East Gippsland ice prevention group requires ongoing funding support
Future funding requirements for the East Gippsland Primary Care Partnership Ice Prevention Working Group, for which current funding expires at the end of this financial year, has been raised in State Parliament by Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull.
Mr Bull said the East Gippsland group was one of many from around rural and regional Victoria that was doing great work in education and prevention when it came to ice.
“The group has participation from a range of agencies whose members come together and work together on community-wide programs,” he said.
“It is a space we cannot leave and work that cannot lapse. Funding runs out at the end of this financial year and, like many others that have been established around the state, it is seeking some confirmation of funding to allow it to continue.
“I also raised the fact that the $10,000 it received under the Community Ice Action Grants was barely enough to cover administration costs and asked the Minister if he could look at a higher level of support, given the good work that is being done.
“I recently took one of the group members to Mildura with me. The reason for this was chair of the National Ice Taskforce, Ken Lay, advised Mildura was one town that had good structures in place.
“We travelled to Mildura to see how they are doing things as a community, what they have in place, what arrangements have been made and what is working best.
“There remains much work to be done in this space, but this group has made a great start and should continue to be supported.
“I was pleased the Minister was able to tell me in his response in the Chamber that the funding program will continue, however said he would need to get back to me in relation to the East Gippsland group.
“My expectation is a new application will have to be lodged and that is something I will support through the process with the hope of a positive outcome,” Mr Bull said.
Major projects must be funded in Budget
There is good reason for East Gippslanders to expect some major projects to be funded in next Wednesday’s State Budget, according to The Nationals Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull.
Mr Bull said the fact The Nationals secured $700m for rural transport and roads from the Port of Melbourne lease sale should make a certainty of the Stratford Rail Bridge upgrade and the next stage of the Macalister Irrigation District (MID) upgrade should also be funded as it was promised on the sale of the lease going through.
“When Labor wanted to only give 2.8% of funds back to the country, I was pleased The Nationals held out for a minimum of 10%, which is our fair share and it should equate to $700m,” he said.
“The Stratford Rail Bridge was a project where detailed planning and costing was almost complete leading into the 2014 election. I know this as it was something we were briefed on just before entering care-taker mode.
“Eighteen months later it would be well and truly completed and given what we secured from the Port of Melbourne Lease sale, a $700m Regional Transport Fund (rather than the $200m that was originally on offer); this project fits well within the scope and should be delivered. I would be astounded if it were not announced next Wednesday.
“On the MID upgrade, it is a case of the money having already been promised from the Port of Melbourne lease sale.
“Both myself and the Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien, whose electorate also takes in the MID, have lobbied very strongly on this after the Coalition funded the first stage and committed to the second stage pre-election. With the Port lease to now be sold, it is a reasonable expectation that the $20m is in the Budget.
“The other key project that I unfortunately do not hold any high level of hope for is the funding to complete the Bairnsdale Secondary College, which again was a Coalition commitment.
“Whilst I will be most appreciative if it is included, the fact the Minister has refused repeated requests from myself and the school council to even visit and talk is clearly not a good sign. Late last year his office promised he would visit the school in ‘early 2016’.
“Here we are nearly five months in – not only has he not visited, there’s no date on the horizon.
“I would also expect the continuation of the Gippsland Lakes Environment Fund. The Coalition funded it to the tune of $2.5m per year. Labor committed to one year only last year and given its importance I would expect it will again be funded this Budget to allow the same level of support.
“From a state-wide perspective, programs that would provide benefits to East Gippsland include the reinstating of the 20% cut to roads maintenance funding and restoration of the Country Roads and Bridges program, which provided funding to our councils for roads projects, but was cut.
“On funds being reinstated and given the windfall from the Port lease sale, it would also be pleasing to have the 11% cut to agriculture funding returned and the massive 54% cut to tourism funding from last year.
“All of the projects previously mentioned are not new. Four (Bairnsdale SC, MID, Gippsland Lakes Environment Fund and the Country Roads and Bridges program) were all Coalition pre-election commitments and I can safely say the Stratford Bridge would have been funded on completion of the preparatory commenced under the Coalition.
“The bridge, MID and continuation of the Gippsland Lakes Environment Fund should be certainties, any of the others on top would be a pleasant surprise and most welcomed,” Mr Bull said.
Rivermouth Road petition tabled
A petition containing more than 1,000 signatures, calling on the State Government to review the proposal to close the last two kilometres of Rivermouth Road, was tabled in State Parliament this week.
The Nationals Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said he was seeking any plans to close the last two kilometres of the road to be put on hold pending further consultation.
“I believe the public consultation that took place was less than satisfactory as it has become abundantly clear very few people knew about these plans and had little opportunity for input,” he said.
“It is clear consultation did take place with certain groups, but it appears the proposal was not promoted to the general public at all and it did not have a chance to have a say.
“Apart from the petition, I have had a number of local residents remark that they first they heard of this was an article in the local paper saying the decision had been made.
“No open community forums were conducted and that meant that many nearby Eagle Point residents (or the vast majority of the wider Bairnsdale and Paynesville population) had no idea this was planned. I was not advised myself.
“I don’t believe this is good enough for a decision that relates to such a popular local area that is visited by so many. Even people who support the closure, who I have met, have agreed there should be more consultation.
“To rectify this situation, I have asked Parks Victoria to hold wider consultation and suggested perhaps an open day in the Eagle Point Rotunda where people can come and provide a viewpoint.
“I simply want a deeper and more widespread discussion to occur on the topic where people who have lived here all their lives and used this area have the chance to have a say and have the reasons explained for any proposals.
“I have been advised there is no evidence vehicles are contributing to the erosion and that the reason for the closure is to allow planting either side of a walking track, in areas where the full width of the jetties is taken up by the road (so no planting can be done).
“In my conversations on the matter, I was informed renourishment (dredging to reclaim eroded areas) had not been considered. This would allow for the road width and planting adjacent.
“There may be a reason why it can’t occur, but I’ve been told it has not been looked at and the only considerations discussed were (1) to close the road altogether, (2) to keep it open, or (3) close the last two kilometres. I am not sure these are the only options and I have raised this with Parks.
“One matter I believe should be given consideration is he bigger picture relating to the silt jetties. They are eroding naturally and if we are to maintain them into the future renourishment is likely to be required, so perhaps this should be a bigger discussion about whether as a community we want to let nature take its course or maintain them – and if so, what is the cost of maintaining them?
“As a starting point, let’s allow the community to hear the reasons behind the proposed road closure and have some input into the process, something it has been denied to date,” Mr Bull said.
Cultural heritage presence for Forestech
Plans for the future of both the Forestech and SEAMEC Federation Training campuses were very positive according to Shadow Tertiary Education Minister, Steph Ryan, who visited both last week with The Nationals Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull.
“The future of Forestech in particular in the short-term is most exciting with a strong local Aboriginal cultural heritage presence planned for the site,” Ms Ryan said.
Mr Bull said the facility would now be shared between Federation Training and Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC), an arrangement which has come about after a series of meetings between the two agencies last year.
“I had discussions with Federation Training over the future of the campuses early in 2015, Forestech in particular, and it indicated it would welcome an appropriate co-tenant,” he said.
“Given it is a great highway location, and having been heavily involved in a Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into growing cultural heritage, I thought it was the perfect base to do this.
“I facilitated a few meetings in my office between the parties to discuss how it could all work and the outcome is terrific.
“I look forward to GLaWAC developing a strong presence at the site over the course of this year. Our region is rich in Aboriginal cultural heritage; there is an increasing community appreciation of this, and a thirst to know more about our pre-European history.
“I would hope we could have busloads stopping to experience such things as our local Aboriginal art on permanent display, dancing and generally gaining a better understanding and appreciation of the local Gunaikurnai history.
“I believe it has the potential to become one of our most visited attractions as there is clearly a growing interest in the wider community in relation to Aboriginal cultural heritage and I saw that around the state as the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs,” Mr Bull said.
A spokesperson for GLaWAC confirmed a lease had been signed with Federation Training for the Forestech building for a three-year period, with the opportunity for extension.
“The move to Forestech will continue to further the Gunaikurnai aspirations in many respects. The opportunities to action some of the goals stated in the newly adopted ‘Whole of Country’ Plan will be realised with the move to the new venue.
“Cultural tourism is an area that offers significant opportunities for education and public recognition.
“The official re-opening of the site (to be held at a date to be advised) will celebrate the new partnership between Federation Training and Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC) as well as showcase the facilities, machinery and courses that are available to the local community,” the spokesperson said.
Ms Ryan said the plans to develop aquaculture studies at SEAMEC were also exciting.
“It is a premier location that lends itself perfectly to this form of study. I am aware there is a grant application pending to develop the site so training can commence.
“Our government put aside $40 million for TAFE in this East Gippsland region and as yet $20m has not been allocated, so I would certainly hope this application is successful,” she said.
Bruthen, Paynesville, Maffra and ‘Coota brigades to receive new heavy tankers
Bruthen, Paynesville, Maffra and Mallacoota fire brigades will receive new tankers this year, State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, confirmed today.
The Nationals MP said the Coalition started trials, roadshows and gaining valuable feedback more than two years ago to ensure the best vehicles are provided for those who will use them – local firefighters.
“Our plan in government was to roll these out in mid-2015, having commenced the truck replacement program. Although later than expected, it is pleasing to finally receive confirmation they are on the way,” Mr Bull said.
“After two years of design, testing and roadshows, the first of the new heavy tankers has rolled off the production line, so it should not be long before we start seeing these vehicles heading to our local brigades.
“It is also pleasing to know these tankers are being constructed in Victoria with the water tanks being manufactured in country Victoria,” Mr Bull said.
In 2015 a prototype vehicle (the Iveco Eurocargo Prototype Heavy Tanker) was viewed by more than 1200 CFA members as part of a roadshow that saw the truck travel in excess of 12,000 kilometres and it found its home in Lakes Entrance after some strong lobbying.
“While delivery of these tankers is good news, it is particularly pleasing for Mallacoota, which I understand has the oldest tanker in the region, so their upgrade is very much deserved,” Mr Bull said.
When these new vehicles are introduced into service, it will allow the phase-out of some of the older heavy tankers, which are nearing their end of life.
Caption: Nationals MP Tim Bull handing over the keys of a new vehicle to Orbost Fire Brigade members Dick Johnstone and Inky McMahon. Four more brigades will now receive new heavy tankers.
Aislin’s Olympic selection great news
Lakes Entrance’s Aislin Jones will become Australia’s youngest ever Olympic shooter when she hits the range at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games later this year.
The Nationals Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, congratulated the 16-year-old Nagle College student on her selection, joining a 16-person team that was announced in Sydney today.
On the back of former local residents Jason Whateley (boxing) and Daniel McConnell (cross-country cycling) being selected, the East Gippsland community will invest huge interest in the 2016 Games.
“It’s a remarkable achievement from the local trio, who have been vying for Olympic selection over the past few years,” Mr Bull said.
“Aislin has appeared on local television, on the radio and has been a regular in local newspapers throughout her short but outstanding career in skeet shooting.
“For someone of her age to be selected is incredible. It shows a real passion and commitment for the sport.
“She’ll obviously be up against some of the world’s best shooters and I have no doubt she’ll succeed.”
The Rio Games will run from August 5-21.
“Full credit goes to her local club, Bairnsdale Field and Game, for providing her with the platform she needed to succeed at this level,” Mr Bull said.
“All the best to Aislin on what will be an incredible experience. I am sure the entire East Gippsland community will be backing Aislin on her Olympic journey.”