Findings of habitat review sought
With just days remaining in April, the State Government needs to immediately release the findings of its review into the Leadbeater possum and timber harvesting, as it promised in February to do by the end of this month.
State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said the report should have been completed long ago.
“It was one of the adopted recommendations of the Leadbeater Possum Advisory Group to have a review undertaken once 200 colonies were located, in order to assess the effectiveness of controls while maintaining a sustainable timber industry,” he said.
“The reality is we aren’t maintaining a strong timber industry, we are seeing it wiped out by this dithering government.
“While the location of 200 colonies was meant to trigger this review, it was slow being implemented and has dragged on for too long. Today we have over 600 confirmed sightings, three times more than was required to initiate the study.
“Daniel Andrews needs to release this report, which will clearly show an enormously increased prevalence of Leadbeater possum. This is despite the vast majority of the searching having been done in areas reserved for the timber industry, when the timber industry only has access to barely more than a quarter of the possum’s overall range.
“The release of this report will assist in providing the information needed to determine the future of Australian Sustainable Hardwoods (ASH) in Heyfield, which has been offered significantly reduced timber supply and therefore has hundreds of jobs at risk.
“The reason this is important is because VicForests has clearly stated the major causes of their reduced offer to ASH is due to the amount of area that has been put into Leadbeater possum reserve since 2014 and the future forecasts of this continuing at the same rate.
“In Parliament earlier this year the Minister said the review would be completed by April, so with just three days left, it needs to be released to the public.
“Daniel Andrews’ Labor Government is failing our timber industry, the Heyfield workers and their families,” Mr Bull said.
Thursday, April 27, 2017
Budget must deliver for Gippsland East
Reinstatement of country roads funding, the upgrade of the Stratford Rail Bridge and completion of Bairnsdale Secondary College are among the local expectations for next week’s State Budget.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, said while there are many local projects suitable for funding, the rail bridge, secondary college and reinstatement of roads funding were some of the bigger projects that require attention.
“Like almost all of rural and regional Victoria, the Gippsland East electorate has missed out in the Government’s two previous budgets and these were projects that had been lobbied for strongly by the community,” Mr Bull said.
“I would hope the Stratford Rail Bridge, at least, will be announced, considering planning and full costing was completed in 2015. I have heard that it may be included, but in saying that, I heard the same last year and there was no allocation,” he said.
“Having written to the Minister about it, and with the community having lobbied strongly for it over the past two years, I am hopeful of an announcement as it is an important project for our region.”
Mr Bull said Labor must also reinstate the Country Roads and Bridges Program and roads maintenance funding to the levels provided under the former Coalition Government.
“These cuts have been costly. On coming to government at the end of 2014, Labor scrapped the Country Roads and Bridges Program, which provided $160 million to local councils to improve their roads and I know both East Gippsland and Wellington Shire councils have been impacted by this on the works they have been able to deliver,” he said.
“There were also cuts to the Road Asset Management Budget and the Road Operations and Network Improvements Budget – a total combined amount of $307m in the past two years.
“It is ironic that the Government is putting a lot of money into its Towards Zero campaign to lower the road toll but at the same time has cut roads funding full stop. This is an anomaly that needs to be rectified in next week’s Budget.
“I would hope our local Labor Upper House Member, Harriet Shing, is calling on her government to reinstate funding in these areas after stating our roads were in a ‘parlous state’ in Parliament last year.
“The Bairnsdale Secondary College redevelopment is another that it would be nice to have included, but given the Minister still hasn’t visited the school in the past two and half years despite repeated invitations from both the school council and myself, it would be a pleasant surprise.
“The former Coalition Government funded stage one and committed to stage two pre-election in 2014, but we are still yet to hear anything from the Government on this.
“Last year the Government boasted about its budget surplus, so I hope a reasonable level funding will come the way of rural and regional Victoria, including East Gippsland, because the regions have missed out state-wide in the last couple,” Mr Bull said.
The Budget will be announced next Tuesday, May 2.
Caption: Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, is hoping for the reinstatement of country roads funding in this year’s State Budget, along with the upgrade of upgrade of the Stratford Rail Bridge and completion of Bairnsdale Secondary College.
Wednesday, May 26
Tougher approach promised by Coalition
An elected Liberal-Nationals Coalition government will take a tough approach to repeat offenders under new sentencing laws, says Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull.
Mr Bull said criminals who repeatedly offend should not be getting second, third and fourth chances to commit violent crimes.
“Victoria’s crime rate has risen by 20 per cent in just over two years since Labor came to office, while in New South Wales crime has dropped to its lowest levels in 40 years,” he said.
Mr Bull said rather than Labor’s soft-on-crime approach, an elected Liberal-National Government would take a tougher approach on repeat offenders.
“We will introduce mandatory minimum jail sentences for the most dangerous criminals in our community with criminals convicted of a second violent offence facing the mandatory minimums.”
The minimum sentences would apply to 11 violent offences, including rape, aggravated burglary, manslaughter by single punch or strike, and murder.
Mr Bull said he regularly has East Gippslanders raising concerns with him about rising crime and soft sentencing by the courts.
“Even the Police Minister has admitted that Victorians don’t feel safe in their own homes under this government,” he said.
“Under a Coalition Government, repeat offenders who think they can ignore our justice system will face long sentences for their contempt for our laws.”
This follows earlier policy announcements by the Liberal-Nationals on bail, sentencing, police resourcing and youth justice.
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
‘Seriously underfunded’ roads network
Gippsland East MP, Tim Bull, has backed a call from the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) to reinstate road funding cuts to rural and regional Victoria.
Victoria’s regional highway network is “seriously underfunded”, requires significantly increased levels of funding and is in a condition of decline, according to a RACV document.
Mr Bull said the RACV’s budget submission to the State Government further highlighted the need to reinstate funding to the levels provided under the previous Coalition Government for the management of roads in rural and regional Victoria.
“It is no wonder the network is declining – Labor has cut the Road Asset Management Budget and Road Operations and Network Improvement Budget by $307 million in the past two years and completely removed the Country Roads and Bridges Program, which provided $8m to East Gippsland and Wellington Shire Councils alone,” Mr Bull said.
The RACV submission states:
“RACV commissioned an independent review of the funding and condition of Victoria’s regional highway network that has found that the network is seriously underfunded and its condition is declining.”
The RACV has called for “Substantial increases in funding to repair and maintain Victoria’s highway network, which has deteriorated alarmingly in recent years and is now causing increased safety risks” among its critical initiatives in the 2017/18 budget.
“This is proof the Government needs to, at least, restore funding to levels provided by the former Coalition Government,” Mr Bull said.
Mr Bull said interestingly, the RACV also called for the construction of the East-West Link, which was scrapped by the Andrews Government, costing taxpayers $1.1 billion in compensation when the Premier promised no compensation would be paid.
Caption: Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, is backing a call from the RACV to reinstate road funding cuts to rural and regional Victoria.
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Nominate a senior for Victorian awards
Local residents should consider nominating suitable candidates for the Victorian Senior of the Year Awards, according to Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull.
“East Gippsland is lucky to have so many inspirational seniors continually supporting our community,” Mr Bull said.
“We have so many seniors helping out with fundraising events, volunteering their time in the community and generally achieving great things in the area, often for the benefit of others,” he said.
Anyone can nominate a senior they admire before Friday, June 23, in the following categories:
• Premier’s Award for Victorian Senior of the Year – to be awarded to an individual for an outstanding contribution to their local community and Victoria;
• Promotion of Multiculturalism Award – to be awarded to an individual for a significant contribution to promoting the benefits of cultural diversity in the community;
• Healthy and Active Living Award – to be awarded to an individual for helping to create active and healthy communities through community involvement and as a role model;
• Veteran Community Award – to be awarded to an individual for an exceptional contribution to the veteran community (the recipient of this award does not need to be a veteran); and
• Council of the Ageing Victoria Senior Achiever Awards – to be awarded to individuals who provide significant contributions to local communities.
Mr Bull said winners would be announced at a ceremony at Government House in October.
“These awards provide a great opportunity to recognise people who are making a difference in our small communities,” he said.
More information and nomination forms can be found at www.seniorsonline.vic.gov.au, or by phoning 1300 135 090.
Monday, April 10, 2017
Question ignored, extra police denied
The Lakes Entrance community has been given no reassurance that increased levels of police will cater for local residents and the thousands of visitors expected to visit the area over the Easter holidays.
Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, who for more than a year now has been calling for increased levels of policing from outside the region coinciding with peak holiday periods, in February asked the Minister in Parliament if she had decided to support provision of more police over the Easter period.
This followed a visit by the Chief Commissioner in January when he informed Mr Bull the matter would be given consideration.
Almost two months later, the Minister has still yet to respond, almost two weeks past the due answer date.
“I am assuming her reasoning for not answering my request is the fact that she is refusing to provide increased police levels, and this decision not to respond is disappointing for the entire Lakes Entrance community,” Mr Bull said.
“The people of Lakes deserve the courtesy of an answer on this.”
“I am aware the station is often closed over weekends and I know this was the case during the summer holidays in January.
“To have the station closed over peak holiday periods is a situation that is just not acceptable, and for the problem to go on for this amount of time shows the Government has a serious problem with police numbers,” Mr Bull said.
Monday, April 3, 2017