Greens urge Labor to recommit opposition to PEP-11

The Greens urge Labor to publicly recommit its opposition to PEP-11 after revelations of the former PM’s extraordinary intervention to kill the unpopular project.

Reports that Scott Morrison secretly swore himself in as resources minister and used the power to roll his own frontbencher over PEP-11 have led to the project’s proponent indicating it may seek to overturn the government’s decision.

If Labor remains serious about stopping PEP-11 it should bring on and vote for the Greens’ Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Fight for Australia’s Coastline) Bill, which would put the demise of PEP-11 beyond doubt and prohibit any future petroleum exploration or production in the area for good. 

Greens spokesperson for healthy oceans, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson said: 

“We knew at the time that the former PM’s unprecedented intervention to stop offshore oil and gas drilling in PEP-11 was a political decision, given the strong community opposition to this project in several blue-ribbon federal electorates under threat from climate-conscious independents. 

“What these latest revelations demonstrate more than anything are the extreme measures the former PM was willing to take to retain power, and in turn that drilling for fossil fuels off our coastlines is a significant matter of public interest that is deeply unpopular. 

“While Anthony Albanese seeks legal advice on this matter, he should put the minds of those in Northern NSW at ease by immediately recommitting opposition to PEP-11.

“It’s deeply concerning that Advent Energy and subsidiary Asset Energy have indicated they may seek to overturn the government’s decision to reject the PEP-11 project. 

“If Labor remains serious about stopping PEP-11 it should bring on and vote for the Greens’ Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Amendment (Fight for Australia’s Coastline) Bill, which would stop PEP-11 beyond any doubt, and prohibit any future petroleum exploration or production in the area for good.”

Valuation delivers multimillion-dollar boost to Newcastle Art Gallery collection 

Newcastle Art Gallery’s collection has been independently valued at $126 million, an increase of $11 million since key works were last reviewed.

The $126 million value means the collection is now the most valuable of any gallery in Australia not located in a capital city.

Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation Chair Suzie Galwey, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, Newcastle Art Gallery Director Lauretta Morton, NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole and Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes with some of the most iconic works of art in the collection, including William Dobell's renowned Portrait of a Strapper (above .

The Gallery was closed in February 2022 to allow for the collection to be prepared for relocation to secure storage ahead of the building’s $40 million expansion.

As part of the decanting process, key works were revalued, with Joseph Lycett’s Inner view of Newcastle and Russell Drysdale’s The crow trap recording the most significant increases, with more than $1 million added to each of their valuations. Five other iconic paintings including William Dobell’s renowned Portrait of a Strapper rose by more than half a million dollars each.

The value of Joseph Lycett's Inner view of Newcastle c1818 has risen by more than $1 million.

Significant female artists in the collection were also among works whose values have risen substantially, with two of Cressida Campbell’s works on paper more than doubling in value. Notable increases were also recorded for works by important artists including Eugene von Guérard, Hilda Rix Nicholas, Brett Whiteley, Grace Cossington Smith and Arthur Streeton.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said the long-awaited expansion of Newcastle Art Gallery would allow the community to view and appreciate even more of these iconic artworks.

“City of Newcastle is proud to be the custodian of one of Australia’s most significant public collections of art, however only 1% of Newcastle Art Gallery’s works were able to be displayed in any year due to a lack of space in the existing building,” Cr Nelmes said.

“The expansion project includes an additional 1,600 square meters of exhibition space with dedicated areas on the lower level for our collection, offering the ability to share more of these wonderful works with the community.

“By more than doubling the size of the Gallery and delivering a suite of modern facilities, this project will deliver an expanded and upgraded gallery of international standing that will offer a valuable cultural tourism opportunity for Newcastle and the Hunter.”

Newcastle Art Gallery Director Lauretta Morton OAM said the collection was significant and diverse, providing a time capsule of Australian art dating back more than 200 years.

“Thanks to the generosity of Dr Roland Pope, whose initial bequest in 1945 formed the genesis of the collection, and subsequent donations from major benefactors, artists, the Newcastle Art Gallery Foundation, Newcastle Art Gallery Society and our community we are honoured to be the custodian of the city’s collection with works of art of local, national and international importance,” Ms Morton said.

“We are also proud to share this incredible collection with the rest of Australia through a touring loans program to regional, state and national institutions. During the past four years alone, many of our works of art have travelled to galleries around the country and have been viewed by approximately one million people, with 39 works of art currently involved in 11 exhibitions across Australia.”

The collection is also available to view online via the Newcastle Art Gallery website, while key works are represented in the Night Galleries project at sites throughout the city including Market Street Steps, Kuwumi Place and Pacific Park.

Accelerating world class cyber security solutions in NSW

The nation’s only dedicated cyber security accelerator, CyRise, has been selected to operate the NSW Government’s $1 million Cyber Security Accelerator program, to be based within Sydney’s Tech Central district.
 
Minister for Enterprise, Investment and Trade Alister Henskens said CyRise is a champion of startups in the Asia Pacific region and will help cement NSW as a leading global destination for cyber innovation, providing superior skills for businesses.
 
“CyRise is a proven cyber security startup accelerator with a strong record of helping fast-track businesses to grow, diversify and attract investment,” Mr Henskens said.
 
“The global cyber security industry is expanding rapidly and presents a significant opportunity for local businesses to upskill their staff.”
 
Sydney is Australia’s leading city for cyber security, hosting over 120 businesses. Through the program, CyRise will offer three-day boot camps, a 14-week accelerator program for startups, and a new scale up program for later stage scaling businesses.
 
“This program will help companies sharpen their products, fine-tune business models and boost their connections with international investors,” Mr Henskens said.
 
“It will support businesses to ‘go global’ faster and attract cutting-edge talent to NSW, which will grow the economy and help secure a brighter future for our State.”
 
CyRise CEO Scott Handsaker said the world-class and innovative program will make NSW a beacon to the cyber security industry globally.
 
“We are thrilled to deliver a program that accelerates a startup’s growth trajectory and delivers connections, customers and advice at the right time. We will work together to provide an unparalleled go-to-market for NSW cyber startups,” Mr Handsaker said.
 

New SES campaign in six languages

A new public information campaign focused on diverse communities in flood-prone areas has been launched by the NSW State Emergency Service (SES).
 
Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience and Minister for Flood Recovery Steph Cooke said the new messaging includes video content and covers social media, radio and multicultural community newspapers.
 
“The campaign has been developed in the six languages of Arabic, Cantonese, Farsi, Korean, Mandarin and Punjabi to help culturally and linguistically diverse communities around the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley understand what to do in the event of a flood,” Ms Cooke said.
 
“It’s important people in flood-prone areas understand SES advice so they’re aware of the dangers of severe weather events and are ready to respond when flooding does occur.”
 
Minister for Multiculturalism Mark Coure said the campaign was another example of the NSW Government’s commitment to ensuring everyone has access to important information.
 
“As a multicultural society, it’s crucial we provide clear and concise information about what they should do in an emergency, which ultimately helps them become more resilient,” Mr Coure said.
 
The campaign’s key messages include:

  • It’s not safe to stay at home when subject to an evacuation order;
  • It’s not safe to drive through floodwater;
  • It’s important to listen to SES warnings and keep up to date with advice; and
  • Know how to prepare an emergency ‘get ready to go’ kit.

 
SES Commissioner Carlene York said the campaign covers a variety of media channels to keep people safe.
 
“This campaign is really important to target locals in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley who speak languages other than English, and some of whom have experienced multiple floods in the past 18 months,” Commissioner York said.
 
“It’s great we now have tailored content in multiple languages so that it is as accessible and relevant as possible. This is just one of the steps we have taken to communicate how to prepare and keep safe during a flood.”
 
This campaign builds on previous public information campaigns delivered to communities in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley in 2019, 2020 and 2021, and is being delivered under the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley Flood Risk Management Strategy coordinated by Infrastructure NSW.
 
More information is available at www.ses.nsw.gov.au/languages and www.ses.nsw.gov.au/yourfloodplan.

Aerotropolis gets ready for takeoff as work begins on first substation

The first step in Western Sydney’s Aerotropolis development kicked off today with work beginning on the first critical piece of energy infrastructure for the area. 
 
Minister for Planning and Minister for Homes Anthony Roberts said the start of work on the new $38.8 million Bradfield Zone substation marks the beginning of the once-in-a-generation development that will change the face of Greater Sydney.
 
“This new 90-megawatt substation is an important step in building the backbone of electricity supply for the Bradfield Estate, providing capacity to power the equivalent of 20,000 homes,” Mr Roberts said.
 
“This is just the start of a huge investment in infrastructure for the Aerotropolis, including for roads, public transport, health facilities and schools that will support our growing population.
 
“Having the right infrastructure in place will be vital to the success of the Western Parkland City, ensuring it is a great place to live, work and invest for generations to come.”
 
The NSW Government released the final Precinct Plan for the Aerotropolis in March this year, paving the way for the development of around 6,500 hectares of land surrounding the Nancy Bird Walton Airport.
 
Member for Mulgoa and Parliamentary Secretary for Planning Tanya Davies said Aerotropolis will be the catalyst for the biggest ever jobs boom for Western Sydney.
 
“This new substation will allow over one million square metres of warehouse, factories and office space to be developed, creating up to 10,000 new jobs in the Bradfield City Centre alone,” Mrs Davies said.
 
“Western Sydney is booming and we expect to around 1.4 million people will be living in the Parkland City by 2036. The development of the Aerotropolis will also support the creation of around 200,000 jobs.”
 
Minister for Enterprise, Investment and Trade Alister Henskens said the Western Parkland City, centred around the Aerotropolis, is an incredible opportunity for the people of NSW.
 
“Through the final precinct plan, we’ve laid the foundations for five new precincts that will not only see a boom in highly-skilled jobs in Western Sydney, but will also facilitate the building of around 11,400 new homes, beautiful new parklands and open space to create a world-class city.”
 
For more information on the Aerotropolis Precinct Plan and the Greater Western Parkland City visit https://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/Plans-for-your-area/Priority-Growth-Areas-and-Precincts/Western-Sydney-Aerotropolis 

Record school building program continues for Western Sydney

More than $2 billion is being invested in public education infrastructure across Western Sydney as the NSW Government continues its record school building program.

Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell and Member for Seven Hills Mark Taylor today turned the sod on the latest project to start construction on the multi-million dollar upgrade at Seven Hills High School.

Ms Mitchell said that the NSW Government is continuing to invest in growing community across Western Sydney.

“The NSW Government has invested more in public education infrastructure than any previous government, and communities in Western Sydney are seeing the benefits,” Ms Mitchell said.

“More than $2 billion is being invested in the planning and delivery of 50 new and upgraded school projects, thanks to the NSW Liberals and Nationals Government.

“This record funding will provide world-class learning facilities to Western Sydney students now and for generations to come, like what we will see here at Seven Hills High School.”

The upgrade at Seven Hills High School will provide new specialist vocational education and training (VET) facilities as part of the NSW Government Vocational Schools Pilot project initiative.Minister for Skills and Training Alister Henskens said the upgrade would help turbocharge the take-up of vocational education and training and prepare students for future jobs in important industries including community and health services.

“We’re delivering more opportunities than ever before to help people get the skills they need for the jobs they want and this specialist training facility at Seven Hills High School will provide a golden opportunity for students,” Mr Henskens said.

Minister for Transport, Veterans and Western Sydney David Elliott said the NSW Government continues to invest in Western Sydney.

“We know that Western Sydney is one of the best places to live, work and raise a family, the NSW Government continues to invest in infrastructure to cater for our growing population.”
Mr Taylor said he was delighted to be there for the official start of construction and that the upgrade will be an exciting addition that will deliver modern resources to local students both now and for generations to come.

“The upgrade at Seven Hills High School is really exciting, it means the students will have new specialist VET facilities as part of the NSW Government Vocational Schools Initiative,” Mr Taylor said.

“Seven Hills is a growing community and the upgrade at Seven Hills High School is part of the government’s commitment to supporting families in this area.”

The NSW Government is investing $8.6 billion in school infrastructure over the next four years, continuing its program to deliver 160 new and upgraded schools to support communities across NSW. This builds on the more than $9.1 billion invested in projects delivered since 2017, a program of $17.7 billion in public education infrastructure.

NGO roundtable to deliver Closing the Gap outcomes

The NSW Government will host an Aboriginal roundtable to discuss recommendations to achieve positive change for Aboriginal leaders, employees and services within non-government sectors across the State.
 
Aboriginal NGO leaders and stakeholders will meet with Government decision-makers and a panel of social services organisations on Tuesday 16 August at the Redfern Community Centre to exchange feedback and ideas on Closing the Gap priority reforms and targets.
 
Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Ben Franklin said the roundtable will provide the opportunity to work closely with key organisations to contribute to targets and outcomes towards Closing the Gap.
 
“This important roundtable will bring social sector organisations together to discuss opportunities and challenges to further support Aboriginal community run organisations, improve service delivery for Aboriginal people in NSW and expand Aboriginal employment opportunities within the sector,” Mr Franklin said.
 
“I look forward to exploring these important topics which will lead to the design of new measures to support the NSW social services sector and improve outcomes for Aboriginal people across NSW.”
 
NSW Council of Social Service CEO Joanna Quilty said the social services sector is part of the fast-growing health care and social assistance industry.
 
“With thousands of government funded organisations working across NSW and with Aboriginal communities, this roundtable is a great opportunity to investigate how the sector can better support the growth of Aboriginal community-controlled organisations as well as Aboriginal employment and leadership in non-indigenous organisations,” Ms Quility said.
 
Hosting regular roundtables with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander business owners, organisations and those providing services to communities is one of the NSW Government’s 2021-22 Closing the Gap commitments.

Sky’s the limit as drones revolutionise bridge maintenance

An Australian-first artificial intelligence-enabled drone trial is set to revolutionise the way essential inspection work is carried out on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
 
Minister for Metropolitan Roads Natalie Ward said using the best technology available will ensure bridges across the NSW road network are maintained to the highest standard now and into the future.
 
“We are thrilled to be embracing modern technology to ensure infrastructure like our iconic 90-year-old Sydney Harbour Bridge is preserved for this generation and the next,” Mrs Ward said.
 
“This new trial of cutting edge AI backed technology is another step towards making sure our bridges and road network are maintained to the highest standards.
 
“The sky’s the limit when it comes to this technology. It is a game-changer for our preventative maintenance inspections, which would normally take months to complete, but can now be undertaken in less than half the time.”
 
Transport’s specialist digital engineers recently completed a three-week trial, putting the new technology into action under the southern part of the Harbour Bridge from Dawes Point Park. Trials were also carried out at Gladesville Bridge over Parramatta River, and
at other bridges in regional NSW.
 
Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway said the new fleet of drones can access hard-to-reach areas with ease, capturing the structure up close in 4K high-resolution images, and rendering three-dimensional maps of their surroundings.
 
“Transport for NSW is responsible for maintaining thousands of kilometres of roadway and more than 6000 bridges across the state and is always looking at ways to make the maintenance process safer, less disruptive, more efficient and more cost effective,” Mr Farraway said.
 
“This technology has the potential to play an important role in rapidly assessing the structure of our regional bridges and road networks following natural disasters.”
 
More than twenty drone pilots have been trained so far, with the goal of seeing it rolled out permanently.
 
Transport for NSW has also added water-resistant drones to the fleet, tested in Parramatta, allowing maintenance crews to inspect the network in the rain and structures underwater.
 
Over the past six years, Transport for NSW has collaborated with major players in the field of autonomous and artificial intelligent drones, including the CSIRO, Emesent and Skydio.
 
Drones are an integral part of the Future Transport Technology Roadmap 2021-2024, providing a blueprint for how Transport for NSW is using technology and innovation to improve the state’s transport network.

HOMEGROWN VACCINES ON THE WAY FOR AUSTRALIA

Onshore manufacturing of life-saving mRNA vaccines took a major step forward today, with the Australian Government, Moderna and the Victorian Government finalising all arrangements for the 10-year partnership.

Under the agreements, an mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility will be built at Monash University, helping protect Australians against future pandemics, supporting local industry and creating highly skilled local jobs.

Moderna will also establish its headquarters and a Regional Research Centre in Victoria.

Once operational, the facility will be able to produce up to 100 million vaccine doses every year.

Once this critical onshore mRNA capability is established, Australia will reduce its dependence on imported mRNA vaccines and our vulnerability to supply disruptions or delays.

It will give Australians local and ongoing access to Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine – Spikevax – and give us an onshore mRNA manufacturing capability in the event of a new pandemic, such as avian influenza or another new pathogen, vaccine-resistant COVID-19 variants or a global resurgence of infections.

The partnership will lead to a world-class mRNA ecosystem based in Melbourne, attract highly skilled staff and expand local capability through joint ventures with leading Australian research organisations.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said:

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a once in a generation challenge that gives us a once in a generation opportunity to come back stronger and better than ever.”

“The pandemic has shown us how important local manufacturing capability is to our security and to our health.”

“This significant deal will protect Australians and Australian sovereignty.”

Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews said:

“This agreement means that Victoria will be home to Moderna’s only mRNA manufacturing and finishing centre in the Southern Hemisphere.” 

“We have the skills and the equipment needed to deliver this vital onshore capability – it will save lives, create jobs and strengthen Victoria’s position as a national leader in medical manufacturing.”

“The pandemic has shown us how important it is to have strong sovereign capacity – we’re not wasting a second in making sure we have access to the vaccines we need to keep Victorians safe.”

Minister Butler said:

“I was honoured to sign an agreement today with my Victorian Government counterpart – Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy Jaala Pulford – to finalise this 10-year strategic partnership.”

“It was a pivotal step in helping protect Australians against future pandemics while supporting local industry.”

Minister Husic said:

“Australia has the world-class capabilities needed to develop and produce the next generation of medical technology, matched with leading researchers and a highly skilled workforce.

“This landmark agreement signals the Australian Government’s commitment and support for sovereign manufacturing capability in critical industries.”

Minister Pulford said:

“We warmly welcome Moderna to Melbourne – this facility and research centre together with Victoria’s world-class science and health tech will generate major medical breakthroughs.”

“We’ll keep making the big, bold investments needed to make sure we have the best research, the best facilities and the best treatments to keep Victorians safe and healthy.” 

Moderna General Manager Australia & New Zealand Michael Azrak said:

“We look forward to being a part of the Monash Clayton precinct and contributing to the R&D ecosystem in Melbourne and across Australia.” 

Toddler dies after being hit by car – Rathmines 

A toddler has died after being hit by a car in a driveway at Lake Macquarie.

Just before 2.30pm today (Monday 15 August 2022), emergency services were called to Rosemary Row, Rathmines, after reports a toddler had been hit by a vehicle in a driveway.

Upon arrival, NSW Ambulance paramedics commenced treating the 22-month-old, however the child died at the scene.

Officers attached to Lake Macquarie Police District attended and established a crime scene.

An investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident has commenced.

A 38-year-old male driver has been taken to John Hunter Hospital for mandatory testing.

A report will be prepared for the information of the Coroner.