Perrottet pledges $10m to boost religious safety
Some $10 million will be spent on increasing security at religious schools and centres if the Perrottet government can retain power at the upcoming election, the premier has told a group of faith leaders.
"This is such an important initiative to give communities extra protection and confidence so they can freely practise their faith,' the premier told a gathering of faith communities in Parramatta on Wednesday.
The state is grappling with an increase in religious-based vilification, racism and violence since the COVID-19 pandemic, the premier said.
But NSW remained largely free of ugly sectarian divisions, and people needed to feel free to practise their religion, he said.
The funds will be allocated over four years, for increasing security at religious schools, community centres, places of worship and other buildings with religious centres where there has been a demonstrated risk.
Funds can be used to buy new lighting, fencing, CCTV, and invest in staff training.
As the state edges towards the NSW election, the government earlier announced it would give regional tradies a boost, with about 51,000 regional apprentices now eligible for a $250 travel card.
The card, which can be used on taxis, fuel and public transport, is based on a seniors card dished out one million times since 2020.
Mr Perrottet travelled to Goulburn in the Southern Tablelands to launch the card, saying it will "make a real difference".
Meanwhile, Labor is offering a $103 million package to crank up the volume of the state's contemporary music scene.
It includes a promise to bring back lost live music venues through extended hours and lower licence fees, while setting up an office called Sound NSW, modelled on Screen NSW.
"Labor believes that the music sector should be supported in the same way the screen sector has been," the opposition's night time economy spokesman John Graham said.
Treasurer Matt Kean also announced an expansion of a $2000 fertility treatment rebate scheme to include women who want to freeze their eggs.
One cycle costs up to $10,000 and "that presents a huge barrier to many families being able to realise their dream of having children", he said.
Meanwhile, the Liberal Party has edged closer to naming a challenger for the south Sydney seat of Kogarah, the most marginal in the country.
The seat, currently held by Labor Leader Chris Minns, is held on a margin of 0.1 after a redistribution.
Liberal member and lawyer Craig Chung is likely to run for the seat.
It would be a fight to retain Kogarah at the upcoming election, Mr Minns told AAP earlier this month.
"The demographics of the seat are difficult," he said.
"It's solidly middle class and probably votes the way a lot of swinging communities do.
"At various points, it's been right on the dial - Labor's got a long heritage there and a lot of branches and a good support network."
Elsewhere, private contractors continue a statewide search for one of the premier's brothers, who's been called to give evidence to a parliamentary committee inquiry.
The inquiry probing the Hills Shire Council has been trying to make contact with Jean-Claude Perrottet, 26, for more than a week, as well as Liberal Hills Shire councillor Virginia Ellis and her son, Christian Ellis.
"We're calling on them to co-operate. We're calling on the public to report their whereabouts," Labor MP and committee member John Graham said.
When asked on Tuesday about his brother, Mr Perrottet said that was "a matter for him".
Cr Ellis reportedly did not attend a council meeting on Tuesday evening, and has not been seen by her colleagues for 12 days.
"The community would expect councillors to attend meetings, but obviously they can't all the time," Local Government Minister Wendy Tuckerman said.