THE completion of the Queensland to New South Wales electricity Interconnector (QNI) upgrade has replaced 58 towers between Liddell, Muswellbrook and Tamworth.
The $236 million project upgraded 300 kilometres of transmission lines to boost interstate transmission capacity by over 190 megawatts (MW) from QLD to NSW, and 460MW from NSW to QLD, making it easier to share lower-cost generation between the two states.
Households will soon have more reliable and affordable energy with this priority project expected to provide net benefits of $170 million to electricity customers and producers.
The interconnector upgrades will also support the development of renewable generation in new energy zones across both states, as coal-fired generators retire and electricity supply transitions towards a grid predominately supplied by renewable energy sources.
Applications are open for the NSW Government's Energy Bill Buster program to help households slash their power bills by up to $600 a year.
An initial 30,000 eligible households can apply for help to install solar or replace appliances with more energy efficient ones following the allocation of $128 million in the 2022-23 NSW Budget.
Those renting or living in apartments who cannot have solar installed may be eligible to swap their current annual rebate for a suite of energy efficient upgrades, to reduce demand on the grid and lower power prices.
The benefits aren't just for private homeowners and tenants with the solar swap to also be offered to eligible Land and Housing Corporation tenants later this year.
Households can check their Bill Buster eligibility at the Energy Saver website; www.energysaver.nsw.gov.au/browse-energy-offers/household-offers/rebate-swap-for-solar-and-upgrades
Veterinarians and specialist biosecurity staff are being mobilised as the NSW Government ramps up efforts to ensure farmers are in the best position to manage a possible incursion of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).
Expert staff from Local Land Services (LLS) will connect with farmers through a series of targeted workshops, webinars, and visits to saleyards and field days to help farmers identify and report early signs of both FMD and Lumpy Skin Disease (LSD).
Hunter LLS will use the Community Wellbeing Dinner at Moonan on 2 August and the Cultural Burn Demonstration at Merriwa on 24-25 August to ensure information on foot and mouth and lumpy skin is available.
Farmers interested in attending an upcoming event to learn more are encouraged to visit; www.lls.nsw.gov.au/regions/hunter/events
A suite of fee-free short courses is now available for people looking to secure jobs or further their career in hospitality, as part of a new NSW Government program which aims to supercharge the sector and grow the economy.
The Kickstart Your Career in Hospitality program aims to alleviate labour shortages that are hampering the industry and provide pathways for people looking for rewarding and well-paid careers.
The fee-free courses are designed to be short and quick, but also scalable so staff take up additional training opportunities, to develop further skills over time, as they desire.
The program has been developed in partnership with industry, to provide job relevant training and career development at pubs, clubs and restaurants.
More information about eligibility criteria and enrolments is available at Skills NSW; www.skills.education.nsw.gov.au/initiatives/hospitality-skills
More than one million people will be supported to reach their goal of being skilled and employed, as part of TAFE NSW's ambitious new three-year plan that will help strengthen the economy's skills base and secure a brighter future for NSW.
The TAFE NSW Strategic Plan 2022-25 provides an industry-aligned roadmap for Australia's largest and best training provider, to ensure it continues to deliver a skilled and agile workforce, now and into the future.
TAFE NSW is critically important to the future of our state and the NSW Government will continue to support its teachers and staff, so that we can continue helping people get the skills they need for the jobs they want.
The key elements of the plan include delivering better learner experiences, forming innovative partnerships with industry, empowering TAFE's workforce and adopting digital technologies to improve services.
Find out more at; www.tafensw.edu.au/study
Murrurundi, Ellerston and Blackville are among 35 small regional public schools to receive a financial boost to establish Before and After School Care (BASC) in the community.
The state government has committed to a $37.9 million investment in the before and after school care sector to improve access and affordability for regional families.
The package includes more than $20 million to expand BASC provision in regional schools and more than $16 million for grants to improve transport services to BASC services.
The NSW Government has been supporting working families by expanding before and after school care services creating an additional 19,420 before and after school care places over the last three years.
Pubs and clubs are set to receive a major boost with the NSW Government extended trading hours for upcoming major sports events.
Late night trading hours operate from this week until Sunday 18 December to support the state's venues and encourage sports fans to come together to watch all the live action on big screens including the Commonwealth Games, the FIFA World Cup soccer finals and ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket finals.
The extended trading period only applies if a live broadcast is shown at the premises or Australia is playing and the fixture is being broadcast live.
The extended trading hours do not apply to takeaway alcohol sales with venues already approved to trade during or beyond the extended hours able to operate as usual.
As winter illnesses continue to keep public hospital emergency departments very busy NSW Health has this advice for people with cold or flu like symptoms.
Firstly, get tested for COVID-19 straight away using a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT), or if you are at higher risk of severe illness, have a PCR test as it can detect viruses earlier.
Stay at home if your COVID-19 test result is positive, as you need to self-isolate for seven days.
If your result is negative and you still have symptoms and are unwell, stay home and rest until your symptoms resolve.
If you are concerned by your symptoms, contact a GP or seek expert health advice from a nurse 24/7 by calling HealthDirect on 1800 022 222 or Triple Zero (000) in an emergency.
NSW Police are maintaining a focus on pedestrian safety with drivers reminded about practicing safe driving behaviours to create safer walking environments.
Drivers must always give way to pedestrians crossing the road, even if there is no marked pedestrian crossing.
Handy tips include slowing down to be aware of your surroundings and sudden changes on roads where there are likely to be lots of pedestrians, especially near schools, shopping centres and licensed premises where pedestrians may be intoxicated.
Also, be mindful of and minimise distractions by being focussed when parking or performing manoeuvres such as U-turns.
Don't let your drive affect lives, look out for pedestrians.
More than 100,000 NSW Seniors have embraced digital taking advantage of the digital Seniors Card.
After a successful pilot program in March, more than 30,000 people have been getting their digital Seniors Card each month.
The NSW Government is now looking at ways to continue to expand the program with a focus on businesses and developing an application process similar to the successful Dine Discover NSW program which enables many more people to easily sign-up.
The Seniors Card has come a long way since it was first introduced in 1992 to now be the largest program of its kind in Australia with more than 6,500 businesses and service providers involved.
For instructions on how to add a digital Seniors or Senior Savers Card to the Service NSW app, or to learn more visit Service NSW; www.service.nsw.gov.au/campaign/nsw-seniors-card-program
Dave Layzell is the Member for Upper Hunter
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