May 2019
Thursday, 30 May 2019 14:20

Omeo Mountain Bike Trail money questioned

Funding for Omeo’s multi-million dollar Mountain Bike Trail had no mention in this week’s State Budget papers.
Gippsland East Nationals MP Tim Bull said the funding was promised by the then Minister for Regional Development Jaala Pulford from the Labor Government’s Regional Tourism Infrastructure Fund and was earmarked for development of a business case and to build the first stage of the new mountain bike trail.
“The $1m was far less than the $1.5m promised by the Coalition and came weeks after our announcement, but nevertheless it was welcomed,” said Mr Bull.
“However, when the budget papers were released there was no mention of this project at all, which I found peculiar as many other smaller projects around the state were listed.
“I then used my first opportunity in the Parliament to ask the Minister to confirm the money is in fact there. I have no idea whether it was forgotten or simply left out.
“The Omeo Mountain Bike Trail project has funding commitments of $1.52 million from the East Gippsland Shire and $1.5 million from the Federal Government, so we need the state money for it to proceed.
“Following my question in Parliament, the new Minister for Regional Development Jaclyn Symes has one month to respond, but I would hope it can be much quicker,” said Mr Bull. 
Caption: Gippsland East Nationals MP Tim Bull, pictured with East Gippsland Shire Mayor, Councillor Natalie O’Connell, project steering committee member Jill Hill and Councillor Joe Rettino at the site of the proposed Omeo Mountain Bike Trail.
Published in Media
Monday, 27 May 2019 08:33

Andrews Govt has no plan and no money for Gippsland East

The State Budget confirms the Andrews Labor Government has no plan and no money for communities in Gippsland East.
That’s the view of Gippsland East Nationals MP Tim Bull who is disappointed that this budget has no new infrastructure funding announcements for Maffra, Stratford, Heyfield, Bairnsdale, Lakes Entrance, Omeo or Orbost. In fact there is nothing new of any significance for the region, which is replicated across most of rural Victoria in a budget that contains many tax increases to pay for metro projects.
“The biggest kick in the guts is the complete axing of the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund which was set up by The Nationals in 2011,” he said.
“Even one of the very few pre-election commitments we received from Labor, when they matched our commitment to the Omeo Mountain Bike Park – does not rate a mention, posing serious questions about the announcement, which I will pursue in the coming weeks to ensure it is not forgotten.
“There are a lot of country members disappointed in the Parliament today, but we will continue to fight for our fair share. 
“It is disheartening for students and teachers that the second stage of the Bairnsdale Secondary College redevelopment has been omitted again and that the Bairnsdale CFA station relocation hasn’t been funded either. It would have been good to get just some of these projects supported,” said Mr Bull.
“There’s nothing for additional drought relief and there are devastating cuts to the Regional Development Output budget of 21%, cuts to Parks Victoria budget (4%), cuts to the Veterans’ budget (26%), cuts to the Agriculture budget (4%) and cuts to the Tourism and Major Events budget (19%).
“Local Government has also copped a significant 23.8% cut at a time when ratepayers are suffering from cost of living pressures and drought affected farmers are facing ruin. This budget should have done the reverse, increased funding to Local Government so that drought affected farmers could have been be provided with some degree of drought relief.    
“To quantify the cutting of the Regional Growth Fund, here is a list of just some of the $30million in projects it funded in our Liberal Nationals time in government:
$346,000 for the upgrade of Visitor Information Centres in East Gippsland
$950,000 for the Bairnsdale All Abilities playground
$300,000 for the $775,000 Paynesville Town Centre improvements project
$500,000 for the $3.7 million Bairnsdale Library Precinct project
$500,000 for the $1.2 million Bairnsdale CBD improvement project
$500,000 for the $886,000 Lakes Entrance on-water refuelling project at Bullock Island
$300,000 for the $500,000 Patterson Park Metung project
$100,000 for the Orbost Sensory Gardens path development and revitalisation plan
$300,000 for the $750,000 Paynesville Esplanade enhancement project
$150,000 for the $3.78 million One Harvest Beetroot project
$150,000 for the $380,000 Maffra farmhouse cheese expansion project; and
$200,000 for the Gippsland Plains Rail Trail project (Glengarry to Cowwarr section).
“It is now gone thanks to Daniel Andrews and this Budget again confirms he has no love, no plan and no money for regional Victoria at all and he has still to this day not visited any of our major towns in East Gippsland in five years,” said Mr Bull.
Caption: Gippsland East Nationals MP Tim Bull, says that the State budget contains nothing to support local needs and aspirations. 
Published in Media
Tuesday, 21 May 2019 08:49

State budget must heed local priorities

Next week’s state budget is an opportunity for the Andrews Labor government to make good on its promise to govern for all Victorians, by supporting projects that are priorities for the residents of East Gippsland.
According to Gippsland East Nationals MP Tim Bull the projects that he advocated in favour of at the last state election remain urgent priorities.
“Whilst I am fully appreciative of the fact that not everything being asked for will be delivered, it would be pleasing to have some of our priority projects funded,” Mr Bull said.
Mr Bull has championed the $15 million stage two redevelopment of the Bairnsdale Secondary College, tabling a petition in the parliament in its support last year and making numerous representations.
Other projects or funding requirements of importance include:
• A rate subsidy for drought affected farmers
• $633 million state-wide to replace all V/Line long haul carriages, including on the Bairnsdale line;
• Funding for a new respite centre in Bairnsdale 
• $2.2 million to build a new Bairnsdale Fire Station; 
• $200,000 for the Paynesville Foreshore Development Plan; 
• $35 million boost to the Victorian Patient Transport Assistance Scheme; 
• An additional $10,000 per year for two years for each of our six Bush Nursing Centres, while a review into long-term funding is undertaken.
Mr Bull said he would also like to see the review of council rates to be progressed with a focus on the unfairness of farm rates.
“These projects are very important to the people of East Gippsland, they fit in with local needs and aspirations and our plan to grow our regional areas.
“The Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has obtained $31 million for Phase 2 of the Macalister Irrigation District modernisation project and $2 million for the Bonang Road from the Commonwealth, so it’s now up to the Andrews government to commit to its share of these projects too,” Mr Bull said.
Caption: Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, is calling on the Andrews Government to match the Liberal Nationals’ funding promises.
Published in Media
Tuesday, 21 May 2019 08:40

Solar rebates on hold

East Gippslanders planning to take advantage of the $1.3 billion solar rebate scheme have been left in limbo after the Andrew’s Labor Government halted it without warning.
“The rebate abruptly ceased on April 12, the government stating the funding has ‘capped out’ – which means they aren’t prepared to spend the money,” said Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull.
“Householders who were intending to install solar panels between April 13 and July 1 have been told they now simply miss out all together on the rebate if they have not already applied for it.” 
Many solar panel customers and electricians in East Gippsland have been caught out as there was no forewarning of the program closure.
In Parliament recently, Minister D’Ambrosio was questioned about the suspension of the scheme, but provided no detail for the reason in her response other than to refer to quotas.
Mr Bull said it was baffling why the scheme had ceased, leaving Victorian people confused as to why they cannot access the rebate they were planning for and depending on.
“The government’s self-imposed caps were flexible, meaning they were able to increase the caps as they saw fit based on demand, but not anymore it seems.
“It appears some home owners had approached their solar installation company and were to apply for the rebate after installation. Now, they have been left out of pocket and unable to receive the rebate due to this change.”
Mr Bull met with Independent Specialist Energy Advisor Paul Guest from Guest Energy who had already flagged concerns with the program. 
“I was verbally advised by the call centre employee at Solar Victoria that the cap was not absolute and unlikely to be applied, and as long as the householder met the eligibility criteria before the end of the financial year they would still satisfy the criteria for the rebate,” said Mr Guest.
“Whilst the initial intent of the program can be commended, the execution, roll out and resourcing of the program has been less than ideal. To have a program such as this abruptly stop then restart a couple of months later is an extremely disappointing position for a government entity to take.” 
Caption: Gippsland East Nationals MP Tim Bull discusses with Energy Advisor Paul Guest the impact of the sudden halt to the solar rebate scheme which has left some householders and solar installers out of pocket.
Published in Media
Monday, 20 May 2019 10:05

Air conditioned carriages - at last

The long haul carriages in service on the Bairnsdale line that form part of V Line’s classic N set locomotives have received their long awaited air-conditioning upgrade.
“Having pushed for this for some time and raised it in Parliament on several occasions, I am pleased Public Transport Victoria has confirmed the works have finally been completed,” Mr Bull said.
 “The upgrades have increased the cooling capacity of the air-conditioning units by 30 per cent which will help the system achieve a set temperature of 23 degrees, even in temperatures above 35 degrees.
“I have been asking about progress with the air-conditioning upgrade since its trial was first announced back in 2016 and I would like to thank the many passionate and dedicated train travellers who have assisted me in lobbying the State Government to obtain this outcome.
“What we really need though is the new long haul trains as the Liberal Nationals committed to providing in the lead up to the state election. 
“These are trains that are capable of speeds up to 200km/h with the extra leg room, accessible toilets, food service, on-board Wi-Fi and mobile phone charging suited to the requirements of long distance travel on the Bairnsdale line.
““The current V/Locity trains are an improvement, but they are not a permanent solution and I have had several complaints about the lack of a buffet car on most services.
 “We can be thankful that next summer we won’t suffer from unbearable carriages on hot days, but the Andrews Government must not think it has overcome fundamental problems with the old, unreliable and slow trains with an air-con fix and stop gap older generation V/Locity trains,” Mr Bull said.
Caption: Gippsland East Nationals MP Tim Bull, says the Bairnsdale line’s carriages have finally received an air-conditioning upgrade, but it doesn’t fix the fundamentals. 
Published in Media
Friday, 10 May 2019 14:09

Labor’s Transport Department priorities wrong

Daniel Andrews has ordered that the Department of Transport hire 6 Deputy Secretaries at up to $448,000 each - more than $2.6 million, meanwhile one in five Bairnsdale train services arrives late. 
Gippsland East Nationals MP Tim Bull has criticised the Department of Transport for its move to hire more senior bureaucrats at a time when services on the Bairnsdale line can’t achieve acceptable punctuality targets.
“The Bairnsdale line only achieved 79.6% of its punctuality target in March 2019,” said Mr Bull.
“Regular users of the Bairnsdale line tell me they are having to travel the day before and incur additional accommodation costs to be sure they can attend appointments or reliably connect with the next leg of their journey.
“Everywhere I go, I am inundated with feedback from people who have missed appointments and special occasions as a result of our unreliable train services.
“Many of these travellers are older folk who are attending specialist medical appointments in Melbourne, which is stressful enough without the added worry that they won’t get there on time.
“With one in five train services from Bairnsdale arriving late, train travellers cannot confidently schedule appointments until that improves significantly.
“Labor’s priorities are all wrong,” said Mr Bull.
Caption: Gippsland East Nationals MP Tim Bull, says that Labor needs to get Bairnsdale trains running on time before hiring more senior bureaucrats. 
Published in Media
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