Sydney news: NSW economy loses to Tasmania, suspected hydroponic set-up damaged by fire

Here’s what you need to know this morning.

NSW economy falls behind Tasmania

NSW’s economy has dropped behind Tasmania, while Victoria remains the best performing economy in the country, according to CommSec’s State of the States report.

The quarterly report shows NSW was a solid performer in construction but fell on relative population growth and dwelling starts.

CommSec said Victoria was benefiting from solid population growth and a strong job market.

Shadow Treasurer Walter Secord said there needed to be greater infrastructure spend in Sydney.

“We need … investment in health, we have an economic as well as a health divide between western Sydney and Sydney’s north,” he said.

Suspected hydroponic house burns down

A suspected hydroponic set-up has been located in a house which caught fire in western Sydney.

NSW Police said Fire and Rescue NSW extinguished a large blaze in Toongabbie just after midnight, which collapsed the roof of the house.

Police said no injuries were reported and there were no occupants inside the home at the time of the fire.

Authorities remained at the site and a crime scene was established.

Online exploitation of a child

A man from Sydney’s inner west has been charged over the alleged online exploitation of a child.

Police said they began engaging with the 51-year-old man in August, who believed he was speaking with the 32-year-old mother of an 11-year-old girl.

Police alleged the man spoke to the woman about sexually explicit acts he wished to perform on the child, as well as the mother and daughter together.

He was arrested at a business at Strathfield in September and will front court in Burwood today.

Fires contained overnight

Firefighters in northern NSW used more favourable conditions overnight to contain several fires.

In the Narrabri region, the immediate threat to homes had eased in the Cotswold area.

The NSW rural fire service said better weather today would allow crews to strengthen containment lines ahead of warmer weather forecast later this week.

Backburning operations also took place overnight at the Bees Nest fire near Armidale.

Kidnap and assault charges

Two men have been charged with serious assault and kidnapping after a man was found with serious injuries on the Central Coast.

Police said that earlier this month, a 36-year-old man in Kincumber was dragged from his car and repeatedly punched and kicked in the head.

He was allegedly driven and dumped in bushland around Macmasters and was found unconscious the next morning by a passer-by.

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