National: NSW Budget to Spend on Roads, Buses and Hospital

The New South Wales government has announced its plans to build a new hospital, three new Sydney motorways, double-deckers and additional bus services, just a week before the state budget arrives.

Next week’s budget will allocate a billion-dollar package as planning money for three new motorways. $21 million will be allocated for the M12, whereas the F6 Motorway and the M9 Outer Orbital will receive $15 million and $2.09 million respectively.

“We want every community to be a vibrant community – and a local roads project can make a world of difference,” Perrottet said. “Some of these will be the most important links in greater Western Sydney for getting home and doing business.”

Also in the budget is a $534 million allocation to buy a site in Tweed and build a 350-bed hospital with extra cardiac and cancer services. “We believe that whether you live in the north shore of Sydney or northern New South Wales, every community deserves access to high quality health care,” said Treasurer Dominic Perottet. The hospital is expected to be built after 5 years.

Finally, the budget also aims to purchase 176 new buses. 134 of them are to replace aging fleets, while the rest is to boost the overall bus numbers. Six of these new buses will be double-deckers, set to replace bendy buses. “It’s a far better way in terms of road space to better utilise the roads, the bus commuting,” said Transport Minister Andrew Constance. There will also be over 3,300 new services for metropolitan Sydney, western Sydney, the Hills District and south west Sydney.

National: Air Pollution Alert Issued for Sydney as Ozone Levels Rise

An air pollution alert has been issued for Sydney residents as ozone levels continue to rise beyond government standards.

New South Wales Health said the ozone excess, which causes “poor” air quality on Tuesday, could affect people with respiratory conditions.

Ozone is a pungent gas resulting from chemical reactions between atmospheric gases and nitrogen oxides from car-vehicle exhausts, which can cause chest pain, coughing and throat irritation when inhaled. Hot weathers could exacerbate ozone pollution levels, a statement by NSW Health said.

Dr Ben Scalley, Director of Environmental Health Branch at NSW Health said parents are advised to keep watch on their children when ozone levels are high.

“Ozone levels are higher outdoors than indoors, so parents should limit the time their children with asthma play outside as they are more susceptible to the effects of ozone pollution,” said Scalley.

Scalley reminded that people should remain alert to the link between high temperatures and ozone pollution.

 

For more information on local air quality forecast and hourly air quality updates, visit the Office of Environment and Heritage website: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/aqms/index.htm

 

For more information about air pollution and health, visit the NSW Health website: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/air/Pages/default.aspx​

National: NSW Premier Mike Baird Backflips on Greyhounds Racing Ban

Five greyhounds have been killed since last week, when NSW Premier Mike Baird backtracked on his decision to ban the racing.

Baird and deputy premier Troy Grant announced that a panel will report to the state government about reforming the sport and “providing the most stringent, safest racing environment to eliminate avoidable injury”.

Baird said that he and his government were “wrong” about the decision to close down the industry after three months stating that the ban was “the right thing to do”.

“I got it wrong, we got it wrong, the cabinet got it wrong and the government got it wrong,” Baird said.

Baird said his advisor on the industry closure, Dr John Keniry had said that “there is now a deep appetite for change, for reform in the industry… [the industry is] desperate to change.”

The decision to ban greyhound racing from July 1, 2017 was a result of special inquiry headed by Michael McHugh, which found that up to 68,000 greyhounds had been euthanised in the past 12 years due to slowness and incapability to continue competing.

Brenton Scott, chief executive of the NSW Greyhound Industry Racing Alliance said cases of track euthanasia “represents an extremely small 0.13 per cent of runner. However, the industry accepts that every possible step must be taken to avoid any track euthanasia going forward.”

Fairfax’s Sean Nicholls said the reversal is likely caused by oppositional media and industry campaign, as well as predictions that the Liberal Party might lose the November 12 Orange by-election.