Lake Macquarie Matters
Stay up to date with the latest Video News about what matters in Lake Macquarie
South Cardiff Football club scores ground improvement goals, thanks to Community Building Partnership program.
It was delightful to visit the staff and children at Peter Pan Preschool in Wangi Wangi to see how they’ve spent the funding they secured in last year’s round of Community Building Partnership grants. Applications for this year’s grants are open now and I’d encourage organisations which need new or improved facilities to apply. More info on this link: http://www.gregpiper1.com/index.cfm?module=news&pagemode=indiv&page_id=1045281
A big day for Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie today with work starting on their new $1.7m radio base at Swansea Heads. Great to catch up with Mal Wardrop and some of the 150 rescue volunteers who perform such an important role on the lake.
The base performed 396 rescue missions last year alone, including 50 responses to life-saving emergencies on the lake. They also managed more than 21,000 radio calls from local boaters, and that’s why I’ve been such a big supporter of them over many years.
I had the honour of getting work started today at the invitation of Police and Emergency Services Minister David Elliott MP. I thank the Minister and the State Government for providing the funding for this project, but I send the biggest thanks to all of those volunteers for doing what they do. They’re a fantastic bunch of people and we’d be so much poorer without them.
Anzac Day 2020 will be like no other. We will however see and hear of many people who will find a way to observe a minute's silence at home or in their driveways at 6am or who on their own way will commemorate the service of our veterans and that of our current servicemen and women. While these are challenging times, they are nothing like the challenges faced by our veterans and the generations before us. Let’s all join together however we can in an act of respect for service; an act of respect for those lives lost or forever changed. Lest We Forget.
Wishing a safe and happy Easter to all
What an incredibly challenging year we have had, and we have more tough weeks & months ahead. But with all the adversity, we have also seen a wonderful coming together of community to help others in need.
Lyn & I and all my staff want to thank our front-line workers including nurses, doctors, truck drivers, supermarket staff, police & everyone keeping us going; keeping us safe & well. A safe and happy Easter to all!
Crimes rates down in Cardiff, thanks to Cardiff Collaborative Community Project
We’re all hoping that COVID-19 doesn’t get as bad as we’re being warned is possible, but if it does, ICU beds will be in great demand.
This will be a real problem anyway but coupled with typical demand from other illness and accidents, a high number of COVID-19 admissions could mean that we won’t have sufficient ICU beds or ventilators for all who might need them. That’s why authorities want people to reduce obvious risky behaviour.
I joined Lake Macquarie Police District Commander Danny Sullivan to hear his thoughts on the matter.
I want to be perfectly clear on the current rules around fishing and boating. Not surprisingly it’s been a major issue in the local area and a lot of people are still blurring the lines and confusing things.
Firstly, fishing from the banks either alone or with another person is fine, so long as you’re at least 1.5m apart. No more than two people, though, as three is classified as a group and is currently illegal in NSW, unless those people are from the same family and living under the same roof.
Two people fishing from a boat is fine, so long as those social distancing rules are followed.
‘Boating’ is trickier, and jet skis are not boats.
Going to work, the doctor’s or supermarket by boat is allowed for those with no alternative. Cruising around for no essential reason is not.
Kayaking, sailing and paddling is considered passive exercise and is allowed with the social distancing rules in place.
Included below is the exact advice issued by the NSW Public Health Unit.
From 31 March 2020 NSW Government Public health directions have been updated requiring people to stay at home unless they have a ‘reasonable excuse’.
However, as there is on land, there are exceptions that apply on water.
If you go out social distancing rules always apply – at the boat ramp and on your boat.
You should only be on your boat alone, or with no more than one other person; or with family who ordinarily live in the same household as you.
A ‘reasonable excuse’ to use your boat could be to:
exercise (e.g. kayaking/sailing/paddling etc);
get to and from work, where the work cannot reasonably be performed from home;
get groceries; and
provide assistance, care or support to an immediate member of the person’s family.
Unless you have an essential need to be out - stay ashore.
If you do need to go out, stick to your local waters, and do not gather with more than 2 people unless with members of the same household.
It is important to remember that the self-isolation rules apply at all times.
Packing up your boat for a road trip and a half day fishing expedition is also not in the spirit of the restrictions.
Skippers are always responsible, generally this is applied to safety equipment, keeping proper look out and proceeding at a safe speed.
For the latest information on coronavirus and current restrictions, members of the community are encouraged to check the NSW Government website (http://nsw.gov.au) for regular updates.
Community Building Partnership scheme grants announced
Local State Members of Parliament along with the mayors of Lake Macquarie and Newcastle met this morning with Police District Commanders, Danny Sullivan and Brett Greentree to be briefed on the local response to the COVID-19 pandemic that is dominating our lives at the moment.
While there are clear concerns about the potential for the rate of infection to overwhelm our health services, the good news is that we are starting with an excellent health system and there are many measures being taken to make sure our health system copes.
Social media can be excellent for raising awareness of many things, but it can also be a curse, spreading false information and causing unnecessary panic. When looking for information, please use the official sites such as https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/diseases/Pages/coronavirus.aspx or in our area on Facebook @HNEHealth
Along with concerns about health, we are seeing some incredibly ugly and unnecessary behaviour with people over-purchasing and hoarding many products. If everyone would just calm down, supply chains will work! It is not the virus causing this problem, it is irrational behaviour. As Australians we pride ourselves on supporting our mates, our neighbours, our brothers and sisters. This behaviour is the opposite of that and is causing totally unwarranted stress particularly to the more vulnerable in our community.
For those sensible, calm people doing the right thing, thank you. For those who have purchased more than you need, please consider donating some to charities or providing direct help to elderly or others who may be in need in your area.
Any parliamentary week is busy but it’s not always predictable. There are two things that I want to highlight from week. First was the wonderful recognition at the NSW Women of the Year Awards at Darling Harbour of local woman, Justine Lorenz for her work with deafblind persons. Justine won the Local Hero Award and was selected from an outstanding group of women doing amazing things in their communities.
Secondly, a report by an Upper House Committee was released making recommendations in relation to uranium mining and nuclear power. While there may be movement on this in the Upper House this year it seems unlikely to move rapidly.
You can read more on that in this ABC article: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-04/john-barilaro-backs-bill-to-overturn-nuclear-power-ban/12024960
Car hoons be warned: stop it or cop it
For many areas this rain will be a reprieve, but the risk will return without follow-up rain and with plenty of summer to come we need to remain prepared.
When we experience such large fire events or even other emergencies such as from storm and tempest, well made plans are and processes are put in place – we have a plan! I recently spoke with Area Commander, Superintendent Danny Sullivan, about how such emergencies are managed. As the Local Emergency Operations Controller or LEOCON, there’s not a better person to explain the operation. I hope you find this video informative
That's a wrap! A look back at the year that was
We’ve been able to negotiate an agreement that will deliver a new state-of-the-art sport and rec centre on a waterfront site not far from the existing one at Myuna Bay.
This was necessary because the second independent report has come back and unfortunately it recommends that the existing centre should not be reopened on the current site.
Here are the key details of the agreement:
• Origin Energy will pay for a new sport and rec centre to be built on a nearby site it owns. The Office of Sport will be given a 99-year lease on that waterfront site. Planning and construction will be fast tracked.
• Origin Energy will be required to urgently repair its ash dam wall at Eraring because, as it stands, it poses a risk not just to the Sport and Recreation Centre but to the lake and to anyone travelling on Wangi Road.
• The existing site will be retained in Government hands. It will be rehabilitated and revegetated at Origin’s cost and protected from any sort of future development, which I know will ease the concerns of some people.
• All current Myuna Bay staff will be offered redundancy, redeployment to other sport and rec centre sites in the interim, and given priority re-employment when the new centre is opened.
• The water ski club will be compensated for its tournament losses by Origin. Its sheds and equipment will be relocated, again at Origin’s cost, while access to Whiteheads Lagoon or a new location are subject to further negotiations with the club.
• Origin has also agreed to compensate Morisset Rotary Club for the loss of its storage shed on the Myuna Bay site, and for costs incurred since the closure.
I stand by the view that this closure was handled appallingly and I believe that the risk posed to the Sport and Recreation Centre by the ash dam wall is so infinitely small that it didn’t warrant the panicked response. That said, we need to accept the independent reviews now and move on with what I think is a good result.
Most importantly, I want to acknowledge the many thousands of people who have contacted my office and played an active role in getting this result.
This deal simply wouldn’t have happened without the fight that our community has put up. I thank every one of you.
Wyee Rural Fire Service Brigade station officially opens
There's been lots of things happening around the electorate recently and this video outlines most of them. I screened it at my Electorate Information Evening this week to a large group of my supporters and community leaders. I'll continue to release updates on each of these topics as more information becomes available.
Myuna Bay Debate Update
Another important step in the campaign to have Myuna Bay reopened. My thanks to Peter Bailey, and the PSA and members of the local community who came along to support us in the Parliament today.
Thanks also to Labor MPs Lynda Voltz and Member for Charlestown Jodie Harrison for supporting the campaign. The Minister has reassured us today that the review of the decision to close Myuna Bay is well underway and will be completed soon. I particularly note the reassurance of Mr Sidoti that he and the Government are working to get a good outcome for us.
Busy First Week of New Parliament
We've hit the ground running with a pretty busy first week in the new Parliament. I've had a number of meetings with Ministers to discuss health services in the southlakes area, police numbers at Morisset, a couple of planning issues in the Toronto area, railway station car parks and of course Myuna Bay. It looks like we'll have Myuna Bay debated in the Parliament on May 30. I've also been appointed as a temporary Speaker so I'm hoping to improve the behaviour and function of the Parliament. Thanks for your ongoing support. It's a great privilege to represent our community in the 57th NSW Parliament.
Service NSW in Toronto up and Running
Service NSW has been a great success across the state.
While it was a blow when we lost the Toronto Motor Registry getting a full-service Service NSW in Toronto's main street, in my view, more than makes up for the loss. This is a great thing for the entire Lake Macquarie area and will take pressure off the Warners Bay facility. I would urge people to make sure they use our new Service NSW.
Action Needed on Hillsborough Road
I simply can't believe the time we've had to wait for the RMS's masterplan for Hillsborough Road. While I've appreciated the additional safety measures installed near the high school and McDonald's roundabout, traffic congestion during peak times is getting worse. The Crockett Street intersection which feeds Cardiff South remains very dangerous for anyone turning right onto Hillsborough. Unfortunately, no significant work can be done until we see the RMS study which is looking at the entire route from Charlestown to Warners Bay. I've raised this issue in Parliament and with the RMS at every opportunity, and I know that the Member for Charlestown has done the same, but we're still waiting. Frustrating to say the least!
Multi-Level Car Parks Needed at Morisset and Cardiff
I strongly believe that new multi-level parking stations should be built at Morisset, Cardiff and Fassifern train stations to cater for the region’s growth. I recently commissioned concept designs for three different sites at Morisset (pictured in the video below) which could accommodate a multi-level car park, and have identified more than sufficient land for similar car parks at Cardiff and Fassifern. I had the designs for Morisset drawn up because I wanted to show the State Government and the local community what could be done. More info is in the video. I'm interested in hearing your thoughts.
Morisset Hospital Kangaroo Update
While it’s perfectly understandable that visitors to our area, particularly international visitors, would want to see kangaroos in the wild, the kind of activity that was happening at Morisset Hospital was not acceptable on an animal welfare basis and also had a very detrimental impact on clients/patients and staff of the facility.
Since Hunter New England Area Health has closed the site we are seeing kangaroos return to their natural behaviour and will no doubt see a reduction in what had become a worrying number of deaths of these animals directly attributable to the tourism.
Most importantly, patients and residents at the hospital can now once again use the grounds without large numbers of visitors wandering the area impacting on the reasonable expectation of some privacy in such a setting.
Morisset Hospital off Limits to Kangaroos Tourists
Tourists and visitors will soon be stopped from feeding and interacting with the wild kangaroos at Morisset Hospital. Hunter Health has made a decision to install new security gates at both entrances in locations which will deny access to tourist buses and other unauthorised visitors on foot. This is the right decision. Morisset Hospital is foremost a mental health facility. It's not a zoo. The huge increase in tourist numbers was having a very negative impact on the hospital's residents, patients and staff, and of course on the health of the kangaroos. As you can see in the new video I've put together below, attacks had also become more frequent and people were being quite severely injured. Five months ago I was able to get all stakeholders together to find a way of managing the problem, and we've come to the understanding that this is the only sensible solution. I want to thank the local community, Hunter Health, National Parks and Wildlife Service, the RSPCA, Audrey Koosmen from NSW Wildlife Council and everyone else involved in this process.
Location for Service NSW in Toronto
I can finally confirm that the new Service NSW centre will be located in the former Miller’s store on The Boulevard at Toronto. It’s taken a bit longer than we’d hoped to get to this point but locking in a prime location on the main street is worth it. In order to accommodate the new centre, a few changes are being made with existing tenants. The gift store which is currently next to the café will be moving around the corner into the Rockmans store, while Rockmans will be moving into the former newsagency opposite Coles. This is a great result for everyone concerned, and a real boost for the Toronto town centre. The only slight downside is that Service NSW won’t be ready to open until mid to late February, but we’ve waited three years to get our services back so I think we can wait a few weeks longer!
Calls for More Police in Lake Macquarie
The Police Association has called on the Government to recruit 2500 new officers to cater for the State's growing population. It would ultimately be a decision of the Police Commissioner as to where those new officers go if they were allocated, but we'd be asking for 20 new officers locally, some of which could get Morisset Police Station operating 24/7. I put those questions to the Police Minister in Question Time this week, and his response is below.
$231,000 Grant for New Lighting at Walters Park
Great to share some good news with Lake Macquarie Rugby Club president Ron Robson. We’ve been able to secure $231,000 in State funding to install new lighting at Walters Park, the home of the Roos at Speers Point. The club has 10 junior teams which spent most of this season training in the dark, so the club is pretty excited about the successful application. My congrats to Ron and everyone at the club, and my thanks to Scot MacDonald who helped me get this funding over the line.
$2.25 Million to Expand Speers Point Footbal Centre
Fantastic news today for Northern NSW Football. We’ve secured $2.25m from the State Government to significantly expand the Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility at Speers Point. I worked with David Eland and others to get this facility up and running, so being able to secure State funding for the second stage is really great. This centre not only provides world-class facilities for locals, it has put us on the map nationally and even internationally. The money will be used to build a multi-purpose building and education centre, new lighting, a refurbishment of the turf pitch which is adjacent to the synthetic fields, new change rooms and toilets. I really need to thank the State Government for this investment, and also the Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald who helped to secure this funding.
Plastics Police Receive $150,000 Grant
I'm so pleased to announce a grant of $150,000 from the State Government's 'Waste Less Recycle More' program for a fantastic regional pilot program being run by Lake Macquarie business Cross Connections Consulting. The 'Plastic Police Hunter' project will engage with businesses and councils within the Hunter region so soft plastics can be collected and diverted from landfill and litter and turned into useful products such as ashphalt, decking, wheel stops and outdoor furniture that can be purchased by businesses and councils. This program closes the loop on problematic soft plastics which are becoming a major waste problem.
We need to address the catastrophic impact plastics and microplastics are having on our environment. Check out my other video on the subject, and/or visit the AUSMAP website.
Plastics in Our Food Chain
Plastics are now common in our food chain and I believe that this issue, along with climate change, is among the greatest health and environmental challenges of our time and beyond. Please join the global movement towards better understanding the impacts that plastics are having, and how we can manage this major global problem. I’ve made this video with the assistance of researchers at the University of Newcastle. I would appreciate you taking the time to watch it, and can help me spread the word by sharing it.
Road Injuries and Deaths in Lake Macquarie
You see some pretty crazy things happening on the roads, and you have to wonder whether it's better or worse in our area than in other places. Well, the statistics tell us that it is worse, with our cultural issues and bad driver behaviour leading us to have a higher rate of death and injury on our roads than in elsewhere in the state. These people being injured and killed are our friends and family, and we need to do something about it.
Lake Macquarie's Good News Day
Every day in Lake Macquarie is a good one, but today was especially good. We had three major announcements made by Finance Minister Victor Dominello, Attorney General Mark Speakman and Utilities Minister Don Hawrin.
Morisset Hospital Kangaroos
Kangaroo tourism has become a big thing at Morisset Hospital. Having been widely advertised as a good viewing site on the internet and on social media it is not likely that it can be stopped. But for the wellbeing of the kangaroos and the safety of visitors, there does need to be better education about the Do's and Don'ts and at least some improved management. As you can see in this latest video I've produced, people are getting injured. I don't want to see people stopped from visiting the kangaroos, but there clearly needs to be a co-ordinated response to protect the kangaroos as well as the people who visit them.
Hillsborough Road Matters
The community understandably wants to see Hillsborough Road and adjoining roads upgraded to improve safety and ease congestion. It's an issue that has been raised by me and Jodie Harrison MP for Charlestown with the Minister and Roads and Maritime Services and one which needs to be fixed sooner rather than later. In the meantime, the community would appreciate at the very least receiving more information from RMS on just what is planned. Thanks ABC Newcastle for raising this matter with Jenny Marchant today.
Independents in NSW Parliament
This video won't be for everyone but it does answer a question I often get about the value of Independents in politics and the NSW Parliament in particular. It's only about 4 minutes and without wanting to be a spoiler I think the conclusion might be that they're pretty fantastic
Sewer is Coming to Wyee
Sewer is coming to Wyee but many residents are wondering just when? The project has grown but the timeframe for delivery by Hunter Water remains the same. I will be hosting an information meeting at the Wyee Community Hall this Thursday (22nd March) from 6 p.m. where Hunter Water employees will be in attendance to explain the program. In the meantime I have produced this short video to give an overview and update of where the project is up to.
Newcastle Bus Timetable Changes
Changes to bus timetables and routes on services operated by Newcastle Transport have triggered a lot of anger throughout the community. I’ve discussed the problems with the Minister and his staff as well as Transport NSW and Keolis Downer, the operator of Newcastle Transport. This video gives a snapshot of the issue.
Container Deposit Scheme
Residents of NSW have long called for a Container Deposit Scheme, similar to what has existed in SA for many years. Well, we've got something a bit different and while it has had, and still has some teething problems, it will only continue to improve. The main need is for more drop-off locations and particularly for more of the automated Reverse Vending Machines. This video hopefully shows how simple the system can be.
Introducing Lake Macquarie Matters
Welcome to the first video edition of Lake Macquarie Matters. I'm aiming to produce these short videos regularly to keep everyone updated on things happening around the electorate. It's our first effort in this format, and we will get better, but I think it's a great way to keep the electorate informed of what's happening locally and in the State. I welcome any feedback so please let me know of any local or State issues you'd like to get an update on.