Little in Budget for East Gippsland
Nationals Gippsland East MP, said there was little in Tuesday’s Budget for East Gippsland with big spends outlined for metropolitan based projects.
“Following the year we have had with fires and then Coronavirus on the back of three years of drought, I thought we were due to have some important infrastructure projects knocked off the list and I expect that is what East Gippslanders anticipated,” he said.
“Nothing would have made me happier than be able to report we have a number of key projects funded, but at first glance it appears they have not been.
“Completion of the Bairnsdale Secondary College, new fire stations at Lakes Entrance and Metung, a new police station at Orbost and the Maffra Hospital upgrade were all key projects and while I understand we were never going to get them all, it would have been good to get some.
“The other element I find a little frustrating is that over the past 12 months we have had East Gippsland businesses screaming for more support to get through this tough period, but they were told it was not there. Now, just months later we see a massive city spend, while many of those country businesses are gone.”
Mr Bull said the college did receive $7.23 million, but in excess of $15m was required to finish the school and get all the students out of the old Wallace Street campus and all on to one site - this money will not achieve that.
“Over the upcoming holiday period there will be several portable classrooms arriving and I assume this is part of the funding announced, but why would you spend money on portables when the new school can be finished.
“The Liberal Nationals committed to stage one in 2010 and built it when in government, then also committed to stage two in 2014 and 2018, which would finish the school.
“Strangely, Labor committed to stage one in 2010 also, but for the past decade has refused to commit to finishing the school.
“I just hope this money for portable classrooms and some other works that have been funded is not an indication we have to wait longer to have all the students together in a modern facility on one site.
“It is far from ideal and just this week on Monday they were drenched walking to classes between the two sites.”
Mr Bull said he hoped some of the above-mentioned projects were hidden away in the budget papers, but the fact they were not specifically mentioned gave him little hope.
“There is a lot being spent in Melbourne and after all we have been through, it reckon it was out turn,” he said.
“At a time when our local economies are recovering from bushfires and coronavirus shutdowns, Labor’s budget has run up the white flag on jobs.
“Victoria’s unemployment will remain higher than the national average for each of the next four years but despite the big taxing, big borrowing budget, the jobs crisis is set to continue.”
Tuesday, November 24, 2020
AFL grounds get $90m, we just want our school
East Gippsland has done it tougher than any other region of Victoria in 2020 and tomorrow’s State Budget provides an opportunity for the State Government to stand by its commitment to support our region by delivering some badly needed and long overdue projects.
“Premier Daniel Andrews said in Bairnsdale earlier this year that he would support the region in its recovery and now is the time to deliver, as it is clear we need some extra attention and focus,” said Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull.
“Key projects that should be funded include the Bairnsdale Secondary College completion, new fire stations at Lakes Entrance and Metung, the Maffra hospital upgrade and completion of the Bullock Island and Slip Road upgrades. There are many more, but these are at the top of the list.
“The secondary college is long overdue and the school and wider community has been more than patient.
“The Liberal Nationals committed to stage one in 2010 and built it when in Government and then committed to stage two at both the 2014 and 2018 elections.
“Ironically, Labor committed to the school before the 2010 election, but has been silent for the past decade. I am sick and tired of hearing the Education Minister announce new schools in Melbourne and ignore our school.
“Having students spread out across two campuses and classrooms that are from yesteryear is not good enough for our biggest school – it should be funded now.
“Of the other projects, Lakes Entrance and Metung Fire Brigades have land for their new homes and just need the investment. Surely after last season’s fires we will have at least one announced tomorrow, but hopefully both,” said Mr Bull.
“If you can find $90million for three AFL footy club upgrades, surely you can fund our priorities which are about a quarter of the spend on AFL grounds.”
Monday, November 23, 2020
Minister won’t consider improving fire break
With the Princes Highway having been closed for all of January this year due to fires, the Government has refused to commit to undertaking the roadside clearing that would assist considerably in dealing with such an occurrence in the future.
At a post fire meeting, Orbost and District Chamber of Commerce and Industry moved a motion to have further roadside clearing operations on the Princes Highway from Nowa Nowa to the NSW border to create a strategic fuel break, improve the safety of the highway for vehicles and to minimise the disruption to traffic following fire and storm events.
Some clearing was done in the works undertaken to re-open the Highway and the Chamber sought for this to be continued as such a break would result in less disruption in the advent of a future event.
It was a stance supported by Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, who said the economic impact of having the road closed for a month greatly impacted the region.
“There was some great clearing work done, which can be seen, but there is much more to do and it was an issue I raised with the Minister in April.
“It has taken until November to get a response and the disappointing element is the Roads Minister has basically said it is not going to happen as ‘a wider buffer is not a one‐size‐fits‐all solution, whether 10 metres or the full tree height, and it would not eliminate fire risks’.
“The silly thing about this is neither the Orbost Chamber or myself suggested it would eliminate all fire risk, what we were stating is that it would help get the road open quicker in future as well as providing a better fire break for our fire services,” said Mr Bull.
Monday, November 23, 2020
Deadline approaching for Conran boardwalk but work not started
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull is unhappy work has not yet started on rebuilding the East Cape Boardwalk at Cape Conran after the Minister said two months ago it would be completed by Christmas.
“Surely 12 months is enough time to rebuild an important piece of local tourism infrastructure,” said Mr Bull.
“I visited there this week, and nothing has changed, the tape is still up and there has been no further word, so I am getting sceptical the Minister will keep her promise to the local community.
“It’s also not good enough that here we are in late November and only about a quarter of the camp grounds at Cape Conran are open.
“I am advised the park will be fully open by Christmas, but so it should be. It should not take 12 months to clean up camping areas after a fire. The entire park should have been open months ago.
“I know there was an asbestos issue that caused some delays, but we have had over 200 home sites cleared months ago and they were treated as asbestos sites, that is not an excuse.
“When you have the Premier come down and say he will help us get back on our feet as soon as possible, all this should have been done within months, but here we are just on a year down the track, and some works are not even started.
“I will be back at Parliament this week coming and will put these matters back on the agenda in the hope we can get a frenzy of activity,” said Mr Bull.
Caption: Gippsland East MP Tim Bull, at the East Cape Boardwalk at Cape Conran. The Minister responded to a question in September that it would be completed by Christmas, but work has not yet started.
Monday, November 23, 2020
Region short changed in tourism package
East Gippsland, ravaged by bushfires that destroyed last summer’s tourist season before Coronavirus hit – has been short changed on tourism investment.
This is the view of Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, who is questioning why this week the Great Ocean Road, which enjoyed a buoyant tourism season last summer, received $47.5 million, while East Gippsland received just $18.5 million.
“I simply would have thought, that being the region that experienced two states of emergency this year and having lost all of last season’s tourism trade, that we would have been at the top of the list.
“The Premier did come here and say he would help us rebuild and work with us, but the reality is we have received a fairly small part of the pie from this tourism package when compared to other areas of the state.
“It is disappointing so much big investment is going into projects around other areas of the state when about $20 million would have, for instance, finished Bullock Island redevelopment and Slip Road (Squatters Row).
“Bullock Island would deliver huge tourism benefits and Squatter’s Row would have provided the infrastructure needed to provide boaters with a much more enjoyable experience. They should have been funded.
“I am not taking away from the funds delivered to winery districts and other locations like the Great Ocean Road, but they had tourist seasons last summer and we did not. It is here in East Gippsland where Daniel Andrews should have spent the serious dollars,” said Mr Bull.
Caption: Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, said East Gippsland should have received a bigger share of the tourism pie after fires destroyed all of last year’s tourist season and highlights Bullock Island redevelopment as one project that should have been funded.
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
Special needs community needs clarity
Information has been sought on when supported accommodation residents with special needs can again attend day care and day therapy classes.
Gippsland East Nationals MP and Shadow Minister for Disability, Tim Bull, has raised in Parliament the fact those with special needs living at home can attend sessions, but those in supported shared accommodation cannot under Coronavirus restrictions.
“In regions that have been COVID free for months, this is causing not only significant stress to the individuals, but also carers and families who have increased demands as a result,” he said.
“What these families are looking for is a timeframe and pathway as to when those who they care for, can resume attendance at these programs.
“In turn, what I am seeking from the Minister is a timeframe, as this sector receives no mention in the government’s ‘road map’.
“The other matter I also want to rise is the inability for many to attend these day programs and sessions has also impacted on the viability of the service providers.
“Because attendance at these sessions has been cut, it has greatly impacted their bottom line and I want a guarantee from the disability Minister he will not let any disability service providers go under as a result of COVID.”
Tuesday, November 17, 2020