February 2024
Monday, 26 February 2024 16:10

Labor misuses money then comes after yours

Mum and Dad property investors are this year being slugged with greatly increased land tax by the Allan Labor Government, which is having a dire impact on the already stressed housing rental market.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, said the new big tax bill will directly result in less rental properties in the marketplace.
“In this period of rental and housing crisis, Labor is driving middle income investors out of the sector with its massive tax increases.
“Properties are being sold and rents driven up as landlords invest elsewhere. The homes are not being sold to those who are renting or to the homeless, as they cannot afford the purchase prices, so it just makes it harder for families.
“A strong private rental sector is a key component of dealing with housing availability, but this tax is making landlords invest interstate, in the stock market, bonds or another option. Alternatively, if they stay in the market, they pass this additional cost on to renters who can’t afford to pay.
“The Allan Labor Government also seems to hold the view that those who own a second home are wealthy. This is not accurate.
“The top 40 occupations of people who own rentals include workers in childcare, the disability sector, aged care, motor mechanics, truck drivers, receptionists, sales assistants, school teachers, nurses and police officers. They have simply chosen to invest in property rather than another option.
“The government’s cash grab includes decreasing the land tax threshold from $300,000 down to $50,000 and it is also whacking owners of properties valued between $300,000 and $600,000 with an annual tax bill that starts at $1,350. Last year the same landlords were charged around $375,” Mr Bull said.
“Talk to any real estate agent and they will tell you landlords are seriously considering their future and when they leave – as they are – it further increases the gap between rental demand and supply.
“Wouldn’t it make more sense to say to Mum and Dad investment property owners – if you commit to the rental market for 5-10 years, you will be exempted from these charges? Incentivise them, not punish them,” said Mr Bull.
To provide an example of the impact of things like the land tax money grab, it was recently reported the CEO of Stockdale and Lego, a major realtor said, “when the land tax change was announced, all our offices across Victoria received calls from landlords saying they wanted out”.
“That article also quoted one landlord selling up and moving her property investment to Queensland, and another selling up and investing in the stock market. It is becoming more common.
“Add into the mix, the Federal Government has just announced the highest number of foreign students will come into Australia in a decade, with over half a million visas granted.
“A report by the Institute of Public Affairs found international students took up 70 per cent of new housing units in the last financial year and the flood of students coming will further increase pressure on the housing market.
“First National Real Estate chief executive, Ray Ellis, said he feared such a move would result in a 30 per cent reduction in rental supply – ‘at a minimum’.
“Then throw in on top of this that we have less public housing in East Gippsland than we had seven years ago and you can see why the housing crisis is hitting so hard,” said Mr Bull.
“In 2017 we had 933 public housing homes in East Gippsland, that is down to 931. Labor spouts its Big Housing Build and the new homes, but what they don’t tell you is that in many areas they are selling off old stock at a quicker rate.
“The Housing Minister is our own local Labor Upper House MP, Harriet Shing, and she needs to act.
“The housing market is tough, but Labor’s policies are making the housing market even tougher as it tries to service the massive debt it has created, which presently includes an interest bill of $15 million per day.
“Ms Shing could start by halting the war on our middle-income landlords and providing a framework that encourages people into property investment rather than push them out.
“This is the outcome of not being able to manage projects or money.”

Monday, 26 February 2024

Published in Media
Monday, 26 February 2024 09:59

Time Harriet fronted up and did some explaining

Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull has called on local Labor MP and Housing Minister, Harriet Shing, to address the increasing homelessness crisis in East Gippsland.

 “Time and time again we have Labor MP’s coming into the Chamber spruiking the new homes under their Big Housing Build – but it is all a charade as they are not ‘additional’ homes,” said Mr Bull.

“While some new public housing residences being built, a trend observed throughout the state involves the accelerated sale of existing housing stock, resulting in less public housing homes, and East Gippsland Shire is a classic example.

“The government’s own figures show that in June 2017 we had 933 public housing residences in East Gippsland Shire, and in June 2023 we had 931 – that is a reduction of two homes in the past seven years. Is it any wonder we have a burgeoning crisis?

“However, every time we raise this in the Chamber or publicly, all Harriet and her colleagues talk about is the number of ‘new’ homes – which to a large degree is irrelevant when we are talking about a roof over your head.

“In East Gippsland, like much of the state, we have an increasing number of homeless under Labor:

  • *Significantly increases taxes on landlords that are passed on to renters, who then find the rent unaffordable;
  • *Tax landlords to a degree many are leaving the sector to invest in other areas impacting the number of homes available to low income earning renters;
  • *Has overseen a 30% increase in power bills with paltry supports and subsidies in place, when it promised to bring power prices down;
  • *Is charging parents more than any other state to send a student to a public school;
  • *Introduced taxes that make it more expensive for families to see a doctor;
  • *Has got itself in so much debt - $165 billion by 2025-26 - it is currently paying $15 million in interest a day on its borrowings.

“The point is, people are not becoming homeless by accident. This government is making it tougher for families with the decisions it is making. What is even more scary is they are putting more money on the credit card as they pursue the Suburban Rail Loop at a cost of another $34.5 billion.

“Last year I met with agencies dealing with the homelessness issue, including St Vinnies and our local council, and warned that we were going to face an increasing crisis as the cost-of-living pressures kicked in. It is a matter I have also raised continually in the Chamber at Parliament and suggested policy solutions that would assist, but the government just sticks to its lines of how much it is spending and how many new homes it is building, which is all nonsense when it comes to addressing the problem.

“Ms Shing needs to come to East Gippsland, which is her electorate, and explain why she is supporting the building of the SRL while increasing state debt to unmanageable levels that makes life more difficult for low-income earners and, at the same time, she is providing less public housing residences in our region.

“You cannot continue to get up and simply spruik the line you want to spruik that sounds good, and not addressing the problems we face. It is time she answered the real questions for her electorate and portfolio,” Mr Bull said.

Monday, 26 February 2024

Published in Media
Monday, 26 February 2024 09:25

Power exchange

Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull met with AusNet Services management last week, to discuss system improvements after the recent power outages across the region.

“The reason for the meeting was to make sure we have better communication platform in place when future events impact our region. It was a forthright, but positive discussion,” said Mr Bull.

“The national Chief Executive, David Smales, has only been in the job for a matter of weeks, but was genuine about trying to make the system better.

“I raised concern some towns that had issues like Mallacoota, Genoa and Lake Tyers Beach never appeared at any stage on their outage tracker, yet towns like Paynesville and Eagle Point, that never lost power, were listed as without connection for days and in some cases lost accommodation bookings.

“In short, the reason was the regular more accurate system collapsed under weight of enquiry and this was a substitute platform that Mr Smales agreed was inadequate.

“The website that usually provides more specific data was set up to cope with one million hits in a day, but it had 3.5 million in five hours and buckled. Mr Smales guaranteed this would be rectified.

“The other request I made, that has been taken on board, is that when we have major outages, AusNet provides a person of contact in each Local Government Area, someone who knows the local towns and geography and can answer specific questions or come back to you.

“I have asked for a person in each area to be made a point of contact for business and tourism associations, chambers of commerce, MP’s, councils etc, rather than be talking to a comms team in Melbourne that has no local knowledge.

“I am very respectful that in the early days when assessments are being done, few guarantees can be provided, but it is about having that point of contact,” said Mr Bull.

“Another topical point was the vegetation removal criteria. The latest event showed that trees outside the clearance / buffer space caused a lot of the problems. For example, if a buffer of 10 metres is provided and a 20-metre-tall tree, two metres outside the buffer falls, it is going to put the power out.

“This is government regulated, but I advised Mr Smales we would be happy to support changes that would result in a more secure power supply,” Mr Bull said.

Caption: Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, met with AusNet Chief Executive, David Smales, to discuss customer communication and system improvements along with government regulated vegetation clearing buffer zones, after recent power outages in East Gipplsand.

Monday, 26 February 2024

Published in Media
Monday, 19 February 2024 10:36

Caves rebuild must be fast tracked

The State Environment Minister, Steve Dimopoulos, has been put on notice that the Buchan Caves Reserve rebuild needs to be completed in 2024.

Speaking in Parliament recently, Nationals Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, acknowledged there was much to be done, but stressed the importance of the Caves Reserve to the town and region’s economy.

“Given we are presently more than four years on from the 2019/20 fires and still have a number of Parks Victoria infrastructure to be rebuilt due to bureaucratic dithering, I have asked the Minister to commit to having the Caves Reserve open for this summer,” he said.

“As an example, Mr Bull made the point that when the floods hit, there were still areas of the Caves Reserve that had not been repaired four years on from the 2019/20 fires.

“Parks has said it needs to get approvals and permits, and that is true, but my point is get a wriggle on and get them in place. Most will be from their own government, so it can be fast tracked.

“If they relate to cultural heritage matters, let’s work with our traditional owners, who I am sure also want it opened again as soon as possible, to make it happen quickly.

“It is of significant concern the amount of dithering and bureaucratic bungling that goes on with Parks, and their lack of urgency when it comes to our important regional tourism infrastructure.

“The local staff are good, but those above them need a few enthusiasm pills at times, to break through the green and red tape.

All things being equal, to still have major attractions not rebuilt four years on and in some cases looking at six years, there is just simply no reasonable excuse, it’s an absolute disgrace,” he said.

Caption: State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, has called for Parks Victoria’s Buchan Caves Reserve to be prioritised for reopening, in 2024.

Monday, 19 February 2024

Published in Media
Monday, 19 February 2024 10:35

AusNet, Telstra in firing line

Undertakings for improved communications and information sharing from essential service providers will be sought by Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, in the wake of last week’s power outages.

Mr Bull said there will be times, no matter what preparations are put in place, Mother Nature impacts on our communities, but we need some baseline standards adopted by companies like AusNet and Telstra to communicate better to our communities and have them better prepared.

“AusNet unfortunately provided bits and pieces of information that were in direct conflict and, in some cases, simply wrong. Their communications staff are often remotely based and have no local knowledge.

“It is clear they have no capacity to deal with these situations anywhere near as well as they should be doing, and there are numerous examples to support this view.

“My initial contact outlined that, fully understanding the complexities and in many cases timeframes could not be provided as assessments were still being done, to provide me with information I could share with the community that had been confirmed. However, there was conflicting and incorrect information provided regularly.

“One example is my office was provided with written (email) information saying Metung would be back online by 6pm on 15/2 (Thursday). I relayed this widely as I’d had two families with loved ones over 90 that would leave them in Metung if the power was coming back on, but would drive from Melbourne to pick them up if it was to be longer term. We also had people on CPAP machines needing power.

“However, at around 2pm Thursday (four hours before the power was to come back on) the AusNet outage tracker website changed to say power in Metung would not be restored until 19/2 (Monday). I enquired and was told it would be by 6pm Friday – that’s three timelines for the same town. On questioning, no one knew where the Monday timeframe came from on the website,” Mr Bull said.

In addition, the power was out at Cann River, Genoa and Mallacoota, but these towns never at any stage appeared on the website outage tracker. Lake Tyers Beach is another that was never listed.
“Apparently Tyers had restricted supply and that is why it was never listed, but businesses could not open, and they needed information and timelines as to when full power would be restored. There should have been provision for this information to be made available rather than be sitting on the phone on hold for three hours, before giving up.

“Throughout the outage, Paynesville and Eagle Point were listed as offline for several days on the outage tracker, but power was never lost there at any stage. The reason this was an issue, is people were looking at this website and cancelling their holiday bookings online because they thought there was no power.

Although there are complexities and in some cases timeframes are not known, AusNet simply cannot:
• Give out information that is not accurate
• List towns as being offline when power was never lost there
• Leave towns off lists altogether when the power is out in these communities as they feel forgotten and disenfranchised.

“Nor can it say it is too hard to give accurate information so we will say less, the community demands information that is accurate,” said Mr Bull.

“Then we have Telstra, which I met with post fires and sought significant improvements in relation to back-up power, but it seems to have got worse in the four years since.

“We need back-up generators, but we seem to have only back-up batteries for as little as two hours. Telstra needs to provide a network that can function for extended periods when the power goes out.

“For a company that recorded a $2.1 billion profit last year, it should be doing better in rural communities. They also struggled to provide information to the level required as to when services would be restored.”

Mr Bull said he was pleased AusNet had agreed to meet this week to discuss improvements, and he would seek a meeting with Telstra to do the same.

“One of my suggestions will be that when such instances occur, a person in each area with a good local geographical knowledge, be put in place to liaise with local government, state and federal MP’s, business and tourism association reps, chambers of commerce, etc with accurate information.

“I acknowledge in the early days there are few guarantees that can be made and timelines given while assessments are done, but the community needs to be kept informed much better than it was with as much accurate detail as possible, so plans can be made for individuals and businesses.”

Caption: Images of the storm damage in the Main Street of Bairnsdale.

Monday, 19 February 2024

Published in Media
Monday, 12 February 2024 10:49

Dangerous trees must go

The Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Melissa Horne, has been asked to remove bushfire damaged dangerous trees from the 2020 fires that remain on Gelantipy Road roadsides.

Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, said the trees have been identified for removal for around three years, and continue to pose a risk to drivers.

“I raised this matter halfway through last year and they remain, without any action having taken place.

“Alarmingly, two have fallen across the road since last June 2023, blocking the road and risking the lives of motorists. It has only been good luck that has avoided a disaster.

“So last week in the Chamber I asked the Minister not only why these hazardous trees have not been removed, but also to provide a completion date so the community is aware of when it will be done,” he said.

Caption: Nationals State MP, Tim Bull, is calling for the removal of identified hazardous trees along Gelantipy Road.

Monday, 12 February 2024

Published in Media
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