December 2021
Thursday, 23 December 2021 09:58

Justice Richards decision delivers timber families a Christmas blow

A decision by Justice Richards in the Supreme Court yesterday has delivered a shocking Christmas blow to timber industry workers in East Gippsland.

After years of inaction by the Andrews Labor Government to support the native timber industry, yesterday’s determination shuts down the majority of timber harvesting not only in East Gippsland, but the state.

“Minister Mary-Anne Thomas should not be sleeping well this Christmas, knowing the distress her inaction has caused these timber industry families,” said Nationals Gippsland East MP, Tim Bull.

“These Labor Ministers seemingly have no idea about the cost of their inaction as they stand by and allow this to happen. As if we haven’t been through enough without this kick in the head,” he said.

The court order cites that any coupe with one or more greater glider sightings - or a greater glider observed within 240 m of a coupe - will be shut down. Timber industry representatives say this will mean almost every coupe, as the gliders are so common.

“The industry surveys coupes and provides buffer zones, but a decision like this leaves them with no room to move. There are flaws in the Timber Code of Practice that should have been fixed.

“It’s a savage blow for this to occur as the court goes into recess over Christmas and no appeal can be heard for an extended period.

“What I would like is for someone to explain to me where our hardwood timber is going to come from if we close down our native hardwood sector. The Greens are very silent on this in Parliament, they call for closure of the sector, but have no answers as to where it will be sourced from.

“On one hand we have Planet Ark telling us to ‘Do the World some good by using wood’ as a building material, as it is renewable and sustainable, and as result market demand for hardwood is growing.

“We have an industry here in Victoria with some of the strongest oversights in the world and if we do not produce our own to meet this increasing market demand, it will have to be imported from other jurisdictions with less oversight.

“The Labor Government talks about transitioning to plantation by 2030 but the timber takes 30-40 plus years to mature, so those plantations should be 20 years old now, but they do not exist in this state.

“Hardwood plantations are also not conducive to private investment due to the delay in return and sovereign risk around fire – it just makes no sense.

“Next thing the Minister will have protestors on the steps of parliament because we are importing from countries with far less oversight and killing orangutans.”

The Victorian hardwood industry has access to less than 6% of our timber, the other 94% is in reserve or inaccessible. It harvests this small amount on an 80-year rotation, less than 0.05% of our native in any one year – and then regenerates the coupes. No old growth is harvested, only regrowth.

Caption: Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull with timber industry workers, devastated with the recent Supreme Court decision to shut down East Gippsland’s timber industry this Christmas.

Thursday, 23 December 2021

Published in Media
Monday, 20 December 2021 15:26

Lily cold on Buchan pool while Cape Conran deadline passes

On December 12, 2020, Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio – a week over 12 months ago – said technical specialists had been engaged to prepare a plan to ensure the popular Buchan pool was compliant and safe for use.

This was in response to a question in Parliament from Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, who said 12 months on, nothing has advanced.

“In fact, I asked the Minister a further question last month on obtaining a progress report. She had one month to reply under parliamentary regulations, but that date past on Saturday, and I likely won’t hear until well into next year,” he said.

“My question enquired as to a planned opening date and an explanation of what the hold-up has been. We are now three years since it was closed.

“I have explained to the Minister it is an important tourist facility in Buchan and added to the attraction of the area, but there seems to be no comprehension and no appetite to re-open it.

“This lack of interest has disappointed many in the community who have been in touch with my office,” said Mr Bull.

Cape Conran

Similarly, in September last year the Environment Minister said that the East Cape Boardwalk at Cape Conran was expected to be delivered by Christmas 2020, ‘subject to processes proceeding as expected.’

“A few months ago, I was promised it would be finished by Christmas 2021. I was there last weekend with Nationals leader Peter Walsh and work has not started even started.

“It is disgraceful that the Minister tells you it will be done by Christmas 2020 and it hasn’t been started 12 months later.

“This is the Minister and citycentric Government that said they would walk with us in our fire recovery, but they do not follow up and the words are nothing but tokenistic.”

Caption: Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull and Nationals leader, Peter Walsh at Cape Conran boardwalk. The Government committed to having it finished last Christmas, then months ago for this Christmas, but has failed again with work not even started.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Published in Media
Monday, 13 December 2021 10:03

Promised plant nursery and 30 jobs for Nowa Nowa was all hot air

The State Government’s promise to establish a nursery employing 30 people in Nowa Nowa has, as many expected, been scrapped. In fact, it never progressed beyond the media release.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, said it was disappointing for the community, but he was not surprised it never progressed with any seriousness beyond the initial thought bubble.
“Labor has form in this area. When it closed Hazelwood, they announced a new electric car manufacturing plant for the Latrobe Valley that would employ 500 people and produce 5,000 cars per annum,” said Mr Bull.
“They all stood nodding behind the Premier at the announcement, but it never got past first base, was poorly researched and was soon scrapped.
“This thought bubble at Nowa Nowa was to appease locals in response to the job losses that will result from the Government’s decision to close the timber industry. The community has been let down.
“At the time Minister Jaclyn Symes and local Upper House MP, Harriet Shing, gushed that it would provide 30 new jobs in the town with five million seedlings to be produced each year.
“What they do is make these announcements when they are closing an industry to shift the spotlight off the job losses, but with no real intention of progressing them. They take us for mugs and think our communities will forget
“It was for that reason I was sceptical about the Nowa Nowa proposal because when more detailed information was sought beyond the fluffy words in the media release, there was nothing at all.
“My colleague Melina Bath raised concerns earlier this year when nothing had happened. The media release in October 2020 said planning would soon commence, but it never advanced with any strong intent from that day onwards.
“The community has every right to be disappointed. I will await to see what they do to compensate, but I won’t be holding my breath. In fact, I doubt the Nowa Nowa community will see the Minister or Ms Shing again,” he said.
Published in Media
Tuesday, 07 December 2021 11:51

Untruths continue on Thurra River bridge rebuild

Parks Victoria has yet again failed to provide accurate information on the rebuild of the Thurra River Bridge two years after the fire. Last month it said the job was ready to go to tender – when it was not.

Gippsland East MP, Tim Bull, said the lack of knowledge and incorrect information was an embarrassment.

“First of all, the Parks CEO referred twice to the bridge being to an island, where it is simply a bridge over the river, but that was not the worst of it.

“When being questioned on why it had taken almost two years for the tender to go out, the response was “I can assure you that it is ready to go out”.

“Pressed for a specific date, the response was “I will have to take that on notice.” Well here we are a month later and the recently received response shows the tender was not ready to go out at all – and is still not out,” said Mr Bull.

The response says: “Parks Victoria will finalise the detailed design for approval by the forensic engineer….. in early December 2021, following which Parks Victoria and DELWP will progress the tender”.

“In other words, it was not ready to go out all, it still needed finalising and here we are month later, and it is still not out.

Mr Bull said it also beggared belief the bridge would not be built until the end of 2023 – that is almost four years after the fire.

“At this rate these fools will be lucky to get it built before the next fire.

“They say it is complex, but a good bridge was built there over 30 years ago, and it never took four years. You just can’t tell me they would not have had this done long ago if it was in Melbourne.

“Access to the Thurra River Campground and Point Hicks is important for the Cann River economy and four years, in anyone’s language is just not good enough.

“They tell us repeatedly it is a ‘priority project’, but they take us for fools. It does not take four years to build a priority bridge.

“A few years ago, the Labor Roads Minister referred to East Gippslanders as ‘banjo playing dingbats’. There is just no respect from this city centric government.

Tuesday, 7 December 2021

Photo Credit: Google Maps Street View taken September 2014, Croajingolong National Park- 7/12/2021


Published in Media
Monday, 06 December 2021 11:56

$1b fund for regional manufacturing

The Victorian Liberal Nationals have announced a major policy commitment to deliver the largest ever investment in manufacturing in Victoria’s history, a $2.5billion fund - with $1billion tagged for the regions.

Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, said the allocation earmarked for regional Victoria would go a long way to assisting the economic recovery of towns and communities.

“The fact is, that while every other state is growing in population, Victoria’s is in reverse. We had the world’s longest lockdown and will have record debt in comparison to all other states and territories.

“People want to see a plan to recover, to boost the economies that have been hit hardest and there has been no area impacted more than East Gippsland. Coming off drought, into fires and then Coronavirus, our area needs support and this fund will assist greatly.

“We have so many great manufacturing businesses in the region and if I was to mention just two, you have Kennedy Trailers and Patties Foods, both significant employers with plans to expand. However, there are many others, like our Lindenow Valley food producers.

“Growing our manufacturing sector will go a long way to assisting the recovery and there is a growing thirst for local products.

“There will be a focus on health and medicine, clean energy, transport, food and fibre,” said Mr Bull.

“Furthermore, this program will establish an industry led Manufacturing Excellence Taskforce to develop and shape Victoria’s Manufacturing Strategy.

“Instead of debt fuelled major projects for Melbourne, our plan will reinvigorate small and family businesses across the state and help rebuild and support communities from the ground up,” he said.

Caption: Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, with Kennedy Trailers’ CEO, Cory Kennedy. The Bairnsdale company is producing 16 large trailers per month to national buyers. They employ over 50 people and have plans for expansion. A great example of a family owned business at the forefront of its industry nationally.

Monday, 6 December 2021

Published in Media