Camping fees review update sought
The State Minister for Environment and Climate Change has been asked to provide an update on the camping fees review she announced earlier this year.
State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, raised the matter in Parliament last week after comments the Minister made in April this year announcing a review of camping fees where the Minister stated:
“The Government has asked Parks Victoria to review all other camping options to make sure we are getting the balance right between affordable holidays and funding for new facilities.”
Mr Bull said it was a review he was extremely supportive of as he did not believe the balance was currently right and changes needed to be made to make off-peak camping more affordable for families.
“This is a case where I support the review being conducted by the government, but am concerned that after several months we have heard nothing on its progress in relation to East Gippsland areas.
“Camping makes an important contribution to our local economy and I think it is important we make it more affordable for families to spend more time together in the outdoors.
“Many of the issues we face in society are through the breakdown of the family unit and whilst acknowledging there are costs that have to be offset, I would like to think those who want to camp in our best locations outside peak season can do so affordably.
“Places like Ocean Grange, Corringle, Tamboon Inlet, Cape Conran and Wingan are largely vacant at times outside the peak period and I think we should look at making it more affordable in those times at these sorts of locations,” Mr Bull said.
Funding sought for Bemm, ‘Coota projects
Two important tourist and boating projects requiring funding at Mallacoota and Bemm River were raised in State Parliament this week.
State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, called on the government to fund the new boat ramp and jetty at Bemm River and the proposed upgrade to the main wharf at Mallacoota.
Mr Bull said the East Gippsland region relied heavily on the tourism industry and it was important facilities were maintained to a high level to cater for increasing demand.
“I am certainly aware of the need for these upgrades and have visited both sites. In particular the need for an upgrade to the ramp at Bemm River is urgent.
“The predominant problems are the build-up of sediment impacting on depth which in turn makes rough weather more problematic as well as mooring at the finger jetty when the ramp is busy.
“On top of this the ramp surface itself is in need of an upgrade.”
Mr Bull said he had inspected the location with local residents and had become aware the East Gippsland Shire had an application in to the Boating Safety and Facilities Program.
“The local community recognises its importance, visitors to the area recognise its importance and the shire, which has made the application, is also keen to see it come to fruition. All we need is the government to come to the party.
“In recent years under the Coalition we rightly had a number of projects in the Gippsland East electorate funded and they have either been concluded or are currently under construction.
“These include new refuelling facilities at Lakes Entrance and Paynesville, a new jetty at Cunninghame Arm in Lakes Entrance, the doubling in size of the Metung main wharf and a major boat ramp upgrade at Lake Tyers to name a few.
“It is imperative that these projects continue to be supported, so it was a pertinent time to make the Minister aware of these projects and request the current government support these applications.”
Boating facilities need to be funded
State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, looks over the progress at the new on water refuelling jetty at Paynesville and says the Government must continue investment into Gippsland Lakes infrastructure.
The need for the State Government to continue to fund important tourist and boating infrastructure around the Gippsland Lakes is critical, State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, told State Parliament this week.
Mr Bull highlighted a number of important projects that were funded under the previous Coalition Government and said ongoing investment was required, telling Parliament of some Gippsland Lakes’ infrastructure needs.
“From our time in Government I was well aware of the priority list and while we delivered much, there remain important projects and investment must continue.
“These include the need for additional berthing in McMillan Strait at Paynesville, the Johnsonville jetty and boat ramp redevelopment, the Nyerimilang Heritage Park jetty project and the upgrade of the Nicholson boat ramp jetty.
“It was pertinent to this week raise these and other projects further east at Bemm River and Mallacoota in Parliament as applications to the Boating Safety Facilities Program are currently being considered.
“Our region had a number of projects funded under the previous Coalition Government, many of which are presently under construction and this trend simply has to continue to keep pace with increased usage.
“Some of the works either recently completed, or are still under construction, that were funded by the Coalition were:
• New on water re-fuelling facilities at Lakes Entrance and Paynesville,
• A new public jetty at Cunninghame Arm near the footbridge in Lakes Entrance,
• The doubling in size of the Metung main wharf, and
• Boat ramp upgrades at Paynesville and Lake Tyers.
“Many of these were funded out of the Boating Safety Facilities Program and I have no doubt the government will have applications in for a number of the previously mentioned projects, and perhaps some others, so we need to ensure at least some are funded,” said Mr Bull.
Health Minister finally visits Maffra Hospital
Hopes have increased for an upgrade to the Maffra Hospital after a visit last week by the Health Minister at the request of State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull.
“As many will know, the Coalition made a pre-election commitment to fund the master planning process and when it did not receive bipartisan support, I have requested twice this year for the Minister to visit,” said Mr Bull.
“It is disappointing it has taken seven months since the invite, but positive in the regard the Minister now understands the need for this upgrade to be done.
“I have no doubt that now the Minister has seen it first hand, she will come to the party.
“I understand the discussions were fruitful and although the Minister never made any commitments, I would certainly hope there will be some positive news in the not too distant future.
"The hospital serves a catchment population of around 8,800 people and is 63 years old. The staff do a great job, but the facility needs an upgrade.
"Some areas of the building are still in their original condition and although a minor upgrade occurred in 2010 in the McDonald Wing, it is clear more needs to be done.
“The first step in this is having a master plan developed. That is what we committed to and I would hope that the Minister will see fit to make an announcement before Christmas that this can go ahead,” said Mr Bull.
Our future bright, but investment must continue
There is much to be positive about in relation to the future of East Gippsland.
Unlike many other rural areas, our population, employment numbers and business sectors all continue to grow.
Figures from earlier this year show we have 8,545 registered businesses in the East Gippsland Shire, an increase of just on 100 from July 2014 and a figure than continues to grow.
However, perhaps one of the best indicators of how we are developing as a region came with the redistribution of State Government electoral boundaries last year.
These electorate boundaries are based on population and while almost all rural boundaries expanded (and one rural electorate abolished to allow this to happen) to achieve the population requirement – East Gippsland remained unchanged.
This means our population growth is very similar to state population growth, not something other rural areas can boast.
Over the last term in government we saw massive investment into East Gippsland in all sectors that will assist not only development of our area, but provides important infrastructure for our communities.
This investment has included, but is not limited to, $15m for two new schools (Toorloo Arm PS and Bairnsdale SC), several kindergarten rebuilds at well over $1m, $50m into major road upgrades, over $20m for natural gas reticulation that is going ahead in Orbost and Lakes Entrance, over $1m in improvements at Bairnsdale and Orbost hospitals, $10m into improved boating facilities, major town centre redevelopments in Paynesville and Bairnsdale, $1m for disability accommodation, $1m for the all abilities playground, $1.25m for the new library, multi-million airport upgrades at Marlo and Bairnsdale and several million to local businesses to expand and grow jobs.
There are many more projects in East Gippsland and that list does not include the western end of the electorate. We have been charging along in relation to important infrastructure works. Despite this there always remains more to do and that is why East Gippsland – and all of rural Victoria for that matter – requires ongoing investment from the current State Government.
The concern facing all rural electorates is the data in the attached photograph straight from this year’s State Budget papers that shows large cuts to the regional development, tourism, agriculture and roads budgets – all of which will affect rural Victoria.
I have no doubt we will continue to grow and prosper, but we need to make sure there remains a strong level of investment from the State.
All our regional development bodies, business industry groups and media have a role to play in ensuring capital investment continues to meet the needs of a rural area that is one of the few that continues to grow and prosper.
September 4, 2015