Here’s what you need to know this morning.
Fatal gardening accident
A man in Sydney’s lower north shore has died after falling off a ladder and landing on a hedge trimmer.
Emergency services were called to Smith Road, Artarmon about 5:30pm yesterday after receiving reports a 52-year-old man required medical assistance.
NSW Police said the man was gardening at the time when he fell and landed on the power tool.
He was taken to Royal North Shore Hospital where he died a short time later.
Agricultural quarantine subsidy
The NSW government will subsidise half the quarantine costs for overseas agricultural workers in a bid to address critical labour shortages in the sector.
The cost of mandatory quarantine was a significant barrier for farming businesses wanting to employ overseas workers, Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall said.
Overseas agricultural workers entering the country under the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) or Seasonal Worker Program (SWP) will be eligible for a 50 per cent subsidy, reducing the cost to industry from $3,000 per person to $1,500 per person this year.
“COVID-19 has thrown up all sorts of challenges, and this will help our vital agricultural sector, which is worth more than $10 billion to the NSW economy each year,” Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said.
Marsupial numbers plummet
New research has found a significant decline in the number of greater gliders in parts of the Blue Mountains and Central Tablelands.
Ecologist Peter Smith said surveys of sites at Jenolan and Wombeyan caves and in the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area indicated the population of the large marsupials had dropped by 60 per cent.
He said it was mainly due to the serious damage to their habitat from the horror bushfire season of 2019 and 2020.
“It’s a bit better than we expected, I suppose, in that 85 per cent of their habitat in the world heritage area has been burnt, so the decline isn’t 85 per cent, but it is still a massive decline, really, 60 per cent in one summer,” Dr Smith said.
Digital defamation review
The NSW government has released a discussion paper looking into laws that would hold digital platforms liable for defamatory material published online.
Uniform defamation laws drafted 15 years ago did not take social media into account and times have changed, Attorney-General Mark Speakman said.
“This review … asks whether internet giants like Google, Facebook and Twitter should be responsible for content posted by platform users,” Mr Speakman said.
The discussion paper also asks whether defamation law discourages reporting of alleged crimes and unlawful conduct to police, disciplinary bodies and employers.
Domestic violence funding call
Frontline services involved in the protection of women have written to the federal government calling for a repeat of a $150 million injection of funds to help manage increased rates of family and domestic violence during the pandemic.
NSW and Queensland specialist safety services say demand on services has not decreased despite the reduction in COVID-19 cases and lockdowns, and without continued funding, specialist women’s safety services and women’s refuges will be forced to reduce staffing levels and support.
In NSW, frontline domestic, family and sexual violence services recorded the worst year on record for violence against women and children.
Organisations including White Ribbon Australia, Women’s Safety NSW and Domestic Violence NSW are among a number of organisations from across the states and territories who have signed a letter
“Violence against women is at crisis point in this country. We need a more ambitious National Plan to address this epidemic, but we can’t wait until 2022 to act,” Women’s Safety NSW CEO Hayley Foster said.
A proposed new ban on off-leash dog walking at Callan Park will not be enforced by Inner West council rangers, Mayor Darcy Byrne said.
The government’s new Greater Sydney Parklands Authority, which recently took control of the parkland, has warned dog owners it is against the law to have their pets off-leash and that they may face fines.
Planning Minister Rob Stokes has asked the Authority to consult with the Inner West Council and encouraged dog owners to take part in consultations over the plan, but Cr Byrne said council rangers would not be issuing fines.
“If the state government had bothered to talk to the community before inventing new rules, they would know that there is no conflict between dog walkers and other park users, the park is already shared perfectly well. We won’t be enforcing it,” he said.