Call for sensible COVID changes
Minor changes that do not increase health risk, but would benefit East Gippsland community groups, businesses and individuals have been suggested by Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, in State Parliament.
“The changes I suggest today are simply common sense, remove anomalies or adopt what is working very well in other states,” he told Parliament.
“The Premier says we can have 40 in a hospitality venue, but this is not true as they are limited by the 10 per room rule.
“If a restaurant only has one room, which most do, they are limited to 10 and if a pub has a bar and bistro only, they are limited to 20, which leaves them unviable and unable to open. The 40 limit is unachievable unless you have four rooms, and most do not.
“Other states are keeping their total venue cap (40 in Victoria), but allowing people per room to be dictated by the health advice on floor space (one person per four square metres). This is allowing more venues that have the floor space to be viable, able to open.
“For example, if you have a hundred square metre room (eg pub bistro), you are limited to 10 patrons in Victoria at present under the room cap, but in other states you could have 25 in the same room (one per four square metres) and it is safe,” he said.
“The Government needs to look at cinemas. We can have 20 in a church, but we cannot have 20 in a cinema, which is often bigger. It makes no sense.
“For those who are looking to get married, how is it we can have 20 in church for a mass, but not 20 for a wedding. Why are outdoor funerals allowed 50, but outdoor weddings only 10 - we need some consistency,” he told Parliament.
“I have a ferry service operator and his boat has 100 square metres of floor space, but he is limited to 10 people. After fires and COVID decimated his business, he needs some common sense applied.
“Men’s sheds are so important to the health and wellbeing of our seniors. We can have 20 people in a church, 10 in a café – but men’s sheds are closed.
“Tools can be sanitised and social distancing implemented. They should be able to operate under the same safe restrictions for the mental health of those who use these terrific facilities.”
Mr Bull said there were many more anomalies that could be rectified to help local communities recover, but this would be a good start.
Friday, October 30, 2020
Peachtree Creek Campground upgrade
Having advocated for an upgrade to Peachtree Creek Campground at Tamboon Inlet for some time, Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull is pleased it will benefit from a $235,000 upgrade.
“What is important now is that the local community and visitors have input,” said Mr Bull.
“I’m concerned however that from the minimal information provided, there is no mention of the boat ramp and jetty area and this needs to be paramount in any upgrade.”
Mr Bull said the community can provide feedback online, over the phone and at an online information session on Wednesday 11 November 2020 from 06:00 PM – 07:30 PM
The small amount of details provided mentions additional car parking, the provision of day visitor facilities and the toilet replaced. The site will also be planted with local vegetation to create screening between sites and revegetation of the fire-effected area.
“The Tamboon community has shown exemplary resilience and self-reliance in its recovery from the combined bushfires and COVID challenges,” said Mr Bull.
“Straight after the fires it formed a 66-member progress association which then quickly secured grants to improve Tamboon’s stretched emergency services facilities.
“The Peachtree Creek Campground upgrade is precisely the kind of boost the hard working Tamboon Peachtree Creek community deserves.
“East Gippsland’s tourism businesses would like to see it widely replicated and I will continue to keep the pressure on the Andrews Labor Government to achieve that,” said Mr Bull.
Caption: Murray Webb shows off a nice flathead taken off the shore of Tamboon Inlet which is set to benefit from a much-needed upgrade to visitor facilities at the nearby Peachtree Creek Campground.
Camp grounds open for Cup week-end
A number of East Gippsland’s popular camping areas will be open for the Melbourne Cup long week-end.
State Nationals MP, Tim Bull, who has been pushing for the re-openings to be fast tracked, was pleased to this week receive some firm dates from Parks Victoria.
“While I believe this work should have been completed much quicker than 10 months after the fires, it is pleasing some real progress has been made in recent weeks.
“Wingan Inlet and Shipwreck Creek camp grounds will now be open for bookings on Melbourne Cup weekend and Cape Conran currently has 45 of the 135 sites available and will open more progressively until it is fully operational by Christmas.
“Over recent months I have raised this on several occasions both in the Parliament and media, as having these locations open is so important to our local economy.
“The proof is in the comment of Marlo publican Russell Bates, who said when Conran is open, he puts on more staff.
“Other works, including the East Cape Boardwalk, that was totally destroyed by fire will now be rebuilt pre-Christmas rather than next year as was originally planned.”
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Push to re-open Buchan Pool
The push to re-open the Buchan Pool continues with Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, saying he expected a positive outcome by this summer’s holiday period.
“Through consistent advocacy I think the Government now realises the importance of this facility to the community and also to visitors to the area,” he said.
“The latest information I have received from Parks Victoria is that it now intends to re-open the pool and is investigating options to ensure compliance with the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008.
“This is far more positive commentary than was being provided when it was closed down last summer, with no guarantees being given in relation to its re-opening, making its future uncertain.
“Last summer I believe the decision to shut it down was the easy option, rather than properly investigating solutions that could have been implemented to keep it open.
“At the very least, a commitment could have been made to have it open in the future.
“The Buchan community has made its views very well known on this and the Government’s language has certainly changed now and is now far more optimistic.”
Mr Bull said he will continue to monitor the progress to ensure it is open by the Christmas holiday period.
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Time for answers on timber industry
The Agriculture Minister’s recent hollow announcements around timber plantations does nothing for security of the local industry, says Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull.
“When you have the Construction Forestry Maritime Mining And Energy Union (CFMMEU), slamming a Labor policy, it’s a fair indication it is seriously flawed.
“The CFMMEU says the policy has ‘little substance and does nothing to provide certainty for the timber workers’, adding ‘it is no more than a mishmash of incoherent talking points’.
“The Union quite rightly says the plan to transition out of native forests will devastate workers and communities and that ‘pretending this plantation scheme will provide a future for workers and timber communities is a cruel hoax’.”
Mr Bull said that with plans to transition the native timber industry to plantation by 2030, he asked the Premier in Parliament for the locations of the hardwood timber plantations (that take at least 30 years to mature), as they should be 20 years old now if they are to be harvestable by 2030.
“While the question specifically related to replacement hardwood timber, the answer I got back related to softwood plantations, blue gum plantations and reference to future plantations.
“The Premier’s answer shows no understanding at all. Plantations of pine or blue gum do not replace mountain or alpine ash.
“He provided no information on the location of the plantations containing the species that will replace our native hardwood industry and there is good reason for this – they do not exist.
“The Government is talking about transition to plantation, but there is nothing to transition to when it comes to these hardwood species that our markets demand.
“It is time Mr Andrews came clean on whether he intends to import this replacement timber from jurisdictions with less oversight, or revisit this flawed 2030 deadline. Our timber families and communities deserve answers.”
Caption: Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, says the Government's transition out of the native timber industry has been poorly planned and the replacement hardwood plantation timber will simply not be mature for harvest by the declared deadline of 2030.
*Mr Bull is pictured with State Leader of the Nationals Peter Walsh on a pre COVID tour of bushfire affected East Gippsland.
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
Government’s epic fail on burn targets
The Victorian Auditor General’s long-awaited report into Reducing Bushfire Risk released today, reveals the Andrews Labor Government has over the past four years not even reached half (43%) of its arguably already low fuel reduction burn target.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, said the independent report showed what most East Gippslanders knew, not anywhere near enough fuel reduction burning is taking place, which was a major contributing factor in last season’s fires.
“This Government has set itself a target of reducing the fire risk to 70% of what the risk would normally be if left untreated, and states that to achieve this it must treat between 200,000 and 270,000 ha annually.
“However, this explosive report states the Government has been treating an average of 86,744 ha over the past four years, just 43% of the lower level of its own target. If we used the upper level of its target it is less than 33%.
“It is little wonder locals familiar with the bush were reporting fuel loads had been allowed to build up to record levels prior to last year’s fires and forecasting the disaster that lay ahead.
“There has been much debate whether the 200,000ha target is enough, but when you are delivering just 43% of what is already arguably a low target, it is setting us up for disaster.”
Mr Bull said the Government also had a get out of jail card with the Auditor General pointing out that when these targets are not met, the Government then adds the area burned by bushfire to help make up for the planned burns it did not complete.
“What this means is that over several years the Government does not reach anywhere near its targets, we then get wildfire as a result and they count that as treated area. This is not right, they should be achieving their target up front to provide the required level of protection to communities in the first place, not counting the wildfires that occur after they have not met their own targets,” he said.
The Auditor General also reported:
• Fuel management reduces the intensity of fires and makes them easier for firefighters to control.
• The Government has not recorded the reasons its targets are not met and why planned burns are not completed.
• The Government has a key role in reducing the risk bushfires pose to people, property and the environment.
• The Government does not clearly demonstrate the impact of its planned burns (positive or negative) on the environment and ecosystems.
• Limited assessments occur after the planned burns it does complete, impacting the Government’s ability to assess how quickly fuel re-accumulates.
• The Government reports the number of ecosystem resilience assessments it conducts, but not the results or outcomes of these assessments.
Mr Bull said in the four years 2010-2014 the Coalition was in Government it burned on average over 200,000ha and supported more year-round cool burns as in line with the Indigenous firestick control methods.
Caption: Tim Bull pictured at Sarsfield, one of the many locations in East Gippsland that was made more vulnerable to bushfires because of the Andrews Labor Government’s epic failure to meet its fuel reduction targets.
Thursday, October 15, 2020