Lake Macquarie Matters
Stay up to date with the latest Video News about what matters in Lake Macquarie
Deputy Premier John Barilaro inspects Seahawk helicopter fleet at Lake Macquarie facility
Great to have Deputy Premier, John Barilaro, visit Cardiff this morning to see the remarkable fleet of Seahawk helicopters owned by Skyline Aviation Group. These incredible heavy lift aircraft could be a game changer in tackling bushfires in NSW and indeed across Australia if required. Skyline need some assistance from the state to ensure this can happen and having the Deputy Premier visit to discuss the needs is an excellent start.
Hunter Mountain Bike Association opens new trail at Awaba Mountain Bike Park
I thoroughly enjoyed opening the latest track at the Awaba Mountain Bike Park this weekend. Not only did I get to test out the track myself, I also felt honoured and moved to witness a traditional smoking ceremony and Aboriginal dance that was carried out by Uncle Bill Smith and many of his family members.
This week in Parliament - 2020 Budget
The NSW State Budget wasn’t brilliant for our area but there is good news; it’s not long until the next Budget in June 2021! This year presented the biggest challenge to our National and State budgets ever and in many ways this budget is a good response for the state. I will continue to argue for investment that improves safety and quality of life for residents of Lake Macquarie and look forward to giving updates on that in early 2021.
This week in Parliament 13th - 15th October 2020
Premier Gladys Berejiklian visits Lake Macquarie
Premier Gladys Berejiklian in Lake Macquarie today. Here's a quick video documenting her visit, where she: Officially opened stage 2 of Northern NSW Football's Lake Macquarie Regional Football Facility; Met our 'COVID Warriors'; Visited the former Pasminco site at Boolaroo.
Motorcycle Awareness Month 2020, kicks off
Motorcycle Awareness Month is an opportunity for all drivers and riders to bring to mind their responsibility for safety on our roads. Many injuries and deaths can be avoided by being aware that you can’t always see what will happen next, but you can think ahead and hopefully avoid unnecessary risk and accidents. My thanks to the Motorcycle Council of NSW Inc for their involvement in producing this short video and for their ongoing commitment to improving safety for motorcyclists.
Today in Parliament 23rd September 2020
Today in Parliament: Big changes to liquor laws; A new rail trail for Northern NSW; A proposed merger between Venues NSW and SCG Trust.
Today in Parliament 22nd September 2020
My office has been getting an increasing number of complaints about social housing and the maintenance of aging homes. Today in Parliament I asked Housing Minister Melinda Pavey for her assurance that action would be taken to address complaints including mold, mildew and sewer.
Today in Parliament 16th September 2020
Here’s a wrap up of what happened in Parliament today: Government moves on Barilaro; Motion of No Confidence defeated; Six bills introduced; Centennial Coal truck petition tabled.
Today in Parliament 15th September 2020
In the midst of all the things happening in our collective lives, last week we saw the Deputy Premier blindside the Premier and Liberal colleagues with an ultimatum and threat to move to the Cross Bench over the issue of the Koala Habitat Protection SEPP. With koalas having been in decline for many years and the horrendous impact on native wildlife from the bushfires earlier this year, I would think most people would understand we need to act to ensure their survival in the wild. Yes, there’s an argument that the SEPP needs to ensure farmers can farm, but the actions of the National Party last week seemed over the top in achieving the discussions they want. This was a colourful moment in NSW political history but an unwanted distraction in the face of other challenges the government are managing.
Decisions based on fact and the best expert advice will get us through our COVID challenge much better and sooner than panic.
With so many problems facing us day to day, we should be thankful we live where we do. Understandably COVID-19 still dominates so much of our time, our thoughts, but then we see the horrendous explosion in Beirut which devastates a country already struggling in so many ways. My thoughts go to those Lebanese-Australian members of our community who have lost or fear for loved ones in Lebanon.
The recent scare with COVID-19 at the Toronto Courthouse and also at Hotel Jesmond, Wallsend Diggers and Lambton Park Hotel is a powerful reminder that we need to be constantly vigilant with this insidious disease – no one’s immune, not yet! As always, my staff and I will do our best to keep the community up to date with the facts and current health advice.
Costco and 500 new homes coming to Lake Macquarie
This video is a little longer than usual, but then again, it’s not everyday that we get to make such a huge announcement about investment in our area. The arrival of Costco later next year will be fantastic for local residents not just for the shopping, but for the jobs that will directly and indirectly follow. As well, Green Capital Group announced that they will be proceed to deliver over 500 new home sites nearby. Close to the lake, rail, the M1 and other desirable locations such as beaches and shopping (did I mention Costco?), I’m sure this land will be fantastic for families and therefore in demand.
When the former smelter closed many wondered what would be the future for the site? Well, we’re now starting to see that it is good, providing land for new homes and families, places to shop and places to work. And more to come!
Location announced for new Lake Macquarie Sport and Rec centre
Wyee station lifts now open
Very happy to report that the new lifts at Wyee Station are now open and the broader station upgrade almost complete.
This week in Parliament June 16 - 18 2020
We're starting to learn more about the impacts on the NSW economy from COVID-19, and while it could have been a lot worse, we are certainly going to feel some significant economic pain for the next few years at least.
This week in Parliament June 2 - 4 2020
A very busy return to Parliament this week in an unusual environment. We saw protests and heated debate surrounding the government's proposed public sector pay freeze and some good outcomes with legislation passed to improve the building industry and protect investors.
COVID-19 restrictions to further relax, but the virus remains a threat
As much as we would wish that COVID-19 was a thing of the past, it’s not, and it's still a real threat to the health of our loved ones and the community. As we go back to a more normal life, some things need to stay different! Social distancing and heightened awareness of basic hygiene Including hand washing and sanitising, coughing and sneezing into the elbow and when out or at work, keeping furniture, tables etc disinfected will be really important. Our community has done a great job dealing with the pandemic so I think we’ve well and truly earnt the easing of restrictions. Enjoy them, and keep safe.
South Cardiff Football club scores ground improvement goals, thanks to Community Building Partnership program.
Soccer matches at Jack Neave Oval will be much more enjoyable for South Cardiff Football Club players, thanks to the completion of ground levelling works and the addition of dugouts. The projects were funded through Community Building Partnership grants, and I congratulate the club on all of their efforts to improve the grounds. Applications are now open for the 2020 round of Community Building Partnership grants.
Community Building Partnership grant put to good use at Peter Pan Preschool
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
Covid-19 social restrictions eased from today
Social distancing has been slightly eased and that will be a great relief to many who have been missing seeing friends and loved ones. This has only come about because the community overall has been very responsible, in fact Lake Macquarie Police District Supt. Danny Sullivan says during the 5 weeks of social restriction rules, local police have only had to fine 46 people. The change however doesn’t signal a “free for all” though and sensible use of social distancing is still required to ensure we don’t end up with a much worse problem in future.
Work starts on new Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie headquarters
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
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.
Fantastic partnership doing us proud
We really do see the best of people when we have a disaster or crisis in our community. COVID-19 is a perfect example where we see people and businesses looking for how they can help. Meals On Wheels and Harris Farm are a perfect example of this.
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
I’m very happy to report a huge drop in youth crime rates across Cardiff over the past 18 months, thanks to a collaborative effort headed by Community Activities Lake Macquarie (CALM).
Lake Macquarie Police say stealing offences are down by 63 per-cent, street offences are down by 81 per-cent and the sense of safety in the Cardiff community has risen by over 50 per-cent.
The state government provided $185,000 to help fund the CALM lead program in June 2018, which saw Lake Macquarie businesses, community groups, police come together to provide opportunities for positive social cohesion and skill development to young people identified at risk of entering the juvenile justice system.
What a fantastic effort from everyone involved.
Meals on Wheels volunteers going above and beyond during COVID-19 crisis
Here's another good news story and a further example of why our local community is so fantastic. My thanks to the wonderful Meals on Wheels Morisset and Toronto volunteers who really are going above and beyond the call of duty at the moment. Each week these dedicated volunteers prepare and deliver thousands of meals to the elderly to ensure no one goes without food. I understand many volunteers are in a high-risk age group of contracting COVID-19, but these are the people who continue to put the needs of others first. They are the salt of the earth and we'd be so much poorer without them.
No time for risk taking behaviour during COVID-19 outbreak
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.
Ban on fishing lifted, but some restrictions still apply
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.
Don't drink and drive, you will be caught
It shouldn't be necessary to say this, but some people are thinking that because fixed RBT has been suspended, it is somehow safe to drink and drive. It's just plain WRONG because RBT is still happening!! Don't drink and drive - full stop. You will still be caught, as local police chief Superintendent Danny Sullivan explains here.
Southlake Marketplace providing essentials to locals in need during health crisis
When faced with tough times, it’s so reassuring to know that there are always people and organisations ready to help. Whether it’s an ongoing or short-term need just to get through, organisations such as Southlake Marketplace with its band of dedicated volunteers are there to help. Founder and leader, Christine Mastello is truly inspirational and has put together 300 essential packs for those doing it tough due to the current health crisis. If you know of anyone or any groups carrying out good deeds in this uncertain time, please let me know. Thanks to all involved.
Community Building Partnership scheme grants announced
Really pleased today to announce that 27 local community projects have secured funding under this year's Community Building Partnerships scheme.
Included in this year’s list are upgrades to local halls and the installation of air conditioning, playground upgrades, solar power installations and sports ground facilities.
Among the groups which made successful bids this year are South Cardiff Football Club, Toronto Tigers Baseball Club, Survivors R Us and Speers Point Amateur Sailing Club which will receive $7500 for clubhouse renovations.
Lake Macquarie City Council is among the recipients and will receive funds to upgrade and air condition public halls at Bolton Point, Kilaben Bay, Lakelands and Wyee. Wangi Men’s Shed and Woodrising Natural Learning Centre are also among the recipients.
I called into Wangi Men's Shed to share the good news on Friday (video below).
A full list of the 2019-20 grant recipients is available on my website: http://www.gregpiper1.com/index.cfm…
Businesses face further trading restrictions due to COVID-19
Lake Macquarie, pubs, clubs, restaurants along with other businesses face a huge challenge in implementing new restrictions limiting the number of people within their venues.
While absolutely necessary for public health, it comes at a time when all businesses are trying to ensure they have enough income to remain viable and keep their staff employed.
Of course by extension, entertainers and event organisers have also been hit really harshly by this downturn.
COVID-19 An Important Update
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
There seems to have been an outbreak of stupidity in the local area lately. Hoons in cars and on unregistered trail bikes in suburban streets, fools armed with baseball bats and others generally putting people’s lives at risk. We all know it’s impossible to have police on every street corner 24/7, but local police are responding with a large-scale crackdown on these types of crimes and hoonish behaviour. A number of arrests have already been made this week, and this crackdown will continue in all areas on the western side of the lake, including the Morisset Peninsula. I spoke with our local police chief Superintendent Danny Sullivan about the issue earlier today:
The message is simple: Don't drink and drive
I understand that people can get bored with statistics, but the statistic that we have an alarmingly high rate of drink driving is a real wake up call. What is going on in western Lake Macquarie that so many people are willing to risk the lives of others and their own just so that can have a drink. I’m with Supt Danny Sullivan, his police and emergency services including our paramedics and ambulance officers who say enough is enough! Spread the word, we don’t want our loved ones, our friends dying so someone can have a drink!
Question Time: How will the government ensure Origin Energy meets its coal ash recycling target?
As we know, the Independent Planning Commission approved Origin Energy's application to expand the Eraring power station ash dam before Christmas. As a condition of consent, the IPC insisted that Origin be recycling 80% of the coal ash it generates by the end of next year. They are currently recycling only about 30%. I used Question Time last week to ask how the Government was going to ensure that figure is achieved. The minister takes a while to answer in the video, but he gets there towards the end.
Also, I'm just finalising my submission to the parliamentary inquiry into the costs of remediating the ash dams at Eraring and Vales Point when the power stations close in about a decade. You can lodge your submission by next Monday, February 16 here: https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/inquiries/Pages/inquiry-details.aspx?pk=2556&fbclid=IwAR3Si-RVswtcQK0WZm5_XcvzFmxm4zsLzUCPasuLJ332WzkNCpTVYbEw_j0#tab-submissions
What to do in an emergency situation
It’s so good to see the relief brought by recent rains. It hasn’t broken the drought but for many on the land it may have been a lifesaver. For those areas that had fires still burning, many have been extinguished by the rain or made things much easier for our firefighters and support personnel.
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
Another year over and together we’ve seen a lot happen in our local area. Personally, it was a huge year given the State election in March. Lyn and I want to once again thank everyone who made that amazing win possible!
We’ve seen some big projects started over the past year including the sewer connection scheme at Wyee, and not to forget the rail station lifts there as well.
Big things are also happening at Boolaroo with the State taking possession of the former Pasminco site after years of stalemate. Good things to come there soon I’m sure.
We can’t forget the challenges though, and among the biggest was the closure of Myuna Bay Sport and Rec Centre, but once again we’re working through these issues and will get a great result for the area.
There are so many people doing great things for our community, and at this point in time with unprecedented fire conditions across the State, I want to particularly thank our Rural Fire Service volunteers for their amazing efforts on our behalf. You are all wonderful!! As we have tragically seen recently, there is real risk in what you do and we appreciate it. We all wish you a safe fire season and hope you get to have some time with family and friends.
The same goes to all our emergency services personnel and those working in hospitals and essential services over the holidays. Thank you, and all the best for 2020.
Merry Christmas and thank you
Merry Christmas! Of course, we're sending special thanks today to our emergency services workers, our RFS volunteers, our hospital and aged care nurses and everyone else who is at work today. Thank you for your continued efforts in keeping us all safe, and looking after those in our community. Have a great day everyone!
Myuna Bay FAQs Answered
Quite a few people have been asking me the same questions about last week's announcement on the future of Myuna Bay Sport and Recreation Centre, so I'm hoping this short three-minute video provides all the answers. It's important to note that there will be further public consultation in the New Year to ensure that we get the best possible outcome as soon as possible.
Major Announcement - Myuna Bay
Some big news this morning on the future of Myuna Bay Sport and Rec Centre. I'm about to attend a media conference where Acting Sports Minister Geoff Lee will announce what I believe is a pretty good result, but I wanted to let you, and the 20,000 people who signed our petition, know the news first.
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.
Hungry Bikers Breakfast a roaring success
Each year the Motorcycle Council of NSW and the Brotherhood Christian Motorcycle Club join with parliamentarians to highlight issues around road safety for motorcyclists. It’s a two-way street there’s responsibilities for riders and responsibilities for other vehicle drivers. This year the Motorcycle Council of New South Wales were highlighting issues around appropriate safety equipment, helmets and apparel and most importantly we discussed the legislation going through the Parliament to introduce mobile phone detection cameras that really raises the stakes for those people who continue to do the wrong thing while driving. Great bunch of people and I was really pleased to have had three Government Ministers attend.
Construction begins on Munibung Road
This really is a fantastic day for local residents. I've been working on getting Munibung Road completed for many years and along with local residents and subsequent councils I've been frustrated by the time it's taken. Great to see the extension of this connector road finally becoming a reality, thanks to investment by Lake Macquarie City Council and the Australian Federal Government.
Wyee Rural Fire Service Brigade station officially opens
Our local NSW Rural Fire Service brigades provide an invaluable service to local communities and it's always wonderful to see them receive much needed improved facilities. In this case it was the Wyee RFS Brigade with a long needed new fire shed. What a great way to start Bushfire Awareness Week for Wyee RFS volunteers and their captain, Matt Naylor. My thanks, and I'm sure that all the community, goes to ur RFS volunteers as we wish them all safety in service, particularly in the upcoming fire season.
Lake Macquarie issues highlighted during visit from the Minister for Energy and Environment
I was pleased the Minister for Energy and Environment Matt Kean was able to come to Lake Macquarie today. It was important that he visited the area as we have a number of issues that he needs to be aware of. I think he benefited from hearing from both local residents and Lake Macquarie City Council about the former Pasminco site and concerns about how to best manage coal ash from the Eraring power station.
Goals Achieved at Biraban Public School
It's wonderful to be able to help communities help themselves and this is a classic example of just that, with Biraban Public School's P&C working hard to not only deliver a safe and functional basketball court for students; but to also have the contractor Major Sports Surfaces go the extra mile and deliver a court that reflects the rich Aboriginal heritage and student cohort of the area and school. Community Building Partnerships remains a really important State Government program and I was pleased to be able to support the school and students with a $10,000 grant.
Toronto's waterfront needs this, not high-rise
Plans for a six-storey developmeny on key waterfront land should be reconsidered by Lake Macquarie City Council and a genuine consultative process with the community established. I believe publicly owned land such as this land, has a much higher value for future generations as open space than the relatively short term gain that can come from developing the site with any mixed-use building.
New retirement village brings vote of confidence to Boolaroo
Boolaroo and the surrounding area is clearly in a stage of rapid change from the days when it was dominated by heavy industry. Strategically brilliantly located it's not surprising that Oak Tree have invested in what they describe as s boutique retirement village. This village is part of the good news story for Boolaroo and I know that along with the extension of Munibung Road recently announced, there's lots more to come.
Flags fly high at Blackalls Park Public School
It's always great to be able to support people trying to improve their community. Oliver Croft, a year 4 student at Blackalls Park Public School has been inspirational in pursuing new flag poles for the school and I really enjoyed meeting him and his family at the first official flag raising on the new poles this morning. Blackalls Park Public School is an excellent school with great students, of which Oliver is a fine example. Congratulations Oliver.
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.