Pulford’s covert Heyfield visit offers no answers
Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, has said Jaala Pulford’s secret visit to Heyfield yesterday did not provide the news locals were hoping for.
“It’s just over a week until the end of a four-week reprieve for workers at Australian Sustainable Hardwoods’ Heyfield mill, but the Andrews Government still has no answers for local workers,” Mr Bull said.
“It’s taken three months for the Minister to visit Heyfield. She failed to turn up to a meeting of 1000 community members, instead sending a junior MP who has no influence around the Cabinet table and now Ms Pulford has avoided the community on her first visit to Heyfield.
“It’s hard to see this wasn’t a token visit from a Minister who needs to be able to say she has been to Heyfield, but is clearly yet to commit to putting hundreds of our forestry workers ahead of green preference deals in Melbourne.”
Mr Bull said just six per cent of Victoria’s forests were open to harvesting. Over the past two years the Andrews Government has locked up more and more of the state’s forests – without replacement.
“The timber is there, but Labor is so desperate to sure up green preferences in inner-city Melbourne that the jobs of 250 Heyfield workers and 7000 people in industries down the line are facing the axe,” he said.
“Our state needs a native timber industry – plantation timber doesn’t meet the same quality standards or quantity demands. Without a native timber industry, more pressure is placed on importing the resource from countries with far less oversight than we have in Australia.
“Daniel Andrews and Jaala Pulford must immediately put politics aside and secure these jobs and a future for East Gippsland’s forestry industry.”
Friday, February 17, 2017
AFL stars show support for Heyfield
AFL premiership players Leigh Brown (Collingwood) and David Wojcinski (Geelong) have thrown their support behind the plight of Australian Sustainable Hardwoods (ASH) in Heyfield.
State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said: “The pair grew up in Heyfield and understand the importance of the mill and these jobs to the town and the local economy”.
“Browny has recently moved back to Heyfield and although Bomber is living in Geelong, he maintains a strong family connection to Heyfield.”
Mr Bull hopes the support of the high-profile stars will raise awareness of the plight facing ASH, which has flagged it may cease operations due to lack of access to timber resource.
“As I said in Parliament last week when tabling the petition with 2,691 signatures, the timber resource needed was there in 2014 and it is there now – the difference being it has been placed into reserve in the interim without being replaced.
“Quite simply, decisions need to be made to provide resource back to the industry and political will, will achieve this, but this government knows it will not be popular in the seats like Richmond, Brunswick and Northcote, which it narrowly holds from the Greens.
“We need a native timber industry in this state, there is not enough plantation timber in the ground to replace native timber supplies and reports have shown plantation timber cannot provide the appearance grade timber the market demands.
“So if we get rid of our native timber industry, we drive up imports and the country already imports $4 billion in timber products from developing countries with far less oversight.
“ASH uses 100% of its hardwood from regrowth forests and plantations and nothing from old growth and the resource that has been locked up these past two years needs to be replaced. Many people don’t realise the industry has access to only 6% of the state’s forest – the other 94% is not available for harvesting,” Mr Bull said.
Caption: Collingwood premiership player Leigh Brown (pictured signing the petition with Gippsland East MP Tim Bull) and three-time Geelong premiership player David Wojcinski, who both have a long connection with Heyfield, have thrown their support behind Australian Sustainable Hardwoods.
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Heyfield plight taken to Parliament
A petition with 2,691 signatories requesting the Premier, Daniel Andrews, acts immediately to secure the jobs of hundreds of East Gippsland timber workers, was tabled in State Parliament today by Gippsland East MP, Tim Bull.
Mr Bull also used the grievance debate in Parliament to push the Premier to secure the jobs of the Australian Sustainable Hardwoods (ASH) employees at Heyfield.
“I told the House that in government the Nationals in Coalition had a system to ensure security of supply to protect these jobs and that security of supply has been eroded in the past two years by poor decision-making that needs to be reversed – that is the fact of the matter.
“The Forest Industry Taskforce this Minister appointed on coming to government has been a complete shambles and a waste of time and the uncertainty it has created has been a large part of where we are today.
“Despite being in government just four of the past 18 years the Nationals and Coalition have strongly supported the timber industry and this has been recognised by those in the sector. We will continue to fight for these jobs.”
Mr Bull said the petition had attracted enormous support, predominantly from Heyfield and surrounds. He also thanked those who had done considerable leg work.
“The effort from the community to have this many signatures in just a couple of weeks is amazing. It has harnessed support and the number (2,961) certainly raised a few eyebrows in the chamber.
Mr Bull also used today to tell the Parliament this matter can be solved with political will.
“Two years ago an agreement was made on the supply of 155,000 cubic metres (m3) over 10 years, with the option of another 10, but now the offer is just 80,000 m3.
“When questioned on where the missing 70,000 m3 has gone, VicForests concedes it is largely because it has been placed into reserve, primarily for leadbeater possum habitat, without being replaced.
“The timber has not disappeared and it is incorrect to say it is not there. It was there two years ago and is there now. If the Government wishes to solve this it can, it just needs to put the jobs of these families first,” Mr Bull said.
Wednesday, February 8, 2017
Gippsland Nationals back fracking ban
Gippsland’s state Nationals MPs have continued their support for farmers in the region as the Resources Legislation Amendment (Fracking Ban) Bill 2016 passes Parliament this week.
The Resources Legislation Amendment (Fracking Ban) Bill 2016 will pass through the lower house this week, banning hydraulic fracturing and placing a legislated moratorium on conventional onshore gas development until June 30, 2020.
“The Nationals support the ban on fracking and have always said we would never allow any activity that threatened our land and water resources,” Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien, said.
“Fracking has never occurred under The Nationals and we have always supported measures to protect our farming future.”
The Nationals Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said the Labor Government was a late convert to this support for farmers.
“The previous Labor Government issued 23 fracking permits and 73 licences for unconventional gas exploration with zero consultation with the community,” he said.
“By contrast the previous Liberal and Nationals Government introduced the moratorium on unconventional gas, banned the use of BTEX chemicals, undertook extensive community consultation and began work on technical studies to measure the status of our groundwater resources.”
The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria, Melina Bath, said Gippsland communities had been clear they did not support fracking while questions remain over its safety.
“Food and fibre production is the mainstay of Gippsland’s economy and we need to ensure our water and land resources are protected into the future. Gippsland has shown that farming can co-exist with mining and gas extraction offshore, but fracking simply does not have support in our communities.”
The Nationals Member for Morwell, Russell Northe, said the moratorium on onshore conventional gas allowed industry to work with rural communities and have a sensible discussion about the use of conventional gas beyond 2020.
“Despite the closure of Hazelwood and energy prices rising, Labor has shown no willingness to develop a sensible energy policy that will help keep costs down for households and businesses.
“Labor has done nothing to protect jobs of Gippsland workers and is presiding over energy price increases for all Victorians.”
Wednesday, February 8, 2017
VicHealth grants to boost female participation
Sporting clubs and organisations in East Gippsland are able to apply for up to $10,000 in funding following today’s launch of the latest round of the VicHealth Active Club Grant program.
Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, has encouraged the region’s sporting clubs to apply for funding, available for equipment or programs that increase participation rates.
“These grants are targeted at clubs that can boost female participation rates, or introduce people into the sport by offering modified versions of the sport,” he said.
“It is important we continue to open up avenues for more people to get involved in sport, especially females, and this needs to be demonstrated in the application process.”
A former VicHealth board member, Mr Bull said the organisation was aiming to have 300,000 more Victorians taking part in regular physical activity by 2023.
“Research shows that female participation in sport is still lower than male involvement, and for a number of reasons, women and girls can find it hard to reach the recommended 2.5 hours of moderate physical activity per week,” Mr Bull said.
Mr Bull said two funding levels of up to $3000 and $10,000 was available for eligible sporting clubs.
For more information, or to apply for a VicHealth grant, visit www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/activeclub. The program closes at 4pm on Friday, March 10.
Caption: Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, with Doug Patterson and Andy Franke, of Bairnsdale Bowls Club, a recent recipient of a VicHealth Active Club Grant.
Monday, February 6, 2017
2400 less CFA volunteers
A significant reduction in Victoria’s volunteer firefighters is disappointing, said Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull.
Mr Bull said the Productivity Commission’s Report on Government Services revealed there were 2400 less CFA volunteers protecting communities than in June, 2014.
“I believe this 6.9% reduction in volunteer firefighters in just over two years is certainly partly due to the current dispute,” he said.
“I am disappointed in the Productivity Commission’s findings, especially on the brink of the fire season, but I am not surprised. I have heard first-hand that volunteer firefighters would leave the CFA all because of the dispute.”
Mr Bull said Premier Daniel Andrews declared that the dispute over the EBA had come to an end in June last year, but that was clearly premature.
“Seven months on, we’ve had senior personnel resign, allegations of bullying, a Senate Committee inquiry, a Commonwealth bill amending the Fair Work Act, and civil litigation in the Supreme Court challenging the EBA.
“And now, volunteer members are declining and prospective members have little incentive to join.”
State Emergency Service (SES) funding has also been cut by $1.25 million, according to the Productivity Commission’s report.
Friday, February 3, 2017