ROYALTIES FOR REJUVENATION: FUNDING THE FUTURE FOR COAL MINING COMMUNITIES

The NSW Government has today launched a bold program to set aside a portion of coal mining royalties to ensure coal mining communities have a strong future for decades to come.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro announced the new fund in Breeza today and said the new Royalties for Rejuvenation fund will see $25 million set aside each year to ensure coal mining communities have the support they need to develop other industries in the long-term.

“Make no mistake, coal mining has a strong future in this state, but to ensure stability for the long haul we are setting aside funds so those coal mining communities, which produce such a valuable resource for our state, can plan what their future looks like,” Mr Barilaro said.

“Today we are announcing a future fund, for future generations and future jobs, to ensure long-term prosperity in regional NSW.

“The NSW Government’s Future of Coal Strategy is a roadmap for the coal industry in NSW, but we understand that mines have a lifespan, and we need to ensure coal mining communities keep quality high-paying jobs in their towns for the next generation and the generation after that.”

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the NSW Government recognises that the coal mining industry is the economic backbone of this state and in turn coal mining communities need certainty for their future.

“Hundreds of millions of dollars will be invested in these communities over coming years to ensure jobs and investment in our vital regional areas,” Mr Perrottet said.

“We want to ensure mining towns continue to have highly skilled well-paid jobs in growth industries that will lock in their economic security long into the future, so young people have the opportunity to remain in the town where they grew up.”

This initiative follows the NSW Government’s introduction of the highly successful Resources for Regions program in 2012 which has seen $345 million invested in local mining communities.

Three arrested as part of an investigation into illegal firearms and drug supply – Hunter region

Drug and Firearms Squad detectives have arrested two men and a woman after seizing a shortened rifle, ammunition, prohibited drugs and $8000 cash in the state’s Hunter Region.

In February this year, detectives from the State Crime Command’s Drug and Firearms Squad established Strike Force Drail to investigate the supply of prohibited drugs and firearms across the state.

Following extensive investigations, strike force detectives executed four search warrants at properties at Cessnock today (Thursday 22 April 2021).

During the searches, detectives seized a shortened rifle, prohibited drugs, mobile phones, ammunition and $8000 cash.

About 6.20am (Thursday 22 April 2021), detectives attended a home at Cessnock, where they located prohibited drugs, cash, and phones. A 34-year-old man was arrested and taken to Cessnock Police Station.

A second search warrant was executed simultaneously at a nearby property, where police seized prohibited drugs, a firearm, ammunition and an electronic control device.

About 6.35am, investigators stopped vehicle on Alexander Street, Cessnock, and spoke to 26-year-old man.

During a subsequent search of the car, police a located prohibited drug, a knife, and cash. The man was arrested and taken to Cessnock Police Station.

A short time later, detectives attended another home at Cessnock, where they seized a phone, cash, and cannabis.

About 6.40am, another search warrant was executed at a fourth Cessnock home, where police they seized cash, prohibited drugs and capsicum spray. A 27-year-old woman was arrested and taken to Cessnock Police Station.

All seized items will be forensically examined.

Charges are expected to be laid later today, and inquiries continue.

As world looks to George Floyd verdict, at home, no justice for Black deaths in custody

Thirty years since the final report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, Australia has yet to reckon with its history and the reality that Black Lives Matter.

George Floyd couldn’t breathe – and across the world, his death sparked a renewed conversation around racial injustice, justice systems and police reform.

Yet right here in this country, 474+ First Nations families have lost a loved one in custody in the thirty years since the Royal Commission handed down its findings – deaths for which not a single person or institution has been held to account.

As recently as last month, we learned that Townsville police used a similar lethal choking hold method as used on George Floyd, when arresting a First Nations man who died in 2018.

“Today’s verdict is a small step towards accountability for George Floyd’s family and loved ones. But the families who have lost a loved one in custody in this country are still being denied justice. No-one is being held to account,” Australian Greens Senator for First Nations people Lidia Thorpe said today.

“The Black Lives Matter movement in the United States sparked real change. It’s well past time for this country to have that same painful conversation – to face the reality of what these deeply racist systems are doing to Aboriginal people. After all, we are the most incarcerated people on earth.

“Enough is enough. Enough to police violence. Enough to the over-incarceration of our people, and our children. We’ve suffered enough at the hands of these colonial authorities.

“No justice, no peace. We can end Blak deaths in custody – and end the constant grief, the pain, and the trauma. This Government needs to show some leadership and implement the full recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody as a priority,” Senator Thorpe added.

Jobs boost from new emissions reduction projects

New investments in clean hydrogen and carbon capture technologies are set to create around 2,500 jobs, support Australian industry and manufacturing into the future and further drive down Australia’s emissions.

The Morrison Government’s 2021-22 Budget will invest a further $539.2 million in new clean hydrogen, carbon capture, use and storage (CCS/CCUS) projects that will support Australian industry, create jobs, help cut emissions and drive investment.

  • $275.5 million to accelerate the development of four additional clean hydrogen hubs in regional Australia and implement a clean hydrogen certification scheme.
  • $263.7 million to support the development of CCS/CCUS projects and hubs.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the world was changing rapidly and Australia will need to be competitive in a new energy economy to support the jobs of Australians, especially in our heavy industries and regional areas that depend on affordable and reliable energy.

“It is essential we position Australia to succeed by investing now in the technologies that will support our industries into the future, with lower emissions energy that can support Australian jobs,” the Prime Minister said.

“There is a strong appetite from business for the new emissions reduction technologies that they know will be needed to run their operations and keep employing Australians and grow jobs for the future.

“World-leading projects like these are about cutting emissions and creating jobs.

“We want to make clean energy more affordable and reliable, while looking for ways our investments can get more people into work.

“We cannot pretend the world is not changing. If we do, we run the risk of stranding jobs in this country, especially in regional areas.

“Australia can and will continue to meet and beat our emissions reduction commitments, while protecting and growing jobs, by commercialising low emissions technologies like hydrogen and CCS/CCUS, that can support our industries and critical economic sectors. And when we commercialise those technologies, they also create new jobs.

“Low emissions industries mean more jobs directly for workers, but also cheaper energy means lower costs to businesses that they can reinvest in hiring more people.

“Our technology-first approach will see Australia achieve its emissions reduction goals while continuing to grow our export industries and also supporting our trading partners’ efforts to decarbonise.”

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said the Government was backing practical, technological solutions to reduce emissions, not big new taxes.

“We are backing technology to meet our 2030 target and get to net zero,” Minister Taylor said.

“The Government’s investment will reduce technical and commercial barriers to deploying these technologies. It will encourage new large-scale investment from the private sector, creating jobs and supporting Australia’s economic recovery, particularly in regional areas.

“It’s a tangible example of our commitment to being a low emissions technology leader and reducing emissions through technology not taxes, or imposing costs on households, businesses or the economy.

“Australia’s potential to supply our trading partners with low cost, clean energy and permanently and safely store emissions underground has our trading partners, including Japan, South Korea and Singapore excited.”

The Government is actively pursuing opportunities to collaborate on low emissions technologies with Germany, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Australia’s Technology Investment Roadmap is a plan to create jobs, cut energy costs and reduce emissions.

The Roadmap will guide $18 billion of Government investment over the next 10 years and drive at least $70 billion of total new investment in low emissions technologies in Australia by 2030. Our plan will support 130,000 jobs by 2030 and avoid in the order of 250 million tonnes of emissions by 2040.

Investing in low emissions technologies will contribute to Australia’s continued success in meeting and beating our emissions reduction targets. Australia beat its 2020 target by 459 million tonnes and we are on track to meet and beat our 26-28 per cent 2030 Paris target.

CCTV appeal following Raymond Terrace break and enter

Police have released CCTV footage as they continue to investigate a break and enter at a Raymond Terrace business last month.

About 1.20am on Thursday 4 March 2021, two men approached an automotive business on Port Stephens Street, Raymond Terrace, and walked around the perimeter before leaving on foot.

The pair returned about 20 minutes later, before one of the men climbed under a fence and entered the premises.

They left a short time later and returned with a third man about 2.20amand again entered the premises before leaving on foot along Kangaroo Street.

No items were taken from the business during the incident.

Officers from Port Stephens-Hunter Police District were notified later that day and commenced an investigation into the incident.

As police continue their inquiries, they have released CCTV footage of three men who may be able to assist with their inquiries.

The first man is described as being of a slim build, between 175cm to 180cm tall, with a light-coloured hat, a jumper, long pants and a backpack.

The second man is described as being of a medium build, between 175cm to 180cm tall, wearing a hat, a jumper and shorts.

The third man is described as being of a medium build, wearing a jumper and long pants.

Anyone who may have information about this incident which could assist investigators is urged to contact Raymond Terrace Police or to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

DISABLED AUSTRALIANS ONCE AGAIN FORGOTTEN IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19

The Australian Greens have called on the Morrison Government to urgently prioritise disabled people, and disability support workers, in the national vaccine roll out after it was revealed that just 6.5% of this cohort have received their first dose.

Australian Greens Disability spokesperson Senator Jordon Steele-John said:

“This is absolutely shameful. It’s clear that the Morrison government has once again forgotten to include disabled people, and the people who support us, in their pandemic response.

“Last year, the disability Royal Commission heard that the Morrison government hadn’t included disabled people in their emergency response plan for COVID-19.

“Now, we learn that a decision has been made to exclude disabled people, and our support workers, from receiving priority vaccinations despite placing us in phase 1a of the vaccine rollout!

“It is abundantly clear that the Morrison government do not care about the safety of disabled people; they treated us like second class citizens throughout their response to the pandemic and they’re doing it again in their bungled vaccine rollout.

Australian Greens Health spokesperson Senator Rachel Siewert said:

“This Government has failed disabled people and their families and is once again denying them basic care and consideration.

“Less than 100 of the more than 6,000 disability institutions across Australia, a home and a workplace to more than 25,000 disabled people and their support workers, have obtained shipments of either vaccine amounting to less than 1,500 individuals receiving their first dose.

“Disabled people and carers were denied the COVID supplement back in March 2020 when many people’s costs were significantly increased due to quarantine, lock down and COVID restrictions and now they are being failed in the vaccine rollout.

“The Government needs to make it an urgent priority to vaccinate disabled people and support workers now.”

RFDS a key part of protecting bush communities from COVID-19

Australia’s iconic aeromedical organisation, the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) continues to play a vital role in protecting regional communities in the fight against COVID-19.

The RFDS has provided retrievals, evacuations, swab transfers and fly-in GP respiratory clinic testing, protecting the lives of people living and working in the most remote corners of the country from the outset of this pandemic.

Speaking during a visit to the RFDS respiratory clinic at Broken Hill airport where the vaccine rollout is underway, Federal Regional Health Minister and Federal Member for Parkes, Mark Coulton said the involvement of the RFDS had helped to ensure that people in rural areas had the same level of protection as Australians in more populated areas.

“Regional and remote Australia has been one of the safest places to be through the pandemic. This is particularly important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have a higher risk of contracting and developing serious illness from COVID-19,” Minister Coulton said.

“The challenge of an effective COVID-19 response in a country as demographically dispersed and sparsely populated as ours is a formidable one.”

“I am proud to say that we have implemented one of the most successful responses to COVID-19 worldwide.”

Minister Coulton said the RFDS has played a key part in keeping remote communities safe through the pandemic.

“It is an essential component of the Australian Government’s commitment to provide the best possible protection for all Australians, regardless of where they live,” he said.

“The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine into rural and remote communities is a vital part of the Government’s vaccine strategy to ensure everyone is protected. Our engagement with the RFDS and other rural health stakeholders will be critical to achieving this in 2021.”

Federation Executive Director of the RFDS, Frank Quinlan, said the organisation was pleased to work with the Australian Government and national health partners on the national COVID-19 response.

“Rural and remote Australia has been protected to date from COVID-19 outbreaks, and we are determined for this success story to be continued,” Mr Quinlan said.

Promises, promises – the Liberals failed record on schools

As Term 1 of the 2021 school year begins there are still 24 new schools the Liberals promised before the 2019 election which they have not built.

The new schools promised across NSW that the Liberals have failed to build are:

Shadow Minister for Education Prue Car said the failure to build schools was letting down families and a missed opportunity to create local jobs.

“Building schools is a key way we can create jobs across NSW. It puts kids in classrooms and keeps tradies in their jobs,” Ms Car said.

“But under the Liberals all we have are false promises, overcrowded schools and results at an all-time low. Liberals just can’t be trusted on education.”

Work commences to breathe new life into Dixon Park Kiosk

Work will commence tomorrow on transforming the long dormant kiosk at the popular Dixon Park Beach into a vibrant community place.

The project, which is expected to be completed in August, will see improvements to the kiosk building including the addition of public seating, shelters and landscaping. Expressions of interest for kiosk operations will be invited in July.

The transformation will also see the relocation of a portion of the building’s faded mural which City of Newcastle has committed to fully restoring in a new location on the southern side of the kiosk as a part of the completed project.

City of Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said that the upgrade to the kiosk will enhance an already lively location and provide a place for people to gather and appreciate the coastal environment.

“The refurbishment of Dixon Park Kiosk will see the currently unused space revitalised into a place where our community and visitors can relax, grab a coffee and enjoy the spectacular coastal scenery,” Cr Nelmes said.

“Having recently hosted the World Surfing League event in Newcastle, we know how much our community loves surfing and I’m looking forward to seeing the mural which features our own champion surfer, Mark Richards, come to life once again.”

Work to prepare the kiosk for use commenced in 2020, with provision of power, water and sewage infrastructure now complete.

The refurbishment supports City of Newcastle’s Coastal Revitalisation program which began in 2010 as part of a long-term commitment to enhance Newcastle’s coastline.

This project is the latest to occur at Dixon Park in recent years, with a 2019 refurbishment to Dixon Park Surf Life Saving Club seeing the clubhouse upgraded with new change rooms, space for female members, and accessible amenities. The $640,000 upgrade was jointly funded by NSW Government through a Surf Club Facilities Grant, City of Newcastle, Dixon Park SLSC and Ability Links NSW.

RECORD SCHOOL BUILDING PROGRAM CONTINUES

Five new and upgraded schools will open in Term 2 benefitting more than 4,400 students across NSW.

Three schools opened their doors today, including Picton High School (new), Mainsbridge School for Specific Purposes (new) and Parramatta West Public School (upgrade). Murrumbidgee High School (upgrade) and St Ives High School (upgrade) will open by the end of Term 2.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell and Member for Parramatta Geoff Lee visited students at Parramatta West Public School today.

The Parramatta West Public School upgrade includes 20 new classrooms, a new hall and a new administrative space.

Ms Berejiklian said the scale of the school building in NSW is unprecedented with more than 30 new and upgraded schools expected to be delivered in 2021.

“The NSW Government has already opened 10 new schools this year and in Term 2 we will open another five,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“Even during the challenge of the pandemic, NSW has kept building. Students across the State are enjoying new classrooms, school halls, outdoor learning areas and libraries.”

Ms Mitchell said the new facilities at these schools and others across NSW are incredible.

“Communities are seeing real improvements at their local schools, with everything from new canteens and playgrounds, to new schools and major upgrades like we see here in Parramatta,” Ms Mitchell said.

“We will support jobs across the state as we look to recover from COVID-19, and at the same time secure the future prosperity of NSW by enhancing schools for our students and teachers.”

Member for Parramatta Geoff Lee said the community was excited for another major school upgrade in the area.

“I want children to be passionate about education when they come to school. The work of dedicated teachers and staff is so important for learning outcomes, and we are supporting them with world class facilities right here in Parramatta,” Dr Lee said.

The NSW Government is investing $7 billion over the next four years, continuing its program to deliver more than 200 new and upgraded schools to support communities across NSW. This is the largest investment in public education infrastructure in the history of NSW.

New and upgraded schools opening in Term 2 2021:

  • Parramatta West Public School – upgrade
  • Mainsbridge School for Specific Purposes – new
  • Picton High School – new
  • Murrumbidgee High School – upgrade
  • St Ives High School – upgrade