No relief for farmers battling wild dog attacks
Local farmers battling wild dog attacks on livestock have been let down by the State Government again, after it failed to answer questions about the control program’s future in Parliament last week.
The Government took the axe to the wild dog control program in 2015, cutting the wild dog bounty and getting rid of the community advisory committee.
Asked in Parliament if the Community Advisory Committee and the Wild Dog Bounty would ever be restored, Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford refused to answer.
“Wild dogs continue to have a sustained impact on livestock and native wildlife, but it’s nearly a year since the Minister took the axe to the wild dog control program without explanation,” Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said.
“Farmers were promised outcomes of the review this month, but the Minister has failed to deliver and all the while wild dog numbers continue to grow, and livestock and native fauna losses mount.”
Mr Bull said the five-year wild dog control program that was released in December 2013 was developed in close partnership between landowners, farming stakeholders and the Department.
“The previous plan put a high value on input from local communities and it was less than 18 months old when Labor put the axe through it for no good reason. The Wild Dog Control Advisory Committee was a vital link in the plan,” Mr Bull said.
“The Government also ended the successful $100 wild dog bounty last year, without any explanation.
“The bounty was a Lib-Nats initiative which gave hunters incentive to help with wild dog control and it saw more than 1500 pelts collected over three years.”
Mr Bull said the Government’s decision to split the Environment and Agriculture departments has also brought back the red tape nightmare for wild dog controllers.
“The dog controllers work for the Agriculture Department, and now they need to apply to the separate Environment Department to get 3km buffer zone permits,” he said.
“We are being told of lengthy delays in processing these permit applications which is completely unacceptable. The Government must not let livestock be put at risk because of departmental bureaucracy and red tape.”
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Funding for shade available through grants
Funding is available to local sporting clubs and community groups looking to protect their members from the harsh elements of the sun, as part of the Community Shade Grants Program.
Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, is encouraging organisations within his electorate to submit an expression of interest to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), with successful groups able to receive funding of up to $50,000, depending on the project.
“Successful applicants will be able to purchase hats, sunscreen and portable shade structure; build or repair permanent structures, or plant natural shade, depending on the category they apply for,” he said.
“Guidelines state that eligible applicants include, but are not limited to, sporting clubs, churches, scouts and guides groups, local councils, kindergartens and early childhood centres,” Mr Bull said.
Mr Bull said DHHS was providing this funding to help prevent skin cancer, which is one of the most common cancers in Victoria.
“Australia has the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, with two in three Australians diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70,” he said.
Mr Bull said more information, along with an expression of interest form, was available from https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/public-health/preventive-health/skin-cancer-prevention/community-shade-grants.
“I encourage eligible groups and clubs to go online and read more to see what the grants could do for their organisation.”
Expressions of interest must be submitted by 5pm October 6.
Monday, September 19, 2016
Minister must end timber uncertainty
The Forest Industry Taskforce’s long-awaited ‘statement of intent’, released last week, has provided only more uncertainty for the region’s timber industry, according to State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull.
“The Taskforce was to have outlined a way forward for the sector by July, when the ‘statement of intent’ was originally due, but having waited until September – 10 months after the Taskforce was formed – we hear it has not reached any consensus or pathway forward at all,” Mr Bull said.
“Despite being falsely headlined as having reached a ‘major milestone’, the statement of intent includes comments such as ‘the taskforce is working hard to try and resolve this long running debate’ and ‘we are trying to reach an outcome’.
“The problem here is that Minister Pulford has repeatedly stated she will not allow any new long-term timber sale agreements until she has received the Taskforce’s recommendations.
“The inability of the Taskforce to reach consensus and the Minister hiding behind this and refusing to allow important decisions to be made is creating enormous uncertainty for the sector.
“Not only are decisions around resource allocation not being made, but companies will not invest in this situation of great uncertainty. Auswest is one company that has expressed its willingness to invest, but they need security.
“Both myself and Upper House member, Melina Bath, have continually brought this to the Minister’s attention, but she seems to not care about the sector by being prepared to leave it in limbo with its future clouded.
“Minister Pulford needs to take action. If the Taskforce she appointed could not come to a consensus on a way forward by an extended deadline, she must now allow decisions to be made to secure the future of the industry in East Gippsland, or she will be solely responsible for its demise.
“What we are talking about here is jobs in our communities. These families have mortgages and children to raise and the Minister owes them the courtesy of some security after 10 months of inaction,” Mr Bull said.
Thursday, September 15, 2016
Lakes police levels referred to Chief
The Police Minister will pass on concerns of police resourcing at Lakes Entrance over the upcoming school holiday period to the Chief Commissioner, after the matter was again raised in Parliament this week by Gippsland East MP, Tim Bull.
After being questioned on the topic by Mr Bull, the Minister said she would pass on the concerns to the Chief Commissioner to “ensure that the community of Lakes Entrance and the visitors that come to Lakes Entrance during the holiday period are confident in the policing service that is available”.
“To be ‘confident in the policing service that is available’, our residents and visitors would at a minimum expect that will mean the police station will have its doors open from 9am – 5pm over the holiday period,” said Mr Bull.
“This was the seventh time I have raised the matter and my request came on the back of the Minister intervening in the operations at Waurn Ponds police station in her own area.
“Previously the Minister has said police staffing and operating hours are a matter for police command, but given she was happy to intervene in a situation in her own area recently, I requested the same intervention be afforded to the Lakes Entrance community.
“Now that the Minister has said she will contact the Chief Commissioner directly, I would hope we will have the station open each day from 9am until 5pm when the town’s population grows from 6,500 to over 50,000 next week.
“Only this will provide the community confidence the Minister spoke of. It is something we will keep a close eye on over the holidays,” said Mr Bull.
Wednesday, September 14, 2016
CFA EBA ‘destructive and divisive’
Former Country Fire Authority chief executive officer, Lucinda Nolan, has described the current firefighters’ enterprise bargaining agreement as being “destructive and divisive” to the CFA.
Ms Nolan also stated the EBA would impact the “entire organisation”, at today’s hearing of the Inquiry into Fire Season Preparedness.
“Today we’ve yet again learned just how disastrous the current CFA EBA would be for volunteers,” said State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull.
“Lucinda Nolan has said there would be a significant impact across the CFA, including the organisation’s ability to function in a timely matter as an effective emergency service.
“She also said that in negotiating alternate arrangements she had no room to move and the she was either told to sign or resign. This damning evidence shows just what a bad deal this CFA EBA would be to volunteers of East Gippsland.
“But our Premier is ignoring these concerns and it is time he actually listened to volunteers,” he said.
Ms Nolan said CFA had serious concerns with 50 clauses that would hand a veto power to the militant United Firefighters Union (UFU).
There were serious concerns the wording of the proposed clauses would require the CFA to ‘consult and agree’ with the union and would “open the flood gates for us to be held up at Fair Work”, Ms Nolan said.
Ms Nolan resigned in June and told the inquiry it was because she could not “oversee the destruction of the CFA”.
Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Feedback sought on new coastal Act
A new Parliamentary Act to help manage and preserve Victoria’s unique coastal areas is being established by the Victorian Government, with feedback being sought.
Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said the Government was calling for submissions on the Marine and Coastal Act Consultation Paper. The new Act will replace the Coastal Management Act 1995.
“East Gippsland is home to some of the most beautiful coastal landscapes in Victoria and I am sure there are lots of local residents who would be interested in passing their knowledge on provide their feedback on what’s been added to this consultation paper,” he said.
Mr Bull said the Government had identified seven drivers for change in the current marine and coastal management system, which are:
• Clearer governance and institutional arrangements;
• Strengthening marine management;
• Integrating planning systems;
• Adapting to climate change;
• Sustainable resources;
• Improving knowledge; and
• Involving the community.
“One huge area of the reforms will be based around the governance of these coastal areas. It has been stated in the consultation paper that the roles and responsibilities of entities within the system are often unclear, which has led to ineffective planning and management,” Mr Bull said.
“There are a number of proposals, such as the replacement of the Victorian Coastal Council with a Marine and Coastal Council, the phasing out of regional coastal boards, along with strengthening the roles of coastal catchment management authorities.
“The role of committees of management, such as local councils and Gippsland Ports, is also likely to change under the new Act.
“What we need to do is make sure that this Act does not disadvantage our region in any way, make things more difficult with red tape or impose restrictions on our way of life or pastimes,” Mr Bull said.
Mr Bull said more information was available by visiting www.haveyoursay.delwp.vic.gov.au and accessing the consultation paper. Submissions, to be made by email or mail, will close on Sunday, October 23.
Tuesday, September 6, 2016