Rapid testing the way forward
Nationals Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, has called on the Andrews Government to implement rapid testing to help Victorians get back on their feet and prevent future statewide lockdowns.
Mr Bull says rapid antigen tests, which can produce a result in just 15 to 30 minutes, have been successful in other jurisdictions and should be rolled out in high-risk settings including border checkpoints, for freight operators and at major events to quickly identify infectious individuals.
“The Andrews Government should be firing every bullet in the public health armoury to prevent future state-wide lockdowns and these rapid tests have the support of a swathe of epidemiologists,” Mr Bull said.
“They’re inexpensive and have proven to work best during the early stages of infection and while the regular PCR test can take hours to process, rapid testing has the potential to turnaround results in just 15 to 30 minutes.
“It is also an innovative solution to ensure major events, both in metropolitan and regional areas can proceed with little disruption to patron caps, just a small wait time.
“It can also address the concerns surrounding returning a negative test before heading to the snow fields.
“Lockdowns should only ever be used as a last resort. There are a lot of other steps the Andrews Government should be putting in place now to avoid snap lockdowns like the one we have just endured.
“Businesses and our communities are crying out for a plan. We need a pathway out of the constant lockdowns and rapid testing is an obvious part of that plan to get us back to some normality.
“Major events in Europe like the G7 last month have been able to proceed because Europe is using rapid tests. If that’s good enough for the G7, surely it is good enough for us,” Mr Bull said.
Photo credit: BRHS Facebook page
More rectification works at 39 road barrier sites
Having raised concerns over the number of collisions with the centre of the road barrier between Bairnsdale and Stratford, Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, has been advised there will be ‘works to enhance delineation’ at 39 sites.
“If Regional Roads Victoria has to make changes at 39 sites, it is yet another concession this work was not done properly in the first place,” Mr Bull said.
“At my invitation the new Minister came and drove the road, and while I was interstate at the time, I appreciated his willingness to do this and liaise on this issue.
“What I wanted him to see was the narrow shoulder that does not allow room for broken down vehicles to pull over and be sufficiently off the road.
“As locals know, a large truck cannot get off the carriageway and in relation to a car, you cannot change a tyre on the right-hand side without having your backside or legs in the traffic lane.
“I am pleased the Minister looked at this and his correspondence to me stated ‘having seen this stretch of road first hand, I can appreciate these concerns’.
“However, what he did not outline was what was going to be done to address the matter and this is something I have followed up on, with further correspondence.
“If we both agree it is not suitable, as road safety experts have highlighted – then we need to know what is being done to address it,” he said.
Caption: A truck pulled over in the emergency lane on the Princes Highway between Bairnsdale and Stratford, demonstrating large vehicles cannot pull over and be off the road safely (photo supplied).
Monday, 26 July 2021
Works commencing soon to address Namestone land slips
Work is expected to commence in the coming months to prevent further landslips at Namestone Point on the Great Alpine Road, Nationals Gippsland East MP, Tim Bull, announced today.
“Having raised the matter in Parliament seeking urgent action, I have been advised by the Minister that design work will be completed this month and work will commence ‘once the weather conditions are safe to do so,’” said Mr Bull.
“After the road widening works were completed, I was approached by retired road engineers who said the almost vertical sheer on the roadsides would result in landslips.
“I approached the Minister at the time to raise these concerns, and nothing was done. We then had multiple landslips, which came as no surprise to those in the know.
“They closed the road on multiple occasions for quite some time and only luck prevented anyone from being killed. If a car had been underneath that falling rock, it would have been crushed.
“It was again a case of locals being right and nothing being done about it when the concern was raised. Why this work was not done right when the road was widened is a response, I have not been able to get.”
Mr Bull was told by the Minister the planned works would include a combination of additional batter excavation works, rock netting, anchoring and rock bolts.
“While this should have been done at the time of the road works, it is pleasing to have had this response from the Minister after raising it in Parliament.”
Caption: One of the landslips that occurred on Namestone Point earlier this year (photo supplied).
Monday, 19 July 2021
25 times lucky, Secondary College funding secured!
The long-awaited Bairnsdale Secondary College Stage Two will be completed in late 2023 at a cost of $7.14 million, a delighted Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull said today.
“I’ve raised this matter no less than 25 times in parliament in the past seven years. I think every State MP knows about the Bairnsdale Secondary College, but you’ve got to keep hammering away to get the outcomes you want in relation to matters like this,” Mr Bull said.
The Coalition Government funded and built stage one (opened in 2014) and committed to stage two if re-elected.
Mr Bull said it had been a long battle to get the current government to fund the completion, but seven years later it was great to finally get the news it is going to be done.
“As they say, ‘better late than never’.
“Among other works, I have been advised by the Minister that stage two will deliver a new Year Seven hub and refurbishment of the science block.
“The successful builder is expected to be appointed before the end of this year.
“My advocacy on this project has been based on the fact this is the biggest school in our region and has been left half built, with students being forced to walk between the old and new campuses, which is far from ideal when it is raining.
“Having toured the old Wallace Street site on a number of occasions, it is clear it is not befitting of our largest secondary college.
“Since 2014 we have seen changes in principal and a good rotation of school council members, but all have been strong advocates for getting this job completed and I thank all the school council members in that time for their efforts.”
Mr Bull said that while the completion of stage two would not be until 2023, it was very pleasing to finally have a date and it was something the Bairnsdale and district community could look forward to.
Caption: Nationals Gippsland East MP, Tim Bull, outside the Bairnsdale Secondary College, which will finally have its $7.14m stage two completed by late 2023 ready for the 2024 school year.
If no cases in 48 hours East Gippsland must open early
Pending no cases in the region in the next 48 hours, local Nationals MP, Tim Bull, wants East Gippsland removed from the lockdown restrictions.
He is also calling for immediate business supports to be provided for those who are impacted yet again, stating that in previous lockdowns the State’s business support has had such a strict criteria it reaches only one in five businesses.
“There are more than one in five facing hardship, probably closer to four in five, so the State needs to loosen this criteria. It is devastating hearing from severely impacted business owners, who have been locked down by the state, despite no cases in the area, and are then ruled out from receiving the business supports.
“If you are going to lock them down and take away their income, you need to support them appropriately,” Mr Bull said.
“Business owners and the public generally are angry that, with no cases in the area - in fact none within several hundred kilometres - we are locked down again.
“There is growing support from experts that when there is an outbreak, the restrictions need to be heavily applied to that area, including travel, and allow those not impacted to function.
“In this case I understand there were infectious people at the MCG, and I realise the initial cautious approach. However, if we get through the next 48 hours, we need to open up those areas that do not have cases and let’s hope East Gippsland is one of them,” said Mr Bull.
Caption: State MP Tim Bull with Deniese from REG FM, sending out an “on air” plea for immediate business supports and seeking an early release from lockdown if East Gippsland remains COVID free.
Friday, 16 July 2021
Are you eligible for a $250 rebate?
The Nationals Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull is concerned eligible vulnerable residents are missing out on a one off $250 payment from the State Government.
The $250 Power Saving Bonus is a one-off rebate for Victorian electricity account holders who hold a Department of Veterans Affairs Gold Card or receive payments under one of the following concession programs:
• Centrelink pensioner concession
• Youth Allowance, Austudy or Abstudy
• Department of Veterans Affairs pensioner concession
Mr Bull said he wanted to ensure those who were eligible for this rebate didn’t miss out.
“I’m concerned that the Andrews Labor Government has done a terrible job advertising this payment, particularly to those who don’t access social media,” Mr Bull said.
“That combined with the decision to make applications online-only is very disappointing, with many elderly residents unable to apply because they simply do not have a computer.
“That’s why I have sent letters explaining the application process for the Power Saving Bonus to all Gippsland East constituents aged 65 years and older.
“The letter also advises that those without internet access, can contact my office for application support.
Mr Bull is asking for the community to get involved in spreading the word.
“While I’ve sent letters to older East Gippslanders, it is important to stress this support is available for residents receiving payments through the outlined concession programs.
“If you have a loved one or neighbour who may be eligible for this payment, please ensure they are aware of it.”
“This support will help keep our vulnerable residents warm over this very cold winter.
Mr Bull said those who were unsure about their eligibility can find more information about the Power Saving Bonus, including how to apply, by visiting the Victorian Energy Compare website at https://compare.energy.vic.gov.au.
Monday, 12 July 2021