grew up in a bushfire-affected region and is proud to see her sport come together at such a crucial time.

“I’ve seen firsthand the impact that these fires have had on communities with parts of my parent’s property on the south coast of NSW being burnt out. The emergency threat for some communities isn’t over yet and the recovery for affected regions will take years so it’s great that the Australian netball community has come together to support such a worthy cause.”

All funds raised through Netball Australia’s initiatives will be donated to the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Appeal and a Natural Disaster Relief Fund which has been established through the Confident Girls Foundation with the purpose of supporting netball-specific bushfire relief and recovery projects.

Netball Australia’s response to this disaster will continue to evolve and the sport looks forward to working closely with stakeholders, partners and grassroots communities to ensure netball has a real and sustained impact on community relief and recovery.