Friday, 23 March 2018

Emergency Services Minister Attends Wallsend Fire Station Opening Amid Sonia Hornery Concerns


Emergency Services Minister Troy Grant attended the official opening of Wallsend's new fire station this morning, but Wallsend MP Sonia Hornery remains disappointed with his decision to sell the original building.

Grant was joined at the new Summerhill Road premises by Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot Macdonald and representatives from Fire and Rescue NSW, but Sonia Hornery was not invited despite her strong advocacy for the new facilities.

Ms Hornery accused Mr Grant of "playing politics" with emergency services after he failed to respond to her requests to leave the original fire station in public hands.

Sonia Hornery had asked the Minister to keep the original Devon Street premises public in order to provide a space for use by community groups such as Blue Gum Hills Men's Shed, but the property was listed for sale earlier this week.

Troy Grant responded to Ms Hornery's accusations, telling 2NURFM News that he wasn't aware Ms Hornery wasn't invited to today's event until this morning.

"It was certainly not political," said Mr Grant.

"I know how immensely proud she is and it's all credit to her that the (new) fire station is now up and running."

The new Wallsend Fire Station. Picture: Facebook.

Nelson Bay Road Duplication Delayed by Funding 'Backflip'


The state government is accused of back-flipping on an election promise to fund the duplication of Nelson Bay Road.

Former Premier Mike Baird promised $67 million to the project in 2015, but Freedom of Information documents requested by Port Stephens MP Kate Washington have revealed funding won't begin until after the 2020-21 financial year.

Voters will now face another state election before the duplication is complete, and Kate Washington says she can't understand how the Berejiklian Government thinks it could regain local support.

"There is a state budget coming up. They have one last opportunity to do the right thing by our community and bring forward this spend so that the full duplication of Nelson Bay Road, as promised, is delivered." Ms Washington told 2NUR.

Shadow Roads Minister Jodi McKay says Premier Gladys Berijiklian needs to come clean and explain her role in the decision to delay funding.

"Premier Baird stood in Port Stephens and promised a full duplication, then failed to deliver." Minister McKay said, labelling the backflip an 'insult to the people of Port Stephens.'

Jodi McKay and Kate Washington. Picture: Marina Neil,

Novocastrian chef recognised for community work


NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian presented the Regional Communities Medal to a passionate Newcastle Chef at the 2018 Premiers Harmony Dinner last night.

President of the Newcastle Indian Association, Promila Gupta was nominated by Hunter Parliamentary Secretary, Scot MacDonald for dedicating her working life to promoting Indian culture and cuisine.

He says it’s outstanding to see a local community member recognised with one of the Premiers most prestigious medals.

Committing her professional life to promoting harmony in the Newcastle community, Ms Gupta says,
“Harmony for me is a bridge between cultures. A shared experience can help with relationships and one way I do this is with food."

Ms Gupta teaches Indian cooking at the WEA Hunter campus and is currently writing her third cookbook.

She has previously been awarded the Pride of Australia Award in 2006, was the South Australian Citizen of the Year in 2007 and worked for three years as a commissioner.

Minister for Multiculturalism Ray Williams congratulated Ms Gupta on her achievements.

“Day in day out, people like Ms Gupta strengthen our harmonious multicultural society and set an example for every member of our community,” Mr Williams said.

Promila Gupta. 

Tanilba Bay man arrested after injuring police officer


A police officer responding to a noise complaint at Tanilba Bay last night has been injured following a confrontation with a homeowner.

Around 6pm, the officer attended a property following nuisance reports when Raymond Terrace police say he started behaving aggressively.

A scuffle ensued as a member of the public assisted the officer in controlling the 38-year-old man, who was arrested and charged with multiple offences including assaulting a police officer.

The officer sustained an injury to his arm and was taken via ambulance to the John Hunter Hospital, where doctors confirmed it to be minor soft tissue damage.

The alleged offender will appear at Raymond Terrace court later this month.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Newcastle Airport unveils 20 year vision


An improved terminal and increased parking are just two of the developments proposed in a Master Plan for Newcastle Airport.

After lengthy consultation, the 2036 Newcastle Airport Vision was announced at a community stakeholder breakfast this morning.

The Vision includes designs for a terminal transformation expanded over two levels; additional food and beverage businesses; international flights; aero-bridges from the upper level; the creation of a pedestrian plaza; and additional car parking facilities.

In addition, the plan calls for major modifications to integrate ground transport and road access, as well as the creation of a 'campus' style business precinct.

Newcastle Airport CEO, Dr Peter Cock, said Hunter residents deserve a vibrant airport and a clear vision of how it will operate in the future.

"We have an amazing region that is already Australia's largest regional economy and we anticipate our passenger numbers will keep increasing."

The CEO committed to expanding current travel numbers to double, possibly triple the current flight traffic.

The Hunter Business Chamber has welcomed the plan, with CEO Bob Hawes saying the plan provides evidence of the commitment we continue to see in the region.

"It's going to be a considerable activity centre," he said, "one that will have reach well beyond this region and put us on a stage nationally and internationally in terms of capacity and capability, and that's fantastic."

Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter, Scot MacDonald, joined Newcastle Airport officials and Lord Mayors, Nuatali Nelmes (Newcastle) and Ryan Palmer (Port Stephens) for the launch, and said they are all very excited about the Airport numbers coming through.

"There's around 1 million people [using the Airport], now they have a great master plan taking us as far out as 60 years.

"They have got a few gradual steps worked out to build the numbers up around the 5 million mark," Mr MacDonald said.

"We as a state government are very keen to support them, it's in our Regional Plan and Greater Metro Plan for the cases they're putting up for infrastructure," he continued, "whether that might be around the roads or land development around the Airport."

Opal data suggests declining patronage, says Labor


Claims made by the NSW Transport Minister about the number of people jumping aboard Newcastle buses is being disputed by Labor.

Newcastle MP, Tim Crakanthorp claims on March 6, Andrew Constance told state parliament, "I took the January 2017 patronage numbers compared them to January 2018. In January 2017, the patronage numbers were 304, 330. In January of this year, there were 319, 360."

That would have represented a significant increase of 15, 330 patrons, however, Opal card data, published on the NSW government's website, shows only 300, 448 using Newcastle bus services in January 2018.

Tim Crakanthorp has labelled Andrew Constance's claims "disingenuous," and said the 4000 person decrease for January and decline of 8000 patrons in February makes sense, given public outcry over the revised system.

"This makes a lot of sense...we've got huge support from the community on this particular campaign to call for a full review and proper consultation on this service.

"We had 1000 people turn up at a community meeting in Belmont and about the same come to a rally [in Gregson Park] just last week."

However, Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter, Scot MacDonald has defended the Minister's comments, saying Mr Constance was referring to overall patronage sourced from both Opal and non-Opal data.

"The figures we rely on is overall patronage...the numbers, when combined, give us about a 9% increase.

"So we're getting that up-swing we've been expecting," he said.

"We can't just rely on the Opal data," Mr MacDonald continued, "because there are various concession users and people paying with cash.

"When we look at both the Opal and non-Opal figures, it is still quite encouraging."

Scot MacDonald emphasized the declining nature of the previous system as reason for the changed timetable.

Push for better flood management in Wallsend


As yesterday's heavy rain system tracks north, Wallsend MP, Sonia Hornery says it was a lucky escape for the suburb, which encountered near-flooding.

150 millimetres of rain was received in Wallsend yesterday, while Ironbark Creek stormwater drains became full to the brim.

Some businesses in the town centre were forced to send workers home early, for fears they may have been trapped in rising water on the roads, while at Plattsburg Public School on Ranclaud Street, parents only just got children out in time.

Sonia Hornery believes a planned April visit to Wallsend by Utilities Minister, Don Harwin, cannot come soon enough.

"He's aware of the problem, but I want Don Harwin to see for himself the problems occurring, [there's been] eleven years of inaction, particularly from Hunter Water," she said.

The Minister was invited to inspect flood-prone areas in Wallsend, but so far has been too busy to attend.

Sonia Hornery said it will be good to finally get the wheels in motion after three major rain events in as many years.

"What we need to do is get Hunter Water on side," Ms Hornery said, "and the way we're working at doing that is, we're having a meeting with Minister Don Harwin and we're hoping to clinch immediate action and government funding.

"Of course then, we want Don Harwin to make sure he enables Hunter Water to do that work, so Newcastle Council CEO Jeremy Bath can get on with the work of building the bridges; he's hampered with inaction from Hunter Water at the moment."

A Wallsend drain around 2:30, March 21.