The NSW Government has reaffirmed its commitment to strengthening healthcare in rural and regional areas following the publication of the findings and recommendations of a Parliamentary Inquiry.
The Government has listened and accepts that there is a need to do more to improve patient care with everything on the table when it comes to improving rural and regional health outcomes. The recently established Regional Health Division of NSW Health will play a key role in the ongoing work to improve and deliver excellent patient experiences and outcomes for the people of rural and regional NSW. In addition to improving patient access to care, NSW will work with the Federal Government to expand and integrate primary care models, including the GP workforce. A formal response to the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry will be handed down in coming months.
The NSW Electoral Commission has requested and received delegated authority to offer act of grace payments to candidates, groups and parties who participated in last year's Singleton Council election.
Participants who incurred lawful electoral expenditure in respect of nominated candidates will be invited to apply for a payment, on a reimbursement basis, up to the amount of the legislated cap for the contest. The Electoral Commissioner has also consented to pay the defendants' legal costs for the recent NSW Supreme Court case into problems with the operation of the iVote system on election day. Singleton Council will not be required to pay for a new election with the date to be fixed by the Electoral Commissioner within three months of the final orders made by the Court taking effect last week.
Specially licensed shooters will have renewed access to Category D firearms under planned legislation to be introduced by the Deputy Premier Paul Toole.
The NSW Government will make reforms to the current 12-month maximum licence period for primary producer Category D licences, providing additional options for two or five-year licences. The proposed amendments to the Firearms Act 1996 and the Firearms Regulation 2016 will restore the ability of some primary producers and pest animal controllers to access and retain the fit-for-purpose Category D firearms they need. A three month review of the NSW Firearms Registry will also be conducted to ensure that processes around the licensing of firearms are robust, timely, and efficient. Former NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Geoff McKechnie heads up the Firearms Registry review.
The viability of a Hunter Water connection to the Glennies Creek Dam-Lostock Dam scheme will continue to be assessed as part of the NSW Government's Lower Hunter Water Security Plan (LHWSP). The NSW Government has commenced planning for a proposed two-way pipeline to connect Glennies Creek Dam and Lostock Dam.
Should the pipeline proceed, Hunter Water could connect to the scheme via a new offtake on the Paterson River.
Water security is at the heart of the new whole-of-government, 40 year strategic water plan that will provide confidence for communities and businesses in the Lower Hunter. Analysis conducted while developing the plan confirms the region is more vulnerable to drought than previously thought, so improving the resilience of the water supply system is paramount.
Three groups have been shortlisted to tender for the Central-West Orana renewable energy zone (REZ) transmission network which includes a portion of the Upper Hunter.
Energy Corporation of NSW will soon invite the shortlisted tenderers ACE Energy, Network REZolution and NewGen Networks to respond to a Request for Proposal with the contract to be awarded in 2023. The network operator will be responsible for designing, financing, building, operating and maintaining the network infrastructure for the Central-West Orana REZ. The Department of Primary Industries seeks feedback on the existing framework which supports the future growth of renewable energy and agriculture sectors. The Minister for Energy and the Minister for Agriculture announced a taskforce to review the framework with public feedback based on the review's main issues and terms of reference closing on May 23.
Crown land is set to be improved after the NSW Government set aside $17 million to upgrade and maintain facilities across the state.
The Crown Reserves Improvement Fund supports upgrades to facilities like showgrounds, scouts and girl guide groups, pony clubs and PCYCs. Applications are open to Crown land reserve managers and all showgrounds including those on freehold land for projects that can deliver social, cultural, environmental or economic benefits. Applications close on June 3.
Dave Layzell is the Member for Upper Hunter
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