$1 million for East Gippsland roads and bridges
East Gippsland Shire Council is to receive $1 million in grant funding under the Victorian Coalition Government’s Country Roads and Bridges fund which will be used towards maintenance and restoration of existing infrastructure.
Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said “this announcement further demonstrates the Coalition’s continuing commitment to improving road safety and infrastructure throughout Victoria and this funding will greatly benefit East Gippsland in ongoing road and bridge maintenance works undertaken by the Shire.
“The 2011-12 Victorian Budget included nearly $601 million for road projects that would deliver significant improvements for motorists, particularly in outer suburban and regional areas such as East Gippsland.
“This extra funding will enable East Gippsland Shire Council to concentrate this funding towards those roads and bridges which are in need of ongoing maintenance and repair, ensuring safer travelling by motorists throughout our region,” Mr Bull said.
Minister Mulder said, “the Coalition Government is proud to be providing this boost in funding to the East Gippsland Shire Council to aid in their maintenance programs and helping to keep roads safe for all road users,” Mr Mulder said.
“This program provides up to $1 million each to 40 rural councils annually for the next four years. This is a total of $160 million of additional funds to improve the condition of roads and bridges in rural Victoria.”
Gippsland Shire Mayor, Cr Richard Ellis said, “work would include the replacement of Morass Creek Bridge on Matthews Road at Benambra and pavement rehabilitation of various sections along Benambra-Corryong Road.
“There will also be gravel re-sheeting and sealing of sections along O'Doherty's Road in Calulu, Waddells Road in Nicholson and Polly Walker Road in Clifton Creek.
“The additional funding will also enable Council to bring forward important road works that have been identified in their long term capital works program,” Cr Ellis said.
Aurora channel lights up
Yachties and power boaters on the Gippsland Lakes heading for Bunga Arm and Ocean Grange will see their way more clearly following $43,723 in State Government funding, Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said today.
“Aurora Channel is a popular passage that all boat users must use to access these two extremely popular destinations on the Gippsland Lakes.
“This funding will allow Gippsland Ports to undertake upgrades that will make boating much easier for those locals and visitors who are not as familiar with navigating our waterways, especially at night,” Mr Bull said.
“It is important that we provide up-to-date facilities for not only our local boaters, but also those who are visiting the area and are unfamiliar with local conditions.”
Greg Hatt of Gippsland Ports said, “Aurora Channel in the Gippsland Lakes is a popular channel for recreational vessels accessing Bunga Arm and Ocean Grange.
“The existing navigation aids were in poor condition and the proposed upgrade will replace some old navigation aids in the approach section of the channel and provide upgraded lights for night use.
“The project aims to provide a safer environment for channel users by upgrading existing navigation aids to improve navigation at night,” said Mr Hatt.
“Mr Bull said this area is often prone to thick fog and there are many stories of boaters either leaving Paynesville or the Grange in an attempt to reach the other destination, only to find themselves back where they started, so any improvement to night time navigation will be well received.”
Minister for Ports, Dr Denis Napthine, said “we want to provide the best opportunities for Victoria’s boating enthusiasts and funding this program will enable a range of facility upgrades and safety initiatives throughout the state.”
“The program allows for local groups and communities to apply for grants which will enable initiatives to get off the ground and be realised.”
The BSFP is funded through a portion of recreational boat operator licensing fees and vessel registration fees, providing money for grants and state-wide initiatives. The aim of the program is to make recreational boating safer and more accessible for all Victorians.
For further information call 1800 337 222, or visit www.transport.vic.gov.au/grants
Improved support for primary school students
Airly, Bundalaguah and Clifton Creek Primary Schools are among the first of almost 300 primary schools that will receive funding for a welfare officer, said State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull.
The officers are part of a $124.4 million Victorian Coalition Government election commitment to help provide additional support to students and families.
The expansion of the Primary Welfare Officer (PWO) initiative will deliver on the Coalition Government’s election promise of an additional 150 welfare officers over the next four years to assist primary school students across the state.
“I welcome the move, which will see welfare officers working in two out of three government primary, P-12 and special schools,” Mr Bull said.
“Under the Coalition’s plan, every Victorian primary school will eventually have access to a welfare officer, and the initiative will also be supported by other government measures to help teachers identify any behavioural issues into the future.
Other commitments to improve student welfare include:
• $10.5 million for the eSmart initiative to help every government school and 300 Catholic and independent schools educate students about cybersafety and cyberbullying;
• $2 million over four years for teacher professional development to manage classroom behaviour;
• $4 million over four years to review and update bullying policies and programs for Victorian government schools.
“Principals of primary schools where the program has operated have been incredibly supportive of the work of welfare officers and have reported enormous improvements in students’ behaviour, attendance, willingness to learn and general perception of themselves,” said Education Minister, Martin Dixon.
Lakes and Stratford festivals funded
Two important local festivals, the ‘Seafarers Multicultural Festival’ in Lakes Entrance and the 'Shakespeare on the River Festival' in Stratford, have each attracted $2,000 in State Government funds, Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, announced today.
“I raised the funding with the Minister for Tourism and Major Events in Parliament this week and was delighted to soon receive an affirmative response.
“Both are important events for the local communities of Stratford and Lakes Entrance and key drivers in their local economies,” Mr Bull said.
Speaking in Parliament, Mr Bull said the Seafarers Multicultural Festival (December 2-4 this year), last year attracted 7,000 patrons, and organisers are anticipating up to 10,000 people will attend this year's event.
“There will be another exciting festival program this year, including a number of activities which promote the region's cultural diversity and showcase various tourist attractions.
“In 2008, a small steering committee presented the inaugural Feast of St Nicholas, and this most successful event was the launching pad for the now highly regarded and well-patronised Seafarer’s Festival.
“It will also highlight East Gippsland’s fantastic seafood industry, which is so important to the local economy with Lakes Entrance being home to a famous fishing fleet that produces some of the best seafood in the world to all states of Australia and internationally.
“This year the organising committee, led by Rosemary Kavadis and Bob Yeates, have secured as their Festival Ambassador, the acclaimed chef, Stefano de Pieri.
“Stefano will be both launching the festival in Melbourne and demonstrating some of his delightful dishes at the festival on the Saturday afternoon,” Mr Bull said.
“The other annual event which I sought the Minister's support in promoting is Stratford's 'Shakespeare on the River Festival'.
“Commencing in 1989, Neale Warrington from the Australian Shakespeare Company initiated discussions with the former Shire of Avon on how they could build on the village name of Stratford and its links to William Shakespeare.
“From that initial foundation the first festival was held in 1991and since that auspicious occasion, the Festival has now been running continuously since 1996 and is a major fixture on the calendar being held on the first weekend in May each year.”
The Festival has grown to include over 20 different events being performed over a two and a half week period, attracting artists from around the region and from Melbourne and Sydney based professional companies.
“I am advised that last year Tourism Victoria said the festival had 3,500 patrons who attended and obviously the organisers are hoping to grow those numbers with an expectation of 4,000 people visiting the picturesque town of Stratford, which sits on the Avon River, this year.
“Stratford is one of the smaller rural towns in my community and activities like the ‘Shakespeare On The River Festival’ are crucial for local business and the town’s economy,” Mr Bull said.
Stamping out livestock theft and farm related crime
Livestock theft and other farm related crimes will be targeted by the formation of a Livestock and Farm Crime Specialists Group within Victoria Police, according to Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull.
“Livestock prices are currently better than they have been for quite some time, which is only good news for farmers, however unfortunately good prices can also lead to an increase in opportunistic theft,” he said.
“East Gippsland relies on its livestock producers as important contributors to the local economy and they have faced their share of hardship over recent years.”
The new group will be supported by a Victoria Police committee, which will include representatives from the Victorian Farmers’ Federation, Department of Primary Industries, The Municipal Association of Victoria, the Stock Agents’ Association of Victoria and others.
“It will be staffed by as many as 12 Victoria Police members across the state. This will provide a specialist point of contact for farmers who are victims of theft or farm crime.”
“This announcement is great news for local farmers reassuring them there is a specialised group specifically formed to crack down on theft from farms,” said Mr Bull.
“Renewing the focus on farming as a target area for crime prevention and theft response was an important election priority for the Coalition Government, and I am pleased to see this policy implemented.”
$8,861 grant for Maffra show
The Maffra & District Agricultural Society Inc. will receive a grant for $8,861 from the Victorian Coalition Government to help improve the Maffra’s annual agricultural show.
Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull said, agricultural and pastoral shows were a rich and valued event on the yearly calendar providing a focus on agriculture, craftsmanship and skilled animal handling.
“It takes a lot of work each year by a small team of dedicated volunteers to organise the show and the Coalition government is proud to support these volunteers by investing in grants to help improve facilities,” Mr Bull said.
Maffra & District Agricultural Society’s president, Jenny McDavitt and secretary Noel Goddard said, the committee is delighted with the news that their grant application has been successful. The grant will go a long way to developing a top show jumping arena at the Maffra Recreation Reserve and will improve safety and benefit many generations to come, they said
”Show jumping chief steward, Sally Lee said, “a new show jumping specific facility will provide enormous benefits in being able to grow participants and attract entries from across Victoria and possibly interstate.”
“The Agricultural and Pastoral Society Grants Program is part of the government’s commitment to rural and regional Victoria,” said Mr Bull.
“We have also reversed the restrictive changes Labor made to public holidays which removed councils’ ability to choose their own public holiday.
“Our agricultural and pastoral shows were missing out on valuable turnover because Labor’s one-size-fits-all approach resulted in declining attendance.
“This program gives further support to our shows by funding improvements to facilities that would otherwise not be upgraded.”
Tim congratulated members of the Committee for their commitment to hosting and co-ordinating the show each and I encourage all members of the community to continue to support their efforts,” said Mr Bull.