Christmas message from Tim Bull
Christmas brings out the best in our community for a number of reasons. It draws together family and friends in a festive atmosphere to enjoy each other's company and share a laugh and good times in person, which to our detriment is becoming less common in a world where it is easier to communicate and do most things on line. Let us never lose this aspect of Christmas.
Regardless of traditions, backgrounds, faiths or beliefs, it is a time to reminisce and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas, which for me is a time for giving and sharing. So this festive season I encourage you all to reach out to someone who may need a helping hand.
I am in awe of the number of people in this region who work towards making life better for others and I doff my hat to the many committed volunteers, community groups and organisations who work tirelessly to support those in need to make their lives that little bit better - to me, you are the heart and soul of Christmas.
Many will be looking forward to a welcome break and this will often involve travelling so be sure to allow plenty of time, don't be in a rush and remember - reaching your destination safely, even if a little late, is the most important thing. In East Gippsland it may also mean time in and around the water, so make common sense your priority and look out for your mates.
There will also be others who are working through this period to provide the important emergency and other services we need in our community and to those people, sincere thanks.
Christmas offers us the opportunity not only for celebration but also for reflecting on the past and looking ahead to the year to come. For various reasons it may not be the happiest time for all so we need to be respectful and supportive.
On behalf of my wife Kim and children Daniel, Lachlan and Nikita, I wish you all a safe and Merry Christmas, and a bright and prosperous New Year, which I hope brings happiness and good health.
New government must consider our needs
I wish to use this first column of the new electoral term to provide some comments around the recent State election.
Firstly, I thank the people of Gippsland East for their support in having confidence in me as their representative.
It is something that I see as a great privilege and remind myself of constantly when I walk up the steps of Parliament or stand to speak in the chamber on local matters.
I wish to extend my thanks to my fellow candidates, most of whom I met and spent a lot of time with over two weeks at the pre-polling booth. While we may have differed in views on some topics, all are very decent people, easy to get along with and with the best interests of the community at heart.
My thanks also to those who stood on polling booths on election day, not just for myself, but for all candidates, to allow the people of the region to have their democratic say.
As I said post-election, it is a great thing in this country that we can have a change of government without a shot being fired, a riot in the streets or an effigy being burned as many other countries experience and we should never forget this.
In the lead up to the election, a number of commitments were made by the Coalition relating to East Gippsland. These are important projects the incoming Government is not committed to delivering on - as they did not receive bi-partisan support, but are nevertheless very important for our area.
They include $12.5m to complete the Bairnsdale Secondary College, $8m to continue the Gippsland Lakes Environment Fund, $10m to further upgrade the Macalister Irrigation District, an additional ambulance night shift for Bairnsdale and $15.5m to build the Sale Specialist School to service townships like Maffra, Stratford and Heyfield in the west of my electorate.
This is just a snapshot of the many important projects/initiatives our region requires.
Unfortunately in the lead up to the election Labor completely ignored many country regions, with no commitments east of the Latrobe Valley, west of the Grampians or in a host of other rural seats.
Locally, it was mainly due to the candidate not living in the area and turning up two days prior to election day. In Gippsland South the candidate never visited at all.
Where Labor deserves credit is that it won Government fair and square on the back of some solid targeted and campaigning in the metro area and regional cities - it ran a smart campaign.
However, it has also gained Government giving very little attention to almost all of rural Victoria and therefore has no obligations to these areas.
In the coming weeks and months, I intend to make the new Ministers aware of the local projects of importance, invite them to East Gippsland to see the needs first hand and work with them on hopefully bringing as many to fruition as possible.
A letter in last Friday’s newspaper referred to my post-election quote of “they (the new government) will certainly know about it” in relation to the Bairnsdale Secondary College rebuild as “aggressive” and offered advice to me to work with the new government.
My comments were not aggressive at all, just a statement of fact reflecting my view that I am sure the new Minister will know little about us having our biggest secondary school half built and needing completion and I intend to put it on his radar.
In line with this, I intend to make sure the new Government knows about all the above matters and I will seek its support in addressing them.
It is my full intention to work as closely as possible with the new Government and its Ministers on achieving the outcomes so important to our region in a co-operative manner – that is certainly my preference.
However, if we are continued to be treated with contempt and ignored, as was the case in the lead up to the election, I will not sit quietly.
In the next few months I will be inviting all of the Ministers relevant to our local issues, to this area to meet with local stakeholders and myself to discuss the local needs. I hope the uptake is strong and results are achieved.
There are wider Labor Party policy concerns like the significant reduction in rural roads funding and the scrapping of several important programs including the Regional Growth Fund that supported so many of our businesses and community groups, the Country Roads and Bridges Program, the wild dog bounty and the roadside pest control funding to rural councils, to name a few.
My efforts will also focus on having these programs restored to some level.
December 8, 2014
Decision to end grazing trial short sighted
The decision by new State Environment Minister, Lisa Neville, to cancel the Wonnangatta Valley grazing trial this week was short sighted and did not allow for the many benefits unfolding from this process to be fully considered, State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said today.
“Given the Mountain Cattlemen’s Association of Victoria (MCAV) had formally written to Ms Neville the day she was appointed urging her not to make a hasty decision, to find out via radio the trial has been scrapped was disrespectful.
“The reality is, this trial into fuel reduction from a bushfire perspective, was bringing an enormous amount of additional benefits to the Wonnangatta Valley.
“When the area was incorporated into our Parks system in 1989 there were few pest plants and animals, the flats were grazed and green and it was very picturesque.
“It is a different story in the 25 years the cattlemen have been absent. Weeds, like blackberry infestation are common, the area is overgrown and feral pests are rampant.
“In the short time this trial has been in operation under agreement from the MCAV, the Gunaikurnai and State Government, we have seen many benefits.
“Tracks in the Park that were previously overgrown and closed have been opened up to assist tourism and I note the comments from the MCAV that planned burns that would have been highly unlikely before the trial, have been carried out.
“This trial was taking place under strict conditions on less than 0.025% of the Alpine National Park with a small amount of cattle in a carefully selected fenced location that cattlemen have occupied for 130 of the past 155 years. They are also required to be in attendance at all times.
“Whatever the results of the trial, whether in relation to bushfire mitigation or the additional benefits of the cattlemen being present, to disallow its completion is ludicrous. It is almost as though the new Minister is scared of what the results may have been,” Mr Bull said.
“Keeping fuel loads down and burning the bush regularly in a controlled manner is the way our first peoples managed the land.
“Already in just one year, all reports I have received indicate the place is in much better condition.
“This is Labor pandering to the Greens in fear of losing more of their inner metropolitan seats to them. They take this action against a small amount of cattle being used in a trial in a fenced, confined area - but we hear nothing on the many thousands of feral Sambar deer and wild horses that remain a huge problem in the same area.
“Our mountain cattlemen have plenty of runs on the board in caring for the high country and we can learn a lot from them on how to manage the bush. I have no doubt this trial would have shown us our high country is much better for their presence in a range of areas.
“This trial was being very well managed and it was producing important data as well as wider benefits. It simply does not make sense to cut it short for what appears to be nothing more than the wishes of predominantly city folk.
“Ms Neville has said of the cattlemen that she appreciates their commitment to the area and to the work that they do in the National Park. Well if this is the case, and there is a true appreciation of what they do, she should allow the trial to conclude so all the benefits can be assessed,” Mr Bull said.