Predictable duck report should be ignored
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, has called on the State Government to reject the findings of what he called a biased inquiry into duck hunting, which recommended an end to the practice.
“What we saw today was not surprising at all with the Greens, Animal Justice Party and Labor MP’s opposed to duck hunting, coming up with a finding in the majority report we all knew was coming but, in my view, common sense findings are in the minority report.
“What’s interesting, is there were two minority reports – the first from the Liberals and Nationals who supported its continuation, and another from a sole Labor MP who broke ranks and opposed multiple elements of the major report.
“The ‘Inquiry into Victoria’s Recreational Native Bird Hunting Arrangements’ main report has ignored science and based its call to end duck hunting on ideology alone,” said Mr Bull.
After hearing overwhelming evidence from scientists showing hunters do not adversely impact the population of water birds, the Liberals and Nationals were unable to support the Inquiry committee’s majority report and Mr Bull commended his colleague Melina Bath for the work she undertook as a member of the committee.
The extensive Liberals and Nationals minority report recommends the continuation of bird harvesting in Victoria in a safe, responsible and sustainable way.
Mr Bull raised the point that opponents of duck season say it is either unsustainable or cruel.
“On the first point, the scientific evidence showed it is sustainable and, on the second point, the report says it should continue to be allowed for Aboriginal Victorians due to cultural reasons. So it poses the question - is cruelty based on who is holding the gun?
“Country people have hunted for food for generations and duck season is important to our local economy.
“Quite frankly, I’ve had enough of predominantly city people telling us what jobs we can and can’t have (eg. timber industry) and what pastimes we can and can’t partake in.
“In 2022, there were almost 28,000 licences to hunt game birds (ducks and quails) in Victoria and many of these were younger men and women. Whether it be fishing or duck season, I support the right to hunt for food.”
Thursday, 31 August, 2023
Roads collapse under budget cuts and regional Victorians pay
Revelations in the media that there will be virtually no Victorian road resurfacing program this financial year are an indictment on the Andrews Government’s continuing financial mismanagement.
Victorians are well aware that our roads have deteriorated dramatically in the past few years and regional Victoria, in particular, is bearing the brunt of repeated roads budget cuts and neglect from the Government.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, said a 45 per cent cut to the roads maintenance budget since 2020, including a further 25 per cent cut in this year’s budget was hurting Victorian motorists.
“The report stating that no contracts for road resurfacing have gone to tender this year should ring alarm bells for all Victorians. Without a resurfacing and resealing program, the deterioration of our roads will only accelerate,” Mr Bull said.
“We know our roads are in a dire state, finding after the floods last year, yet the Andrews Labor Government is cutting road maintenance, not increasing it. It beggars belief.”
Mr Bull said it was no surprise that country people were taking matters into their own hands and spray-painting messages to “fix our roads” on badly potholed road sections.
“I recently saw such graffiti on the Great Alpine Road in Lucknow on a notoriously reoccurring pothole, and I know there are many sections of local roads that display the same structural defect.
“The budget papers released in May listed the road area to be resurfaced across metropolitan and regional Victoria as “tbc”. Maybe they just meant ‘terribly bad condition’.”
Monday, 28 August, 2023
Tenders for Thurra bridge finally released
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, is pleased that tenders to replace the Thurra River Bridge have finally been opened by the State Government, more than three and a half years after it was destroyed by fire.
“While I remain very annoyed it has taken this long and the bridge will not be finished until late 2025, it is nevertheless an important step,” he said.
“Quite understandably, many locals were rightly starting to wonder after all this time if the government planned to rebuild the bridge and restore access to the Thurra River campground and Point Hicks.
“Having met with Departmental representatives at Parliament last sitting week, I am advised that tenders will close mid-September, a contractor will be in place by December and work will start soon after.
“The advice I have received is that it will be an 18-24 month build, so the completion date has been pushed out to late 2025.
“While this will be almost six years after it was destroyed, which is completely unacceptable, we will at least see some movement in the next six months.
“One of the issues is the bridge over the Little Thurra needs to be strengthened to take the weight of the machinery required to fix the major bridge. There were some community concerns that it needed to be replaced, but I am now advised it requires only strengthening, which can be undertaken within a matter of weeks.”
Mr Bull said Departmental representatives explained to him that the most recent delays came after an April 2022 flood event, which washed away a new area around the bridge, requiring new cultural heritage assessments to be undertaken.
“The reality is, work should have been commenced long before this flood hit, and the new assessments should not have taken so long to complete. There has just been no urgency from the Government on this project.
“The disappointing element of all this is that the campground still has a lot of debris, so because it has taken so long to get this far, we face the reality that the first summer holiday season it is open is 2026/27 – seven years after the fires.”
Mr Bull said the damage to the Point Hicks Road meant the Department was also considering walking access only to Point Hicks from the Thurra campground.
“I certainly understand that erosion is a problem on the existing road, but would hope that all options for vehicular access are explored so the iconic Point Hicks area is open for visitation by people of all ages given its significance of being the first part of mainland Australia sighted by Captain Cook.
“I look forward to the Department hopefully restoring access before the end of 2025 so the campground can be open for the summer of 2025/26, which I don’t think is too much to ask,” he said.
Monday, 28 August, 2023
Photo Credit: Rylee Pardew
Timber industry needs more detail and support
The announcement by the Andrews Labor Government today of additional supports for timber industry dependent workers has provided some progress for those affected, but is long overdue, lacks detail and does not provide the in-person supports required.
This is the view of Gippsland East National MP, Tim Bull, who has been raising the need for more detail every Parliament sitting week since the announcement was made earlier this year.
“While I want the decision reversed, the fact is the Premier made this announcement with no detail whatsoever for the people impacted.
“This is a step in the right direction, but what I have been calling for is the government to give clear timelines for when the supports will be received and to set up an in-person presence in these timber towns where impacted persons can go and have a face-to-face chat and get some answers. There remains no mention of either of these matters addressed.
“My main focus has been on getting the Government to act on these matters and ensure ‘down the line’ businesses and workers not directly employed by the mills or holding VicForests’ contracts are looked after. I am pleased there appears to be provision for this.
“The announcement today indicates there will be support payments for the likes of firewood sellers, seed collectors and other forest reliant workers, however it still does not address what the government is going to do to address the firewood shortage that it created with the ban.
“Harvest and haulage sub-contractors, chip truck drivers and other businesses heavily dependent on the native timber industry will also be eligible for supports, but they need timeframes and amounts as many are really up against it with mortgages to pay.
“I am also hopeful the Forestry Transition Fund delivers quickly to the truss manufacturing plant in Newmerella that will provide a number of local jobs almost immediately, another issue I have raised directly with the Premier’s office,” said Mr Bull.
Caption: Nationals MP, Tim Bull with John Dahlsen and Lachlan Heather, discussing the proposed Dahlsen Steel Trusses manufacturing joint venture, at Newmerella.
Wednesday, 23 August 2023
Bull encourages students to enter Spirit of Anzac Prize
Victorian secondary school students in years 9-12 are invited to prepare a submission for the 2023 Spirit of Anzac Prize competition, where 10 lucky students will be selected for a fully funded study tour to battlefields and commemorative sites in Türkiye.
Nationals’ Gippsland East MP and Shadow Minister for Veterans, Tim Bull, encourages local students with a passion for Australian and New Zealand war history and service, to consider preparing an entry to the prize by demonstrating what the spirit of the Anzac means to them.
“The best thing is, you can be as creative as you’d like in preparing your submission. You can choose to provide a written piece, produce digital content, or use your artistic talent - the choice is yours,” Mr Bull said.
“Selected students will be afforded a trip of a lifetime, where they will travel to learn first-hand the Anzac tradition that will deepen their understanding and appreciation of our war history, by walking in the footsteps of our soldiers.
“This scholarship is designed to engage with middle and senior school students to explore our incredible Anzac legacy, with the aim to strengthen intergenerational Australian (Anzac) connections with Türkiye.
“Personally, I have visited the battlefields of Gallipoli and viewed the Peninsula where approximately 16,000 brave Anzac soldiers landed on April 25, 1915.
“This sacred place is etched in Australian history which has shaped our future and independence, and is a place once visited, you will never forget.”
For students interested in participating in the Spirit of Anzac Prize, applications must be submitted before Wednesday September 6, 2023. For more information, please go to https://www.vic.gov.au/premiers-spirit-anzac-prize.
Wednesday, 23 August, 2023
Boardwalk by Christmas, cabins 17 months away
The Cape Conran boardwalk will be open by Christmas with work to recommence in the coming weeks, according to Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull.
However, the Cape Conran cabins will be considerably longer with a completion date 17 months away, in December 2024, with work to recommence by Christmas this year.
Mr Bull said he received briefings in Parliament last week on the two projects.
“I am advised the delays in both cases were due to cultural heritage concerns where either machinery drove over areas outside the approved footprint, or materials or machinery were stored or unloaded in areas beyond the approved boundary.
“While I find the period of delays very frustrating (over 12 months in relation to the cabins and just short of 12 months for the boardwalk), we can look forward to some action on both sites soon.”
Mr Bull said he was pleased to hear return to work on the boardwalk is imminent and it will be open for the upcoming summer holiday period.
“It is a very popular tourist attraction and while it should have been open much sooner, I look forward to it being available to both locals and visitors again.
“With the cabins being pre-fabricated, you would have thought if work commenced in December this year, they would be available by the middle of next year, but the timeline I have received is December 2024.
“I hope it is a case of the Government giving itself some loose timelines so it can pat itself on the back for delivering ahead of schedule,” Mr Bull said.
Monday, 21 August, 2023