January 2020
Wednesday, 29 January 2020 14:33

Fence line clearing must be part of rebuild supports

The ability to clear appropriately around fence lines where public land abuts private freehold, must be one of the areas for review in the wash up from these fires.
That point was made by Nationals Gippsland East MP, Tim Bull, when in an act of bipartisanship this morning, he announced the State Government's increase to boundary fencing assistance for fire impacted farmers.
“The Premier was coming here today to make this announcement, but due to a late change of plans, his office was happy for me to get this out in the community, as it is something we’d had ongoing discussions on,” said Mr Bull.
“Fire recovery is all about building things bigger and better and this funding of $5,000 per kilometre for boundary fencing materials provides more support to not just replace boundary fences with a standard fence, but upgrade them, making them more fire-resistant with options for items like concrete posts and to a specification that will better allow for the exclusion of pests such as wild dogs.”
But Mr Bull said, changes also needed to be made to vegetation guidelines where Crown Land abuts freehold and this needed to accompany today’s announcement.
“Upgrading fences is one thing, but everywhere I go I am hearing about the need for more boundary fence line clearing.
“It is OK having a Rolls Royce fence, but a tree or tree branch can bring it down and these dogs are opportunistic, they were attacking sheep within 48 hours of the fire taking out dog proof boundary fences.
“I am all for the funds being provided for fencing upgrades, but it limits their effectiveness if the clearing isn’t done and we have trees and branches coming down with every storm on these fences.”
Mr Bull said the impacts were likely to occur more often in the coming 12 months as many trees had been fire affected and more prone to falling.
Caption: State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull pictured with Bushfire Recovery Victoria chair Ken Lay has called for vegetation clearance changes to protect newly constructed exclusion fences from being damaged by falling trees. 
Published in Media
Tuesday, 28 January 2020 10:33

More business help needed

Not enough is being done by State and Federal Governments to assist East Gippsland businesses impacted by the fires and the mass evacuation that took place in the peak holiday period.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, said “our businesses need direct support and to date the response from the State Government to business has been underwhelming and the Federal supports have missed the mark.”
“Interest free loans, tax concessions, business mentoring and the like just won’t cut it this time around, our businesses need direct financial assistance.
“Over recent days I have had several businesses, some that’ve been around for decades, advise they will be closing the doors after three years of drought and now this, if they don’t get help.
“Imagine if for a month we told all of Victoria they could not go to Chadstone Shopping Centre and blocked the roads – how do you reckon they would be going?
“Well that is what has happened to us from an economic perspective. It’s unique and it needs special concessions made.
“We need the promotional campaigns that are underway, but we need to have the businesses still in existence for when the visitors start coming back.
“The Federal Government support is welcome, but needs to go further than $50,000 to businesses directly impacted (burnt) and interest free loans to others. There is no cash support for those that have been financially decimated, and loans have to be paid back.
“The State needs to announce something with some substance as it has said nothing at all to date in relation to direct financial support,” said Mr Bull.
“Not every business in the region has copped it, a select few have done okay, so it can have criteria, but we need help for the hardest hit.
“Over recent weeks I have had numerous examples of hardship, including:
• A tourist business that took over $125,000 last January, compared to a little over $2,000 this year and is on its knees.
• An accommodation house that is down $100,000 on bookings for the January -April period due to cancellations.
• A freight company that has simply been unable to operate due to the highway closure for the past month.
“These are just three of a large range of examples that could be provided.
“Both Federal and State Governments need to come to the party, and quickly,” said Mr Bull.
Caption: State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull on Friday met with Tourism Minister Martin Pakula; Destination Gippsland, Regional Development Victoria and East Gippsland Shire to discuss upcoming promotional campaigns, but says more direct business support is needed for the region’s economically hit enterprises.
Published in Media
Friday, 17 January 2020 16:34

More supports urgently needed

More immediate action is required to deliver critical bushfire recovery support for East Gippsland.
The Nationals Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, met with Bushfire Recovery Victoria chair Ken Lay yesterday and was in contact with the Premier last night on critical recovery issues.
“It was pleasing the freight fodder and stock water cartage subsidies were introduced within 24 hours of my request being made and this will be helpful to many, but there is more to do from a State Government perspective,” said Mr Bull.
“For example, we need funds for boundary fencing where it borders Crown Land, as was provided in 2014 and more supports for local businesses which have had their tourist season ruined.
 “I’m very conscious that there are parts of our region still under direct threat of fire and towns that are still cut off - and that needs to be our priority.
“But there are many other areas where the fire has passed and after the initial shock people are now wanting to begin the recovery.
“We need to see some big announcements from the Andrews Labor Government, especially for our business and tourism sector that has seen its peak summer period destroyed, on top of three years of drought. 
“In addition to a marketing campaign to get the tourists back, the government should be providing some sort of cash relief to those worst-affected or we will see many businesses go to the wall and local jobs lost.
“On a positive note, East Gippsland Australian cricket representatives, Cameron White and Sophie Molineux answered my calls this week and are expected to be in Bairnsdale tomorrow to film some campaign footage, so I look forward to working with them.”
Mr Bull said some areas were beginning the mammoth task of cleaning up and help was needed from the government.
“In NSW the State Government has allocated $25 million for clean-up – we want the same for both insured and non-insured properties so that insurance claims can be dedicated to re-building, not clean up and removal of wreckage.
“If it was a good neighbour, the government would also be covering half the cost of fencing on land that abuts state forest and national parks.  When we were in government for past fires we provided $6 per metre of fencing for this and over the past few days of helping with the clean-up with my Nationals colleagues, I’ve seen how much demand there will be. The rebuilding of fences will go on for months or years, but a support announcement is needed now.
“These grants will be uncapped and can be accessed by primary producers to assist with essentials like fodder and water, rebuilding fencing, hiring agricultural equipment such as water pumps, irrigation systems, horticultural netting and generators (more information 1800 900 090), but we need the State to come to the party quicker in relation to its responsibilities.
“The Federal Government’s announcement of $75,000 cash grants for farmers to get back on their feet is great; as part of a $2 billion fire response from the Commonwealth,” said Mr Bull.
Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said it was vital that all levels of government provided adequate support to Gippsland’s farmers.
“I welcome the freight subsidy announcement and encourage all eligible farmers to consider applying,” Mr Chester said.
“The subsidy will cover up to 50 per cent of freight costs to a maximum of $15,000 per farm business and will help ease some of the financial burden farmers are facing.
“This is only a small part of the clean-up and re-establishment costs fire-impacted primary producers are facing right now. I acknowledge there is a long way to go with recovery efforts and I will continue to advocate for the support and assistance Gippslanders need.”
Caption: Nationals Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, discusses urgently needed recovery assistance with Bushfire Recovery Victoria chair Ken Lay.  
Published in Media
Tuesday, 14 January 2020 12:25

East Gippsland needs clean-up support

More support for those wanting to clean up and get on with rebuilding is being sought by Nationals Gippsland East MP, Tim Bull.
“While we still have fire in some areas, many are ready to start moving on and the first thing they need to do is start the clean-up.
“After the Black Saturday fires in 2009 the state government set up a fund for the clean-up of damaged and destroyed homes.
“We need similar assistance to cover site clean-up costs for all destroyed and damaged properties – both those insured and not insured, meaning insurance payments can be fully utilised for rebuilding.
“The funding is needed to help pay for the clean-up of hazardous materials. This includes the removal of asbestos-contaminated material released as a result of the bushfires, concrete slabs and all dangerous debris including destroyed homes and trees.”
In New South Wales, the State Government has announced a fund for the clean-up of properties damaged and destroyed by the recent bushfires, as well as disaster recovery grants for affected primary producers, small businesses and not-for-profit organisations.
NSW is also waiving waste levy fees for residents disposing of bushfire generated waste at nominated facilities.
“The NSW Government’s response has been immediate and ours needs to be just a rapid,” said Mr Bull.
Mr Bull said he was pleased the request he made to the Premier to provide counsellors for those families who needed assistance with recovery, had been granted.
“That was good, but it needs to be followed up with a raft of announcements this week, or we will be left behind again.”
Caption: Nationals Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, is seeking clean up assistance for bush fire affected property owners who want to commence rebuilding their homes. 
Published in Media
Monday, 13 January 2020 18:07

East Gippsland businesses need direct support

The East Gippsland region must receive immediate support to salvage something from this year’s tourist season to boost the local economy and support local businesses.

This is the message from Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, who has spoken directly with the Premier’s office requesting direct cash support for affected local businesses and had discussions with local tourism groups about marketing to bring back visitors. 

“Despite fire still being in some parts of the landscape, the reality is that after three years of drought and now the fires our business sector needs some real support and it needs to happen urgently,” said Mr Bull. 

“Today I met with Destination Gippsland about getting advertisements in print and electronic media to highlight that locations like Lakes Entrance, Paynesville, Metung, Bairnsdale and Orbost/Marlo are not directly fire impacted and are open for business.

 “I am pleased to say a quick call to good friend and former Australian cricketer, Cameron White, has had him agree to offering up his services to front a campaign to promote his home region. 

“The generous response from people across the state has been overwhelming. We now need to let people know that many parts of our region are safe to visit and that the best thing they can do is to come visit and stay a while.

“The State Government also has a role to play in this recovery and while the immediate focus needs to be on salvaging this summer tourist season as best we can, the support needs to go on for longer. 

“We need to push this area as a winter holiday destination and sell our attractions right though until next summer and beyond.

“My discussions with Destination Gippsland today were well received and I am confident we will get something happening sooner rather than later.”

“The NSW Government is offering direct recovery grants to primary producers, small businesses and not-for-profit organisations who have been hit hard by the NSW bushfires.

“Other areas we need to look at to support businesses are cash injections for those that have been hit hard, as the reality is without direct support, they will not keep the doors open,” said Mr Bull.

“Business supports, advice and mentoring are all well and good, but these employers will close the doors without a cash injection, which could be tiered based on number of employees and loss compared to last year.

“These are the sorts of supports I want this government to explore, as well as considerations like business rate subsidies. Everything needs to be on the table for discussion.

“The Andrews Labor Government must be open to hearing from our local businesses about what they need to get back on their feet as quickly as possible.”

 Caption: Nationals Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, pictured at Lakes Entrance where he is supporting a campaign to highlight that locations including Lakes Entrance, Paynesville, Metung, Bairnsdale and Orbost/Marlo are not directly fire impacted and are open for business.  

Published in Media
Friday, 10 January 2020 11:32

Bull to Premier: rapid action needed on key bushfire issues

Gippsland East Nationals MP Tim Bull has spoken to the Premier’s office this morning, stressing the need for rapid action on key bushfire issues including assistance with boundary fencing, ongoing fodder subsidies and clean-up.
After consistent feedback from local farmers and landholders, Mr Bull spoke to the Premier’s office this morning and impressed upon the government the need for speedy support for the rebuilding of boundary fencing where it abuts Crown land.
“We have many situations where stock are currently wandering because fences are down, and I’ve already heard of one farmer who lost stock to a wild dog attack immediately after the fire destroyed his boundary fence.
“This is a perfect example of why the response on fencing needs to be quick from the state government, a point I impressed on the Premier’s office.
“The state government is generally not a good neighbour but it can help support farmers to rebuild boundary fences where their land abuts state forest, national park or other Crown land.”
Mr Bull also called for the government to provide a subsidy for fodder and stock transport given the dire feed situation facing fire affected farmers.
“The current fuel subsidy of $6.30 per kilometre for donated hay being coordinated through the Victorian Farmers Federation is good, but it is time-limited and we will need long-term support for our farmers. That will require a freight subsidy for purchased fodder as well as stock having to be moved, for example to agistment in other parts of the region or state.”
Mr Bull said an important part of the recovery will be clean-up of fire-damaged homes and public infrastructure and the government needs to get this happening as quickly as possible.
“Once the actual fire threat has receded people will want to rebuild but they will need help to clean up destroyed and damaged properties.  The ADF is doing a great job at the moment, but we will need more support for clean-up and clearing so we can start rebuilding and allowing people to get on with their lives.”
Mr Bull also highlighted to the Premier’s office the enormity of the coming recovery task and that East Gippsland Shire, as the lead recovery agency, will need assistance to cope with the workload.
He said his requests were well-received by the Premier’s office and he would continue to work with the government to help the region through this crisis.
Caption: Nationals Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, pictured assisting Need for Feed in directing trucks at the East Gippsland Livestock Exchange with loads of donated hay for distribution to fire effected farmers.   
Published in Media
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