Guy commits to supporting Heyfield mill
Stratford-Maffra Road reseal underway
Minister again asked to provide holiday police after Christmas station closures
Once again the issue of policing levels in Lakes Entrance over holiday periods has been raised in State Parliament by local MP, Tim Bull.
Given the station in Lakes was closed every weekend of the holiday period after New Year’s Eve, Mr Bull asked the Minister if she had decided to support provision of more police over the Easter holidays.
“As I have stated in this place numerous times, there have been police shortages over the holiday periods from Christmas 2015 and it got no better in the Christmas/New Year period just past,” he said.
“There was strong police presence in Lakes Entrance on New Year’s Eve, but they were all gone by January 2 when the tourist numbers were still rising.
“As the Minister may know, I had the Chief Commissioner in Lakes Entrance over the holiday period to hear my concerns and we had a productive chat where Mr Ashton agreed to ‘look at the situation’.
“Given this, and the level of angst that still exists in the community, I ask the Minister to advise whether she will also ‘look at the situation’ and resolve this problem before Easter,” Mr Bull said.
The Minister has one month to respond.
Monday, February 27, 2017
Time to end the soft touch on crime
One of the most commonly raised complaints in my office of recent times has been the rising crime rate and the State Government’s soft stance on crime.
In Parliament hearings last week, Victoria’s top policeman, Chief Commissioner, Graham Ashton, confirmed that the number of police per capita in Victoria has been cut.
He also relayed his members’ frustration with the bail system, being forced to arrest and then re-arrest the same alleged offenders again and again only to see them bailed and back on our streets.
The issue of rising crime rates in areas of rural and regional Victoria and less police to enforce the law is a concern to country communities.
Police statistics show the number of full-time equivalent sworn officers in rural and regional Victoria fell by over 80 between November 2014 and June 2016. This reduction has occurred while we have seen crime rates spiral - in East Gippsland by 10%, but much higher elsewhere.
If we had made a concerted effort to increase police numbers in that time it would be hard to be critical, but that’s not the case. The government has recently committed to an increase, but it will be a considerable period before they hit the ground and it has been left too late.
In my view, Mr Andrews has his priorities wrong. The latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed the number of public servants in Victoria jumped by 18,700 in the past two years - accounting for more than 80 per cent of bureaucrats hired by state and territory governments since 2013-14. This has come at a cost of $2.5 billion, but not on police!
In the same period, the NSW Government slashed its public service by 8,900 and its wage bill rose by just $256 million with salary increases.
Let’s also take a look north for some comparison on crime. The latest NSW crime stats report that crime in almost every major category has declined over the past two years. This is in stark contrast to Victoria’s crime figures that show a 13.4% increase in the last year alone.
Robberies are down 20% in NSW and significantly up here, break and enter is down 6.2% in NSW and well up here and vehicle theft has fallen 11.1% in NSW whilst spiralling in Victoria. In the two years of the Andrews Government, crime is up 19% when it is reducing in NSW.
While Daniel Andrews has spent the last two years weakening bail laws, cutting frontline police numbers per capita, closing police stations and turning youth justice into a revolving door system, NSW has been getting tough on crime and has the results to show.
The Victorian Auditor-General recently reported that the number of high-risk offenders out on Community Corrections Orders has dramatically increased from 128 in 2014, to 3180 in 2016.
The Auditor-General also found that: “Current practices for managing offenders are not effective due to the overwhelming number of offenders and the lack of trained staff.”
These statistics/findings confirm what we already know, that Victoria is less safe with more home invasions, car jackings, drive-by shootings and gangs like Apex running amok.
The justice system is in crisis due to weak sentencing, watered down bail laws, repeal of move on laws, cuts to frontline police and closure of police stations. This government is massively growing the public service while ignoring one of our most critical areas – community safety.
The one thing we should all be able to do is walk our streets safely and have some comfort that when we send our kids off for education or work in Melbourne that they will be safe. This government is not doing enough in this area. It is time to put law abiding Victorian citizens first.
As points of difference on law and order and what we can do about it, the following commitments have already been made by the Liberal/Nationals Coalition:
Bail system: The system is broken and needs reform. There will be three significant principles to guide our changes and make Victoria safer: (1) a presumption of remand for violent offences, (2) one strike and you’re out for bail breaches and (3) reinstate the youth bail laws which Labor watered down in 2016.
No body, no parole laws: Deny parole to convicted murderers who refuse to disclose the location of their victims and bring closure to their families.
Introduce carjacking offences: Create new offences of carjacking and aggravated carjacking. These would carry maximum penalties of 15 and 25 years in jail respectively.
Make drive-by shootings a specific offence: We are proposing tough new penalties for those who unlawfully fire guns and endanger the community.
Abolish cash payments for scrap metal: Stolen cars fund gangs and organised crime. We won't tolerate the booming black market for stolen cars in Victoria.
Deport violent criminals who are not citizens: Repeat violent criminals who are not Australian citizens have worn their welcome out and should be deported.
Reinstate Neighbourhood watch funding: Partner with Neighbourhood Watch and provide $2 million over four years to fund locally based crime prevention programs.
Address repeat violent youth offenders: Place tougher measures on those charged with violent crimes while on bail. The public’s right to know should be a key factor when deciding whether to override any anonymity.
Expose the juvenile criminal history of violent adult offenders: Teen offenders who commit serious offences, including murder, carjacking, rape and assault, would have their criminal history revealed if they went on to seriously reoffend as an adult.
Safety the top priority in youth parole: We have introduced a Bill to force the Youth Parole Board to give paramount consideration to protecting the public when determining whether to grant parole.
Put the rights of victims before those of criminals: For too long our justice system has focussed on the rights of criminals while victims are left behind. Victims of crime deserve more say and influence and under a Liberal Nationals Government, that is exactly what they will get.
Give victims of crime access to criminals’ superannuation: The Victorian Asset Confiscation Scheme should be given access to criminals’ superannuation entitlements.
Friday, February 17, 2017
Heyfield working party deadline nears
With the Working Party tasked with securing the future of Australian Sustainable Hardwoods (ASH) due to report back on ongoing operations by no later than Monday, Gippsland East MP, Tim Bull, has again spoken on the issue in State Parliament this week.
Mr Bull said it was pleasing to see the Minister for Agriculture finally visit ASH at Heyfield last week, however it was disappointing there weren’t any announcements given the closeness to the Minister’s deadline for a resolution.
“The Minister appointed a working party to resolve this matter in four weeks after her Forest Industry Taskforce could not resolve the matter over almost two years,” he said.
“What continues to concern me is the Minister’s ongoing reference to ‘reduced timber availability’.
“This is not true. The timber is there, it was there two years ago when the contract was being negotiated, the issue here is the Minister has allowed large areas to be placed into reserve without replacing the lost resource back to industry.”
Mr Bull said by the Minister’s own admission, the areas that have been placed into reserve have been predominantly for leadbeater possum protection. The Government committed to review the reserve system after 200 colonies were discovered.
“We are now approaching nearly 450 sightings – 215 of these were in the past 12 months,” he said.
“The review is due to report back in April, but timber must be guaranteed by next Monday for the company to be viable – the Government must guarantee security of supply to ASH and save these jobs and the Heyfield community.
“I just hope the Minister makes the required announcement in the timeline she stated, to put the minds of the workers and their families at rest.
“The community response has been unanimous in its support, but the community has also been patient and deserves answers in the time promised.”
Caption: Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, with Nationals colleagues Melina Bath, Danny O’Brien and Peter Walsh (Leader of the Nationals and Shadow Minister for Agriculture) with ASH chief executive officer, Vince Hurley (centre), on a recent visit to the mill.
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Mallacoota medical update sought
State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, asked the Minister for Health for an update on her negotiations in relation to the future of the Mallacoota Medical Centre in Parliament recently.
Pre-Christmas, Mr Bull raised the matter with the Minister after community concerns over its ongoing viability were raised due to the practice being left with one doctor, down from three.
In addressing the Minister, Mr Bull said: “As you know I raised this last year and you advised your department was in negotiations on the issue and that the department would monitor and report on the progress of these negotiations.”
“I have subsequently been contacted by community members in January and early February and seek an update from the Minister on the progress of these discussions, including what solutions are being explored.
“Some community members have suggested a multipurpose service be funded and I am certainly interested in the Minister’s views on this proposal and any others that are being considered.”
Mr Bull told the Minister it was a unique situation due to Mallacoota’s geographical location.
Monday, February 21, 2016