METRO TUNNELLING TO CREATE THOUSANDS OF JOBS

Minister for Transport Andrew Constance today announced the start of the tender process to build almost 50km of new metro railway tunnels between Greater Parramatta and the Sydney CBD on the Sydney Metro West project.

The NSW Government has called for expressions of interest for the mega project’s first two major infrastructure packages – the delivery of twin tunnels between Westmead and The Bays.

“Now more than ever, infrastructure projects like Sydney Metro West support jobs, communities and the economy – Sydney Metro West will create more than 10,000 direct new jobs and 70,000 indirect jobs, with thousands of these jobs being generated by these new tunnelling contracts,” Mr Constance said.

“These contracts will require tunnellers, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, concrete workers, truck drivers, labourers and security guards.”

The first of four mega tunnel boring machines are expected to be in the ground before the end of 2022.

Expressions of interest have been called for the first two tunnelling contracts from Westmead to Sydney Olympic Park and from Sydney Olympic Park to The Bays.

“Sydney Metro West is a truly once-in-a-century city shaping project that will forever change how we get around Sydney,” Mr Constance said.

“Just as importantly, the construction of this mega project will create many thousands of new jobs and support families across Sydney.”

The Sydney Metro West project will deliver a new underground driverless metro railway from Westmead to the city, doubling the rail capacity of this corridor and cutting travel times to around 20 minutes between Parramatta and the city.

NEXT STAGE OF SNOWY 2.0 GETS GREEN LIGHT

More than 150 new jobs will be created and $55 million injected into regional NSW, as the NSW Government gives the go-ahead for construction of the Snowy Hydro Segment Factory – the next crucial stage of the Snowy 2.0 expansion.

Deputy Premier and Member for Monaro John Barilaro said the approval of the Snowy Hydro Segment Factory was fantastic news for the region, with construction of the concrete production facility to begin within weeks.

“The Snowy Hydro Scheme is part of the folklore of the Monaro and this approval means work can get underway on a critical part of the project’s infrastructure which will provide huge benefits and job opportunities for the area,” Mr Barilaro said.

“Around 150 jobs will be created as part of the new infrastructure with many of these being entry-level positions, with all training provided.

“These opportunities couldn’t come at a better time with many in our community facing unexpected unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes said the planning system has a key role to play in keeping the economy moving both now and in the months ahead.

“We’re working to get shovel-ready projects out the door, to create jobs and drive investment into our local economies during these extraordinary times,” Mr Stokes said.

“This project will unlock new industry investment in regional NSW, creating 30 jobs during construction and about 125 jobs once operational.”

Construction of the factory is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

The factory will manufacture more than 130,000 concrete tunnel segments for use during exploratory works and once approved, as part of the main works for Snowy 2.0.

For more information visit https://www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/major-projects/project/14716

City provides community financial hardship support in response to COVID-19

City of Newcastle is providing financial hardship support for businesses and residents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as part of a $5.5 million Community and Economic Resilience package.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said local businesses are facing supply chain issues and substantially reduced economic activity with the unemployment rate likely to continue to rise as COVID-19 continues to spread.

“We understand it is an extremely challenging time for many people in our community so it’s important City of Newcastle does everything possible to support our community’s resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The City will provide financial hardship support for residents and business owners to develop payment plans for their rates, with interest penalties waived until 30 June 2021.

“The next rates instalment is not due until 31 May, so people experiencing financial hardship have plenty of time to contact City of Newcastle to organise a payment plan.

“The payment plan options will be determined on an individual basis after consultation with a Debt Recovery officer. If you are already on a payment plan, you will have the interest waived for 12 months.”

Local businesses and residents will receive cash flow relief with a 50 per cent discount given on rent for all City-owned buildings and land for the June and September quarter.

“This will reduce financial pressure for dozens of local small businesses and community organisations,” Cr Nelmes said.

“In addition, the package focuses on stimulating the Newcastle economy through a ‘buy local’ commitment. Businesses within the Newcastle Local Government Area will be favoured with the usual local weighting assessment of 10 per cent increased wherever possible.”

“We will also fast track our invoice payment to provide improved cash-flow for businesses and to keep the economy ticking.

“City of Newcastle has implemented a range of flexible approaches to allow essential businesses and service providers to operate responsively to the city’s changing needs in line with the latest advice from the NSW Government and Federal Government. This includes flexible truck delivery times for supermarkets and extended operating hours for doctors’ surgeries.

“Due to the additional challenges posed by COVID-19, we have waived fees on library fees and have committed to hold the City’s hourly parking rate for 12 months.”

For further information on City of Newcastle’s response to COVID-19 please see newcastle.nsw.gov.au/COVID-19

BILLIONS IN TAX RELIEF FOR BUSINESS, $1 BILLION FUND FOR JOBS, AND HELP FOR THE VULNERABLE

The NSW Government today released the second stage of its economic package aimed at keeping people in jobs, helping businesses and supporting our most vulnerable in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key elements of the NSW COVID-19 stage two package include:

Keeping people in jobs and helping businesses stay afloat

  • The creation of a $1 billion Working for NSW fund to sustain business, create new jobs and retrain employees. The fund is already being put in to action with 1000 new staff for Service NSW announced this week to be funded by the program. The Working for NSW fund will comprise $750 million in new funding and $250 million announced last week for additional cleaning services.
  • Deferral of payroll tax for business with payrolls over $10 million for six months (up to $4 billion deferred). Businesses with payrolls of $10 million or less received a three-month waiver on payroll tax in the first package. These businesses will now get an additional three month deferral as well.
  • Deferral of gaming tax for clubs, pubs and hotels, and lotteries tax for six months, conditional on these funds being used to retain staff. This improves liquidity and helps these businesses stay afloat.
  • Deferral of the parking space levy for six months.
  • Deferral of rents for six months for commercial tenants with less than 20 employees in all Government-owned properties.

Helping our most vulnerable

  • $34 million boost in funding to prevent homelessness.
  • $30 million to boost the Energy Accounts Payments Assistance scheme.
  • $10 million to support charities and $6 million additional funding for Lifeline’s operations in NSW.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the NSW Government’s package will support employment, provide relief for business and protect those most in need.

‘‘These are unprecedented times and if we are to emerge in the best shape possible we need to ensure businesses keep their heads above water and keep employees on the books,” Mr Barilaro said.

“Now is the time for all of us to work together, support each-other, show compassion and lend a hand wherever we can to those hurting.

“We will do whatever it takes to help businesses stay afloat so that they can hold onto as many jobs as possible as we get through this crisis. We will also be there to support those most vulnerable to ensure no one is left behind.”

NSW last week announced a $2.3 billion funding package which included a $700 million to boost health and $1.6 billion for tax cuts and job creation.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the new measures were timely, targeted and temporary and had been “designed for maximum impact and immediate effect”.

“The NSW Government is leading from the front with a package which complements the stimulus measures delivered by the Commonwealth and RBA,” Mr Perrottet said.

“When you combine this announcement with last week’s stimulus package the NSW Government is ensuring billions are available to help business, support jobs, boost our health system and protect the vulnerable.

“Our expectation is that any relief provided by the NSW Government will be used to contribute to help businesses stay in business and people stay in jobs. It’s vital we keep people employed and ensure we have the ability to rebound when things improve.”

GREATER SYDNEY WATER RESTRICTIONS EASED TO LEVEL 1 FROM TODAY

Water restrictions in Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains and the Illawarra revert to Level 1 from today, March 1, with Sydney dam levels over 80 per cent.

Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey said easing back to Level 1 water restrictions would provide some relief to residents and businesses.

“People have been very patient and we appreciate that. The rain event that swept across the east coast of New South Wales earlier this month increased dam levels by 40 per cent, with total dam storages currently at 82 per cent,” Mrs Pavey said.

Mrs Pavey said while the rain was welcomed it was too early to ascertain if the weather was returning to some normality.

“The last time Sydney’s Dam levels were over 80 per cent was in April 2018. Since then they have been declining at the fastest rate on record at 0.5 per cent a week,” Mrs Pavey said.

“Until we are confident the weather patterns are normalizing, Level 1 restrictions will remain in place, so Sydney residents have some stability in their water habits.

“This drought is a reminder that water is our most precious resource and that saving water needs to be a way of life for us.”

Level 1 water restrictions include using a hose with a trigger nozzle only before 10am and after 4pm. Residents and businesses cannot leave hoses running unattended, or use standard sprinklers and watering systems at any time.

Mrs Pavey acknowledged people have been patient and applauded their efforts to reduce the amount of water being used annually – from 200L per person per day in 2017, to 180L today.

“Despite a 26 per cent increase in population, the total demand for drinking water remains lower than it did before mandatory restrictions were introduced in late 2003.”

Fines still apply for breaches of water restrictions – $220 for residential breaches and $550 for businesses. Exemptions will be available for non-residential customers. For a full list of requirements for Level 1 water restrictions visit: lovewater.sydney.

CAUGHT ON CAMERA! PENALTIES NOW APPLY

Drivers caught on camera illegally using their mobile phone will be issued fines and demerit points from today.

The NSW Government’s world-first mobile phone detection cameras have been operating in warning mode since 1 December 2019, but drivers caught doing the wrong thing will now cop a $344 fine and five demerit points.

Minister for Roads Andrew Constance said 9 million vehicles had been checked by the cameras during the three-month warning period, with more than 30,000 warning letters issued to offending drivers.

“We’re seeing more than 99 per cent of drivers doing the right thing, so when we compare this with the findings from the pilot last year, it is clear drivers are starting to get the message.

“As fines and demerits start to be issued from today we expect the number of offences could fall even further, making NSW roads safer for everyone.

“It’s important that drivers who continue to put the safety of themselves, passengers and the local community at risk realise that no matter where you are you could be caught and you will be fined,” Mr Constance said.

Minister for Regional Roads Paul Toole said taking your eyes off the road for longer than two seconds doubled the risk of a crash.

“The decision to pick up your phone can have fatal consequences. Whether you’re driving on a major highway or an isolated road in the bush, there’s no excuse for using your phone illegally,” Mr Toole said.

“The cameras are both fixed and transportable, with the trailer-mounted cameras to be frequently moved around the state, targeting illegal mobile phone use anywhere, anytime.”

NSW Police continue to enforce illegal mobile phone use and issue infringements as part of regular operations.

Keith Urban Scholarship for The CMAA Academy

The Country Music Association of Australia is delighted to announce that multiple Grammy and ARIA Award winner Keith Urban, has established a scholarship for the CMAA Academy.

The Academy program precedes Australia’s largest music event – the Tamworth Country Music Festival, held each January in the nation’s ‘Country Music Capital’.

The two-week residential skills and career-development program was, and still is, a unique and world-leading initiative which has helped launch the careers of many of our current genre’s stars including Sara Storer, The McClymonts, Travis Collins, Amber Lawrence and The Sunny Cowgirls to name just a few of the 500-plus artists who have graduated since the Academy was established 21 years ago.

The inaugural recipient of the Keith Urban Scholarship is Heath Lancaster, who originally hails from Gladstone, near Kempsey.

“We chose Heath as the first recipient of this special scholarship as he has shown great musical talent and potential as an all-round artist – as a musician, singer and songwriter,” The Academy director Lyn Bowtell said.

“The Academy staff members can see a bright musical future for Heath if he chooses to pursue it as a career.”

Keith’s stellar career began in 1990 when the then 22-year-old won Australia’s premier talent search competition, Star Maker at the Tamworth festival.

Following the 1991 release of his self-titled debut album that produced four charting singles, Keith relocated to Nashville.

The rest, as they say, is history with every possible award – including US Entertainer of The Year (in 2005 and 2018), establishing him as one of the brightest stars in the world’s largest music market and one of our most successful music exports ever.

Many of The Academy graduates have targeted Toyota Star Maker as the first rung on the ladder to success, with fourteen of the past twenty winners of the prestigious title having come through the program.

The program focuses on songwriting, presentation and career/business skills and features guest lectures and mentoring by our leading artists – many of them ex-graduates themselves.

On receiving the news, CMAA President Dobe Newton, who helped establish The Academy said:

“This generosity is typical of the man who has never forgotten the part Tamworth played in launching his stellar career, typified by an unscheduled gig on his Australian tour last year to assist the many thousands of farmers, rural workers and communities affected by drought. The Keith Urban Scholarship will create a lasting legacy and hopefully allow a talented and determined young artist to follow in his footsteps. Thanks mate!”

Ecosuburbia event for smart, liveable sustainable city

Laman Street behind Civic Park will come to life with eco-market stalls, a local food swap and a range of activities to get kids thinking about sustainability when Newcastle Library hosts the Ecosuburbia Fair Share event tomorrow, Saturday 22 June.

City of Newcastle is collaborating with Permaculture Hunter and Purple Pear Farm to showcase the fair and host an “Aussie Street” City Hall talk by permaculture co-originator David Holmgren tomorrow.

Author of RetroSuburbia, the downshifter’s guide to a resilient future, Holmgren espouses a way of life aligned with the City of Newcastle’s strategy to create a smart, liveable and sustainable global city.

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“Our community collaborating to host the father of an internationally recognised social and environmental movement illustrates Newcastle’s commitment to living smarter and more sustainably,” Manager Libraries and Learning Suzie Gately said.

“His Aussie Street talk cleverly brings RetroSuburbia’s ideas into our everyday lives, using 100-plus photos and water-coloured illustrations and practical concepts from his exciting new book. Come along to be part of Holmgren’s remarkably insightful, thought-provoking vision for a resilient and sustainable future.”

Tickets for the Retrosuburbia ‘Aussie Street’ talk with David Holmgren sold out within 48 hours.

The Ecosuburbia Fair Share event from 10am is proudly delivered in collaboration with Newcastle Libraries, Hunter Permaculture and Purple Pear Farm. It will also host Slow Food Hunter Valley Soup Kitchen and live music by Newcastle Folk.

Ecosuburbia is part of the City’s embrace if the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Goal 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities and Goal 10 Reduced Inequalities, which are now part of the Newcastle 2030 Community Strategic Plan.

Busting Congestion in Western Sydney

A re-elected Morrison Government will invest an additional $167.5 million into Western Sydney, supercharging congestion busting projects to get residents out of traffic.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the funds would be spent improving Dunheved Road in Penrith, and providing more spaces at seven car parks for regular train users.

Mr Morrison said only the Liberals and Nationals have a long-term plan for investment in Western Sydney, which would make it a better place to live, work and play.

“This is about taking Western Sydney from being just about growth, to an even better place to live and get around,” the Prime Minister said.

“Whether it’s the new airport, the North South Rail Link, or our congestion-busting road projects, we are working hard and in partnership with the Berejiklian Government to support a major transformation of this great city.

“We don’t want the people of Western Sydney to be stuck in traffic when they could be at home with their family or getting paid at work.

“But a record investment in infrastructure can only be delivered when you have a stronger economy and with a Budget that is in surplus.

“The only way Bill Shorten and Labor will be able to pay for new road and rail projects in Western Sydney is by placing at least $387 billion in new and higher taxes on the hardworking residents of suburbs like Penrith, Parramatta and Lakemba.”

The Morrison Government’s $167.5 million investment includes:

  • $63.5 million to upgrade Dunheved Road between Richmond Road and Werrington Road in Penrith;
  • $20 million to increase commuter car parking at Kingswood station;
  • $20 million to increase commuter car parking at St Marys station;
  • $15 million to increase commuter car parking at Emu Plains station;
  • $15 million to increase commuter car parking at Campbelltown station;
  • $15 million to increase commuter car parking at Macarthur station;
  • $9.5 million to increase commuter car parking at Revesby station; and
  • $9.5 million to increase commuter car parking at Riverwood station.

Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population Alan Tudge said the projects were part of the Coalition’s record $100 billion investment in infrastructure across the country.

“The Coalition’s $5.3 billion Western Sydney Airport started the infrastructure transformation across the region,” Minister Tudge said.

“We have also committed $3.5 billion to rail infrastructure that will be up and running the day the airport starts operating. All of this means jobs for the people of Western Sydney and our infrastructure plan will get everyone home sooner and safer each day.

“People have been crying out for commuter car parks and these seven new commuter car parks will take up to 3,000 cars off the road. It is a transport strategy that is smart and clear and will make a tangible effect.”

The new funding builds on the Morrison Government’s track record of delivering for Western Sydney, including:

  • $5.3 billion to fully fund the construction of Western Sydney International (Nancy Bird Walton) Airport;
  • $3.5 billion for Stage 1 of the North South Rail Link from St Marys to Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport and the Badgerys Creek Aerotropolis;
  • $2.9 billion towards the $3.6 billion Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan;
  • $1.5 billion in grant funding and a $2 billion concessional loan for WestConnex;
  • $1.4 billion for the new M12 Motorway between the M7 Motorway near Cecil Hills and The Northern Road at Luddenham;
  • $200 million for the Hawkesbury River Third Crossing;
  • $115 million to upgrade Mulgoa Road;
  • $95 million to upgrade The Horsley Drive;
  • $50 million to upgrade Homebush Bay Drive;
  • $7.5 million for additional car parking at Panania station;
  • $65 million for Australia’s first dedicated Cystic Fibrosis Specialist Unit at Westmead;
  • New MRIs in Penrith, Mt Druitt, Rouse Hill and Bella Vista; and
  • Tax relief for Western Sydney’s 215,000 small and medium businesses and 800,000 lower and middle income earners in Western Sydney.