Gippsland Lakes Fund certainty sought
Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, and GLMAC Committee members, Margaret Supplitt and Des Sinnott discuss environmental projects at the Mitchell River silt jetties and Jones Bay.
The future of the Gippsland Lakes Environment Fund was raised in Parliament this week with State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, on Tuesday asking the Environment Minister whether she will continue this important fund.
Mr Bull said the Fund, which is administered by the Gippsland Lakes Ministerial Advisory Committee, has supported an enormous amount of work in the areas of research, education and investigatory matters.
“None more important than its work on the unique Burrunan Dolphins and understanding more about marine pests and monitoring work,” Mr Bull told Parliament.
“It is very clear that these programs need to continue and there are other important projects to be undertaken, and that is why this funding is so critical.
“The Coalition committed a further $8 million pre election, but with the clock ticking there are many in my community of Gippsland East, including members of groups who undertake this work, awaiting news.
“Funding for the Gippsland Lakes has always attracted bipartisan support, and I ask the Minister if she will continue to support the Gippsland Lakes via this fund.”
Mr Bull said it was unfortunate there was this level of uncertainty under the current government, but remained hopeful there would be an announcement in the upcoming State Budget and the Fund would not be cut or reduced.
“Ms Neville now has one month to respond to my question, but we are likely to know the answer on Budget day, which will arrive before then,” he said.
Extra public holidays hurt small business
Shadow Minister for Small Business, Neale Burgess and State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull discuss the impacts of public holidays from representatives of the East Gippsland Small Business community today.
Small business operators from around East Gippsland today met with State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull and Shadow Minister for Small Business, Neale Burgess, to raise concerns over the impact of the State’s two new public holidays.
Mr Bull said there were representatives present from Bairnsdale, Lakes Entrance, Paynesville, Bruthen, Stratford and Metung to talk to Mr Burgess.
“A lot of people in the small business have raised their concerns with me and while we could have filled a town hall with those in the sector who are unhappy, today was about providing the Shadow Minister with a snapshot,” he said.
Mr Burgess told the gathering that the two additional public holidays were announced without any consultation with the business sector, which has since been confirmed by the Minister in Parliamentary Question Time.
“There was also no research done into the financial impacts on small business and employment.
“The grand final parade is a long way from East Gippsland and to have this additional cost burden placed on you for a parade of players over 300 kilometres away makes no sense at all,” he said.
Mr Bull said a number of matters were raised from the floor and included:
• “We face a situation where we want to stay open to service the public in a tourist region, but to do so we lose money because of staff wages, so we have to shut.”
• “My staff know the situation we are in and just want to work for a normal day’s wages rather than have the business close for the day and they miss out on any work, but they know we are forced to pay these wages if we open. They are disappointed we have to shut the doors on these days and they miss out on their normal day’s wages.”
• “At these rates I now have to pay dishwashers $60 per hour, and although they do a great job we just can’t make a profit, so have to close and it is them that will miss out on a regular day’s wages.”
• “It’s a drop in the ocean for the big corporates who have big turnovers year round, but for us in small business it is crippling.”
• “If you open you lose money and if you don’t open you get criticised and they go elsewhere. These holidays are catastrophic for small business and have to be stopped. They hurt our economy.”
• “We just can’t afford the wages. We opened Easter Sunday and had fairly good patronage but lost money. Grand final eve being a holiday is just ludicrous and will devastate small business.”
Old police station transformed to cafe
Pictured at the opening of the Cells Café in Bairnsdale today are from left: Noweyung CEO Ernie Metcalf, Shadow Minister for Small Business Neale Burgess, Mayor Peter Neal, Café manager Terri Reggardo and Noweyung chairman Chris Dean and East Gippsland Shire CEO, Gary Gaffney.
State Member for Gippsland East and Shadow Minister for Disability, Tim Bull, today officially opened Cells Café in the old police station, corner of Pyke and Nicholson Streets, Bairnsdale, which will open to the public on April 23.
“This is a great day to see this come to fruition and I am delighted the previous State Government contributed $350,000 to the enterprise, which will be run by Noweyung and includes a community meeting room and offices for visiting specialists, therapists and advocates.
“There is also a dedicated kitchen area where the Banksia Fine Foods arm of Noweyung that manufactures a range of award winning jams, sauces, pickles and chutneys can operate.
“This all came about when I went to Noweyung with an idea for the site back in 2011 and we sat down and explored it in further detail. To see it come to fruition today is fantastic,” Tim said.
“I thank the East Gippsland Shire Council for its great assistance with the project, Noweyung CEO Ernie Metcalf, the Noweyung Board, Jim McSweeney for his great design, Brooker Builders for the amazing job they did and the many other individuals and groups that contributed.
“There were a lot of hurdles to overcome with this project and to work with Noweyung, the shire, the architect and the builder to arrive at what we have here today is noteworthy.
“I am sure this will provide terrific employment opportunities over many years for those in the community with special needs and I very much look forward to it opening to the public on April 23,” Tim said.
Shadow Minister for Small Business, Neale Burgess, who attended the opening, said it was the best facility of its kind he had seen and said it will be a great asset to East Gippsland.
“It really has come up well and to see this sort of enterprise unveiled and knowing it will provide employment opportunities for those with a disability is heart-warming and a great outcome,” he said.
Minister’s excuse for axing wild dog bounty clumsy and incorrect
Agriculture Minister, Jaala Pulford’s reasoning for abandoning the wild dog bounty on local radio this morning was clumsy and simply incorrect, State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said today.
“Guessing her way through an uncomfortable interview, the Minister said the reason the wild dog bounty was being halted was because it had not been funded by her predecessor, Peter Walsh – this comment is simply wrong.
“The previous Government funded the successful program for four years and committed to another four years of funding ($4million) on October 1 last year. Minister Pulford must have forgotten she is now in charge of the Portfolio and has a Budget in a few weeks where she can provide the funding,” said Mr Bull.
“When asked why she had said in a recent letter that hunting played ‘an important role in supporting an integrated approach to pest management in Victoria’, but then axed the bounty, the Minister could not answer.
“What made her bumbling response in blaming the previous Minister worse was that last year when the Coalition committed to continue the bounty, Labor candidate for Benambra, Jennifer Podesta, expressed her disappointment at her party’s policy to abolish it.
Ms Podesta said she had checked with Labor Party headquarters and advised it was Labor policy to remove the bounty. She said she was very disappointed in the decision.
“So as far back as seven months ago, prior to the election, Labor planned to discontinue the bounty when it had the chance to commit, so to trot out this excuse now is inexcusable,” said Mr Bull.
“The interview left no doubt she does not understand the situation at all, has no understanding of the impacts and takes East Gippsland farmers for granted.
“The very successful bounty resulted in 1557 pelts being handed in and was one of a number of initiatives introduced by the previous government to combat the impact of wild dogs,” Mr Bull said.
Labor shoots itself in foot on wild dogs
The Andrews’ Labor Government has dealt a huge blow to East Gippsland farmers in confirming the wild dog bounty will be axed and shot itself in the foot at the same time, according to State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull.
He said Agriculture Minister, Jaala Pulford, recently wrote to a farmer stating the wild dog bounty had been axed, but in the very same letter said hunting plays “an important role in supporting an integrated approach to pest management in Victoria”.
“If they acknowledge hunting plays an important role in pest management, then why axe this successful program,” Mr Bull said.
“This just makes no sense at all, is hypocrisy at its best and offers no valid explanation as to why you would axe a successful program that was making a difference in dog control.
“The reality is we had 1557 wild dog pelts handed in, over three years of this program, that’s 1557 less dogs attacking stock and breeding.
“Labor can’t even explain why it is ending the successful wild dog bounty program, but keeping the fox bounty. It makes no sense.
“One of the reasons mentioned by Labor, is that it will re-direct the funds to aerial baiting, however their anticipated total spend on aerial baiting is less than what the Coalition Government spent last year, so this is another example of wild dog controls being short-changed.
“I’m afraid they just don’t seem to understand this issue at all. I can’t remember the last time we had one of our Labor members in the Tambo Valley or High Country of East Gippsland to have a serious discussion about this matter.
“This is a mistake and they must backtrack and ensure they fund the wild dog bounty in the State Budget next month so Victorian farmers and hunters continue to be supported in the fight against wild dogs.”
Mr Bull said while the wild dog problem is one that will always impact the region, some headway was being made after the Coalition Government introduced a number of actions including:
• Re-introduced the Lanes traps at the request of doggers and local community members after they were banned by Labor.
• Introduced aerial baiting in Victoria despite initial Federal Labor opposition to the proposal.
• Introduced the wild dog bounty.
• Overturned Labor’s limitation not to allow farmers to undertake dog control measures outside their boundary as part of their co-ordinated baiting programs - with the intention to grow this in more areas.
• Established and grown community baiting programs with many landholders now participating.
• Maintained 72 hour trap checking for doggers (rather than move to 24 hour checking as Labor stated would occur) to allow doggers more flexibility to go about their business.
• Restructured of the wild dog management group as requested with stronger Tambo Valley representation.
• Made it easier for doggers to work outside the 3km buffer zone when required and committed to removing the zone altogether.
• Employing contractor and casual staff to provide more flexibility to the wild dog control program and allowing for the use of younger doggers to be employed, forming the basis of a transition plan.
Caption: Wild dogs in East Gippsland have been given a life-line with the scrapping of the wild dog bounty.