New Parliamentary Group Formed to Combat Violence Against Women

On International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Greens Senate Leader and spokesperson on Women, Larissa Waters, has called for cultural change to stop gendered violence, more funding for frontline domestic violence services, and the criminalisation of coercive control.
Senator Waters, along with Dr Anne Aly MP (ALP member for Cowan) and Dr Fiona Martin MP (Liberal member for Reid), today launched the Parliamentarians for Action to Reduce Violence Against Women and Children to encourage a multi-partisan commitment to stopping violence against women.
Speaking at the launch event, Senator Waters said family and domestic violence is a national emergency, and the new group offers an important forum to discuss ways to address it.
“Violence against women is at epidemic levels. One woman has been violently murdered almost every week in 2020, and the sector predicts that elevated levels of violence will continue with the financial and social stress of Covid recovery.
“I welcome the cross-party support for today’s event.  But we cannot keep turning up to events like this, reading news stories, hearing statistics, and say we are shocked.
“Thanks to the tireless efforts of safety advocates, we know what needs to be done.  If we are serious about eliminating violence against women, we need immediate action on the key gaps.
“Frontline emergency response services must be adequately funded so that no woman is turned away when she seeks help – the sector says this means $1 billion each year,” said Senator Waters.
“We need a national approach to understanding and criminalising coercive control.  The community needs to recognise the serious risks of conduct like Hannah Clarke and her children were subjected to before their murder, and police need to be able to act.
“We need all parliamentarians to contribute to the cultural change that will eliminate violence against women, stand up to violent behaviour, and act to address the gender inequality which drives gendered violence.”
Today’s event was co-hosted by Our Watch and marked the start of their 16 Days, 16 Ways campaign to encourage bystanders to do something to show that violent behaviour is never OK.
“The primary prevention education and advocacy work done by Our Watch is crucial at driving behaviour change, as is respectful relationships education in schools.  This work must continue to be funded,” said Senator Waters
“Words on the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women will not be enough – we need action and full funding from the federal government.  I look forward to working with the Parliamentary group to keep these issues on the agenda throughout the year.”

Greens condemn violence in Western Sahara

The Australian Greens condemn the violence and breakdown in the UN-backed ceasefire in Western Sahara. Any acts of aggression by the Moroccan government are unacceptable, and the Australian Greens are profoundly concerned at reports that the Moroccan government has launched a military operation in a United Nations-patrolled buffer strip in Western Sahara.  The Australian Greens urge the UN to broker a renewed cease-fire as soon as possible.
The Australian Greens strongly support the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination. They have been waiting for decades for a long-awaited referendum, and the United Nations should finally organise a free and fair referendum on independence in Western Sahara without further delay.
The Australian Government must use all diplomatic channels available to advocate for an immediate cessation of hostilities, and support all efforts to organise a free and fair referendum on independence in Western Sahara.

Rural and Remote Health Stakeholder Special Roundtable on COVID-19

Regional Health Minister, Mark Coulton, chaired the ninth special rural health COVID-19 roundtable on 27 August 2020, with members of the Rural Health Stakeholder group.
Minister Coulton recognised the work of rural and remote health workers and communities, particularly those in Victoria, in managing the COVID-19 pandemic. Minister Coulton raised the service of 146 General Practice Respiratory Clinics (GPRCs) across Australia, which have conducted over 500,000 COVID-19 assessments since they began earlier in the year and especially the 82 that serve regional communities. Minister Coulton spoke of the aged care sector’s challenges with COVID-19 and urged recognition that 97% of aged care homes are COVID-19 free thanks to the efforts of aged care providers.
State border restrictions continue to be a challenge for health services operating across borders and the communities who seek their care. Minister Coulton has raised these challenges with various jurisdictions and efforts continue on many fronts to limit the impact on border communities.
Minister Coulton reported 27 million telehealth services have been delivered to 10 million people (40% of the population) since implementation.  MBS Telehealth items are more likely to be refined rather than removed in the longer term. Minister Coulton spoke of the importance of demonstrated, established, and continuing relationships between GPs and patients to ensure telehealth remains a viable tool to improve health outcomes in the long term.
Minister Coulton invited the National Rural Health Commissioner, Prof Ruth Stewart, to update the group on the work of her office. The Commissioner reported she continues to Chair the Rural GP-led Respiratory Clinic National Leaders Network, which meets fortnightly, providing a direct line of communication between clinics and the Government.
Senior Department staff provided updates on the Commonwealth COVID-19 response. Participants provided valuable feedback to the Minister on the current focus and efforts of their own organisations in response to the outbreak.
An introduction from the Chief Allied Health Officer 
Since beginning in the role as Chief Allied Health Officer, Dr Boxall has been focussed on COVID-19 with particular focus on the allied health and disability sectors. Dr Boxall has also started to meet regularly with the National Rural Health Commissioner. In the short term,
Dr Boxall will focus her work on improving the profile of the allied health sector and professions. Dr Boxall has been in discussions with other Departmental staff as well as with the state based Chief Allied Health Officers around the increasing need of rehabilitation services for COVID-19 patients and the importance of allied health professionals in this work.
Update on the COVID-19 pandemic response in the primary care setting
Department officials reported GP-led Respiratory Clinics had provided over 500,000 consultations since implementation and have rapidly responded to keep communities safe. GPRCs in Victoria doubled their capacity in a week. Primary Health Networks have recently increased distribution of PPE to allied health providers in Victoria and New South Wales. The Department continues to monitor the availability of PPE and provide supplies through Primary Health Networks where required.
Indigenous Health Update
Department officials reported COVID-19 positive cases in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations remains very low, with no deaths reported. There have been no COVID-19 cases in remote communities. Sixty-three point of care testing sites are in place in remote communities, with the final 22 sites to be rolled out over the next month. Royal Flying Doctor Service continues to provide early and primary evacuations, testing and swab transfer, and fly-in respiratory clinics to rural and remote sites.
The CDNA National Guidance for remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities for COVID-19 was updated on 10 August, including findings from recent modelling work on COVID-19 in remote communities, undertaken to better guide response strategies.
For more information, the Department of Health directed members to the following webpage: https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/the-hon-greg-hunt-mp/media/support-for-remote-indigenous-communities-at-high-risk-from-covid-19
Mental Health update
The Department continues to recognise the burden experienced by those where COVID-19 restrictions are in place. In response to this, the Government announced provision of 10 additional Medicare-subsidised psychological therapy sessions for people in areas impacted by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The measure was announced on Sunday 2 August with a focus on Victorian communities. More information can be found at: https://www.health.gov.au/news/additional-covid-19-mental-health-support-for-people-subjected-to-further-restrictions
Stakeholders were advised the Prime Minister had recently requested the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for Mental Health, Dr Ruth Vine, and Mental Health Commissioner, Christine Morgan, provide advice regarding further measures that could be taken to support the mental health and wellbeing of COVID affected communities. As a result, the Australian Government will provide an additional $31.9 million to create 15 mental health clinics across Victoria and further enhance essential support during the COVID-19 pandemic.
https://www.pm.gov.au/media/new-mental-health-clinics-support-victorians-during-covid-19-pandemic
Further Government funding has been provided to Headspace, Beyond Blue, Lifeline, and the Kids Helpline to manage an increase in demand for their online and phone services. Stakeholders raised the need for a mental health phone service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Reports of rural and remote health workers experiencing fatigue and exhaustion continue. The Roundtable agreed that any support Governments can provide to facilitate the movement of health workers across borders is important for the mental and physical wellbeing of the rural and remote workforce. Department officials agreed to further discuss actions to address this issue.
Primary care reform update
The Government is considering extending the COVID telehealth measures and options to link them with voluntary patient enrolment in GP practices in the future. Discussions with the sector and representative groups have resumed to inform the 10 Year Primary Health Care plan. The primary care steering group will next meet at the end of September 2020. The 10 Year Plan will include discussions on reforms for improved health service integration, digital infrastructure and funding for rural areas. The Department is currently working with New South Wales PHNs and Local Health Networks on joint planning of primary care services, including opportunities in virtual health.
Stakeholders discussed post-COVID considerations including the potential for rural and remote Australians to suffer poorer health outcomes as a result of many important services being unavailable. It was agreed that monitoring impacts on services and programs is important for future planning with different situations likely across the country.
Update on training and workforce matters
Stakeholders were informed the Rural Multidisciplinary Health Training (RHMT) Program Evaluation has been published on the Department’s website at: https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/rural-health-rhmt-evaluation.  Government is undertaking consultation with stakeholders to guide future policy change and implementation. The National Rural Health Commissioner will assist with consultations and advise Government.
Access to locums to allow rural health workers to take leave was raised by stakeholders as a challenge due to border and travel restrictions. Demand for locums is likely to increase as we get closer to Christmas
Medical placements continue to be impacted primarily in Victoria. There is, however, a sense of optimism as new ways of training and delivery of services are opening up. Teaching students on how to deliver telehealth consultations is an example of this. Graduation numbers and the availability of rural and remote placements for allied health students has been impacted by COVID-19 travel and border restrictions.
The continued establishment of the National Rural Generalist Pathway and the additional 100 rural generalist placements were noted as important to address rural workforce issues.
Meeting summary
Minister Coulton noted the important reversal of the decision to increase fees for university courses including Social Work and Psychology. Minister Coulton also noted crucial role rural GPs play as the first point of contact for mental health services and the importance for local communities to see their GPs.
Minister Coulton advised that any immediate concerns can be raised directly ahead of the next meeting and thanked stakeholders for their engagement and advocacy supporting rural communities as the COVID-19 situation develops.
The most up-to-date information on the Australian Government response to COVID-19 can be found at www.australia.gov.au.
Twenty-one rural stakeholder organisations are members of the group, along with the National Rural Health Commissioner and the Commonwealth Department of Health.
Participant list
Members participating in the teleconference for the 24 July 2020 were:

  • Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine
  • National Rural Health Commissioner
  • Indigenous Allied Health Australia
  • Australian Dental Association
  • Royal Flying Doctor Service
  • National Rural Health Alliance
  • National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association
  • Rural Health Workforce Australia
  • Pharmacy Guild of Australia
  • Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health
  • Allied Health Professions Australia
  • Australian Rural Health Education Network
  • CRANAplus
  • Pharmaceutical Society of Australia
  • Rural Doctors Association of Australia
  • Rural Workforce Agencies Network
  • Federation of Rural Australian Medical Educators
  • Australian Medical Association
  • Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association

Apologies:

  • Royal Australian College of General Practitioners- Rural Faculty
  • National Rural Health Student Network
  • Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives

Annual jobs report points to COVID-19 rebound

Key findings of the 2020 Australian Jobs report show that employment for women and young people is rebounding strongly from the economic impact of COVID-19.
Launching the annual report today, Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, said it was clear that the pandemic has radically affected Australia’s labour market.
“We know this year has been tough for everyone, but there are promising signs of employment recovery now beginning to emerge,” Minister Cash said.
“The Australian Jobs report shows us that the labour market has, and is, undergoing significant changes, and job seekers may need to rethink training and career pathways.”
Australian Jobs is the National Skills Commission’s detailed guide to the Australian labour market. It includes information about industries and occupations as well as states, territories and regions. The publication highlights trends in the Australian labour market and provides guidance about searching for a job and the skills employers value.
“What really stands out in this year’s report is that a large cohort of Australians will likely need to update or change their skillset to stay competitive in the labour market,” Minister Cash said.
Australian Jobs can help, providing an easy-to-read overview of industry and occupation trends in the labour market. It is designed to meet the needs of students, career advisers, people looking for work and those involved in the national employment service, jobactive.
“This simple to use publication is a powerful tool to help inform what training you might need as well as where the jobs are going to be, especially as Australia works through the COVID-19 recovery phase,” Minister Cash said.
Key findings include:

  • Many labour market indicators are now improving since the low in May 2020. Encouragingly, employment for women and youth, who were initially affected the most, is rebounding quite strongly.
  • Health Care and Social Assistance (aged and disability carers, registered nurses, child carers) is Australia’s largest employing industry and is an area proving to be the most resilient. Demand is expected to continue for this industry, given the COVID-19 pandemic and Australia’s ageing population. Females comprise 78 per cent of this workforce.
  • Post-school study is highly advantageous – data shows that in Health Care and Social Assistance, more than 80 per cent of employees have a post-school qualification and carers and aides are the top emerging occupations, with more than 50 per cent of these workers holding a certificate III or higher VET qualification.
  • Occupations identified as resilient throughout the pandemic and that are expected to experience more growth are in groups such as: Professionals (Speech Professionals and Audiologists, Other Medical Practitioners and Midwives), Community and Personal Service Workers (Aged and Disabled Carers and Security Officers and Guards) and Machinery Operators and Drivers (Agricultural, Forestry and Horticultural Plant Operators and Delivery Drivers).

Australian Jobs 2020 uses data from a range of sources including the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the National Skills Commission’s own research, the Department of Education, Skills and Employment and the National Centre for Vocational Education Research.
The full report is available at https://www.nationalskillscommission.gov.au/australian-jobs

City set sights on tourism to bolster future of COVID disrupted economy

A fresh approach to unleash Newcastle’s tourism potential will be unveiled by City of Newcastle to attract a wider visitor audience and boost local economic COVID-recovery efforts.
Newcastle’s thriving tourism industry, prior to COVID-19, contributed $1 billion to the local economy each year, with more than 5.1 million international and domestic travellers visiting in 2019.
The City’s draft 2021-2025 Destination Management Plan was created with stakeholders from across the industry, and sets out a raft of initiatives and projects set to stimulate the local tourism economy and increase visitor spend.
Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said work done now to position Newcastle as a premier tourism destination will play a vital role in the city’s future economic recovery, once travel restrictions ease further.
“The City has taken the lead to spearhead a collaborative and consolidated approach toward shaping Newcastle’s future as a destination for visitors and tourists,” said Cr Nelmes.
“With a pipeline of new-build hotel investment, including the five-star Kingsley part of the Crystalbrook Collection in the former City Administration Centre and plans underway to develop the historic Newcastle Post Office into a hotel, and Iris Capital’s QT Hotel, Newcastle is well positioned to attract a new wave of domestic and international visitors, once travel restrictions ease further.
“The City is committed to driving the growth and sustainability of the visitor economy with a new tourism plan designed as a visionary tool, instrumental to driving Newcastle’s social and economic recovery.
“The Destination Management Plan provides our City with a blueprint to work together across government and industry to create meaningful partnerships in order to achieve a shared vision for Newcastle as a premier visitor destination, showcasing the City’s rich art, cultural and culinary scene, a vibrant night-time economy and experiences that celebrate our natural environment and creative community.
“The Plan highlights the significant opportunity for a tourism-led economic recovery from signature attractions, while developing tourism products and experiences, particularly across places like Blackbutt Reserve, the Bathers Way, Newcastle Art Gallery, and Fort Scratchley.
“We aim to build a thriving visitor economy in Newcastle that will lead to population, economic and jobs growth, and our City’s success will be one shared by the greater Hunter Region, NSW and Australia.
“To succeed as a sector, industry, government and operators need to collaborate and find ways to work together, by positioning Newcastle as the destination of choice in order to attract the tourist dollar, in an increasingly competitive market.”
Councillors will vote at tonight’s Ordinary Council Meeting to place the draft Destination Management Plan on public exhibition from 25 November 2020 until 6 January 2021.

Ordinary Council Meeting 24 November

Lord Mayoral Minutes
City of Newcastle submission – IPART Local Council Domestic Waste Management Charges discussion paper
A Lord Mayoral Minute about City of Newcastle’s submission to IPART Local Council Domestic Waste Management Charges discussion paper was unanimously supported. The Lord Mayor Minute raised concerns about the fact that while City of Newcastle pays around $37 million annually in Levy contributions, only $175,000 is returned to the Newcastle Local Government Area to fund vital resource recovery, waste management and waste and recycling education projects for the City. City of Newcastle will advocate for the NSW Government to adequately re-invest Waste Levy funds into the development of local waste management planning, local procurement, education and local priority waste management infrastructure projects such as the City of Newcastle Organics Recycling Facility at Summerhill Waste Management Centre.
NSW Arts Maintenance and Upgrade Fund
A Lord Mayoral Minute (LMM) about the NSW Arts Maintenance and Upgrade Fund was carried unanimously. The LMM welcomes the NSW Government’s 2020 Budget announcement of the creation of an Arts Maintenance and Upgrade Fund, allocating $103.5 million in capital expenditure over the next two years to both stimulate jobs and the economy through improving accessibility, sustainability and functionality at cultural assets, in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic.  The Lord Mayoral Minute noted that the Newcastle Art Gallery Redevelopment Project is shovel ready and is specifically aimed at ensuring significant improvements to accessibility, sustainability and functionality of our gallery, as well as providing significant stimulus to the local economy and the creation of 170 local jobs.
Hunter renewable energy zone
A Lord Mayoral Minute praising the NSW Government’s commitment to establish the Renewable Energy Zone network, including the recent inclusion of the Hunter as the State’s newest Renewable Energy Zone. The Lord Mayoral Minute congratulated the NSW Government on their progressive approach to energy policy and pledged City of Newcastle’s support for the Hunter Renewable Energy Zone.
Ordinary business
Tabling of Register of Disclosures of Interest – 1 August to 31 October
The Register of Disclosures of Interest for the period 1 August and 31 October 2020 was received in accordance with the Code of Conduct for Staff.
Adoption of the 2025 Climate Action Plan
Councillors adopted the 2025 Climate Action, which sets new targets and outlines innovative and sustainable programs to achieve net zero emissions by 2030. City of Newcastle intends to transition to a fleet of electric vehicles, build operational resilience through additional renewables and battery storage, and switch all city lighting to LED during the next five years under a new Climate Action Plan.
Adoption of the Local Housing Strategy
Councillors adopted the Local Housing Strategy, which provides a guide to the development of sustainable, affordable and inclusive housing across the Local Government Area.
Endorsement of the Annual Report
Councillors have endorsed City of Newcastle’s 2019/20 Annual Report, which showcases the City’s achievements against strategic objectives and performance measures.
Public Exhibition of Draft 2021-2025 Destination Management Plan
Council has voted to place the City’s draft 2021-2025 Destination Management Plan on public exhibition. The plan was created with stakeholders from across the industry and sets out a raft of initiatives and projects set to stimulate the local tourism economy and increase visitor spend.
Draft Community Land Plan of Management – public exhibition
Councillors have supported the submission of a draft Community Land Plan of Management to the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment – Crown Lands. Following approval from Crown Lands, the Plan of Management will be placed on public exhibition for 28 days.
Proposed road closures – 144 Boundary Road, Wallsend
This motion was laid on the table, with Councillors to receive a briefing at a Councillor Workshop. The motion proposes to close two parcels of road reserve at 144 Boundary Road, Wallsend, and sell the land to the adjoining property owners.
Variations to development standards
Council has received a report on approved development variations between 1 July and 30 September 2020.
Endorse a planning proposal to rezone and reclassify land at 233 Wharf Road and rezone land 150 and 150A, 250 Scott Street, Newcastle
Councillors endorsed an amendment to the Newcastle Local Environmental Plan 2012 to rezone and reclassify 233 Wharf Road (Boat Harbour car park) and rezone Parcel 12 of the former rail corridor, which includes 250, part 150 and 150A, Scott Street and part 280 Hunter Street and adopt a new site-specific section in the Newcastle Development Control Plan 2012.
Adoption of planning agreement – 73-79 Railway Lane, Wickham
Council endorsed the Planning Agreement for 73-79 Railway Lane, Wickham and authorised the Chief Executive Officer to execute the Planning Agreement.
Draft Parking Plan – public exhibition
Council resolved to place the Draft Parking Plan on public exhibition. The Plan covers the management of the City’s parking and has implications for a range of economic, environmental and social outcomes, including urban form, vitality of centres and travel choices.
Draft Cycling Plan – public exhibition
Councillors voted to place the Draft Cycling Plan on public exhibition. The draft Cycling Plan reflects changes to the strategic framework for cycling and responds to contemporary issues, opportunities and challenges that influence the cycling space. It also reflects the outcomes of early engagement workshops with key stakeholders along with survey responses from the community and input from City of Newcastle’s Cycling Working Party.
September Quarterly Budget Review
Council received the September Quarterly Budget Review.
September Quarterly Performance Report on the 2018-2022 Delivery Program
Council received the September Quarterly Performance Report on the 2018-2022 Delivery Program.
Executive Monthly Performance Report
Council received the Executive Monthly Performance Report for October 2020.
Tender Report – Provision of Security Services – contract 2020/232T
Councillors voted to accept a tender for the provision of security services in accordance with Contract No. 2020/232T.
Land Acquisition – 77 Dangerfield Drive, Elermore Vale
Councillors approved the acquisition of 77 Dangerfield Drive, Elermore Vale (Land) for the purposes of environmental management.
Extension of recyclables processing contract
Councillors voted to extend contract 2020/277T for the processing of recyclables.
Notices of Motion
McDonalds
A Notice of Motion that requests McDonalds Restaurants provide Councillors with a briefing on the safety, security and cleanliness measures that are in place at the King Street, Newcastle West McDonalds’ premises and any future measures currently being planned, was laid on the table to be considered at the next Ordinary Council Meeting.
Keep Newcastle streets and creeks clear of shopping trolleys
A Notice of Motion noting the negative impact of abandoned shopping trolleys on community amenity, safety and the environment, and the costs to council associated with their removal and management was carried unanimously. The NoM calls on trolley owners, especially the major supermarkets and local shopping centre management, to take a more proactive approach to managing their assets, and preventing them from ending up in public places, on roads, or in creeks and waterways.
Offshore coal, oil and gas exploration and mining
A Notice of Motion reaffirming City of Newcastle’s opposition to both offshore exploration and mining activity due to unacceptable environmental impacts, and negative economic impacts on the recreational and commercial fishing and tourism industries, was carried.
Stronger community council grants scheme
A Notice of Motion expressing deep concern with the lack of integrity measures surrounding the $252 million Stronger Communities Fund administered by the NSW Coalition Government was carried. The NoM notes that every council in NSW has projects that have strong community support and genuine urgency and further notes the critical importance of State Government grants funding in the delivery of these projects through due process.
Support for global fur ban
A Notice of Motion for City of Newcastle to review its event policies, terms and guidelines associated with the use of Council land to prohibit the sale of fur products, mislabelled fake fur products, and other exotic animal skins on Council property, including looking at how an exemption for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander vendors that may be impacted could be applied, was carried.

Community invited to have a say on City’s Parking and Cycling Plans

Making the best use of public streetscapes while encouraging active transport and managing parking demand are key features of City of Newcastle’s draft Cycling and Parking Plans.
The City’s draft plans have been developed in consultation with industry stakeholders, who indicated strong support for a safe and connected cycling network, and a robust parking management plan that complements efforts to increase the uptake of walking, cycling and public transport.
The Parking Plan aims for 85% of the city’s 10,600 on-street parking spaces to be filled. This means having one in seven spaces free at any time of the day or week.
Director of Governance David Clarke said he was encouraged by the positive stakeholder input and is now looking for broad community feedback on both plans.
“The Parking Plan outlines actions focused on boosting the efficient utilisation of the City’s 10,600 on-street parking spaces and improving the customer experience,” Mr Clarke said.
“We aim to make the most efficient use of our public streetscapes with this ten-year parking plan, that addresses how to best manage parking demand now and into the future, with the flexibility to adapt to transport trends as our city continues to grow.
“Safety is identified as the number one barrier to people taking up cycling as an alternative to driving in our City and therefore delivering infrastructure and improvements that enhance safety is at the core of our draft Cycling Plan.
“With a relatively flat terrain and the overwhelming majority of our trips under 10km, Newcastle has great potential to shift to active transport options such as cycling.”
The Cycling Plan acknowledges the surge of interest in cycling in recent times, with reports of record bike sales attributed to the measures implemented in response to COVID-19.
“We will ride the wave of this renewed focus and realise the potential that a significant shift to cycling can have for our city, in terms of improving health of our residents, the amenity of our streetscapes and overall liveability,” Mr Clarke said.
“Most people who responded to our cycling survey ride for recreation purposes.  We are working towards creating a cycling network that makes it fun, safe and convenient to ride for more everyday trips, such as for education or to the local shops.
“One of our key objectives is to improve access to and within local centres across the City, so that people will be encouraged to swap short car trips for walking or cycling.
“We now look forward to receiving community feedback to refine our plans.”
Draft Cycling and Parking Plans will be live on the Have Your Say website by end of the week.

RESTRICTIONS EASED IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS

More people will be allowed to gather both at home and in outdoor public spaces, and smaller hospitality venues can increase their capacity under a major easing of COVID-19 restrictions.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the people of NSW have demonstrated that by working together and following COVID-Safe protocols restrictions can safely be eased.
“The community has done an incredible job this year under trying circumstances,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“I hope these changes provide a boost to the hospitality industry and give people certainty in how they can celebrate safely with family, friends and colleagues over the Christmas and New Year period.”
From Tuesday, 1 December:

  • Up to 50 people (currently 20) can visit a residence as long as an outdoor space is being utilised, however, it’s recommended no more than 30 people gather if the residence has no outdoor area.
  • Up to 50 people can gather outdoors in a public space (currently 30).
  • Small hospitality venues (up to 200 square metres in size) will be allowed to have one person per two square metres indoors.

From Monday, 14 December:

  • The Public Health Order requiring employers to allow employees to work from home (where it is reasonably practicable to do so) will be repealed.

As employees return to the office, workplaces are encouraged to have COVID-Safe plans. Employers are encouraged to stagger staff starting and finishing times to reduce the impact on public transport. Customers using public transport are strongly encouraged to wear a mask.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the increased capacity at smaller hospitality venues would make a big difference to cafés and small restaurants across the State.
“We won’t let this be the COVID that stole Christmas. An increase for gatherings at home and a return of the 2m2 rule for smaller hospitality venues, I hope, will be welcome news across the State. We want the people of NSW to have a proper festive season, they deserve it,” Mr Barilaro said.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the NSW Government has worked closely with the experts at NSW Health to ease restrictions safely for end of year celebrations.
“It’s important we work together to keep the community safe; so where possible gather together outdoors, get tested if you have any symptoms and if you are elderly or have underlying health issues you should be particularly cautious,” Mr Hazzard said.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said as we head into the festive season there would be more people moving around the community, which means it is vital people continue to come forward for testing.
“More people will be hosting gatherings in their homes, going out for lunches and dinners and socialising – so if you have any COVID-19 symptoms, however mild, please come forward for testing,” Dr Chant said.

EXTRA SERVICES MAKE SUMMER TRAVEL A BREEZE

More than 1,200 extra services will help keep customers COVID safe across the Sydney transport network, as people continue to return to the CBD and move around this summer.
Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance said the new summer timetable will kick off from December 1, and will allow more people to get to popular public places like shopping centres and beaches.
“More than 1,000 bus services will be added to the 3,300 extra services we added during the COVID pandemic, to help commuters enjoy all the city and surrounds have to offer this summer,” Mr Constance said.
“900 of the weekly services will be added on Friday and Saturday nights to help support Sydney’s night time economy, which is still recovering from the COVID crisis.
“An extra 236 weekend services will run to Bondi, Coogee and Manly beaches, while ferry frequency will also increase to meet current physical distancing requirements.”
Transport for NSW Chief Operations Officer Howard Collins said hundreds of extra staff will be retained for the summer to help customers move safely around the network.
“We are continuing to do everything we can to support customers travelling on the public transport network, with increased cleaning, green physical distancing dots, and additional staff all still in place,” Mr Collins said.
“I thank all the commuters and businesses who have worked with us from day one and continue to work with us to keep services safe and moving.”
Breakdown of the extra summer services:

  • 600 weekly night bus services between 9pm and 1am on Friday and Saturday.
  • 300 weekly Nightrider services from midnight to 4.30am on Friday and Saturday.
  • 236 extra weekend services will run to Bondi, Coogee and Manly beach.
  • 70 weekly light rail services on the L2 Randwick and L3 Kingsford Lines from 7pm on Wednesday to Sunday.
  • Manly Ferry Service uplifted from every 30 minutes to every 20 minutes during the day until 6pm.

RED TAPE SLASHED TO BOOST PRODUCTIVITY

More than 170 planning rules, policies and guidelines have been ripped up to simplify the planning system, speed up assessments and boost productivity as part of the NSW Government’s agenda to reform the system.
Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes said repealing the 156 planning circulars, 16 referral requirements and two ministerial directions will make the system more efficient without compromising standards.
“We are bonfiring a lot of our regulations which will make the planning system easier to navigate,” Mr Stokes said.
“The removal of redundant or duplicated policies, guidelines and rules will also reduce backlogs and bottlenecks and cut costs for applications.
“Over the next three years, we aim to slash the number of cases we refer to other government departments by 25 per cent to reduce assessment times and simplify the planning system.”
Planning rules, guidelines and policies removed from the system include:

  • 156 out of 203 (77 per cent) planning circulars spanning more than 15 years that are redundant, outdated or superseded;
  • 16 planning referral requirements;
  • Two ministerial directions relating to the defunct strategic plan for Greater Sydney and home occupations that have been superceded or made redundant by newer plans and policies.

Mr Stokes said the NSW Government’s Planning Reform Action Plan is a clear message that NSW is open for business and a great place to invest.
“The planning system is a vital economic lever to boost productivity and help drive the nation’s economic recovery,” he said.
“We have  $570 million allocated over the next four years to create a more timely, certain and transparent planning system as part of our sweeping reforms.”