Dan has no plan out of lockdown
On the back of a report to the State Government highlighting the increasing mental health crisis, Victorians need more detail on the plan out of lockdown, including the benchmarks for easing of restrictions.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, who has supported calls from health experts for greater freedoms in areas where no cases or exposure sites exist, said communities deserve more information than what they are being given.
“A damning report to Government this week showed we are seeing a massive increase in hospital admissions from our youth for mental health reasons. There is also an increasing number of business people in great stress with the prospect of having to shut the doors.
“The worst thing is, people need a plan and we don’t have one. NSW has announced a staged return to school from October 25, with all students returning by November 8.
“The report showed more than 340 teenagers a week have been admitted to hospital suffering mental health emergencies in Victoria. The six-week average is a 57 per cent increase on the corresponding period last year.
“It also revealed an average of 156 teens a week are rushed to hospital after self-harming and suffering suicidal thoughts, an 88 per cent increase on last year,” said Mr Bull.
Apart from needing a pathway out of lockdown and some light at the end of the tunnel, Mr Bull said there were still obvious failures that had not been addressed.
“We continue to have this absurd situation where people from Gippsland are bailed up in Goondiwindi, Queensland, because they cannot get to Victoria in the 24 hours allowed.
“Here we have a government telling us constantly not to drive while drowsy, but they are forcing these people, almost all seniors, to do this 1200km trip in 24 hours, it is madness.
“How is sleeping in a caravan an extra few hours going to increase the health risk,” he said
“In addition to this, there are people just over the border in NSW wanting to get home who are not being allowed. You can cross the border for work, education, shopping for essential items and caregiving, but returning home is not a reason, despite these people having been tested multiple times, self-isolating and many are fully vaccinated.
“Surely having COVID-free residents back at their home is a preferred outcome, especially when crossing the border for community sport or supermarket shopping is allowed.
“To top off the lunacy of all this, those locals bailed up in Eden, Merimbula and Tathra who have to get home for medical appointments, are now told they can do so with a permit, but then have to travel back to NSW rather than go to their home five minutes away from the medical clinic.”
Monday, 30 August 2021
More East Gippsland testing facilities needed
With the State Government’s requirement that a negative COVID test result must be obtained by interstate transport drivers every three days, there are calls for more testing facilities in East Gippsland.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, raised the matter in Parliament, stating “the new mandatory measures are not being matched by the required increase in testing facilities in my electorate”.
“Truckies have told me a testing facility is badly needed at Cann River as matter of priority to assist drivers travelling the Monaro and Princes Highways.
“What complicates matters is non-symptomatic people can’t obtain a COVID test, and some are even being told to book private testing appointments at their own cost.
“If you are going to make rules where non-symptomatic people must be tested, at least provide the facilities for this to occur,” Mr Bull said.
“Truckies do not want to spend their limited time between jobs looking to get a test or lining up for one, they want to spend it with their families.”
Mr Bull said he believed the roll out of rapid antigen testing, which can produce results in just 15 to 30 minutes, are 95% accurate and much cheaper, would assist greatly.
“It is working in other locations but for some reason the Government won’t look at this as an option for these situations, despite calls from epidemiologists.
“But regardless of whether they go down this path or not, they have to provide more testing resources if they are going to bring in these rules,” he said.
Caption: The proposed Cann River testing location that would capture freight drivers at the junction of Monaro and Princes Highways.
Monday, 23 August 2021
Call for dedicated manufacturing fund
Manufacturing in rural and regional Victoria can play a major role in the state’s post COVID economic recovery and Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, said this region can play a big hand with appropriate government support.
That is why he is calling on the State Government to adopt the Liberal Nationals’ policy to establish a $1 billion fund to support Victorian manufacturers and to help local industry grow and expand.
“The past few years has thrown up all sorts of challenges for our region, but with vaccination rates increasing rapidly and light at the end of the tunnel, we have to look to the future and our economic recovery.
“Supporting manufacturing, particularly in the regions, will be a key to this,” he said.
Mr Bull said in addition to a support fund, State purchasing policies to ensure locally made goods be given preference over cheaper imports would also assist.
“We don’t want a repeat of the situation where the Andrews Government chose to import face masks from China, instead of purchasing them locally from Shepparton-based manufacturer MedCon.
“When it comes to manufacturing locally, we have many high-quality products created here in East Gippsland, but there is perhaps no better example than Patties Foods.
“It is a company that has grown from a corner shop in Lakes Entrance to now employing over 400 people and producing a range of iconic brands.
“Patties has recently invested $18 million into a new pie-line that will employ an additional 50 people here in East Gippsland and has more expansion plans over the coming years.
“It is a classic case of what can be achieved, and government support can fast track such expansions.
“If we can have a $3 billion overrun on a tunnel in Melbourne, we can afford this $1 billion fund to fast track our economic recovery.
Caption: Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, is calling for a dedicated manufacturing support fund to assist in the state’s economic recovery post-coronavirus.
Friday, 20 August 2021
Forget Where’s Wally, it’s Where’s Lily as key bridge rebuild will hit three years
As the rebuild of Parks Victoria infrastructure destroyed in the fires 19 months ago moves at snail’s pace, East Gippslanders are starting to ask why Minister Lily D’Ambrosio is not intervening to get things moving.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, last week again raised the slow rebuild of Parks Victoria infrastructure in the Victorian Parliament, citing the Thurra River Bridge as an example of the inaction.
“This bridge, which provides access to the Thurra River Campground – one of our area’s biggest – and the Point Hicks Lighthouse and accommodation, has a timeframe of just on three years.
“Parks is not even doing the work, they just have to put it out to tender and they can’t seem to manage that. They say it is complicated, but at the end of the day it’s a bridge and the bridge builders will sort it – that’s what they do, just put the tender out!
“The Thurra River campground is important to the economy of Cann River where camping families and groups stock up and replenish supplies.
“The only access is over this bridge and we are being told it will be late 2022 until it is rebuilt. Three years for one bridge, it is disgraceful.”
Mr Bull said he has raised the issue in Parliament several times, with Minister Lily D’Ambrosio in the chamber, but she seems to show no interest and has not visited the area to try and get things moving.
“It’s not just the Thurra bridge, the popular Cape Conran boardwalk still has police tape up, as does the McKenzie River Rainforest Walk, day locations around Mallacoota Lake and a large number of tourist walking trails.
“When you ask, all you get is a list of what they have done. On July 5 I was told that within 10 days I would have a list of all sites with a progress report and completion date – here we are in mid-August and nothing.
“This is the government led by a Premier who stood in front of the cameras in Bairnsdale, with me, and said he would support us every step of this recovery. To date not he, or the Minister responsible, has been back as we tick past 19 months since the fires and the recovery works remain idle in many locations,” Mr Bull said.
Caption: Locations around Mallacoota Lake, like Sandy Point, still have access denied.
Cash support needed, not meditation
The Andrews Labor Government’s business concierge service, touted as the answer to help those that are ‘slipping through the cracks’ in relation to receiving financial support, is a sham.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, said the service was touted as supporting sole or micro traders, is just confirming they are ineligible.
“Adding salt to the wound, the long-awaited Small Business Hardship Fund announced late last week, also does not capture businesses in need.
“Many have found the ‘concierge service’ simply confirms they do not meet criteria, and in some cases have offered mindfulness courses instead of the financial support they need.
“These cash strapped businesses need money, not a meditation class,” said Mr Bull.
“There needs to be a genuine commitment to helping those that have continually suffered losses from the lockdowns and restrictions.
“Those businesses whose revenue has plummeted due to lockdowns, must qualify for supports, not excluded. Simplify it and remove the overarching criteria about whether your ANZSIC code is on the list.
“The reality is there are large groups, like hairdressers to name one, that have suffered major losses but do not qualify.
Note: Historical image taken when masks were not mandated indoors.
“The Minister stands up and quotes dollars in packages, but it is useless if those that need it are ruled out.
“What he needs to do is stand up and say he will commit to compensating all businesses that have been short changed by the COVID lockdowns.”
Mr Bull said a further issue was that of those who do qualify, the compensation is not enough to meet their overheads.
Sunday, 15 August 2021
24hr travel time from Qld puts lives at risk
The Andrews Labor Government and its VicRoads Department warns against driving while drowsy, but expects Victorians returning from Queensland to do the 15-hour journey in 24 hours under its unrealistic permit system for returning travellers.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull said it was impossible for people to take a break every two hours as the Government encourages - and get home within 24 hours.
The VicRoads website carries the following messages:
• Driver fatigue contributes to more than 20% of road crashes in Victoria
• When you are starting to become tired you can't concentrate properly on your driving and so you can't respond as quickly and safely as you should.
• Remember that once you are fatigued the only cure is sleep! Take a break every 2 hours.
• Be aware of your biological clock, namely that you are at an increased accident risk when driving when you normally sleep.
• Until you catch up on sleep, you have a greater risk of having a fatigue related crash.
• The danger for fatigued drivers is that during a microsleep a driver does not react to a hazardous situation.
Mr Bull said this week he had received multiple cases of East Gippslanders in Goondiwindi, right on the Qld/NSW border, wanting to get home, who cannot do it safely within 24 hours.
“They are happy to abide by all the rules, quarantine if they need to, but they’re not going to risk their lives. The fact the Government is forcing those who must return home for medical reasons to do this, is putting lives at risk.
“One person from Stratford, who has just done it, said was 16 hours with a caravan and having taken the risk of doing it, were not stopped at either border and said they would never try it again.
“Another couple from Paynesville, among those at Goondiwindi, cannot do it as only one of the couple drives, so they are bailed up there because of this unrealistic rule.”
Mr Bull said the criteria, at the very least should be changed to 36 hours to provide for a decent night of sleep between two long days of driving, but 48 hours would be preferable.
“It reeks of some bureaucrat working off google maps and not realising what it is like in the real world.”
Photo: Victroia Travel Permit System, Travel Map, Covonavirus.vic.gov.au, Victorian Government as at 08 Aug 2021
Sunday, 8 August 2021