Labor must save every Heyfield job
Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford has refused to detail whether a business case was completed before the Government offered to buy the Heyfield mill, where 260 jobs are facing the axe.
Asked in Parliament on Thursday to provide evidence of a business case, the Minister would only say it would be “unhelpful” to comment with negotiations ongoing.
Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull said the Premier promised to visit the Heyfield mill and speak to workers more than 12 weeks ago – but has failed to show.
“The 260 people who work at the Heyfield mill are not just workers, they are members of our local community groups, sporting clubs and volunteer groups,” Mr Bull said.
“Our community will not stand for the Premier for Melbourne finally visiting Heyfield, only to announce more job losses.
“When Daniel Andrews does finally show his face in Heyfield, he must come with a promise to save all 260 jobs – or not come at all.”
Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh visited Heyfield on Friday to speak to the community.
“Daniel Andrews and Jaala Pulford can’t confirm they commissioned a business case that backs up their offer to buy the Heyfield mill,” Mr Walsh said.
“The timber supply is there, but Daniel Andrews is putting possums before people in a move to create the Great Forest National Park by stealth.
“The Premier for Melbourne must stop putting possums before people and act to save these 260 jobs.”
Friday, May 26, 2017
24/7 service to support victims of crime
Victims of crime would have faster access to support under a Liberal-Nationals government.
If elected, a Liberal-Nationals Coalition will establish a new Victims Support Rapid Response Service, which would offer mobile, 24/7 counselling to victims and witnesses.
Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said victims did not currently receive timely support.
“Victims and witnesses of traumatic events need support as soon as possible and this service will offer help in the initial period of grief and shock,” Mr Bull said.
“Too often in our rural communities, including East Gippsland, there is a lack of support available – this new service will mean victims can start to rebuild their lives as soon as possible.”
The Liberal-Nationals Coalition has committed $5.42 million over four years to establish the service, which would be operated by the Department of Justice and Regulation Victims Support Agency.
Responders would include on-call volunteer counsellors, multi-faith chaplains, psychologists and other trained professionals.
“The Victims Support Rapid Response Service would also take some of the load off our emergency services, who, as first responders, often become de-factor counsellors to people who have witnessed a traumatic event,” Mr Bull said.
“Ongoing support will also be offered where needed, on top of immediate assistance.”
In addition to stronger bail and sentencing policies, the Liberal Nationals have also announced other policies to provide more support for victims, including giving them a more prominent place in court hearings and better access to compensation.
Thursday, May 18, 2017
Saving all Heyfield jobs now state's biggest priority
The announcement yesterday that Carter Holt Harvey will close its Morwell operations and the loss of 160 jobs makes saving all of the 250 jobs at Heyfield mill an absolute necessity and the highest priority for this government, according to Gippsland East MP, Tim Bull.
“The area cannot take another hit, especially when it is avoidable, so saving all these Heyfield jobs must become Daniel Andrews' number one job,” he said.
“While this latest closure was caused by bushfire impacts, the loss of up to 1000 jobs at Hazelwood came after the Andrews Government imposed a $252 million tax on power generators and reneged on a promise for a staged closure.
“The Government is not providing any real long-term replacement jobs, the unemployment rate is soaring and we need to stop the bleeding.
“I understand the Government's original offer of 80,000 cubic metres of timber to Heyfield next year, followed by 60,000 the following two years, has now been upgraded to 80,000 over each of the next three years, but that will still result in more than half the jobs at the mill going.
“I am also told they are trying to negotiate a sale, but to save all these jobs – and I stress all – the mill does not need a new owner, it needs resource and we need more than 80,000 cubes."
Mr Bull said he believes the Government is in possession of modelling that shows how much timber can be returned to the industry if leadbeater possum colonies are capped at 200 (the original trigger point for a review) and the balance returned back to industry.
“This information needs to be released immediately, so we know what we are dealing with. It will prove (as many suspect) whether the decision not to allocate the resource is a political decision pandering to inner-city lefties, or not," he said.
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
2.5 years and still no wild dog group
Two and a half years into the term of this Labor Government and the Minister’s much touted Wild Dog Management Advisory Committee has still not been appointed, let alone had a meeting, which is a complete failure of East Gippsland farmers, according to Gippsland East MP, Tim Bull.
“It did not take the Minister long to sack the previous effective Wild Dog Advisory Committee that included several landholders from East Gippsland, but unfortunately the Minister’s new committee, announced with much fanfare, remains non-existent,” he said.
“On top of this, the previous effective committee had six landholder (farmer) representatives with three from East Gippsland, but the new committee has had the farmer representation halved, the Minister’s explanation being that this new committee would be ‘higher level’.
“At the time of announcing the new committee, the Minister said ‘We're putting farmers and community input at the centre of wild dog management across Victoria’ – but then cut farmer representation from six to three in a classic case of say one thing, then do another.
“How this city-centric government believes this structure can be effective in rural areas without rural landholders having strong say is beyond me, or anyone, I would suggest,” he said.
“In a further insult to farmers who are losing stock, one of the landholder positions is to be taken by a “dog welfare” expert. I would have thought the welfare of sheep, calves and native animals was the highest priority here.
“In yet another complete botching, the Minister proudly announced some time ago the new committee would be chaired by Labor Upper House MP, Harriet Shing.
“Comment was made at the time over doubts she would have ever seen a wild dog and not surprisingly this rushed announcement resulted in her realising this was something she knew nothing about and resigned before the committee even met once, citing she was ‘too busy’.
“So the current situation is – here we are two and a half years into this government with winter arriving, the time of year when the dogs come down from the high country to the low country because of the cold and start to impact on stock more consistently – and we still don’t even have a wild dog committee of any sort
“The Minister should be ashamed of her complete botching of this and disregard for the farmers of East Gippsland.
“She should not have sacked the previous committee in the first place. However, if she was going to, she should not have made any changes until she had a new structure ready to be rolled out.
“To have this long period of non-action is not acceptable to anyone. The Government needs to lift its game and get a committee in place as soon as possible,” Mr Bull said.
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Bring forward Gelantipy Road works: Bull
Victoria’s Roads Minister has been asked to bring forward works planned for Gelantipy Road, which otherwise will not take place until 2018.
In State Parliament last night, Gippsland East MP, Tim Bull, said his office had received further contact from residents concerned with the condition of the road.
Mr Bull first raised the issue in Parliament in November last year, after the Government advised it reduced the speed limit from 100km/h to 80km/h “as a result of the condition of the road”.
“At the time I found this astounding that this government admitted it was reducing speed limits instead of fixing the road, and whether or not the Minister believes this is an acceptable situation,” Mr Bull said.
In his response, the Minister advised the speed limit would be in place “until the works can be completed”.
“When seeking more information relating to these works, following further contact from concerned constituents, my office was informed that $300,000 had been allocated,” Mr Bull told Parliament.
“While I am pleased the Minister realises the need for permanent repair to this section of road, I am told the works will not be completed until 2018.
“As the speed reduction has been in place for almost 12 months, and given local residents will have to wait a further year for works, I ask that the Minister ensures the pavement rehabilitation and any other associated repairs are completed in 2017.”
The Minister has 30 days to respond.
Friday, May 12, 2017
Premier continues attack on CFA volunteers
Daniel Andrews has ramped up his attack on Country Fire Authority volunteers, with plans to split Victoria’s biggest volunteer organisation.
Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said Labor’s secret cabinet committee – designed to tear apart the CFA – put its proposal to Cabinet on Monday.
“We have it on good authority the proposal attempts to split the CFA into a country volunteer-only body, which would likely result in thousands less volunteers protecting Victoria, so I encourage CFA members and supporters across the region to fight the split,” Mr Bull said
“Splitting the CFA to hand over suburban areas to career firefighters would devastate the organisation’s ability to provide surge capacity to rural areas and would put the safety of local communities at risk in the event of a large scale fire.
“Within weeks, Mr Andrews has cut $47 million from the Emergency Management budget, is expecting a reduction of more than 3500 volunteers and is now planning to split the CFA.”
In Question Time this week, the Premier evaded questions as to whether he will forcibly remove CFA volunteers from 35 fire stations right across Victoria or whether he intends to split the CFA.
“Our local brigades have served the community with the upmost professionalism, yet Mr Andrews thinks they aren’t doing a good enough job. I disagree and stand by our local volunteer firefighters,” Mr Bull said.
“For nearly two years now, Mr Andrews has been at war with Victoria’s 60,000 CFA volunteers. He has not only shown a complete lack of respect for our CFA members, but many fear he is putting the safety of Victorians at risk by breaking up something that works.”
Wednesday, May 10, 2017