Bull blasts Premier’s no show on Budget day
Premier Daniel Andrews has been reminded about the plight of Australian Sustainable Hardwoods workers on State Budget day in Parliament this afternoon.
State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, told Parliament: “The ongoing uncertainty is a disgrace and is exacerbated by the fact you refuse to visit the town despite promising to do so almost three months ago.”
“You have been to the Latrobe Valley a number of times but can never find the extra time to make the half-hour trip to Heyfield to meet the workers and their families – yet you are always keen to say you care about their jobs.
“It is time for action, not weasel words Mr Premier, get your backside to Heyfield and bring some good news with you.”
Mr Bull also said the promised review into leadbeater possum reserves and impacts on timber harvesting has not been released by April as promised by the Agriculture Minister, Jaala Pulford.
“It is disappointing that it took the government so long to complete the review, but now it has missed its own generous deadline and not even a word from the Minister,” he said.
“There are now over 600 confirmed colonies and the review was meant to be established at the trigger point of 200 colonies being located.
“It is just another case of this government dragging its feet and creating more uncertainty on issues relating to the timber industry.
“Labor’s Timber Industry Taskforce deliberated for almost two years and was unable to reach a consensus on the key points it was reviewing, then the Minister’s replacement taskforce achieved no outcomes in its allocated four-week timeframe and now this report is past its deadline.
“The workers in the sector and their families deserve better,” Mr Bull said.
Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Statement on today's State Budget
Like much of rural Victoria, East Gippsland has again missed out in this year’s State Budget with country areas outside major provincial centres seemingly not on Labor’s map.
The situation is this Budget clearly points out country people are being taxed more and receiving little.
In short, the budget contained:
• $32 million slashed out of the Agriculture budget.
• No money for new police stations – in particular Orbost, which is in need of upgrade.
• No new capital investments for our country hospitals.
• No cost of living relief for families to combat burgeoning power prices and in fact nine new taxes that will impact country people, including a hike to the Fire Services Levy, increased stamp duty on cars and changes that will increase land tax.
• No Country Roads and Bridges Program, which still hasn’t been restored even as our roads crumble into disrepair.
• No funds to finish the Bairnsdale Secondary College with that community again having been ignored. Spending on schools across rural and regional Victoria has been slashed by $87 million.
In fact, on the back of the only announcement of any relevance, that being reference to the Avon River Bridge at Stratford being built totally with Federal money and no state contribution, many of the roads funding programs come with an asterisk footnote that they are also dependent on Federal funding.
There are many programs where the announcement has been made by the state, but they are sending the bill straight to the Federal Government.
I look forward to working with my Federal colleague, Darren Chester, over the coming weeks to progress the replacement of the Avon River Rail Bridge at Stratford.
Caption: Gippsland East MP, Tim Bull, peruses the 2017/18 State Budget which he says taxes country people more while delivering little to rural areas.
Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Murray Goulburn Maffra will remain!
The announcement by Murray Goulburn this morning that it will continue operations at its Maffra plant has been welcomed by a delighted Gippsland East MP, Tim Bull, who described it as “fantastic news”.
“Having met local dairy operators and the new MG management team in recent weeks, it was clear there was a level of uncertainty about the outcomes of the review being undertaken,” Mr Bull said
“While the cessation of plants in other parts of the state is not good news for those communities, with the closure of Hazelwood and uncertainty around Australian Sustainable Hardwoods at Heyfield, there is a huge collective sigh of relief locally in Gippsland generally in relation to this.
“It is a credit to the district’s farmers that they have been able to provide a high level of supply and this was no doubt a strong factor in the decision-making process.
“MG has always had a strong footprint in East Gippsland and I would hope the changes announced will see improved returns to farmers on the land and a generally brighter future,” Mr Bull said.
Eastern Region MLC, Melina Bath, also welcomed the news and said it was pleasing from a local perspective the Murray Goulburn plants in both Maffra and Leongatha would remain.
Tuesday, May 2, 2017