Minister needs to step up and save 65 East Gippsland jobs
Brickworks, the parent company of Auswest Timbers, which has facilities based in Orbost and Bairnsdale, has threatened to close its East Gippsland operations due to the inaction of the Andrews Labor Government on providing timber supply security.
This would have a devastating impact on jobs in East Gippsland with 40 employed in Orbost and 25 in Bairnsdale and many more indirect jobs.
In its annual report, Brickworks states:
“After many years of negotiation, the Victorian state government continues to frustrate efforts to make the required investments in our East Gippsland timber mills, by denying certainty of log supply. “These operations now have only nine months’ supply contracted, with no clarity being provided beyond that term. “As one of the largest employers in this region, these investments would provide an important boost for the local community, as well as enabling Auswest to cost effectively meet the strong demand for product from these mills. “However, if an acceptable log contract is unable to be secured, the East Gippsland facilities will be closed.”
State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said he had raised the matter several times in Parliament, but the Minister, Jaala Pulford, would not take any action, simply saying she was waiting for her Forest Industry Taskforce (FIT) to make recommendations.
“It is time for action. If the Minister continues to do nothing, she will be responsible for the loss of 65 direct jobs and many more indirect jobs in East Gippsland, which would have a massive impact on our local economy,” Mr Bull said.
“The problem here is, the FIT was meant to report back in July but instead has only just released a statement saying they have reached no consensus on this issue. The Taskforce hasn’t delivered on done the job it was asked to do in the required timeframe.
“As I have said to the Minister through formal correspondence and in Parliament – she now needs to step in as we have reached crisis time with the company threatening to walk away because of her inaction,” Mr Bull said.
Thursday, October 27, 2016
Wild dog bounty backflip was a long time coming
Having called for the reinstatement of the wild dog bounty no less than seven times in State Parliament since it was cut by the State Labor Government, Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said today’s backflip by Labor would be welcomed by local farmers.
“It is incredible to think that on scrapping the bounty, the Minister last year said ‘there was debate about its effectiveness’, but this has now changed to it being a good thing,” Mr Bull said.
“As recently as the last two sitting weeks I have been calling for its reinstatement as there was no need to get rid of it in the first place, it was a big mistake.
“The other element of the Minister’s statement that does not make a lot of sense is that the Government is setting up a Wild Dog Management Advisory Committee to consult with the community, but less than a year ago it sacked the Wild Dog Advisory Group that included Gippsland farmers.
“As I have pointed out time and time again in the Parliament chamber, the figures show that about 500 dogs were being removed per year through the bounty, which means by the time it is reintroduced next year, there will be about 1000 more dogs in our landscape than there should be, because this government let it lapse for two years.
“The wild dog bounty is something I, along with my Upper House colleague Melina Bath, have raised in Parliament continually since it was scrapped in mid-2015, and we’ve also sent questions and correspondence to the Minister formally.
“The Minister has said her government was reviewing the best methods of controlling wild dogs, but has in fact just wasted that whole time by reintroducing something the Coalition had right in the first place,” Mr Bull said.
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Minister urged to assist Mallacoota Medical Centre
The State Government has been asked to provide urgent assistance for the Mallacoota Medical Centre to prevent a possible imminent closure.
Speaking in State Parliament last night, Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, called on the Minister for Health to offer support to the Centre, so it can keep the doors open during the upcoming holiday period and beyond.
Mr Bull was contacted by concerned Mallacoota residents last week, who advised of the situation facing the community, following the departures of two general practitioners (GP’s).
“As a result of these departures, the Medical Centre has become unviable from a financial perspective,” he said.
“This would result in over 5000 (during holiday periods) people being left without a health service for between 4-6 weeks with the nearest medical assistance being in Bega in NSW, and Orbost,” Mr Bull told Parliament.
“Last week the remaining doctor and community members met in Canberra with Assistant Minister for Rural Health, Dr David Gillespie and Gippsland Federal Member, Darren Chester.”
Mr Bull told the Minister the first priority was for emergency funding to keep the practice open and it was estimated around $13,000 per month was required to meet the operational shortfall while only one doctor remained, but the recruitment of a further doctor or doctors would improve viability.
“I understand the practice is a private operation, but the remoteness of Mallacoota and the fact it attracts large tourist numbers, presents unique circumstances
“Minister, I seek your urgent assistance in ensuring the Mallacoota Medical Centre remains open to support the local community, at least in the short term until a longer term option can be considered.
“The Minister now has one month to respond and I look forward to working with the Government to try and achieve a solution to this unfortunate situation,” Mr Bull said.
Wednesday, October 25, 2016
Guy’s visit will help East Gippsland prosper
Industry leaders from across the region have discussed key opportunities for the region with State Opposition Leader, Matthew Guy, during his visit to the electorate yesterday.
Mr Guy joined Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, in meeting with some of the area’s key business leaders, speaking about the challenges facing their respective industries and also the region’s strengths and opportunities.
The pair toured Bulmer Farms, one of Australia’s largest salad vegetable growers, Vegco and Patties Foods, the latter two the largest private employers in the region. Mr Guy also used the visit to discuss the need to decentralise Melbourne to help manage Victoria’s growing population.
“Victoria is growing at 100,000 people a year and it's vital state governments plan for this growth,” Mr Guy said.
“Businesses like Bulmers, Vegco and Patties are integral to regional Victoria and are businesses we assisted to expand when in government.
“When you consider Vegco produces 40 million packaged salad units a year and is the biggest producer of packaged salads in the country and Patties Foods produces 50% of the pies we consume in the country, it is just amazing in a country town like Bairnsdale, but shows the potential of rural and regional Victoria.
“It's been great to talk to industry leaders about the challenges and improvements required, such as water security, power and freight costs,” he said.
Mr Bull said he was pleased to have the Opposition Leader visit East Gippsland.
“Matthew has been able to experience first-hand some of our region’s amazing success stories, but our businesses need support from government and that was a clear message,” he said.
“Things that were raised were our road and rail connections and how disappointing it has been to have our country roads funding cut under this government.
“It’s also great for the industry leaders to be able to meet with Matthew and discuss the opportunities in front of them.
“When it comes to contributing to the state and national economy, East Gippsland certainly kicks the tin and this certainly gives Matty are clearer picture of the region’s business community and economic input,” Mr Bull said.
Caption: Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, and State Opposition Leader, Matthew Guy, met with Bill and Andrew Bulmer, of Bulmer Farms.
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Government asked for respite funding
The State Government has been called on to help families in need after Noweyung announced its intention to build an adult respite facility in Bairnsdale.
Member for Gippsland East and Shadow Minister for Disability, Tim Bull, used his time in State Parliament last week to request support funding for respite staff.
Mr Bull paid tribute to Noweyung, which has announced its intention to develop a facility-based respite service at its own cost for the capital works.
“In recent years we have achieved much in the area of disability with the All Abilities Playground, new supported accommodation options at Noweyung, the Cells Café with disability employment and Noweyung having a presence at the Bairnsdale Hub (old secondary college in Dalmahoy Street) and this was all achieved with a level of support from the previous State Government,” Mr Bull said.
“Across the East Gippsland Shire we have a huge need for a local respite facility for people with special needs and their families and I would hope this government would see fit to offer a level of support.
“Currently families in East Gippsland seeking respite have a number of options, none of which are ideal. They either pay a high daily fee for in-home respite services, or the alternative is that they need to travel considerable distances to the nearest facilities, which are located in Sale at the Latrobe Valley. Either this, or they just do not receive respite at all.
“It is badly needed in East Gippsland – we do not have a respite facility in the entire electorate of 27,000 square kilometres. So I certainly encourage the Minister to look at funding some of the recurrent hours,” he said.
Noweyung Chief Executive Officer, Ernie Metcalf, said families had complained to him about the lack of a suitable respite facility located in East Gippsland.
“Current disability growth statistics indicate this need will only continue to increase within the region,” he said.
“Noweyung is prepared to develop a facility at our cost if the State Government will provide recurrent funding based on a number of respite hours per annum for the respite facility service we are proposing, as they have done in other areas of Gippsland.
“Such a facility would be greatly appreciated by families and carers in East Gippsland,” Mr Metcalf said.
Caption: Member for Gippsland East and Shadow Minister for Disability, Tim Bull, with Ernie Metcalf, CEO of Noweyung, which intends to build a respite facility in Bairnsdale.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Inspirational Daniher, generous locals help raise $8500 for MND research, awareness
Friday’s morning tea with motor neurone disease sufferer and former AFL/VFL legend, Neale Daniher, was a resounding success in raising awareness of the terminal illness, according to, Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull.
The morning tea, organised by Mr Bull, was part of Daniher’s Drive across eastern Victoria, which visited Dinner Plain last night and Sale later on Friday, raising funds for the Cure for MND Foundation.
“It was great morning with Neale, with about 100 people coming out to support a great cause and raise awareness for this terrible disease,” Mr Bull said.
“We raised about $8500 for the Foundation through ticket sales, a small auction and the generosity of the Bairnsdale RSL and the kind audience.
“Neale provided an inspiration insight into his struggles with the disease, but did so with such a positive outlook on life which I am sure no one will forget.”
Neale, who played 83 games with Essendon from 1979 to 1990 and coached Melbourne from 1998 to 2007, explained that $11 million had been raised by the Cure for MND Foundation already.
“It’s a great achievement and it shows that awareness of MND is increasing Australia-wide, even in our little pocket here in East Gippsland.”
Neale was later part of a 12-over celebrity cricket match in Sale, which featured one side of past and present well-known Gippsland cricketers and the other consisting former Australian greats, including Merv Hughes and Shane Watson.
“One thing we will be making sure of is Merv Hughes will be sledging Tim Bull when he comes into bat,” Neale told the audience at the morning tea in Bairnsdale.
Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, with Neale Daniher and Peter McKenna, who is driving Neale around Gippsland as part of Daniher’s Drive.
Friday, October 14, 2016