Here’s what you need to know this morning.
Congestion tax ‘wild-eyed speculation’
The state government is opposed to a congestion tax in Sydney and any suggestion one is being considered is “wild-eyed speculation”, the Minister for Cities and Infrastructure says.
Rob Stokes reaffirmed the government’s stance and shut down media reports over a leaked document that revealed it was part of a plan to overhaul the transport network.
Mr Stokes did admit to the existence of “an internal draft” report prepared by Transport for NSW, but said it was in the early stages and had not gone before the cabinet.
“The public service routinely bowls up options for government to consider on congestion charging,” he said.
“And government just as routinely knocks it back because we’re keen to do everything we can to reduce the cost of getting around the city, not to make it more expensive.”
He said while it was appropriate for the department to come up with policy ideas, it “will not be government policy”.
“Right now, we are dealing with challenges to the cost of living.
“The idea that it would be a good idea to increase tax on transport users in an inflationary environment is simply a crazy idea.”
Trial of new school hours
Eight schools across NSW will trial extended hours in a research pilot looking at ways to maximize the school day to better suit students and parents.
The pilot will run for 20 weeks during terms 3 and 4.
Participating schools will partner with community organisations, local businesses, and sporting clubs to offer activities for kids outside of the standard 9am-to-3pm school day.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said the trial was informed by research into current successful extended hours programs in schools, both locally and overseas.
“We know it can be a challenge for families juggling the competing demands of work and family life around standard school hours and this pilot is about exploring options to help with that,” Mr Perrottet said.
“We want to offer greater support and comfort to parents, knowing that their kids are safe and happy taking part in a homework club in the school library, a dance class in the school hall or soccer practice on the school oval.”
Eight schools will participate in the research pilot:
- Cawdor Public School
- Hanwood Public School
- Hastings Secondary College
- Kentlyn Public School
- Matraville Soldier’s Settlement Public School
- Orange High School
- Spring Hill Public School
- Tacking Point Public School
Parramatta skyline going up
The NSW government has given the green light to a new permit that will transform western Sydney’s skyline.
The Parramatta Planning Proposal will extend the boundaries of Sydney’s “second CBD” to allow skyscrapers of up to 69 storeys in Parramatta.
More than 38,000 new homes will also be built in Parramatta and along Parramatta Road as part of the plan.
Planning Minister Anthony Roberts said the new project would ensure a vibrant future for Greater Sydney’s second-largest business hub.
“Parramatta is one of the fastest-growing local government areas in Western Sydney, and this proposal will make it an even better place to live and work,” Mr Roberts said.
“We need to optimize land for homes while building sustainable and resilient communities.”
Mr Roberts said traffic studies along Parramatta Road indicated that new infrastructure would be required to support the new development.
Councils apply for rate increases
More than half of the state’s councils have applied for rate increases following a controversial ruling by the state’s pricing regulator earlier this year.
In March, the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) announced some councils would only be allowed to raise rates by 0.7 per cent this financial year, the lowest rate peg in 20 years.
Some regional councils warned of financial ruin and in response, IPART announced it would allow councils to apply for an up to 2.5 per cent rate increase.
Chair Carmel Donnelly said 86 councils have applied for a raise but denies the authority got the rate peg wrong.
“The rate peg is calculated very carefully and has been calculated the same way for many years,” she said.
“So the number was the correct number but unfortunately it does make it difficult when there is volatility in the economy.”
Ms Donnelly said there would be a review this year into the rate peg.