Digital parking permit applications open

Newcastle residents can now apply online for digital parking permits as the City transitions to a more efficient and effective permit system.

The move to digital permits means annual email and mail applications, or visits to the City’s customer service centre, will no longer be needed to renew either resident or resident-visitor permits.

The whole process can be completed online and will no longer require residents or their visitors to stick permits on windscreens or dashboards – numberplates will indicate vehicles covered by a permit from Wednesday 24 June 2020.

All existing permit holders will receive an email from the City notifying them that they need to register for the digital permit system.

“This streamlined digital parking permit process is great news for the holders of around 2,500 permits across the city,” City of Newcastle Governance Director David Clarke said.

“Digital parking permits are the latest customer service we’re taking online after transitioning rates and on-street parking payments, library memberships and other services with great success over the past few years. Digitising permit renewals will save residents and our staff a huge amount of time and resources.

“The digital permit system will generate email reminders a month and two-weeks before permits are due to expire each year, giving residents an opportunity to update their residential, payment and vehicle details prior to permit renewal.”

Instructions on how to register and apply for permits are available on our Parking Permits page.

Enquiries can be made by contacting the Parking Operations team for assistance on 4974 2000

The resident parking permit, visitor and pensioner parking permits will be valid for 12 months from the date of approval.

Existing permits will no longer be valid from Wednesday 24 June 2020.

Want to help during the COVID-19 pandemic? This app is how

An app that allows everyday people to help local businesses struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic has been launched today.

‘Lean In Newy’ connects organisations that need support, with people wanting to help, while providing added encouragement through $50,000 in vouchers and discounts redeemable at local businesses.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said Novocastrians have been brimming with community spirit in response to COVID-19 and Lean In Newy would direct people’s desire to help where it’s most needed.

“COVID-19 has had an unprecedented effect on our community, with older people experiencing increased isolation and businesses suffering a downturn in trade, while other people have found themselves suddenly with more time on their hands,” the Lord Mayor said.

“We have been hearing from many people in the community wanting to help but not knowing how. Lean In Newy is the answer to those asking, ‘How can I help?’.

“Charitable organisations like OzHarvest, Dog Rescue Newcastle and Take 3 For The Sea have registered with Lean In Newy to put out a call for volunteering opportunities, and those who put their hand up will be rewarded with incentives like a free coffee at a local café.

“There are already 23 businesses and 11 not-for-profits signed up, with more in talks, and City of Newcastle is funding the discounts or incentives offered through businesses during the COVID-19 recovery phase.

“Lean In Newy is a fantastic way for us to play our part in helping local businesses and community organisations get back on their feet.”

Lean-In-Newy-(1).jpg(L-R): Family Support Newcastle CEO Sue Hellier, Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes and Zebra Finch owner Kate McNally assemble kids’ activity packs.

Family Support Newcastle is one of those community organisations. CEO Sue Hellier said the organisation’s role in promoting the wellbeing of children and their families, individuals and communities was more vital than ever in light of recent hardship caused by COVID-19.

“Many of our activity groups and face-to-face support services have been impacted by COVID-19, but our mission remains the same. There are still ways the community can assist, like purchasing items and assembling kids’ activity or sanitisation packs at home and dropping them off at our Waratah centre,” Ms Hellier said.

“Lean In Newy will be a great help for organisations like us that need more support during this challenging time, and we’re very thankful to City of Newcastle for developing this initiative.”

Likewise, local business owner Kate McNally, who operates Zebra Finch at Marketown and Kotara, said she was grateful for the helping hand to encourage customers back to the stores.

“As a small business, we have felt the impacts of COVID-19 closures and social distancing measures quite profoundly, with a significant downturn in trade,” Mrs McNally said.

“It’s a relief to have the City’s support to help get back on track.”

Download Lean In Newy from the App Store or Google Play or visit leaninnewy.com.au.

JOB CREATION THE REMEDY TO COVID RECESSION

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the state’s focus on job creation in its economic response to COVID-19 was the right approach to recovering from Australia’s first recession in almost thirty years.

National account figures out yesterday indicated consumer and business confidence had fallen to their lowest levels on record, reflecting the combined impacts of the drought and bushfires, as well as the beginning of COVID-19 social distancing and travel restrictions. In NSW, ABS data showed NSW state final demand (SFD) fell by -1.5 per cent in the March quarter, the weakest result in 20 years.

Mr Perrottet said the figures were worrying but not unexpected given the impact the pandemic has had on spending, with household consumption down 1.6 per cent, partly offset by a 1.8 per cent increase in government financial support.

“Right from the start of this pandemic, we’ve said we’ve got to keep our infrastructure projects moving and keep people in jobs and businesses in business,” Mr Perrottet said. “That’s why our pipeline has increased to over $100 billion and this will be an infrastructure led recovery.”

“We’ve allocated almost $11 billion in self-funded stimulus support measures – more than any other state – and we’re committed to supporting projects that create jobs across NSW.”

Mr Perrottet said figures for the next quarter are unlikely to be much better and the end of the Federal Government’s JobKeeper program in September is likely to see a further increase in unemployment.

“When hundreds of thousands of people are losing their jobs, we need to divert every dollar to create many more jobs through stimulus programs.”

“That’s why we need to hit the pause button on public sector pay rises so that we can get thousands of people off the Centrelink queues and back to work.”

“Household saving increases during times of crisis and a pay-rise would only boost that. What we really need right now is more jobs, jobs, jobs.”

“The only people who are unaware we are in a pandemic-induced recession is the NSW Labor party and they need to get with the program or get out of the way.”

The GDP result is expected to be just the start of bleak economic figures for the country, with the next set of national accounts figures due out in September.

NSW GOVERNMENT DELIVERS HISTORIC BUILDING REFORMS TO RESTORE INDUSTRY CONFIDENCE

The NSW Government has delivered on its promise to restore public confidence in the building industry by successfully passing the Design and Building Practitioners Bill 2019.

Minister for Better Regulation, Kevin Anderson said the much-needed reforms, passed by Parliament today, mark the start of a new era in the design and construction of buildings in NSW.

“The NSW Government has a no nonsense approach to achieving and maintaining best practice regulation across all of the industries that it regulates, and the building sector is no exception,” Mr Anderson said.
“This Bill is all about putting consumers first by giving those entering the property market peace of mind that their home will be expertly designed and built in compliance with the Australian Building Codes.”

The Minister said the Bill, developed through extensive consultation with industry stakeholders and the public, will ensure NSW has a leading system of design and building regulation that delivers well-constructed buildings into the future.

“The passing of the Bill is a huge step forward in the rebuilding the construction sector into a transparent, accountable, customer-centric industry that consumers deserve,” Mr Anderson said.

“Owners of apartment buildings with defects will benefit immediately from the statutory duty of care that applies to all new buildings and those less than ten years old.”

Also introduced to NSW Parliament this week is the Residential Apartment Buildings (Compliance and Enforcement Powers) Bill 2020, boosting the Building Commissioner’s power to stop dodgy builders and developers in their tracks.

The NSW Building Commissioner, David Chandler OAM, will be leading the regulator’s implementation of both Bills, through an expert team of up to 60 new staff who will undertake increased investigation, audit and compliance activities.

“Combined, these two Bills put the interests of consumers first and show that the Government is serious about lifting the standard of work across the building and construction sector,” Mr Chandler said.

“The laws will give my team a broad range of powers, including the ability to issue stop work orders, prevent strata plan registration and occupation certificates, and to issue hefty fines for those doing the wrong thing.”

The two pieces of legislation forms one part of the NSW Government’s comprehensive six part reform agenda to lift standards and accountability in the building sector.

CRIME RATES CONTINUE TO REMAIN STABLE

Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott today welcomed the latest quarterly report by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) which shows the majority of crime categories have remained stable.

Mr Elliott said the BOCSAR report shows that 13 out of the 17 major crime categories remained stable over the 24 months to March 2020.

“NSW Police officers dedicate their lives to the safety and protection of the community and I thank them for their tireless efforts to keep crime rates low,” Mr Elliott said.

“We are delivering 1500 new police – the biggest single increase for the NSW Police Force in more than 30 years – as part of a record investment to bolster police numbers and increase crime fighting capability.

“The community can rest assured that we have a record number of police on the beat conducting increased Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) checks as part of our commitment to protecting the most vulnerable.

“In this first quarter of 2020, police conducted an additional 3,684 checks compared to the previous year.”

Attorney General and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Mark Speakman said the spike in reported domestic violence assault and sexual assault was concerning, but could also reflect increased proactive policing and the willingness of victims to report abuse.

“Police are on the front foot targeting high risk domestic violence offenders more than ever to ensure offenders are held accountable and victims are kept safe,” Mr Speakman said.

“At the same time, the NSW and Federal Governments have together invested more than $21 million in frontline domestic violence services and other supports so that when a victim is ready to report abuse, they can be confident that help is available.”

Three categories showed an increase: the number of recorded domestic assaults (up 4.1 per cent), the number of sexual assaults (7.9 per cent), and the number of incidents of robbery with a weapon not a firearm (up 10.5 per cent). Steal from person trended down, showing a 10.4 per cent decrease.

The 13 major crime categories that remained stable are:

  • Murder;
  • Non-domestic violence related assault;
  • Indecent assault, act of indecency and other sexual offences;
  • Robbery with a firearm;
  • Robbery without a weapon;
  • Break and enter dwelling;
  • Break and enter non-dwelling;
  • Motor vehicle theft;
  • Steal from motor-vehicle;
  • Steal from retain store;
  • ·Steal from dwelling;
  • Fraud; and
  • Malicious damage to property.

For more information go to www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au.

Attempted armed robbery – Medowie

Police are investigating after an attempted armed robbery in the Hunter overnight.

About 8.35pm (Wednesday 3 June 2020), a 34-year-old male employee was inside a takeaway shop on Ferodale Road, Medowie, when a man entered the store and threatened him with a knife.

The armed man demanded cash before fleeing empty handed after the attendant grabbed a nearby kitchen utensil and challenged him.

Officers from Port Stephens-Hunter Police District attended a short time later and established a crime scene.

The man is described as being aged in his late teens, between 160cm-170cm tall, with his face covered.

Anyone who may have CCTV or dashcam footage from the nearby area between 8pm and 9pm yesterday, or who may have information which could assist detectives is urged to contact Raymond Terrace Police on 4983 7599 or call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Govt’s spotlight on arts and entertainment welcome

The foreshadowing of a package for the arts and entertainment industry by the PM is welcome, but the devil will be in the detail, the Greens say.

Greens Spokesperson for the Arts Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the arts and entertainment industry has been pleading for Government intervention for months.

“The Prime Minister likes his sport, I hope today’s reports are a sign he’s starting to recognise the arts and entertainment sector is important too. But the devil will be in the detail,” Senator Hanson-Young said.

“The arts and entertainment industry was effectively shut down overnight as the first of the social distancing restrictions came in back in March. Finally, some three months later, the PM has now checked his blind spot and started talking about the need for specific industry assistance.

“Backing Australian artists and the entertainment industry is backing Australian jobs and Australian-made products. It’s a no-brainer for the community, jobs and the economy.

“There is a real opportunity here to simulate the economy, put people back into work and create new jobs, not just in arts and entertainment but our hospitality and tourism industries too.

“The Greens have been pushing for a $2.3 billion package to get our artists, musicians, writers, creators, and crews back producing content for our screens, theatres, live music venues, festivals and galleries. Supporting the big players in the industry won’t be enough, there must be help across the board, in our cities and our regions.

“If the government doesn’t come up with the goods, the Greens will move in Parliament next week, to fix the problem.

“Artists, entertainers and creatives have been out in the cold far too long. It’s time the Government gave back to an industry that gives so much to us – our economy, culture and social fabric.”

Attack on media in America to be examined by Senate Press Freedom Inquiry

Chair of the Senate Inquiry into Press Freedoms, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, has vowed to look at the treatment of the press covering the protests in America after a shocking attack by police in Washington DC on a 7 News Australia crew.

“Police and riot squads punching and assaulting journalists who are doing their jobs is simply unacceptable. We have seen footage not just of Australian press being treated this way but local media who have been arrested, shot with rubber bullets, tear gassed and bashed by police across America,” Senator Hanson-Young said.

“It’s wrong when it’s happening in Hong Kong and it’s wrong when it’s happening in America.

“Here in Australia we are not immune with police raids on journalists and state and federal governments cracking down on the democratic right to protest, perpetuating a dangerous culture of government shutting down dissent.

“A free press is essential for democracy. This shocking violence towards the media in the USA is an attack on press freedom everywhere.

“A free and open democracy depends on its citizens having access to information and independent reporting of events, activists and behaviour of Government and authorities.”

“As Chair of the Inquiry, I’ll be asking the Committee to look at what has occurred in the US towards the press and what Australia’s response has been.”

LABOR CALLS FOR CAP TO BE LIFTED ON FIRST HOME LOAN DEPOSIT SCHEME

Labor today called on the Federal Government to lift the cap on the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme for first home buyers who build new homes.

This will help save the jobs of tradies and help more Australians purchase their first home.

Work in the housing construction industry is about to fall off a cliff and estimates by the Master Builders Association indicate 450,000 tradies jobs could be at risk if the government doesn’t act.

Labor has been calling on the government for 5 weeks for a National Housing Stimulus program to save thousands of jobs.

History shows that stimulating housing has been central to the national recovery from economic shock.

The First Home Loan Deposit Scheme currently assists 10,000 first home buyers each financial year to purchase a home with a deposit of as little as five per cent without the need to purchase mortgage insurance.

According to the Minister for Housing, in the first six months of operation the scheme is likely to be fully subscribed and most of the assistance will be provided to first home buyers to purchase existing homes.

We need to provide more support for the construction of new housing to help keep tradies working and off the dole queue.

Labor is therefore calling for the cap to be lifted on the Scheme  for first home buyers who build new homes (subject to the existing income and price caps).

The existing cap of 10,000 would remain in place for first homeowners purchasing existing homes.

This will encourage the construction of more new homes, keep more tradies in work, and increase the nations’ housing stock.

The Master Builders Association, Housing Industry Association and the Urban Development Institute of Australia have all warned the Federal Government that the housing construction industry is about to go off a cliff and have called for an expansion of the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme.

Almost one million people work in the housing construction industry.

Before COVID-19 hit between 171,000 to 160,000 homes were expected to be built this year.  Now it is predicted to be as low as 100,000.

To help fill this gap Labor has already called on the Government to:

  1. work with state governments, the private sector and superannuation funds to invest in more social and affordable housing and the repair and maintenance existing social housing; and
  2. build more affordable rental housing for the true heroes of the COVID-19 crisis – nurses, cleaners, aged care workers, supermarket workers, bus drivers, and other front-line workers – closer to where they work.

Lifting the cap of the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme for first home buyers who build new homes is another important measure which should form part of a National Housing Stimulus Plan.

The government needs to stop delaying and help save the jobs of thousands of Aussie tradies.

Update Economic And Fiscal Outlook

The Morrison Government’s economic response to the Coronavirus crisis is providing $259 billion or 13.3 per cent of GDP in support for workers, households and business.

The position of strength from which we entered the crisis together with this unprecedented support has seen the Australian economy perform better than almost every developed economy in the world.

In April, the Government indicated that it would provide an update on the economic and fiscal outlook in June.

Since then, Australia’s continued success in flattening the curve means we have been able to begin reopening our economy more quickly than initially expected.

Treasury has also since commenced its review of the JobKeeper program, which is not expected to be concluded until the end of June.

As a result, the Government has taken the decision to defer the economic and fiscal update to 23 July 2020, so that it can incorporate the outcomes of the JobKeeper review.

Delivering the update in July will also enable the economic and fiscal outlook to take account of progress made under the three step plan outlined by National Cabinet in early May which had the objective of seeing a sustainable COVID safe Australia in July 2020.

The Government will continue to provide updates on the fiscal position through the release of the Australian Government General Government Sector Monthly Financial Statements.