Vegetable washroom facility opened in Maffra
Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, today officially opened a new washroom at Australian Fresh Salads’ vegetable processing facility in Maffra.
Mr Bull said the previous Coalition Government had provided $200,000 from the Latrobe Valley Industry and Infrastructure Fund toward Australian Fresh Salads’ $1.7 million construction of its Maffra vegetable processing facility.
“This project has been a significant benefit for employment in the region with local contractors engaged during the construction phase of the facility, including electricians, plumbers, concreters, building surveyors and engineers.
“As a direct result of this project, we now have more full time employment generated in the Maffra district with Australian Fresh Salads increasing its workforce at the facility. It has employed more skilled labour including business managers, harvest and production coordinators, quality assurance coordinators and production managers to name a few,” he said.
Australian Fresh Salads’ Business Improvement Manager, Andrew Dimarco, said the project achieved a number of objectives including the expansion of the current facilities to meet increasing production and processing capabilities.
“This included the purchase and installation of new vegetable processing equipment and construction of subsequent value adding production rooms which has allowed the processing of produce to be carried out within a new temperature controlled environment.
“We have upgraded existing infrastructure as well as increasing our existing footprint at the facility. This expansion includes a new washroom as well as increasing the micro testing, quality control and food safety validation operational area,” Mr Dimarco said.
Mr Bull said as a result of this project, Australian Fresh Salads is now better positioned to supply fresh cut produce to wholesale domestic markets and pre washed salads for domestic retail markets.
“The business can now look at ways in which it can successfully target the Melbourne Market and investigate expansion into export markets.”
Caption: Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, officially opened the $1.7 million expansion of Australian Fresh Salads’ facilities at Maffra today. Tim is pictured with Wellington Shire Councillor, Cr Carolyn Crossley and Australian Fresh Salad Directors, Hugh Reardon and Ryan Macleod.
Community’s concerns over Lakes Entrance holiday policing levels raised
State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, has sought a guarantee from the Police Minister that Lakes Entrance will be adequately staffed with increased police numbers over the Christmas holiday period.
Speaking in Parliament on Thursday, Mr Bull said his office had heard concerns from local business leaders and community members that additional police would not be allocated and in fact there were concerns the station may even be below its full roster capacity due to staff being on secondments and maternity leave.
“From memory the station has full roster of around 17 staff and with the population to grow from 6,500 to over 50,000 over the holiday period there obviously needs to be an increased presence.
“The concerns I am hearing from the community is that while additional staff are being allocated for New Year’s Eve, there is no increased police presence for the remainder of the holiday period and in fact there may not even be a full regular roster.
“So I have asked the Minister to guarantee that not only will there be a full roster, but that there will be increased police numbers right over the holiday period to deal with this influx of people and allow pro-active policing.
“Our local officers do an outstanding job, but they do need support in peak holiday times,” he said.
Mr Bull said business and community leaders from organisations such as Lakes Entrance Action and Development Association have worked hard over many years to make Lakes Entrance a safe family friendly destination for visitors and local families alike.
“A strong police presence is a core component of Lakes Entrance being a family friendly environment, and has resulted in improved crowd behaviour at various events.
“Given the Minister repeatedly states that he recognises the importance of community safety, I have sought his personal guarantee that there will not only be a full roster of police at Lakes Entrance over the Christmas/New Year holiday period, but additional staff for this entire holiday period will be provided,” Mr Bull said.
More understanding of the country required
Comments from the Greens member for Prahran while in East Gippsland last week and as reported in the East Gippsland News, provided some interesting content.
Mr Sam Hibbins, the newly elected Member for Prahran, is completely correct when he says there are some big opportunities for places like Gippsland in areas like sustainable agriculture and tourism.
He is also right to say partnerships rather than divisions need to drive economic and social growth and cohesion between city and country residents.
Where I believe Sam’s comments are slightly misguided is his quote that “I hear lot about the city-country divide, I hear lot of regional representatives saying we have a city-centric government, but this is rubbish”.
His major reason given in the newspaper that there is no divide is because “people in the city care, they want their stuff from locally produced producers and weʼre here to represent the entire state”.
Unfortunately, they are nice words that flow off the tongue, but there is much more to this than knowing where they want their “stuff” from. This matter does require delving a little deeper, particularly into the areas of funding and policy.
The reality is rural areas across this state need a lot more support than they are getting from this government to prosper.
On finances, my beef is not with Sam, as he is not to know how much rural areas are being neglected from his seat of Prahran. My issue on funding and support in general is with the decisions of this State Government.
If there is no divide and rural areas are being respected and looked after as claimed, then:
• Why has $80m or 20% been cut from the roads maintenance budget this year, severely impacting rural roads?
• Why has the regional development budget been cut by a whopping 23%?
• Why has the agriculture budget been cut by a massive 11.9%?
• Why has the $160m country roads and bridges program at supported the state’s 40 rural councils ($4m to East Gippsland Shire) with important road works been cut?
• Why was the successful wild dog bounty cut and aerial baiting reduced?
This list could be quadrupled if space permitted, but the fact is country areas are receiving a great deal less.
Looking at this electorate as an example of what is occurring around all rural areas – we are not seeing projects like the new library, upgraded mall, all abilities playground, sports facilities upgrades etc. to anywhere near the levels that we previously were.
I could list a dozen multi-million dollar projects delivered to East Gippsland in the last term of government that were providing economic development and employment to our regions – they are just not happening anymore and it’s not just here, it is all country areas.
As a result of roads maintenance funding cuts we are seeing more speed restriction signs on more sections of road for longer periods rather than fixing the roads. The Princes Highway east of Orbost is the classic example.
What we see now happening on our roads, like between Orbost and Lakes Entrance are those projects that were funded by the previous government, not this one.
So what has been delivered apart from the cuts mentioned – one of the biggest impacts has been a city centric Grand Final Eve public holiday that hurt the majority of our region’s small businesses. Of over 250 businesses who responded my survey – 6% supported and 94% did not, most being left out of pocket.
In the area of policy, I acknowledge there are different viewpoints in all electorates and always will be, but I believe there is massive divide between some of Sam’s Party’s policies and the views of the majority of East Gippslanders.
These include Greens policies that include:
• Banning all live export trade, which will have a huge impact on our farming sector in this country.
• Banning wild dog trapping and baiting under the policy of controlling feral animals only by non-lethal methods (fencing etc).
• Wanting to create more national parks and end the native timber industry that would have major job impacts on towns including Orbost, Bairnsdale and Heyfield.
• Banning the rodeos that give so much to our Buchan and Omeo community groups and are more tightly overseen than ever.
• Ending recreational hunting on all public land when many of the states 43,000 plus hunters (with the number increasing) come from rural areas with a high number in East Gippsland.
• Wanting to introduce a death duties tax (which will impact on a lot of farming families) where there is a tax on estates worth over $1m.
Each week I receive emails, predominantly from city based folk in electorates like Sam’s, lobbying me on the above issues and others, that clearly do not hold the majority view of my electorate or most country electorates.
This freedom of speech is welcomed and healthy, but if we are to close the divide, I would encourage our city folk to adopt policies that do not remove our jobs or try and dictate to country people what they can and cannot do - rather than visit once in a blue moon and tell us the divide is “rubbish” because they want their “stuff from locally produced producers”.
But despite the policy differences that we can work on, unfortunately the fact is rural areas across the state are being neglected by any measure and this neglect will only lead to a division.
November 13, 2015