Treatment of timber families disgraceful
As we enter December with the timber industry to close in four weeks, Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, has blasted the Labor State Government for its inexcusable treatment of timber families.
“As it sits, we have four weeks until the closure and the government has not provided even the most basic information, and the Premier and Minister for Agriculture are now backtracking on their commitment to meet with industry representatives, attempting to push it off to lower-level bureaucrats.
The major issues are:
• For those who want to stay on and work in fire control for DEECA, there is no information on where this work will be, what the pay is and what machinery will be required. How can they make a decision?
• Government correspondence indicates those who accept this work will not receive their full departure package payment. This should be treated separately as they are being forced to change jobs.
• Despite committing to meet with harvest and haulage contractors herself, the Premier (and Minister) are now trying to push this off to bureaucrats.
• The Allan Labor Government has not yet decided on a final base departure package with the current base offer being well below what is acceptable.
• The Allan Labor Government has not formally overturned in writing its decision that machinery over 10 years old will be included in compensation, when we have a number of harvest and haulage contractors with valuable machines over 10 years old that they cannot sell due to there now being no market.
• Machinery under 10 years old will only be compensated up to the limits of the package allocation – this needs to be uncapped to allow fair compensation.
• It is still a requirement for employers to fund the retraining of staff, when the government said it would do this.
“This was a decision made on the run that makes no environmental sense and is just Labor bowing to the Greens,” said Mr Bull.
“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has clearly stated building with wood is the biggest climate change mitigation measure we can take, and goes on to say we should be using a balance of plantation and native forest. No old growth is harvested in Victoria, only regrowth.
“What is going to occur is consumers are going to keep buying hardwood because that is what they are told to do as the most effective climate change measure, but we will now have it coming from countries with less oversight, harvesting old growth that is not replanted.
“Last year, I took the time to sit down with one city Green MP to explain this and he just looked at me across the coffee table and said he could not provide an answer to that scenario, so they do not even really understand the background of what they are campaigning for,” said Mr Bull.
Monday, 27 November 2023
Emergency services grant awarded
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, is pleased a number of local agencies have been successful in the latest round of the Volunteer Emergency Services Equipment Program (VESEP) grants.
“This was a very successful program under the Liberals and Nationals, and I am pleased it has been continued.
“In an area that is so dependent on its emergency services, it’s important that East Gippsland receives its fair share, a point I continue to make at every opportunity with the Government Ministers,” he said.
Among local recipients are:
Cann Valley $255,000
Kalimna West $2,256
Mount Taylor $65,334
Surf Life Saving
Mallacoota SLS $14,547
SLS Lakes Entrance Inc $45,481
Marine Search and Rescue
Gippsland Squadron (AVCGA) $3,632
Lakes Entrance Coast Guard $21,468
Marlo Coast Guard $17,428
Paynesville Coast Guard $20,629
Tambo Valley $6,700.70
Monday, November 27, 2023
Promised nursery with 30 jobs join list of Labor failed promises
The new native nursery and 30 jobs promised for Nowa Nowa in 2020, then to be moved to Bairnsdale, will now not proceed at all, it has been revealed under questioning by Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull.
“The nursery was originally committed to Nowa Nowa by current Labor Upper House MP, Harriet Shing, over three years ago, but that was withdrawn, and the government then stated it would relocate the project and its 30 jobs to Bairnsdale,” said Mr Bull.
“With nothing having been said since, I asked the Minister in March:
(1) What is the exact location of the nursery?
(2) Has construction commenced and what is the approximate date for its opening?
(3) Does the Government still stand by the claim it will provide full time employment for 30 people?
“Finally, eight months later, I received a response where it said, ‘changed market conditions since the project’s inception were found to have affected the commercial viability of proceeding. VicForests elected not to award a tender’.
“Then as if to rub salt into the wound, the response then goes on to say, ‘the Allan Labor Government is committed to the long-term sustainability of forestry in Gippsland, including through supporting the industry’s transition to wholly plantation-based supply via the flagship Gippsland Plantations Investment Program, and VicForests’ Farm Forestry Program.’
“Apart from closing down the native timber industry on January 1, parliamentary hearings this week revealed Labor’s “timber transition” into plantation is a sham.
“Back in 2017 it allocated $110 million to plant 30 million trees needed for plantation to meet demand, but last week it was revealed it has planted only 4,000 trees in the six years since that announcement.
“That’s 4,000 trees. At this rate per annum, they’ll hit their target in 7,500 years,” said Mr Bull.
“Typical Labor, making promises they do not deliver – airport rail, Geelong fast rail, electric vehicle manufacturing plant in the Latrobe Valley and the Commonwealth Games to name a few that have all been scrapped.”
Monday, 27 November 2023
Government creates public housing mess
The release of the State Government’s own housing figures shows its “Big Housing Build” is a complete furphy.
Despite the government promising 12,000 new public housing residences, the area from Latrobe Valley east has had a net reduction of 37 homes since 2017.
Is it any wonder housing agencies and charities supporting the homeless are finding things more difficult than ever?
To break it down - in 2017 East Gippsland had 933 social housing residences and this year it has dropped to 931 (-2), Wellington has gone from 682 to 679
(-3) and the large Latrobe area has dropped from 2,177 to 2,145 (-32).
Statewide we have seen a net increase of 394, but most of this has been increases in suburban areas and decreases in rural areas.
However, when considering this net increase, the government acknowledges it has spent $3 billion on housing – for a statewide gain of only 394.
The reason is, while more new homes have been built, a large amount of stock has been sold, decommissioned, or demolished by the State Government, making the increase marginal.
It gets worse.
Given a number of the homes that have been sold, decommissioned or demolished were larger and a high percentage of the replacement builds are single bedroom dwellings – we have actually had a reduction in public housing bedrooms.
The 2018 figure was 160,348 bedrooms down to 157,615 now – 2,733 fewer.
It is little wonder wait times have blown out to over 18 months and the waiting list now exceeds 60,000.
Even then, it gets worse.
In this time, the government has introduced a range of new taxes and standards on landlords that have seen many leave the market.
The new State rental minimum standards saw landlords having to spend (in some local cases $10,000 - $15,000) to bring properties up to the new levels.
They also lost the right of veto on tenants having pets or wishing to make minor alterations to properties, like shelves installed on walls.
These increased costs and regulation changes were a tipping point for many who moved to other investment options or shifted their investments interstate.
If they do hold on, they are passing the additional costs on to tenants, making properties less affordable.
When landlords are selling, few are being purchased by those on the waiting list, so this just places more pressure on the public housing sector.
What the government doesn’t seem to realise is that these landlords are not all wealthy. The majority are mum and dad investors who could not absorb these increased costs, or were not happy with the loss of oversight.
The top occupations of people who own rentals include childcare workers, the disability sector, aged care, mechanics, truck drivers, receptionists, sales assistants, teachers, nurses and police officers. Hardly the top end of town.
And it’s about to get even worse again.
On January 1, the tax-free threshold for land tax rates will reduce from $300k to $50k, hitting more rental property owners, mainly rural.
In addition, there will also be an extra sliding fixed annual charge imposed, starting at $500 for landholdings that are valued from $50k to $100k and rising to $3,675 per annum at the top end of the market.
This will only do two things (1) force more landlords to invest elsewhere, or (2) result in increased costs for renters as the impost is passed on.
In summary, the $3 billion spend on the “Big Build” has delivered 35 less public housing homes to Gippsland in six years – delivered 2,733 less public housing bedrooms – and delivered a massively increased waiting list of over 60,000.
At the same time, the government has introduced policy to force landlords from the sector – and it is planning to hit landlords with more taxes in six weeks’ time.
You could not have made a bigger mess of it if you sat down to try.
As more homes get built, the government needs to stop selling off existing public housing to fund it, so when we get a new public housing residence, it is a net gain, not a replacement home for one gone by the wayside.
Monday, 20 November 2023
Neglected roadside vegetation must be managed
Overgrown roadside vegetation must be addressed as summer and the impending bushfire season approaches.
Nationals State MP for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said he has received a number of complaints from residents across the region calling for roadside slashing to be undertaken prior to summer.
“What we need is the Labor Government to commit to an intensive slashing and vegetation removal program across regional Victoria before summer hits.
“The recent heavy rain has intensified roadside vegetation growth in the region and the overriding priority of the state government must be the protection of human life.
“Right throughout the region, roadsides are burgeoning with out-of-control and highly flammable long grass, dead wood and weed species.
“Given the forecast weather pattern for summer – fuel load reduction on our roadsides must be prioritised.”
Mr Bull said unkept roadsides act as a wick during bushfire events and deny residents a safe passage during bushfire events.
“Bushfire experts indicate that community safety is significantly improved when roadside fuel loads are reduced through slashing, burning, and weed management.
“Private property owners have a legal responsibility to keep their land cleared and fire safe, setting the precent for the act on its own directive and maintain roadsides to keep regional communities safe.
“Gippsland has already experienced an early start to bushfire season, and many regional Victorians are justifiably concerned about Labor’s woeful preparation.
“Fuel reduction saves lives, and we need to do everything possible to mitigate the risk of catastrophic fires impacting local communities, this summer,” Mr Bull said.
Monday, 13 November 2023
Oil and gas fields need to be returned to fishing industry
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, has said the de-commissioning of the Bass Strait oil and gas fields needs to ensure the areas are fully returned to the fishing industry.
Speaking in State Parliament recently, Mr Bull sought State Government support to achieve this outcome.
“What has transpired to date is that the companies involved have spoken about cutting some of these platforms and underwater structures off 50 metres below the surface.
“That of course does not allow for our commercial fishing nets to go into those areas, so it leaves that area unfishable from a commercial perspective.
“What I am seeking from this government and the Minister who has responsibility for this sector, is for them to work with their federal government counterparts to return this area to a commercial fishing ground, as it was before the oil and gas industry commenced in Bass Strait.
“The industry is under additional pressure at the current time from potential wind farm development in Bass Strait – and what transpires there, we will find out probably over the next decade, but this is an issue we need to look at now.
“It is such an important industry not only for the East Gippsland economy but for the Victorian economy.
“It has the biggest throughput of seafood of any port in this state, and it is amongst the highest in Australia, so you can imagine the impact that has to our Victorian economy.
“We need to look after those commercial fishermen and I seek the full Parliament’s support to achieve that,” he said.
Caption: State MP for Gippsland East, Tim Bull (pictured at Lakes Entrance Fishermen Limited), is calling for the de-commissioned oil and gas fields to be fully returned to the fishing industry.
Monday, 13 November 2023