Weekly Update - St Marks Coptic College New Building Opens, Moorebank Intermodal, Liverpool Chamber of Commerce Breakfast

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Weekly Update - St Marks Coptic College New Building Opens, Moorebank Intermodal, Liverpool Chamber of Commerce Breakfast

Monday, 26 August 2013
Here we are again with another week in front of us. And I'm sure you're either eagerly awaiting the Federal Election in just under two weeks or simply can't wait for it to be over! Whatever side you're on, the finish line is in sight! If you don't know where to go on polling day, or want to vote earlier at pre-poll check out the information on the Australian Electoral Commission website. Here is all you need to know for the Hughes Electorate http://www.aec.gov.au/election/nsw/hughes.htm
 
St Marks Coptic College had their official opening of their new Sport and Arts Facility last Friday. I've had the pleasure of attending a number of Coptic functions during my time as the Member for Menai, so I was pleased to see a few familiar faces at St Marks in Wattle Grove. The new building has given the school an indoor space for all kinds of sporting pursuits, a stage for drama and performance and place for the entire school to come together under one roof. As an independent school, St Marks rely largely upon the generosity of their parents and the Coptic community, but were grateful for the support from the Federal Government to help make their dream a reality. I was joined by Coptic Orthodox dignitaries, led by His Grace Bishop Daniel, Federal Senator, the Hon. Ursula Stephens MP, Federal Member for Hughes, Craig Kelly MP, and Liverpool Mayor Clr Ned Mannoun - three tiers of government! It was a wonderful morning of thanks and musical performances from students. Congratulations again to St Marks Coptic College!
 
The proposed Moorebank Intermodal Project continues to lurk in the background while the community remains opposed. I have maintained that despite the project being good for Sydney, it is not good for our area. There are too many homes, local roads and services that will be impacted by an intermodal freight facility, whether it be one or two. I recently used my Private Members Statement in Parliament to reiterate these thoughts and maintain my opposition, on behalf on the local community. You can watch the video of my speech or read it on Hansard.
 

The Liverpool Chamber of Commerce welcomed the touring Skyboard to Liverpool's Regional Museum last Wednesday morning. For those of you not aware, the SkyBoard is the Southern Hemisphere’s largest mobile billboard, which is travelling across New South Wales to bring the community together and demonstrate the power of small business. We had guest speaker, David Borger, Western Sydney Director of the Sydney Business Chamber at the breakfast event and great turn out by members and interested local business owners. You can find out more about the Skyboard and the Too Big To Ignore Campaign on their website http://toobigtoignore.org.au/skyboard-tour Thanks again to Liverpool Chamber for putting this event together. 
 
Have a great week!
 
Without further ado, here is the update around the State:
 

STRONGER BORDERS WILL HELP TACKLE GUN CRIME

  • The NSW Government strongly supports Tony Abbott’s plan to strengthen our borders which will help give NSW Police the upper hand in the fight against criminal gangs and gun crime. 
  • The Federal Coalition has announced a plan for a $100 million boost to border protection funding to stop the flow of illegal weapons into Australia. 
  • The NSW Police is doing an excellent job of taking illegal weapons off the street, but guns are flooding in through the nation’s porous borders as quickly as police can remove them. 
  • Under Federal Labor’s cuts to border protection services like Customs the number of air cargo inspections has fallen from about 60 per cent under the Howard Government, to about 10 per cent. 
 

161 NEW POLICE OFFICERS HIT THE STREETS 

  • Minister for Police and Emergency Services Michael Gallacher welcomed 161 new officers to the NSW Police Force after graduating at the Goulburn Academy this week. 
  • Almost a quarter of graduating officers are going to stations in the South West of Sydney and a further quarter to the North West. 
  • The NSW Government made the commitment to increase the NSW Police Force by a total of 859 police officers, with the Authorised Strength reaching 16,665 in August 2015. 
  • We are on track to delivering the target, having added 420 of these positions since December 2011, with more on the way. 


RECORD IMPROVEMENTS IN EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT PERFORMANCE 

  • Emergency departments across NSW are continuing their vast improvements in patient treatment times. 
  • From January to June this year, 65.6 per cent of patients left emergency departments within four hours – a significant improvement on the 59.3 per cent over the same period last year. 
  • Hospitals including Tweed, Fairfield, Manly, Griffith, Bathurst, Ryde, Auburn, Sydney and Sydney Children’s have all surpassed the 71 per cent National Emergency Access Target (NEAT) benchmark between January to June this year. 
  • Health Minister Jillian Skinner has praised the State’s public hospitals for their continued improvements and is confident we will meet the NEAT benchmark by the end of this year. 
 

PROTECTING THE COMMUNITY FROM DANGEROUS DOGS 

  • The way companion animals are managed is being overhauled by the NSW Government, including creating a new category of ‘menacing dogs’ to better protect the community. 
  • The new rules mean council rangers can be more proactive by declaring a dog showing signs of dangerous behaviour as ‘menacing’ before it attacks; the current laws mean a dog can only be declared dangerous after it attacks. 
  • The new classification will require owners to muzzle their dogs in public, have them on a leash under the control of a person over 18 years old, and ensure they are de-sexed. 
  • The new laws are part of a package of measures in response to a report by the Companion Animals and Dangerous Dogs Taskforce, also including bigger fines of up to $77,000 and jail terms of up to five years for irresponsible dog owners. 
 

PREMIER WELCOMES 50th WARATAH TRAIN INTO SERVICE 

  • The 50th brand new air-conditioned Waratah train has been welcomed into service, with six now travelling to Western Sydney, boosting customer safety and comfort. 
  • Since coming to office the O’Farrell Government has added an additional 107 weekly rail services, introduced the Opal electronic ticketing card, and reformed the management of trains - in part by recruiting former London Underground boss Howard Collins. 
  • More improvements will come when the overhaul of the train timetable is unveiled before October. 
  • Some 85 percent of Sydney trains are now air-conditioned, up from about 70 per cent when the NSW Government was elected. 
 

PIPELINE PROJECTS IMPROVE WATER SECURITY IN WESTERN NSW 

  • $7 million in pipeline projects in western NSW have been completed, improving water quality and water security in the Moree, Brewarrina and Hay districts. 
  • The projects have seen some 380km of open channels replaced with around 400km of pipe, vastly improving the quality and security of water supplies. 
  • The Pipeline NSW Program has already delivered actual water savings of more than four gigalitres per year, with additional benefits including a reduction in feral animal populations. 
  • The experience gained from this program is also being applied to the $137m Basin Pipe Program running over the next four years. 
 

MINISTER LAUNCHES UNIVERSITY DISABILITY PLAN 

  • Minister for Disability Services John Ajaka has launched the University of Sydney’s new Disability Action Plan aimed at promoting social inclusion in all aspects of education. 
  • The Disability Action Plan provides a clear strategy for delivering an accessible best practice teaching, learning and working environment. 
  • The University’s plan is in line with the NSW Government’s commitment to shifting the structural and attitudinal barriers that have had an impact on the lives of people with disability. 
  • The National Disability Strategy NSW Implementation Plan 2012 – 2014 was launched last year to outline the priorities and actions across government to promote inclusion for people with disability. 
 

HAVE YOUR SAY ON THE FUTURE OF THE ILLAWARRA 

  • Illawarra residents have been given the chance to shape the future of their local area with the release of The Illawarra over the next 20 years – a Discussion Paper. 
  • The NSW Government has recognised the need to start planning now with more than 52,000 more people expected to call the Illawarra home over the next 20 years. 
  • The discussion paper is the first step in preparing a new Regional Growth Plan and is a great opportunity for all Illawarra residents to have their say on housing, transport, infrastructure and environmental protection. 
  • The Discussion Paper will be on display until Monday 11 November and details on how to lodge a submission are available at www.planning.nsw.gov.au/illawarra. 
 

SATURDAY MORNING SPORT WASHOUTS COULD BECOME HISTORY

  • Wet weather cancellations for Saturday morning sport could soon be a thing of the past with a project designed to dramatically reduce the number of sports fields being closed due to rain. 
  • The three year project will see sports fields composted, top dressed and aerated so they can be played on shortly after heavy rain. 
  • The project will be run in Newcastle at the Hunter Sports Centre and funded by Hunter Water, with the results to be shared with Sydney councils and sporting clubs. 
  • Water efficiency experts from Hunter Water have developed a plan that changes the structure of the playing surface so that the field doesn’t turn into a bog when the heavy rain hits. 
 

MADAMA BUTTERFLY FOR HANDA OPERA ON SYDNEY HARBOUR 2014 

  • One of the world’s most spectacular outdoor events, Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour, will return next year with Puccini’s tale of love and honour, Madama Butterfly. 
  • Madama Butterfly will open on 21 March 2014 for an exclusive three-week season, playing nightly on the magnificent stage at Fleet Steps in the Royal Botanic Gardens. 
  • The forthcoming season is expected to build on the successes of Carmen and La Traviata, and is expected to inject an estimated $20 million into the NSW economy throughout its season. 
  • Tickets go on sale within Opera Australia 2014 Season subscriptions from 23 August, with tickets available to the general public from 23 September. To purchase tickets please visit www.operaonsydneyharbour.com.au