Sydney News: Hundreds of Sydney bus drivers on strike

Here’s what you need to know this morning.

Hundreds of bus drivers on strike

buses parked at a bus depot
Today’s bus strike is part of an escalating dispute between the government and transport unions.(AAP: Bianca De Marchi )

Transport delays and traffic gridlock are expected across Sydney this morning as hundreds of bus drivers walk off the job.

The industrial action is part of a dispute between transport unions and the state government over pay and conditions.

Bus services will run to a reduced timetable in the inner-west, The Hills district as well as north, south and Western Sydney.

Services in the Hunter, Central Coast and Blue Mountains will also be impacted.

Transport for NSW Chief Operating Officer Howard Collins said commuters should plan ahead.

“If you’ve got any doubts and you don’t have to travel today, I wouldn’t choose today to get on a bus in one of those areas,” Mr Collins said.

“Those people who are having to travel, and I recognize there are a lot of people having to get to and from work, just allow a bit of extra time so you can get to your destination safely.”

All other public transport is expected to be impacted by the flow-on effects of the strike.

“The roads are obviously going to be busier, we’ll see a lot more people getting to rail stations,” he said.

The unions are demanding capped driving shifts, mandated breaks, violence training and pay standards.

Surry Hills brawl witness appeal

a young man looking at the camera
Evander Tuala was critically injured in an alleged assault at Surry Hills.(Supplied: Facebook)

Police are appealing for witnesses to a brawl in Sydney’s inner-city in which a man suffered critical head injuries.

Evander Tuala, 23, was allegedly punched in the head and fell to the ground during a fight that broke out between two groups on Oxford Street just after midnight on Saturday.

Police arrested three men after a short pursuit on foot. They have been charged with affray.

Detective Superintendent John Duncan said there were many witnesses to the incident and they are being asked to come forward with footage from dashcams or mobile phones.

“This young man is fighting for his life in hospital, we believe there were probably 10 to 15 people involved,” Superintendent Duncan said.

“So before we work out who’s going to be charged with what, we need some more footage to identify who’s done what.”

NRL flare protester charged

Protester with an orange flare is confronted by Joe Ofahengaue
Tigers player Joe Ofahengaue holds a pitch invader at the Wests Tigers at Shark Park yesterday. (Getty Images: Mark Kolbe)

A protester who stopped an NRL match on the weekend by running on the pitch and waving a flare near the players will appear at court today.

Play was stopped for several minutes during the Tigers vs Cronulla match on Sunday evening at Woolware before the man was escorted off the field by security.

The 32-year-old was charged with unlawfully entering an inclosed land and possessing a dangerous article in a public place.

His bail was refused bail to appear at Sutherland Local Court this morning.

Cost of living a priority for Western Sydney voters

a composite image of a man and woman both wearing sunglasses
For voters in the marginal seat of Parramatta, it’s all about the cost of living pressures.(ABC News)

Cost of living pressures such as housing and rising fuel prices are looming large in the minds of voters across Western Sydney as they prepare to go to the polls on May 21.

The state has a large portion of vulnerable seats and there is a concentration of them in Sydney’s west.

The ABC spoke to voters in the marginal seats of Parramatta and Reid – which is considered somewhat of a bellwether seat – about the issues that would sway their vote.

“Cost of living, rising fuel prices and interest rates,” a young voter said.

Another said she was concerned about the “extreme homelessness in Parramatta”.

“A lot of them have lost their homes, their jobs – I don’t think that’s being addressed very well,” she said.

Another said it was all about jobs for people.

“I think that’s the thing, if either party can guarantee or keep the jobs going under in this current environment, I think they’ll win it.”

The government currently holds Lindsay, Banks and Reid.

Labor’s marginal seats in the city’s west are Macquarie, Parramatta and Greenway.

Princess Anne pays tribute to dead firefighters

a woman speaks to man holding a picture of a young man
Princess Anne met the family of Andrew O’Dwyer during her visit to the RFS headquarters.(Facebook: NSW Rural Fire Service)

Princess Anne has paid tribute to the two men killed battling the Green Wattle Creek fire south-west of Sydney in 2019.

The Princess Royal, who has been in NSW since Saturday, met with the families of Geoff Keaton and Andrew O’Dwyer on Sunday during her visit to the NSW Rural Fire Service headquarters.

She said it was important to remember those who sacrificed their lives “in order to make that volunteer commitment”.

“[I want to] thank the families of those two officers who were lost… and helping to make that point – the risks of being in a rural fire service never really go away. “

The Queen’s only daughter also commended the service for rising to the challenge under “the most extraordinary period” of catastrophic fires, floods and the pandemic.

“I really do hope that these floods will not last very much longer,” she said.

“And you will have the opportunity to rebuild those communities in the way that you want and that your volunteers will have a bit of a chance to take a breath.”

On Saturday, Princess Anne opened the Royal Easter Show on its 200th anniversary.

Today, she will meet Army personnel before traveling to Papua New Guinea.

Calls for JobKeeper to save rural GP clinics

a man with a stethoscope around his neck
A rural health charity warns that many clinics are struggling to remain financially viable.(AAP: Julian Smith)

The federal government is being urged to set up a JobKeeper package to save GP practices from closing in rural and regional Australia.

The charity, Rural and Remote Medical Services, says a $ 300 million program would keep clinics afloat until a long-term solution was found to stem the loss of doctors.

Chief Executive Mark Burdack said the funding was needed because overseas-trained medicos have not been able to fill positions and keep surgeries viable.

“What we need is a package that enables us to maintain that infrastructure and those staff,” Mr Burdack said.

“We can use other mechanisms to maintain services in those communities for a period of 12 to 24 months until we can get the supply of workforce back into rural communities.”

Temporary classrooms for Northern Rivers

A student walks along a pathway surrounded by demountable classrooms.
It is hoped the pop-up classrooms will be in place early in term 2.(Supplied)

Pop-up classrooms will be rolled out for nine significantly damaged schools across flooded parts of the state’s Northern Rivers area.

More than 1,200 students and 150 teachers had to relocate from their school campuses in late February when devastating flooding hit the area.

Pop-up classrooms will be located at Blakebrook, Broadwater, Condong, Lismore South, The Richmond River Campus at Rivers Secondary College and Tumbulgum Public Schools.

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell hopes the demountables will be up and running as early as possible in term two.

“Efforts to get pop-up classrooms installed have been somewhat hampered by ongoing poor weather,” Ms Mitchell said.

“But I want to assure the community that as soon the ground is sufficiently dry, our Department of Education teams will be getting them in place.

“They will be in place until schools can be rebuilt.”

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