Stratford – Bairnsdale Highway stretch named state’s most dangerous - RACV
Backflip on opening regions welcomed
Regions need more freedoms sooner
Victoria’s regional areas that are Coronavirus free and will hit the vaccination rate targets well ahead of the state average, should be considered for earlier easing of restrictions.
This is the view of Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, who said country areas will be held back as the State Government pushes for state-wide uniformity in restrictions by November 5 as part of its recently released ‘roadmap’.
“It is pleasing we have a pathway, but incredibly frustrating that regional areas that remain Coronavirus free and hit vaccination benchmarks earlier, will have to tread water to wait for the city to catch up on our higher vaccination rates, simply because the Premier wants us on par with the city.
“The government likes to call this its ‘roadmap’ – well what it is asking the regions to do is park on the side of the road with the engine idling while the city chugs along much slower with its vaccination rates.
“We are on different restrictions now, remain Coronavirus free and it is clear will hit the 70% and 80% fully vaccinated benchmarks a lot earlier than the state average, but this Government has put us on hold until November 5.
“If it means us having more freedoms earlier because we’ve hit the benchmarks earlier then we should be rewarded; if country areas get there in mid-October, then that should be the trigger for us.
“In some cases, regional vaccination rates are more than 20% higher on both first and second doses than some city shires.
“For example, East Gippsland is just on 80% first dose and some metro local government areas are under 60%, so on these trajectories we are going to get there weeks before the state average catches up.
Mr Bull said some elements of the business sector, including hospitality and events, that are looking at another five weeks of closed doors, are devastated.
“They cannot operate on these current venue limits and were hoping for some good news on Sunday. However, they were told they have to wait another six weeks.”
Mr Bull said he also looked forward to more details on return to face to face learning at schools being announced for the commencement of term four.
Caption: Nationals Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, believes Regional Victoria should be considered for earlier easing of restrictions due to hitting vaccination targets well ahead the state average.
Monday, September 20, 2021
Pubs and clubs need more certainty
Representatives from Bairnsdale based pubs and clubs met on Friday to raise their concerns over the mixed messaging with the current COVID restrictions and uncertainty for their sector.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, was invited to the gathering, which was limited by the 10-person restriction.
The operators said the announcement last week that pubs and clubs could open was erroneous for the majority, as the indoor venue limit of 10 that was announced shortly after made it unviable for many to open.
Present at the meeting were representatives from the Bairnsdale Bowls Club, Mitchell River Tavern, Bairnsdale Club, Grand Terminus Hotel and Bairnsdale RSL Sub-Branch.
Mr Bull said the meeting was productive and called on the government to provide more detail to the sector early next week.
“The reality of the situation is that the Government has opened up accommodation for residents of rural and regional Victoria, so pending this does not change, by the weekend we will have an influx of school holiday visitors from other parts of regional Victoria.
“If our accommodation houses will be full, or even close to full, we will struggle to feed them all if the pubs and clubs remain shut, so there needs to be better alignment between opening the accommodation sector with hospitality.”
Mr Bull said those at the meeting said that if they were to open by Saturday to cater for the holiday crowds, the announcement needed to be made by Wednesday.
“Those present made it very clear they cannot have the Premier making announcements one day that they can open the next. They said food must be ordered and staff rosters done, and they need at least two clear days to do this.
“I cannot believe the commentary last week that pubs and clubs can open, but they then announce and indoor venue limit of 10. That was just ridiculous.
“It is inevitable that with cases exploding in Melbourne that it will spread to country regions, but despite this we need some clarity on what is happening for the school holidays.”
Mr Bull said the strong likelihood of cases being recorded in the regions and the fact COVID will be with us ongoing, should not impact on the release of a plan to re-open.
Caption: Representatives of some Bairnsdale Pubs and Clubs invited Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, to a meeting on Friday morning to discuss their frustrations.
Monday, September 13, 2021
Truckie testing site win
A COVID-19 testing facility for the region’s freight drivers will be set up at the Murrungowar truck stop between Orbost and Cann River.
Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, who has been pushing for this outcome for some time, was advised by the Minister for Freight this week that his calls had been answered.
“I have been pushing for this for a number of weeks now. When the government determined drivers must be tested every three days, it did not roll out the testing facilities in regional areas to allow this to occur.
“Having raised the matter when we were last at Parliament, I have been in constant contact with the Minister’s office to have this facility in proximity to Cann River, so it is accessible to drivers using either the Monaro or Princes Highway routes.
“Our many freight drivers have had great difficulty finding the time between trips to meet the government's requirement. They want to spend their down time with their families, rather than chase testing appointments.
“It was very pleasing to receive a call from the Minister to confirm the government has got the message, and it will be in place before the end of the week.”
Mr Bull said he was still seeking information on the times the testing facility would be open.
“Freight does not stop around the clock, so I would be hopeful it is 24 hours or, if not, close to it, he said.
“I look forward to finally getting back to Parliament this week to again raise a number of issues relating to regional areas where we have been unfairly treated by the restrictions, with improved business supports at the top of a long list,” he said.
Caption: Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, is pleased the Government has answered his calls for a freight driver COVID testing facility between Orbost and Cann River.
Sunday, 5 August 2021