Justice Richards decision delivers timber families a Christmas blow
A decision by Justice Richards in the Supreme Court yesterday has delivered a shocking Christmas blow to timber industry workers in East Gippsland.
After years of inaction by the Andrews Labor Government to support the native timber industry, yesterday’s determination shuts down the majority of timber harvesting not only in East Gippsland, but the state.
“Minister Mary-Anne Thomas should not be sleeping well this Christmas, knowing the distress her inaction has caused these timber industry families,” said Nationals Gippsland East MP, Tim Bull.
“These Labor Ministers seemingly have no idea about the cost of their inaction as they stand by and allow this to happen. As if we haven’t been through enough without this kick in the head,” he said.
The court order cites that any coupe with one or more greater glider sightings - or a greater glider observed within 240 m of a coupe - will be shut down. Timber industry representatives say this will mean almost every coupe, as the gliders are so common.
“The industry surveys coupes and provides buffer zones, but a decision like this leaves them with no room to move. There are flaws in the Timber Code of Practice that should have been fixed.
“It’s a savage blow for this to occur as the court goes into recess over Christmas and no appeal can be heard for an extended period.
“What I would like is for someone to explain to me where our hardwood timber is going to come from if we close down our native hardwood sector. The Greens are very silent on this in Parliament, they call for closure of the sector, but have no answers as to where it will be sourced from.
“On one hand we have Planet Ark telling us to ‘Do the World some good by using wood’ as a building material, as it is renewable and sustainable, and as result market demand for hardwood is growing.
“We have an industry here in Victoria with some of the strongest oversights in the world and if we do not produce our own to meet this increasing market demand, it will have to be imported from other jurisdictions with less oversight.
“The Labor Government talks about transitioning to plantation by 2030 but the timber takes 30-40 plus years to mature, so those plantations should be 20 years old now, but they do not exist in this state.
“Hardwood plantations are also not conducive to private investment due to the delay in return and sovereign risk around fire – it just makes no sense.
“Next thing the Minister will have protestors on the steps of parliament because we are importing from countries with far less oversight and killing orangutans.”
The Victorian hardwood industry has access to less than 6% of our timber, the other 94% is in reserve or inaccessible. It harvests this small amount on an 80-year rotation, less than 0.05% of our native in any one year – and then regenerates the coupes. No old growth is harvested, only regrowth.
Caption: Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull with timber industry workers, devastated with the recent Supreme Court decision to shut down East Gippsland’s timber industry this Christmas.
Thursday, 23 December 2021
Lily cold on Buchan pool while Cape Conran deadline passes
On December 12, 2020, Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio – a week over 12 months ago – said technical specialists had been engaged to prepare a plan to ensure the popular Buchan pool was compliant and safe for use.
This was in response to a question in Parliament from Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, who said 12 months on, nothing has advanced.
“In fact, I asked the Minister a further question last month on obtaining a progress report. She had one month to reply under parliamentary regulations, but that date past on Saturday, and I likely won’t hear until well into next year,” he said.
“My question enquired as to a planned opening date and an explanation of what the hold-up has been. We are now three years since it was closed.
“I have explained to the Minister it is an important tourist facility in Buchan and added to the attraction of the area, but there seems to be no comprehension and no appetite to re-open it.
“This lack of interest has disappointed many in the community who have been in touch with my office,” said Mr Bull.
Similarly, in September last year the Environment Minister said that the East Cape Boardwalk at Cape Conran was expected to be delivered by Christmas 2020, ‘subject to processes proceeding as expected.’
“A few months ago, I was promised it would be finished by Christmas 2021. I was there last weekend with Nationals leader Peter Walsh and work has not started even started.
“It is disgraceful that the Minister tells you it will be done by Christmas 2020 and it hasn’t been started 12 months later.
“This is the Minister and citycentric Government that said they would walk with us in our fire recovery, but they do not follow up and the words are nothing but tokenistic.”
Caption: Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull and Nationals leader, Peter Walsh at Cape Conran boardwalk. The Government committed to having it finished last Christmas, then months ago for this Christmas, but has failed again with work not even started.
Monday, December 20, 2021
Promised plant nursery and 30 jobs for Nowa Nowa was all hot air
Untruths continue on Thurra River bridge rebuild
Parks Victoria has yet again failed to provide accurate information on the rebuild of the Thurra River Bridge two years after the fire. Last month it said the job was ready to go to tender – when it was not.
Gippsland East MP, Tim Bull, said the lack of knowledge and incorrect information was an embarrassment.
“First of all, the Parks CEO referred twice to the bridge being to an island, where it is simply a bridge over the river, but that was not the worst of it.
“When being questioned on why it had taken almost two years for the tender to go out, the response was “I can assure you that it is ready to go out”.
“Pressed for a specific date, the response was “I will have to take that on notice.” Well here we are a month later and the recently received response shows the tender was not ready to go out at all – and is still not out,” said Mr Bull.
The response says: “Parks Victoria will finalise the detailed design for approval by the forensic engineer….. in early December 2021, following which Parks Victoria and DELWP will progress the tender”.
“In other words, it was not ready to go out all, it still needed finalising and here we are month later, and it is still not out.
Mr Bull said it also beggared belief the bridge would not be built until the end of 2023 – that is almost four years after the fire.
“At this rate these fools will be lucky to get it built before the next fire.
“They say it is complex, but a good bridge was built there over 30 years ago, and it never took four years. You just can’t tell me they would not have had this done long ago if it was in Melbourne.
“Access to the Thurra River Campground and Point Hicks is important for the Cann River economy and four years, in anyone’s language is just not good enough.
“They tell us repeatedly it is a ‘priority project’, but they take us for fools. It does not take four years to build a priority bridge.
“A few years ago, the Labor Roads Minister referred to East Gippslanders as ‘banjo playing dingbats’. There is just no respect from this city centric government.
Tuesday, 7 December 2021
Photo Credit: Google Maps Street View taken September 2014, Croajingolong National Park- 7/12/2021
$1b fund for regional manufacturing
The Victorian Liberal Nationals have announced a major policy commitment to deliver the largest ever investment in manufacturing in Victoria’s history, a $2.5billion fund - with $1billion tagged for the regions.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, said the allocation earmarked for regional Victoria would go a long way to assisting the economic recovery of towns and communities.
“The fact is, that while every other state is growing in population, Victoria’s is in reverse. We had the world’s longest lockdown and will have record debt in comparison to all other states and territories.
“People want to see a plan to recover, to boost the economies that have been hit hardest and there has been no area impacted more than East Gippsland. Coming off drought, into fires and then Coronavirus, our area needs support and this fund will assist greatly.
“We have so many great manufacturing businesses in the region and if I was to mention just two, you have Kennedy Trailers and Patties Foods, both significant employers with plans to expand. However, there are many others, like our Lindenow Valley food producers.
“Growing our manufacturing sector will go a long way to assisting the recovery and there is a growing thirst for local products.
“There will be a focus on health and medicine, clean energy, transport, food and fibre,” said Mr Bull.
“Furthermore, this program will establish an industry led Manufacturing Excellence Taskforce to develop and shape Victoria’s Manufacturing Strategy.
“Instead of debt fuelled major projects for Melbourne, our plan will reinvigorate small and family businesses across the state and help rebuild and support communities from the ground up,” he said.
Caption: Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, with Kennedy Trailers’ CEO, Cory Kennedy. The Bairnsdale company is producing 16 large trailers per month to national buyers. They employ over 50 people and have plans for expansion. A great example of a family owned business at the forefront of its industry nationally.
Monday, 6 December 2021