Urgent urchin action needed
The State Government has been asked to address the sea-urchin invasion that is destroying important Mallacoota abalone industry grounds.
Nationals Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, has highlighted the urgency of the issue to the responsible Minister, Sonia Kilkenny, and requested that both short and long-term actions be put in place.
“The issue we have here is the urchins basically eat everything and destroy abalone grounds, leaving lifeless ‘barrens’ on the ocean floor,” Mr Bull said.
“Although the industry has undertaken some control measures themselves in the past, they have been overwhelmed as increasing numbers of urchins continue with their destructive grazing.
“The abalone fishers are faced with the dilemma of having to focus on their core business and using any down time to control the urchin numbers, but it is a battle they are losing, and it is clear some government intervention is required.
“The Tasmanian Government is dealing with this problem and has put a subsidy in place to make the time spent harvesting urchins more viable, and not a money losing exercise. This is one solution we should be considering in Victoria.”
Mr Bull said an ideal resolution would be to create a viable market, and while no one rules that out in the future, it is clear we need some immediate interventions.
“Regardless, what we need is a longer-term action plan and while that is being developed, a short-term focus to assist the abalone industry, which is the biggest employer in Mallacoota and a critical export industry.”
Calls to reinstate rail buffet service
Amid a growing number of complaints, Nationals Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, has called on the Public Transport Minister to provide a buffet car service on V/Line long haul trains that travel directly to and from Melbourne.
“Over recent months there has been an increasing amount of people lodging complaints that they can no longer purchase a snack or a drink on this long-haul route, which is a step back in service delivery,” Mr Bull said.
“You would think in this day and age we would be looking to improve services to patrons, but it is not the case here.
“I don’t think it is too much to ask for a passenger on an almost four-hour long train trip to be able to buy something to eat or drink.”
Mr Bull said when he had raised this issue previously, he had been told there would be no food or drink available to purchase on the new VLocity trains, but then discovered the Albury line, which also runs VLocitys, is equipped with on-board café facilities.
“If it is OK on that line, why is this not being duplicated around the state, including on the Gippsland line,” he said.
“Another issue that has arisen is the loss of baggage checking services on current VLocity carriages, which is making the rail journey burdensome, particularly for elderly passengers.
“I have also asked the Minister to please reinstate this service, so those who need assistance with their luggage receive it,” he said.
Monday, 27 February 2023
Short duck season a slap in face to law abiding hunters
Gippsland East MP, Tim Bull, said he was disappointed a duck season of only a little over a month had been announced with a four bird limit.
“Recent years has seen significant improvement in the actions of hunters. Last year more than 1200 game licence holders and this included 970 hunter bags. Only one hunter was found to have exceeded his bag limit and over 99% of hunters checked were complying with all conditions of the game hunting regulations.
“Locally, Field and Game does an extraordinary job in the area of conservation. They restore wetland habitat to ensure sustainability of all species and control feral species and weeds.
“Recently, Victorian voters went to the polls. The "Ban Duck Hunting" party attracted less than 1.5 per cent across the board of Lower House votes.
“There are 26,000 Victorian duck hunters and many come to our area and support the local economy. The economic contribution of recreational hunting report by the Government in 2020 states the contribution to Gross State Product from recreational hunting by game licence holders in Victoria in 2019 was $356 million.
“There were an estimated 1,626 full time equivalent (FTE) jobs generated directly by recreational hunting-related expenditure with a further 1,513 FTE jobs generated by flow-on activity, so the total employment contribution was 3,138 FTE jobs and the majority of expenditure is outside Melbourne, with 69% in regional Victoria.”
Mr Bull said he realised this was an emotive issue with differences of opinion and while not a duck hunter himself, he was a recreational angler and supported the right to hunt for food. In Victoria hunters are required by Law to collect all shot ducks, and to harvest at least the breast meat (most take the whole bird).
“It is also concerning the Government has announced an inquiry into duck season and will no doubt appoint a majority of its own members to control numbers,” he said.
Friday, 24 February 2023
Sporting club grants open
East Gippsland sporting groups can kick off their 2023 season with funding now available for uniforms, equipment, training and club development.
Nationals Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull is encouraging local sporting groups and organisations to apply for the Sporting Club Grants Program which is now open.
Mr Bull said the program is designed to give clubs the tools and resources they need to keep them viable and competitive but also connected with the community.
Funding is available under three categories, but only one application can be submitted across all categories.
Category 1: Uniforms or Equipment
Up to $1,000 to purchase:
• Uniforms for teams or individuals
• Participation equipment which is used during physical participation in a sport or active recreation activity
• Safety, injury prevention and first-aid equipment.
Category 2: Skill Development
Up to $2,000 for training or courses that improve the skills of coaches, officials, volunteers and administrators.
Category 3: Operational Capacity
Up to $5,000 for projects that create new participation opportunities, improve accessibility or strengthen operational capacity.
“Grassroots sport plays a critical role in the fabric of our communities, keeping people healthy, active and socially connected,” Mr Bull said.
“It is so important clubs have access to funding support to encourage participation not only for athletes, but for coaches, officials and club administrators, minimising the cost burden for all.”
Applications close 15 March 2023. For more information and to apply for Sporting Club Grants Program visit sport.vic.gov.au/grants-and-funding.
Friday, 24 February 2023
DEECA closed for business
The question as to why the Government’s Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) offices, formerly DELWP, has significantly reduced opening hours, was raised this week in State Parliament by Nationals’ Gippsland East MP, Tim Bull.
“One has to ask what is going on in the Department of name changes,” he told Parliament.
“The DEECA offices in Bairnsdale and Orbost recently published their new – and significantly reduced – hours they are open to the public.
“In a growing area like East Gippsland, we are now told the offices in Bairnsdale will be closed every Friday - the day when people may want to get camp site information, maps, fishing licences or other general information.
“If that is not bad enough, on other days of the week, they are closed between noon and 1pm and then after 3pm – it is a part time office.
“But if you’re shaking your head now, consider Orbost. In the middle of one of our most fire prone areas in the world, it is not only shut Friday, but also Monday and is also only open on restricted hours three days a week.
“Why should a town in the middle of one of the most fire prone areas in the world and surrounded by National Parks, be forced to have such limited access to its State Government office?
“It sounds like the policy idea of a Melbourne based bureaucrat, but I am surprised it made it past the Minister’s office.”
Mr Bull said this was not the issue of the staff, who are receptive and professional, but is clearly the result of a directive from above and it should change.
“One would have thought in an area with a growing population and increasing numbers of visitors wanting to enjoy our camp areas and great outdoors, we are closing the offices for so much time, especially on a Friday.
“Sadly, it’s just another case of this city centric government reducing services to country areas. I have asked the Minister for a full explanation behind the rationale,” he said.
Monday, 20 February 2023
More investment needed in decaying public dental
The average wait time for public dental care in Victoria has increased to 26.7 months, the worst delays in dental care this decade and Nationals MP for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, is calling for more investment from the State Government.
“It is disappointing, but not surprising, the wait times have blown out after the Andrews Government cut funds to its public dental allocation in last year’s budget, which is there for all to see,” Mr Bull said.
“What would you think the outcome of this action to be? That is why we made a very significant pre-election commitment to increase funds to the service to help address the problem.
“The Andrews Government remained silent in this area, but it is a problem they can ignore no longer.
“The average wait at Central Gippsland Health Service is 18.9 months and there is no dentist at Bairnsdale Regional Health Service currently, which is adding to the burden and worsening health outcomes of patients needing treatment.
“In some cases, we have heard from constituents who have been provided with vouchers to access to private dental services for urgent work, but there is no requirement for these vouchers be accepted and, in some cases, they have been refused, leaving the patient with a dental dilemma.
“The Government must significantly increase its public dental allocation in this year’s budget to reverse the cuts of last year and provide an improved service across the state,” Mr Bull said.
Monday, 13 February 2023