Weekly Update - NSW Parliament goes to Bougainville, PNG, Community Feedback

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Weekly Update - NSW Parliament goes to Bougainville, PNG, Community Feedback

Monday, 06 May 2013

Last week, I was given the very special opportunity to visit Bougainville, in Papua New Guinea to meet with their Parliamentary members.

NSW Parliament has a Twinning Arrangement with the Parliament in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

This Parliament is only eight years old and has been set up with a focus on peace and cooperation after years of war and conflict.

I was honoured to be asked to represent our Parliament and present at three workshops in Bougainville. I appreciated the opportunity to meet with Members of Parliament and parliamentary staff to discuss representing an electorate, managing committee work, and being a legislator. They were interested in how I communicate with an electorate of 50,000 as the total population of Bougainville is approximately 200,000.

Elizabeth Bouraine, North Bougainville Female Representative

A referendum on independence from Papua New Guinea is expected after 2015 and they will be undertaking a great deal of work to prepare their population between now and then.

It was also interesting to talk to the three female members (pictured left with Elizabeth Bouraine, North Bougainville MP) about the differences between our societies and the roles of women.

My particular thanks to the Centre for Democratic Institutions and the Twinning Arrangement for organising this opportunity.

I am glad to see all the Have Your Say feedback forms coming back in after the recent newsletter. I always appreciate the feedback we receive from the community and finding out what issues are affecting residents the most. If you didn't return your feedback form, you can also fill it out on the website and we'll receive it by email. Let me assure you, no issue is too small. Send it through!

Now I'm back to work, with another week in Parliament and some interesting legislation on the agenda too. As always, you watch the action online through Parliament's web feed.

Here is this week's weekly update from around the State.

AVERAGE WORKCOVER PREMIUM CUT OF 7.5 PER CENT

  • As a result of our reforms to WorkCover employers will benefit from an average reduction of 7.5 per cent to their premiums, saving businesses more than $200 million each year.
  • Employers have also avoided a premium hike of 28 per cent, which would have led to more than 12,000 job losses.
  • Our reforms have made the system fairer and have provided more generous payments to severely injured workers, as well as giving incentives to businesses to improve workplace safety.
  • These are the clear results from our reforms to the WorkCover system – a stronger economy and more jobs.
  • Opposition Leader John Robertson and Labor have committed to ripping up our changes which would cancel these premium reductions and put more workers on the jobless queue.
 

MORE THAN 200 NEW POLICE OFFICERS FOR NSW 

  • The NSW Government welcomed a further 202 officers into the NSW Police Force at a graduating ceremony in Goulburn.
  • Since the election, the NSW Liberal & Nationals Government has delivered 370 additional positions into the NSW Police Force and we are on target to deliver 859 extra positions.
  • Fifty of the new offices will be assigned to the Police Transport Command – which is making our public transport network safer for commuters.
  • The new officers begin work at police stations across NSW on Monday (6 May 2013).


PROCESS BEGINS FOR A WORLD CLASS NORTHERN BEACHES HOSPITAL

  • The NSW Government has outlined plans for one of the world’s most advanced hospitals on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
  • Under an innovative model which is a NSW-first, the private sector is being asked to design, construct, operate and maintain the Northern Beaches Hospital at Frenchs Forest.
  • Due to be completed in 2018, the 423-bed hospital will provide both public and private services and utilise leading digital technologies to deliver the highest quality care.
  • The purpose-built, centrally located hospital will provide much greater capacity and greater complexity of services. 
  • Mona Vale Hospital will be redeveloped to provide complementary health services, including urgent care, sub-acute care and palliative care, while Manly Hospital will close when the NBH opens.
 

MAKING ALL BOARD APPOINTMENTS MERIT-BASED

  • Our push to increase the calibre of boards continues with legislative changes to ensure all board appointments to state owned corporations are merit-based.
  • The amendments to the State Owned Corporations Act 1989 will remove the statutory requirement for a staff director or a Unions NSW-nominated director on the boards of 13 state owned corporations.
  • These appointments currently occur without any regard to merit or the particular needs of individual SOC boards.
  • SOCs are complex businesses and by having the right people on their boards we can be confident they are being run in an efficient manner. 
 

TOUGH NEW SANCTIONS FOR OVERHEIGHT OR OVERLENGTH TRUCKS

  • Every driver knows the frustration and disruption caused by overheight and overlength trucks on Sydney’s road network, especially during the peak.
  • Roads Minister Duncan Gay has had enough with tough new penalties coming into effect from the end of June which will allow RMS to suspend the registration of any heavy vehicle for three months if drivers disobey warning devices and travel into tunnels or the Galston Gorge.
  • We will also be able to seek compensation for damage to tunnels and infrastructure caused by breaches. 
  • RMS will also work with GPS companies to develop ways to identify restricted routes and help drivers make the right decisions in the future.
 

NORTH WEST RAIL LINK CONTRACTS MOVES TO NEXT STAGE

  • The North West Rail Link has moved a step closer with the contract process to operate the new line reaching a major milestone.
  • The two shortlisted consortia are Northwest Rapid Transit and TransForm.
  • The contract includes building eight new stations, delivering commuter car parks for 4,000 vehicles, supplying the trains and operating the new link, including maintenance.
  • The move to the next stage ensures the community can have confidence the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government will deliver the North West Rail Link after years of disappointment under Labor.
 

OVERHAUL FOR STANDARD NON-PAROLE PERIODS

  • The NSW Government is planning to overhaul the system of standard non-parole periods to bring sentencing more in line with community expectations. 
  • The Government will soon receive the final report from the Law Reform Commission into sentencing, and initial indications are that it will point the way to reform of the system of standard non-parole periods.
  • The current standard non-parole system is inconsistent, and only applies to a small number of offences - for example, only four child sexual assault offences are currently included in the scheme.
  • Attorney General Greg Smith says there needs to be more rigour in the system and this is a priority in the Government’s review of sentencing.
 

POOLS REGISTER TO SAFEGUARD TODDLERS

  • In order to safeguard toddlers swimming pool owners are now required to register their backyard pool using the online NSW Swimming Pool Register.
  • Six children drown each year in backyard pools in NSW – about 60 others are admitted to hospital following a near-drowning incident, with some suffering permanent brain injury. 
  • The best way to ensure the safety of children around swimming pools is to get people to take responsibility for their pool. 
  • To register visit www.swimmingpoolregister.nsw.gov.au 
 

GOVERNMENT DELIVERS ON WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT UPGRADE

  • A $32 million upgrade to the Warriewood Wastewater Treatment Plant is complete – which will provide further protection for Sydney’s northern beaches.  
  • The upgrade has reduced the likelihood of wet weather overflows from the treatment plant. 
  • The local population is expected to grow by about 11,000 over the next two decades which is why this upgrade was vital.
 

PORT MACQUARIE SHOWS ITS MUSCLE 

  • In a major boost to the Mid-North Coast economy, the Ironman Australia event will remain in Port Macquarie until 2018.
  • The event has been proven to provide a huge boost in tourism, delivering over 20,000 visitor nights and contributing more than $3.7 million to the local economy.
  • The NSW Government understands the importance of major events for the regional NSW economy and that’s why we’ve committed to double the number of visitor nights by 2020.