Friday, 23 June 2017

Facelift for Broadmeadow Station

BY JESSICA ROUSE

Broadmeadow Train Station has undergone a massive facelift worth $18.5 million.

As part of the Transport Access Program, the station now has three new lifts, improved access from Brown and Graham Roads, more protection from the weather and upgraded security features.

This is the first upgrade to the station in more than 40 years and Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald says it's a great, and much needed, improvement.

"If you were here a year ago it was dark, it was gloomy, there wasn't much weather protection, it didn't feel friendly but look all credit to these guys its bright, it's airy, there's a lot more CCTV, the signage is so much better, it's a 100 per improvement and I think they should be really proud and the community will really take a lot of heart in these upgrades."

The underpass has also undergone a lively transformation with a bright new piece of public art which celebrates local history with the quote 'We've built many things along the way, the path we're on now leads to even more'.

The upgraded security is of particular interest and has made for a much safer train station for the public.

"There wouldn't be many blindspots I can imagine, I think they've done a terrific job and if that gives people confidence and deters a little bit of antisocial behaviour that's wonderful but this is the standard that you see now and it is getting higher and higher all the time," said Scot MacDonald.

Outrage over Telegraph Point Preschool closure

BY SARAH BARONOWSKI and JESSICA ROUSE

Parents at the Telegraph Point Children's Centre are outraged government ministers haven't stepped in to stop the closure of their preschool.

When questioned in parliament this week, the Minister for Early Education said due to contractual and compliance issues the current provider simply wasn't able to continue operating it.

Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education, Kate Washington says it's ridiculous the government couldn't step in.

"The Department and the Minister keeps pointing to commercial complexities but this is a government that can enter into contracts to build...a light rail down George Street but they can't navigate a solution to keep a small childcare service open. It just beggars belief," she said.

According to Kate Washington, it's an outrage the government didn't take action and stop the small preschool from closing, especially when alternative arrangement plans were offered to them.

"The operator and the community have put lots of alternative options to the Minister and the Department to keep the doors open but then they have all been rejected and the Department has instead only told the families that they need to find services elsewhere."

She says because of the Department's inaction, local families and their children are put at a disadvantage.

"[The school] provides vocation care, outside of hours care, pre-schooling and childcare to that small community and surrounding areas.

"Children will now miss out on the all-important transition to the local school. Families will struggle to juggle their work and family commitments. It's a sad day for Telegraph Point."
Kate Washington [Image: North Arm Cove]

National Rural Health Alliance welcomes new Commissioner.

BY DANIELLE RIES

The National Rural Health Alliance welcomes the new role of a Rural Health Commissioner after the passing of a legislation to establish the role.

The new commissioner is seen by the alliance as a potential game changer for health in rural areas, including the Hunter region.

The alliance supports the initial establishment of general practices in rural communities with the commissioner working with the alliance to ensure rural communities receive proper health care, such as making sure the Rural Generalist Pathway runs smoothly.

The alliance is looking forward to working with the commissioner as they'll bring a new perspective on rural health.

National Rural Health Alliance CEO David Butt says the commissioner won't be the sole answer to all rural health issues.

"We think this is a great initiative, however, we do just want to be clear that the commissioner is not going to be able to do all things for rural and remote Australia.

"One person will be tremendously and strategically placed in advising the minister directly. All governments need to work together to develop solutions for rural and remote Australia, as we can't rely on one person to be all things to all people in rural Australia".

He also states the commissioner will have a broader review due to amendments to the legislation.

"The minister had said that he wanted the commissioner to have a broader view but this establishes that in the legislation. So to look more broadly at other issues within rural health.

"It also enables a review of the timeframe for the legislation. In the current legislation, it expires at the end of June 2020 and of course, issues in rural and remote Australia won't have been resolved by then".

Credit- National Rural Health Alliance Website

M1 Pacific Motorway extension in the pipeline

BY JESSICA ROUSE

The NSW Government has committed to further planning of the M1 Pacific Highway extension to aid traffic flow to Raymond Terrace but without a completion date in sight, the missing link could be years away.

The budget revealed a $5 million funding injection for planning adding to the $7 million already given last year for planning a possible exit ramp off the motorway south of Heatherbrae and a free flowing interchange a Tomago in place of the roundabout already there.

After community consultation, last August and September, the plan for a 15 kilometre bypass of Hexham and Heatherbrae linking two of the state's busiest highways, with interchanges at Tarro, Tomago, Black Hill and Raymond Terrace and a 2.6 kilometre bridge over Woodlands Close, the New England Highway and the Hunter River.

Overview of M1 extension Image www.rms.nsw.gov.au

NRMA Hunter Chairman Kyle Loades says once planning is completed money will start to be poured into the project.

"So it's important to understand that the process is there for good reason - you have to get the planning right, you've got to get the project shovel-ready and then you can attract the funds. The planning hasn't been completed yet so we're hoping that this will be the last year of planning."

"We're very confident that this won't be just left idol for a decade. This will be committed to in the next year or so and let's get on with it because it's a massive bottleneck for Hunter motorists today and/or when people head north on holidays," said Kyle Loades.

Traffic troubles on Newcastle Road

BY IAN CROUCH

There are major delays for city-bound traffic on Newcastle Road at Lambton.

Workers undertaking roadworks overnight accidentally hit a water main.

A repair crew from Hunter Water is carrying out emergency work, which has closed one eastbound lane on Newcastle Road.

If all goes according to plan, they hope to have the problem fixed by around 9:30am.

Paterson MP Meryl Swanson deputy chair of new government committee

BY SARAH BARONOWSKI and JESSICA ROUSE

Member for Paterson Meryl Swanson now has a place as deputy chair of a new Federal Government committee which will look at the benefits and necessity of regional development and decentralisation.

A key focus will be looking at the pros and cons of moving government departments from Canberra to regional areas like the Hunter and putting them in the best possible position for jobs and growth.

Meryl Swanson says it's pivotal regional areas don't miss out and she will ensure her electorate and the whole Hunter region aren't forgotten.

"We do need to have good services from government, we need to look at government departments moving to the regions and that's what this committee will be doing. Are they a good thing, are they not a good thing, we'll be making those inquiries and trying to figure out just what role the regions play."

She also says there's more to decentralisation than just moving government departments from Canberra to regions like the Hunter.

"Decentralisation is also about governments providing enough support and enough staff for the departments that are already in existence in those areas. So rather than sacking all the Centrelink staff, ensuring that staff are there is a very important thing. It is about how we ensure that we've got enough staff to make sure the people in the regions are well serviced," said Meryl Swanson.

Hunter Sports High redevelopment pushed back. Again.

BY IAN CROUCH and JESSICA ROUSE

Staff and students at Hunter Sports High at Gateshead will have to wait another two years for a promised major upgrade of their school.

In 2014, $20 million was allocated to the school in the state budget to demolish ageing and dilapidated classrooms with the government promising to have the work completed by January this year.

Demolition work did begin this year but in February, with the project's completion date blowing out to 2019.

Back in June 2014, the then Education Minister Adrian Picolli proudly boasted the government was getting on with the job of fixing the school.

"Now we're investing in this highschool, it's about getting on with the job making sure that we've got world-class facilities, budgets are always tight but we've made sure we've found the money to do this well overdue project"

But now three years later, Charlestown MP Jodie Harrison is extremely disappointed at just another demonstration of the government's disinterest in the region.

"This is another demonstration of this government's disinterest in the Hunter and in a school that is educating students from one of the most socio-economically disadvantaged suburbs in the State."

Hunter Sports High Image metrobc.com.au