August 2012
Thursday, 23 August 2012 15:00

Heyfield welcomes new Incident Management Centre

Deputy Premier and Minister for Police and Emergency Services Peter Ryan today officially opened the new state-of-the-art Department of Sustainability and Environment office and depot in Heyfield.

Mr Ryan said the new $9.1 million facility was fully equipped to manage high-level emergency incidents and would significantly strengthen the region’s incident management capabilities.

“For many years this office has been the management hub for large-scale fires and floods in the region and this new facility will make the job for our emergency personnel so much easier,” Mr Ryan said.

“It’s an asset not just for Heyfield, but for Gippsland and regional Victoria as a whole.” Mr Ryan said the new facility was equipped as a Level 3 Incident Control Centre, the highest incident management level in Victoria, and catered for up to 40 office staff from the Department of Sustainability and Environment and Parks Victoria on a day-to-day basis.

“The entire building is pre-wired and configured to quickly accommodate double this number during an incident,” Mr Ryan said.

“The latest technology and extensive cabling for phone, computer and radio communications means staff from any of the emergency management agencies are able to walk into the building and start working immediately. This is critical for large-scale incidents, when staff operate in shifts covering 24 hours a day.”

Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith applauded the facility, and said it would play a vital role in community protection, while at the same time incorporating Australian Best Practice environmentally sustainable design principles equivalent to a 4-Star Green Star (Design) rating, resulting in low operating costs through reduced energy and water use.

Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull said the design of the new facility was based on consultation held post the Black Saturday fires and sets the benchmark for the development of new Incident Control Centres.

“This is a vast improvement on the old office, which was in very poor structural condition, causing the walls and floors to move as people walked through the building,” Mr Bull said.

“The new building is laid out so that the operations room and adjacent radio room act as a permanent hub, from which the incident management can be expanded.”

Published in Media
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 14:59

$10 million to restore and protect Gippsland Lakes

The environmental health of the Gippsland Lakes received a boost with the launch of eight new projects to be funded through the Victorian Coalition Government’s $10 million Gippsland Lakes Environmental Fund, Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development, Peter Ryan, announced today.

“The Government and local community have a vested interest to improve the health of the Gippsland Lakes, and that is why we have created the $10 million Gippsland Lakes Environmental Fund and are working with the community through the Gippsland Lakes Ministerial Advisory Committee to develop an environmental strategy for the Lakes,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said the Gippsland Lakes Ministerial Advisory Committee would help ensure the environmental significance of the Lakes was maintained into the future by guiding decisionmaking on developments within the Lakes region.

“The committee, led by Chairperson Dr Peter Veenker, is a broad based group with experienced people in the field of environmental science, tourism and recreation, business and management, strategy and planning, and environment and conservation,’ Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said the first eight projects to be approved by the Committee include:

 evaluation of the economic and community impact of the 2011/12 Nodularia Algae Bloom - $30,000  funding to support a range of care groups to enhance the biodiversity of the Gippsland Lakes - $160,000  nutrient reduction in the Upper Gippsland Lakes Catchment - $137,500  Latrobe Estuary and wetlands restoration - $120,000  meander restoration along the Lower Latrobe River - $150,000  engaging the Gippsland Lakes community -$80,000  landholders fencing and revegetating the Gippsland Lakes rivers - $44,000  monitoring the environment health of the Gippsland Lakes - $126,000

Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, who helped develop the implementation strategy for the Gippsland Lakes Ministerial Advisory Committee and Gippsland Lakes Environmental Fund, said the initial eight projects would go a long way to improving the health and prosperity of the Gippsland Lakes.

“A report which looked at the economic impact of the 2008 non-toxic algal bloom found it had a direct economic cost of $18 million and more than 300 jobs.  By evaluating the economic and community impact of the 2011/12 Nodularia Algae Bloom and comparing the results with the 2008 bloom, we can identify trends or lessons that can inform future management decisions,” Mr Bull said.

“Likewise, the 2010/11 Dryland Nutrient Reduction Project on the Upper Latrobe Catchment resulted in a dramatic reduction in the amount of superphosphate flowing into the Lakes. As a result, a further five projects surrounding phosphates into the Lakes have been approved by the Committee. “

Mr Ryan said funding for the $10 million Gippsland Lakes Environmental Fund was drawn from the Victorian Coalition Government’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund.

“Through Regional Development Victoria we are constantly investing in infrastructure and services, while building networks, creating employment and improving necessary facilities and the environment,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Victorian Coalition Government is committed to supporting the continued economic development of regional Victoria, including the iconic Gippsland Lakes.”

Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Ryan Smith, said the Coalition Government was getting on with improving the natural environment for all Victorians.

“We're getting on with what we said we would do – cleaning up our waterways and beaches, harvesting stormwater, recycling more waste from landfill, and boosting support to organisations such as Landcare to achieve real environmental benefits Victorians can see,” Mr Smith said.

Published in Media
Tuesday, 07 August 2012 14:58

More funding to make East Gippsland roads safer!

The Great Alpine Road between Bruthen and Bairnsdale and Bruthen-Nowa Nowa Road between Bruthen and Nowa Nowa is to receive a $2.55 million safety upgrade to tackle run-off-road crashes under this year’s Safety Road Infrastructure Program (SRIP), announced Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull.

“The Great Alpine Road and the Bruthen-Nowa Nowa Road have become increasingly popular, with figures showing a strong increase in traffic volumes annually between 2002 and 2010.  

“These improvements will minimise the likelihood and severity of run-off-road crashes which have been a problem in recent years.

“From the start of 2007 to the end of 2011 there have been 33 reported crashes where someone was injured on these sections of road.  Sixteen of these were run-off-road type crashes.

“This crash history indicates a pattern of crashes where drivers stray off the road and lose control on unsealed shoulders.

“These works aim to reduce the frequency of vehicles leaving the road, and the severity of a crash in the instance that a vehicle runs off the road.

“Sealing road shoulders will give vehicles a greater chance to correct their path if they start to stray off the road, which is supported by audio tactile line marking that makes a loud noise when vehicles cross over the road’s edge line.

“Further to these preventative measures, the installation of wire rope and guard fence safety barriers will reduce the risk of impact with roadside hazards like trees and steep drop offs”, said Mr Bull.

“However, improving safety on our roads is not just the role of governments, but there needs to be a whole of community approach to reducing fatalities and injuries.  Motorists need to modify their driving behaviours adapting to a variety of road conditions, whether driving at night or in bad weather.”

Motorcycle safety barriers, which provide an extra barrier rail beneath guard fence so riders can’t slide underneath them, will also be installed at key locations.

Federal Member for Gippsland, Darren Chester who is the Parliamentary Secretary for Roads and Regional Transport welcomed the announcement.

“A critical part of reducing the road toll is building safety into the road environment,” Mr Chester said.

“While improved driver behaviour and enforcement measures are ongoing, the big challenge for State and Federal Governments is to ensure that we have the safest possible roads so that a little mistake doesn’t end in tragedy.”

The funding is provided by the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) through the Safer Roads Infrastructure Program and is part of a 10-year commitment of $650 million.

Published in Media