May 2020
Friday, 15 May 2020 15:31

Nats call for massive boost to Victorian manufacturing

East Gippsland would benefit from the Liberal Nationals proposed new $1 billion Bringing Manufacturing Home fund as part of the Coronavirus economic recovery, to seize on new opportunities to bring manufacturing investment and jobs to the region.
As restrictions begin to ease, now is the time for the Andrews Labor Government to urgently act to get Victorians back to work and back in business with East Gippsland well positioned to step up to the next level.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, called on the government to establish the fund, which would support new manufacturing businesses to move out to regional communities, grow existing local manufacturing and boost innovation.
“The impact of coronavirus on our supply chains should be the wakeup call governments need to give more support to manufacturing in regional Victoria,” Mr Bull said.
“Not only are local manufacturers like Patties, Vegco, Fenning Timbers and Gippsland Jersey providing local jobs, but they are also critical in supplying the goods that Australians need.
“Victoria used to be the manufacturing heart of Australia. We now have the opportunity to bring manufacturing home to Victoria – where it belongs.”
Over the past 20 years more than 50,000 Victorian manufacturing jobs have been lost. A COVID-19 response is urgently needed to create jobs as across the state thousands of businesses have closed and we don’t know how many will re-open.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed holes in the national supply chain with an overreliance on a number of countries for provision of essential supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPE). 
Leader of the Nationals Peter Walsh said it would prioritise support for industries of national importance such as PPE manufacture, defence procurement and rare earths processing.
“COVID-19 has also exposed massive shortcomings in our local economy, particularly in our lack of local manufacturing capacity,” Mr Walsh said.
“Victorians need jobs off the back of the pandemic, and investment support should not be delayed for multiple years because the government places restrictions on how quickly the fund can be rolled out.”
The Bringing Manufacturing Home Fund adds to a number of polices announced by The Nationals to help Victoria recover from the economic fallout of COVID-19, including a $200 million Regional Tourism Fund and payroll tax relief.
Caption: Local Nationals MP Tim Bull and Gippsland Jersey’s Sallie Jones support new investment in manufacturing to value add the region’s food and fibre strengths.
Published in Media
Thursday, 14 May 2020 15:11

East Gippsland should lead COVID tourism recovery

After a triple whammy of drought, fires and Coronavirus, East Gippsland should be at the forefront of a domestic tourism campaign as part of the state’s recovery after COVID-19.
The is the view of Nationals Gippsland East, MP, Tim Bull, who says the State Government must make this region its top priority for stimulus measures to assist business and rebuild public infrastructure.
A recent SGS Economics report on the downturn caused by the combined impact of the bushfires and COVID-19 on the East Gippsland economy, estimates a GDP decline of over 22 per cent – three times the national rate, and it could be years before it recovers to the 2018-19 level.
Mr Bull said The Nationals are calling for a dedicated $200 million Regional Tourism Fund to be immediately established by the Andrews Labor Government to support country communities and bring visitors back to regional areas like Gippsland, when allowed. 
“We have endured years of drought, devastating bushfires and the coronavirus pandemic,” said Mr Bull.
“Travel bans put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 meant visitation to country Victoria was smashed overnight.”
Mr Bull explained the aim of the fund would be to return the tourism sector to June 2019 bed night accommodation levels by June 2021.
“The fund would provide targeted support to tourism in different regions to assist operators to get back on their feet, while also promoting Victorian tourism destinations and upgrading tourism related infrastructure. 
“On top of this promotion, there are also a number of infrastructure projects that should be supported that include the Bullock Island redevelopment, a new footbridge playground, Squatters’ Row upgrade in Paynesville; Rail Trail upgrades in the east around Orbost; Cape Conran boat ramp upgrade and a host of projects further east.
“Tens-of-thousands of regional Victorians who rely on their jobs in the tourism sector to pay the bills and put food on the table are counting on the Andrews Government to get them back to work and back in business.”
Caption: Local State and Federal MPs Tim Bull and Darren Chester, support East Gippsland being at the centre of a domestic tourism led post Covid recovery and suggest an upgrade to Cape Conran boat ramp should be part of that process.
Published in Media
Tuesday, 12 May 2020 11:41

Bushfire recovery works need igniting

There remains a high level of concern over the slow rebuild of public tourist facilities after the East Gippsland fires and local MP’s want to see some action.
Local State and Federal representatives, Tim Bull and Darren Chester visited Cape Conran this week, where work has not yet commenced on restoring the infrastructure destroyed five months ago.
“These facilities are so critical to our local economy and best example of this is a quote from a local Marlo businessman who said ‘when Conran is open, I do well and it allows me to employ more local people’ – but as it sits now, little is happening and we have no timeframe,” said Mr Bull.
“It is public facilities right across the region, but Conran is a great example. The steps down to the beach at Salmon Rocks remain destroyed as they were in early January and similarly, the East Cape boardwalk still has ‘do not enter’ tape across its entry. It is just not good enough.
“Parks Victoria and the Minister need to understand the importance of having this rebuilt as a matter of urgency and provide all in the community with a timeframe. Five months down the track surely that is not too much to ask,” he said.
Mr Chester said years of cutting work crews at agencies like Parks Victoria had added to the problem.
“We need more boots and less suits,” Mr Chester said.
“We need more boots on the ground getting the work done in East Gippsland and less suits in Melbourne finding excuses to delay the projects. The local crews are completely under-staffed and we should be hiring more permanent outdoor workers to properly maintain the public land estate.
“There’s no reason why all the damaged infrastructure on public land in East Gippsland can’t be replaced or repaired by the September school holidays to ensure our region is able to recover when travel restrictions are lifted.”
Caption: Local MP Tim Bull, pictured at the closed entrance to Salmon Rocks beach at Cape Conran with Federal member for Gippsland Darren Chester where bushfire restoration works have not been commenced. 
Published in Media
Monday, 11 May 2020 12:00

Brumby shooting program opposed

A Parks Victoria program to shoot eastern Victoria’s alpine brumbies is being opposed by Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, who believes there are better ways to manage numbers.

A court challenge opposing the shooting of the horses was lost last week and the program is expected to commence later this month.

“Everyone understands brumby numbers require monitoring and at times control measures will need to be implemented, but this can be done – as it has successfully in the past – through capture and rehoming,” said Mr Bull.

“Brumbies have become part of our heritage and High-Country identity. They came here with the first fleet and ancestors of the modern-day brumbies accompanied our troops to the two World Wars as well as the Boer War in South Africa.

During World War One a large number of remounts used by our Light Horse troops came from our brumby population. Known as Walers, the horses that were bred in the wild proved to be calm and sure footed.

“Our brumbies have also become etched in Australian folklore with the likes of Banjo Paterson’s ‘The Man from Snowy River’.

“What I find interesting is estimations that there is a ratio of 300 feral sambar deer to one brumby and massive numbers of wild pigs causing far more damage, yet we have the Government focussed on the brumbies rather than pest species in greater numbers, causing greater problems and without a strong association with our heritage.

“If the government wants to focus on those species that are doing the most damage and posing the greatest risk, they should be looking at deer and pigs.

“Like many, I believe there is a better and more sensitive way to manage numbers, rather than shooting in the hope of a clean shot, which does not always occur.

“Of concern is the commentary that this shooting will take place at night in the High Country. Parks’ standard operating procedures for ground shooting of feral horses states the optimal period for ground shooting is during dry seasons or droughts, when horses are forced to congregate around areas with limited access to water and feed. However, at present conditions are damp and there is food and water in abundance.

“I question whether we are spending our dollars on the right species, whether we are controlling numbers in the best manner available and whether it is the right conditions to be undertaking this work.

“At the very least it certainly requires a rethink,” said Mr Bull.

Brumbies image courtesy of Brooks Joiner

Published in Media
Monday, 11 May 2020 10:53

Lakes fishers undersold on gear

A Valuer General report released by the State Government this week proves what we already know – the State Government grossly underpaid the Gippsland Lakes commercial fishermen on their fishing equipment compensation as part of this year’s buy out of licences.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, said the Minister had some explaining to do to the commercial fishing families after this was one of the major sticking points when the legislation passed through State Parliament last year – which the Government vehemently defended.
“It has taken over six months for the Minister to release these figures she promised to provide to fishers last year, and it shows she has undersold them,” said Mr Bull.
“The compensation component of the buy-out was $60,000 - a figure fishers strongly disputed and produced receipts to show their gear was worth much more. However, this was rejected, and the Minister simply said the $60,000 was a figure based on the independent valuation of the Valuer General’s office.
“However, we now have the report and it shows the average valuation for equipment across the 10 licences was $213,000 with three being valued at over $260,000, so how did the Minister base her $60,000 figure on the Valuer General’s valuations? No wonder she was trying to hide it.
“The bulk of the equipment payments is nets and where the government has stuffed this up completely, is their argument was ‘we will give you $60,000 and you can keep the nets to sell them on top of that’.
“But through sheer incompetence, they didn’t realise there weren’t the other markets for these nets and proof of this is that this year almost all have been picked up and dumped. They would have been sold if they could have.
“The Minister and the Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) was told this but ignored it and when the Department was asked to name these other commercial markets they could be sold into, they had no answer because they didn’t exist.
“The Government has completely shafted our local commercial fishers. They have done exactly what they said they would not do and that is set a budget for the buy-out and come up with a formula that sits within that budget. That is clearly what they have done.
“To prove how much of a sham this whole process was, they met with the fishers on August 9, 2019 when considerable information was sought from the fishers, including the 
Valuer General’s information. While the fishers were waiting for this, the legislation was introduced into Parliament 17 days later. The timeframes around the legislation indicate it was written and finalised while they were having pretend consultation meetings.
“The government kept falling back on the comment that you have to look at the package as a whole.”
“But that is not what they said they would do, they said they would fairly pay across each of the three components of the package. They have not done this, and this report proves it.
“To make matters worse, they then wonder why the commercial sector is a little frosty about supporting their annual seafood festival in Lakes. I think some of these bureaucrats are on another planet, they seem to think it is ok to shaft you one minute and then all is forgotten, and you are expected to be best buddies again.
“Country people don’t like being taken as fools by the bureaucrats in Fisheries Victoria and the Minister’s office and while they know this won’t be revisited, a good start to repair the damage they have done is an apology. That’s the least these families deserve.”
Mr Bull said the other disappointing element of this was that in the vote in the Legislative Council (which was narrowly lost 22-18), local Upper House Member, Jeff Bourman voted against revisiting this element of the package. Mr Bourman was happy to sit back and allow these families to be sold short even after he heard the concerns raised in the debate. 
“This is the same bloke who likes to pretend he is a conservative, but as party leader, directed the Shooters and Fisheries preferences to Labor above the conservatives in the lower house seat of Morwell, preferenced Labor candidates above conservative candidates in his own Upper House seat and even negotiated a deal that saw his Shooters and Fishers Party preference the Greens’ candidates above conservative candidates in other Upper House seats,” said Mr Bull.
Fishing net image courtesy of Visit Victoria Content Hub
Published in Media
Monday, 11 May 2020 10:46

Truck drivers not being listened to

Truck drivers and freight representative groups are calling for a ‘roughness audit’ of the Princes Highway roadworks between Sale and Bairnsdale, a request that has the backing of local Nationals MP, Tim Bull.
“The recent spate of heavy vehicle accidents indicates all is not well and when truckies with decades of experience behind the wheel say it’s the worst stretch of road in the country and is now referred to as ‘The Goat Track’, you have to listen,” said Mr Bull.
“Safe Freight Networks Australia has stated:
‘The road surface remains uneven and poor and we are now seeking a roughness audit as it would appear from a truck driver's perspective to be extremely uneven resulting in trailers and prime movers being tossed around from side to side.
‘We have had reports from livestock transporters (who now use the longer but smoother? Bengworden Road) of cattle injuries caused by trailer strikes against the barrier.  
‘We are not against the barriers, our problem is that the job was not done to a standard that meets the needs of our industry - that is the road is no longer fit for purpose.
‘The surface is rough and uneven and the (centre) barriers are too close to the moving traffic.
‘The roads are our driver’s workplace and if this type of environment would be in any other part of the business, a workplace Provisional Improvement Notice (PIN) would be applied to this section of highway.’
“This week alone I have had truck drivers raise concerns with me on three separate occasions.
“It is time for the government to listen to these drivers and Safe Freight Networks Australia and take a closer look at these concerns,” said Mr Bull.
Caption; Local MP Tim Bull is backing Safe Freight Networks Australia for an audit of the condition of the Princes Highway roadworks between Sale and Bairnsdale which has seen several truck accidents in recent months, including the fiery crash (pictured) at the Billabong in March.  
Published in Media
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