East Gippsland has a strong role to play in decentralisation
East Gippsland has a strong role to play in the Liberal-National Coalition’s decentralisation plans, as identified in the Population Policy Taskforce’s interim report, launched earlier this week.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, said this was made clear by Opposition leader, Matthew Guy, when he visited the region this week and spoke at two functions in Bairnsdale.
“The document has many strong references to the entire Gippsland region and specifically mentions the expansion of existing local East Gippsland industries, including agriculture and tourism.
“The report also earmarks major improvements to the Gippsland (Bairnsdale) rail line, particularly regarding the need to boost its reliability and improve existing services.
“The announcement by my Federal colleague, Darren Chester, to upgrade the Avon River bridge at Stratford is good news, but it is just a start,” he said.
Mr Bull said the Population Policy Taskforce’s interim report was another step forward in the Liberal-Nationals’ plan to develop a whole of government approach to managing the state’s population growth.
“In the lead up to 2018 I look forward to making some local announcements around policies and projects throughout East Gippsland that will support this population report.
“Victoria is the fastest growing state in Australia, with more than 100,000 people moving every year – but just 15,000 will move to regional Victoria with 85% growing Melbourne unsustainably,” Mr Bull said.
“The Taskforce, which had Gippsland South MP Danny O’Brien, as Deputy Chair, has been consulting with local communities and stakeholders over the past six months, including Gippsland, and the interim report is an overview of the key issues raised so far.”
Mr Bull said if Victoria’s growth was not addressed, by 2051 there would be an additional 3.8 million people in Melbourne, but only 690,000 people moving or settling in the rest of Victoria.
Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh said Daniel Andrews had no plan and no vision to decentralise Victoria’s exploding growth.
“Of the people who move to our state each year, 85 per cent will move to Melbourne, but still the Andrews Labor Government is doing nothing to make sure our country communities share in this growth,” Mr Walsh said.
“There's more to regional and rural Victoria than just Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong and the Liberal-Nationals Population Policy Taskforce has been listening to our country communities as we develop a whole of government approach to managing population growth in our state.”
The interim report and more information on the Taskforce can be found at www.vicpopulation.com.au.
Caption: Gippsland East MP, Tim Bull, and Opposition Leader, Matthew Guy, examine the findings of the Population Policy Taskforce in State Parliament this week.
Friday, June 23, 2017
CFA Bill sent to Parliamentary committee
Legislation that volunteer firefighters fear will tear apart the Country Fire Authority has been sent to a committee for consultation and improvements, failing to receive the required level of support in Parliament’s Legislative Council
Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said due to pressure from the Liberal-Nationals and cross benchers, the Government agreed to send the Firefighters’ Presumptive Rights Compensation and Fire Services Legislation Amendment (Reform) Bill 2017 to a committee.
“Having met with fire brigades alongside State Opposition Leader Matthew Guy in Bairnsdale and Heyfield last week, it is clear that volunteers have serious concerns regarding this legislation,” Mr Bull said.
“I have been contacted by many volunteers since this legislation was introduced, so I am pleased at the least it has been sent for further investigation by a Parliamentary committee.
“It is well-known the Government has tried to ram this Bill through with very little consultation with CFA volunteers.
“I look forward to further details of this inquiry coming to hand and when they do, I would encourage all concerned residents and local CFA brigade members to express their concern through a submission,” Mr Bull said.
Thursday, June 22, 2017
Funding reduction the reason for poor road conditions
The Auditor-General’s Report into Maintaining State-Controlled Roadways has confirmed that East Gippsland motorists are worse off under the Andrews Labor Government, according to Gippsland East MP, Tim Bull.
Mr Bull said the report, released today, highlighted a number of deficiencies relating to the Government’s management of roadways in rural and regional Victoria.
Page 15 of the report states:
“Reduced funding in real terms, and deficiencies in developing the maintenance program, have led to maintenance practices that are not adequate to sustain the functional condition of VicRoads’ road network at an acceptable standard.
“The proportion of the network requiring rehabilitation has increased. As a result, less money has been available for works that slow the rate of road pavement deterioration.”
“I am regularly contacted by motorists who are concerned with the condition of our roads, which are clearly deteriorating due to State Government funding cuts,” Mr Bull said.
“In the first two budgets delivered by this government, we saw a cut of just under a third of a billion dollars ($307 million) in budgets that service country Victorian roads.
“The Government had the chance to address these issues on country roads but instead has wasted valuable time in cutting funding that would have gone a long way to improving the network.
“On top of this, the Government also cut the $160 million Country Roads and Bridges Program that provided $1m per year straight to East Gippsland and Wellington Councils.”
The report says the Government’s approach to road maintenance is reactive, with maintenance generally being carried out only when it becomes critical.
“This is not the Opposition saying this, it’s the independent Auditor-General and he is confirming what we have been saying all along,” Mr Bull said.
Caption: Gippsland East MP, Tim Bull, says the Auditor-General’s Report into Maintaining State-Controlled Roads confirms what the Opposition has been saying all along – Labor’s funding reductions are having a severe impact on country Victorian roads.
Thursday, June 22, 2017
Liberal-Nationals introduce legislation to create a new offence of ramming a police vehicle
The Liberal-Nationals Coalition has this week introduced legislation to State Parliament to create a new offence of ramming a police vehicle, a week after a serious incident in Gippsland.
Gippsland East MP, Tim Bull, said offenders would receive a two-year statutory minimum and 10-year maximum jail term to be served cumulatively, not concurrently with other related offences.
Mr Bull said that only 24 hours after the policy was announced by the Liberal-Nationals Coalition, there was another police car ramming in Sale.
“In the 2015/16 financial year, 14 officers were hurt as a result of a police vehicle ramming and at this rate it is only a matter of time before someone is killed,” Mr Bull said.
“The number of police vehicles rammed has more than tripled, increasing from 30 in 2013/14 to 103 in 2015/16 and to almost 120 so far in 2016/17.”
Mr Bull said recently-released crime statistics also show that under the Andrews Labor Government, the offence of resist or hinder officer has increased 175% while the offence of assault police, emergency services or other authorised officer has increased 7% to 3119 offences.
“It is obvious that current penalties are failing to deliver the deterrence needed, given Police Association secretary Wayne Gatt’s recent comment that ‘Legislative amendment is needed now to send the strongest possible message to offenders that if you threaten or assault a police officer, or engage in behaviour like this then you are going to have plenty of time to reflect on it from a prison cell’,” Mr Bull said.
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Bairnsdale, Swan Reach and Heyfield residents to get more active with grants
East Gippsland sporting organisations have received a slice of the VicHealth Active Club Grant pie, with clubs in Bairnsdale, Swan Reach and Heyfield sharing almost $10,000 in funding.
Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said the funding would help the clubs deliver more opportunities for women and girls to get involved in sport, and provide more social, flexible and accessible sport programs.
“The grants will also provide more opportunities for people from disadvantaged communities to take part in sport,” he said.
Successful local clubs included:
• Bairnsdale Rowing Club - $2671 for equipment and advertising;
• Bairnsdale Squash and Racquetball Association - $2948 for equipment, coaching and advertising;
• Swan Reach Hockey Club - $1696 for equipment; and
• Heyfield Junior Football Club - $2578 for equipment.
“As a former VicHealth board member, I know just how important funding like this is for small sporting clubs in rural and regional areas,” Mr Bull said.
VicHealth chief executive officer, Jerril Rechter, said the grants would help more East Gippsland residents to make physical activity part of their day-to-day life.
“This program is about supporting Victoria’s grassroots sport clubs to provide a wider range of opportunities for everyone to get involved in,” Ms Rechter said.
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Gippsland Line is Victoria’s worst performing
Latest train punctuality data from the Andrews Labor Government shows the Gippsland Line is currently the worst performing service in the state.
For the month of May, only 66 per cent of Bairnsdale trains ran on time. The statewide target is 92 per cent.
It was also the worst performing line for April, with only 68 per cent of trains on time. This means almost one in every three Bairnsdale train services is not arriving at its destination within 11 minutes of its scheduled time, with some trains in the past four weeks arriving up to 45 minutes late.
Bairnsdale train services have been cancelled, or services replaced with buses, due to faulty trains. The V/Line Gippsland twitter feed shows services have been starting at Sale, instead of Bairnsdale, forcing passengers on to buses.
The Traralgon (Gippsland) Line services have also been badly affected by delays. The line is performing worse than Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong.
Train, track and rolling stock faults are the responsibility of the Victorian Government.
Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said the Victorian Government’s own data showed that Daniel Andrews can’t run trains on time.
“Labor has been in power for 14 of the last 18 years in Victoria – but the Andrews Government always looks to blame someone else for the problems facing V/Line,” Mr Bull said.
“It’s time that Daniel Andrews and Harriet Shing contributed state money to fix the Gippsland line and V/Line trains.”
Member for Morwell, Russell Northe, said while some train delays were unavoidable, due to accidents and other passenger requirements, the majority of delays were caused by faulty trains and track congestion on the Metro network.
“The Nationals are committed to improving the reliability of service for V/Line passengers in the Latrobe Valley and Gippsland,” Mr Northe said.
“But we have seen no plan from Labor about how it will improve train reliability on the Metro corridor between Pakenham and Melbourne. They are in government – it’s time for them to act.”
Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien, said many people, including the elderly and students, relied on the train service to make appointments and attend study.
Federal Member for Gippsland, Darren Chester, said there were ongoing talks between the Commonwealth and the State about track upgrades, but the Federal Government could not be blamed for trains breaking down.
“People in Gippsland don’t want political games; they just want governments to get on with the job of delivering,” Mr Chester said.
“I have announced record Commonwealth funding for the Gippsland line, including $195 million for track duplications to improve service reliability, and $95 million to replace the Avon River Bridge at Stratford.”
Friday, June 16, 2017