The Nationals Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie welcomed today’s decision to ensure licensed firearms users and industry representatives have meaningful input into the review of the technical aspects of the National Firearms Agreement (NFA).
“This is a common sense decision which is long overdue,” Senator McKenzie said.
“Establishing the Industry Reference Group and providing further stakeholder consultation is critical to ensuring we get the NFA review right.
“Our licenced and law-abiding shooters are the people who are most affected by the NFA review yet they have not had the opportunity to formally engage with the overly bureaucratic Firearms and Weapons Policy Working Group.
“Shooters and industry representatives right across the country have been telling me they are angry at being locked out of the decision making process, a process which directly impacts on their ability to earn a living or participate in lawful recreational pursuits.
“The decision to suspend the importation of the Adler A110 was made without consulting firearms owners or industry representatives and was further proof that the system is broken.
“The Nationals have fought hard to ensure there is genuine and meaningful consultation with shooters and industry and we are grateful that the Minister for Justice, Michael Keenan, has listened and acted.
“Australia’s more than 800,000 licenced firearms users are not terrorists or criminals, they are responsible law-abiding members of our community and part of a broader industry that contributes in excess of $1 billion a year to Australia’s economy.
“The Nationals accept that the use of firearms must be regulated and that owners need to be responsible citizens, but licenced shooters do not need more red tape, they must be treated with respect and their very real concerns must be heard – the Minister’s decision ensures this will now happen.
“This newly established Industry Reference Group will be made up of highly experienced individuals and organisations who will add a great deal of knowledge and expertise to the review of the NFA, including issues of the lack of harmonisation between states and gaps in data collection.”
State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said he was pleased the Australian Adventure Festival to be held later this year – which he says could put East Gippsland on the international stage and bring millions to the local economy – will receive State Government funding.
“Having raised the matter at each of the April, May and June sittings of Parliament this year, explaining the event and seeking support, I was pleased to receive a letter from the Minister on Friday stating $75,000 has been allocated for this year’s event.
“Pre-election the Coalition committed $350,000 over the next four years in recognition of what this event can potentially do for this region and while this commitment is not to that level it will nevertheless be important in the developing years of the festival. I will pursue funding in future years also.
“There has been a lot of work go into the planning by East Gippsland Marketing Inc (EGMI) and its Adventure Festival Sub-committee, all hard working East Gippslanders who want to see the region promoted.
“The proposal was developed by EGMI, which received State Coalition and Local Government funds to develop a signature event for the region.”
Mr Bull said there would be several events as part of the Festival that included activities such as trail running, kayaking and mountain biking and the various skill levels will be catered for from elite to the “weekend warrior”.
“In addition, it is planned to have family friendly activities across the weekend providing sporting challenges for kids that mirror the adventure series; and shopping and food experiences including a nightly market.
“Lakes Entrance will be the focal point and base destination of the event, however the sporting challenges will take place throughout the East Gippsland region.
“The Australian Adventure Festival will bring together the world of adventure sports to compete in ultimate adventure challenges, all held in one of the most picturesque and diverse nature based destinations in Victoria.
“Based on estimated participation from the report that has been done, the event is expected to return an economic benefit of over $2 million in year one, growing exponentially as the competitor pool increases, but funds are required to get it off the ground,” Mr Bull said.
Caption: Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, pictured with East Gippsland Marketing Inc members Richard Rijs, Karly McCaskill and John Morton. Mr Bull said funding has been secured for the event to be held later this year.
Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region Melina Bath is calling on the Labor Government to fund an administration officer for the Gippsland Carers Association so it can continue its valuable work.
Speaking in parliament recently Ms Bath said the Coalition had provided $25,000 a year over four years for a part-time administration officer for the association however the funding ran out at the end of last financial year and the Labor government has not renewed it.
“This funding paid for an administration officer to work 19 hours a week, which allowed the association’s carer mentor to be out on the road helping our carers,” Ms Bath said.
“Without an administration officer the carer mentor needs to divide her time between being out in the community where she is needed and being back in the office doing administration.”
Ms Bath said the carer mentor helped looked after the carer in their own home and offered a range of support to them.
“This results in huge savings for the government because it reduces the amount of time that people needing care spend in nursing homes and respite centres, as well as reducing the drain on the public hospital system,” she told the parliament.
“Without the funds to support the administration officer the Gippsland Carers Association is left facing a difficult decision: either to cut back on direct face-to-face support for carers or to cut back on other initiatives to help fund the part-time administration officer.”
Gippsland Carers Association president Jean Tops said the funding was critical to the volunteer committee of management’s ability to open its centre three days a week and provide necessary support for unpaid carers across Gippsland.
“Without an administration support officer we will be forced to reduce our opening hours to just two days a week and that means carers across Gippsland will miss out on vital support,” Ms Tops said.
Ms Bath said she hoped the Labor Government would value the work of the Gippsland Carers Association and provide the funding needed for an administration officer.
She said often the work provided by carers went unnoticed and it was important Gippsland carer’s contributions were recognised.
“The perfect opportunity to recognise these wonderful people is by nominating a local carer for the National Carer Awards,” Ms Bath said.
Now in its second year the National Carer Awards is a partnership between Carers Australia and Life Without Barriers and celebrates the unpaid carers and foster/kinship carers.
“These awards are a fantastic opportunity to recognise community members in Gippsland for the outstanding contribution they provide to the people they support,” Ms Bath said.
Ms Bath said there were many carers in Gippsland doing extraordinary work which was often not recognised.
“Unpaid family carers provide a significant and irreplaceable contribution to the welfare and well-being of their family members, children and adults with dependent disabilities,” she said.
Nominations are open now under four categories: Young Carer (aged 26 and under); Foster and Kinship Carer; Family Carers (general unpaid carer of a family member or friend); Caring in the Country (unpaid carer located within rural and remote locations).
Nominations close on Sunday 6 September. To nominate a carer visit www.carerawards.com.au
Member for Morwell Russell Northe is encouraging Latrobe City Council and community organisations in the Morwell electorate to consider applying for funding through The Community Sports Infrastructure Fund.
Mr Northe said the program aimed to provide high-quality, accessible community sport and recreation facilities across Victoria.
“A range of grants is on offer including funding for planning, building new, and improving existing facilities where communities conduct, organise and participate in sport and recreation.
“Sport plays such an important role in regional communities and I encourage local councils and community organisations to consider making an application,” Mr Northe said.
Grants available include:
- Better Pools - Grants of up to $3 million to build new or upgrade existing aquatic centres;
- Major Facilities - Grants of up to $650,000 to develop or upgrade major sport and recreation facilities;
- Small Aquatic Project - Grants of up to $200,000 to upgrade pools and aquatic leisure facilities;
- Minor Facilities - Grants of up to $100,000 to develop or upgrade local sport and recreation facilities;
- Female Friendly Facilities - Grants of up to $100,000 to build new or upgrade existing change rooms to prioritise female participation;
- Cricket Facilities - Grants of up to $100,000 to develop or upgrade cricket facilities;
- Planning - Grants of up to $30,000 to fund initiatives that assess the future sport and recreation needs of local communities, and up to $50,000 for regional planning initiatives.
For more information and eligibility criteria you can visit: http://www.sport.vic.gov.au/community-sports-infrastructure-fund
Labor’s bungling of the transition of fruit and vegetable growers to the new Melbourne Market has already caused job losses in the Euroa electorate.
Member for Euroa and Deputy Leader of The Nationals Steph Ryan said Anderson’s Fruit & Veg in Stanhope had closed its doors on Saturday after providing fresh, seasonal produce to the Campaspe Shire for about 50 years.
“Labor bungled the relocation of the Melbourne Market from day dot. When it announced the project in 2004, it was grossly underfunded and poorly designed.
“Now not only are taxpayers footing the bill for the cost blowouts, but Labor has bungled the transition, impacting local growers and retailers.”
Ms Ryan said the opening hours initially planned would have limited access times and made it impossible for many country retailers to get produce back in time to deliver to their buyers.
“Daniel Andrews’ eleventh hour reprieve was too late for some. The owners of Anderson’s Fruit & Veg had to lay off seven staff and notify their customers that they could no longer supply them,” Ms Ryan said.
Benalla’s Fruits N Fare owners Rick and Di Aumann also considered their future after they were initially denied adequate parking at the new site.
Mr Aumann said the problems with the new market space were not limited to opening times or teething problems but were inherent in the flawed design of the space.
“The market is a logistical nightmare. There are limited parking spaces, including a lack of undercover areas, waiting areas and spaces for drivers to sleep,” Mr Aumann said.
“Retailers’ access to the market has been restricted due to the lack of parking which has meant retailers who have previously had five days of access, now only have access for one day of the week.
“Inadequate backing space leaves no room for smooth flowing traffic and does not take into account the needs of B-doubles, refrigerated transport and rear loading and unloading.
“Restricted forklift access will mean retailers cannot pick up produce directly from the supplier and will have to wait for it to be delivered to their truck. If you’re a smaller retailer you will not be priority under this system.
“The whole situation is completely unworkable and will mean many retailers across Victoria will be forced to close their doors,” Mr Aumann said.
The National Party of Australia - Victoria has lodged an application with the Victorian Electoral Commission to change the formal registered name of our party to The National Country Party - Victoria.
I believe we are the one party that truly represents the interests of country Victorians, now as much as ever.
Whether it’s jobs, education, agriculture or health – The Nationals are fighting to make sure country Victorians get their fair share.
With such a Melbourne-centric Labor Government, our state needs a party that is dedicated to standing up for the interests of rural and regional Victoria more than ever.
I believe the title of The National Country Party would best reflect that goal, and reflect our proud 100-year history in Victoria.
The Victorian Electoral Commission will now consider our application and a result is expected in coming months.
The Andrews Labor Government must explain to the aged care sector how it will help providers cope with the cost of the new AFL grand final public holiday.
Shadow Minister for Senior Victorians Tim Bull said aged care providers were facing a massive wages bill for that day, but the government was offering no help.
A Regulatory Impact Statement into the new grand final holiday, and the new Easter Sunday holiday, put the economic cost to Victoria at up to $898 million each year and wage payments of up to $286 million each year.
“It is time the government how it explained how it is going to remove the impact on a sector that cares for some of the most vulnerable in our community,” Mr Bull said
“Leading Age Services Australia has expressed major concerns over the severe cost impost the new holiday will place on aged care providers.
“In comparison with other states, Victoria how has more public holidays than New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory and the ACT.
“This was a populist commitment with it appears no real thought given to how it will impact on a range of industries.”
Member for Eastern Victoria Region Melina Bath recently visited health service providers in East Gippsland and listened to concerns about attracting and retaining medical professionals in country areas.
Ms Bath met with health professionals at Omeo District Health, Orbost Regional Health and Swifts Creek Bush Nursing Centre to learn more about the health providers and listen to any concerns they may have.
“It was really a pleasure to meet these wonderful hard-working professionals and hear how they manage to cater for the needs of country people with what can often be limited resources,” Ms Bath said.
“There was a common theme that our rural areas are still struggling to entice and retain doctors and medical specialists and this is an area that deserves attention from the Victorian State Government.”
Ms Bath said federally the Coalition had recently introduced new payments to help rural, regional and remote towns across Australia.
As of July 1st the highest incentive paid to a doctor to work in remote Australia jumped from $47,000 a year to $60,000 a year and the maximum incentive to work in a town less than 5,000 increased from $12,000 to $23,000.
“While this is fantastic news I believe the State Government can also do more to assist small country towns, such as those in East Gippsland, to attract and retain health professionals,” Ms Bath said.
She believes increased job security would assist in achieving this goal.
“I am of the understanding that many of the allied health professionals who move to these areas are contracted on a yearly basis and I was told that if these contracts were offered for longer periods there would be more incentive for these people to work in our country hospitals and health centres,” Ms Bath said.
The Nationals MP said East Gippsland health providers were also working hard to service an increasing ageing population.
“Orbost Regional Health is desperately seeking funding to upgrade its high care nursing home section,” Ms Bath said.
“As Orbost has an ageing population there is more demand for this type of care and the facilities and infrastructure need to be updated to cater for this demand.”
Ms Bath said an upgrade was also needed for the hospital to improve its care for dialysis patients.
“I really have to commend the people at Orbost Regional Health and Omeo District Health for their wonderful passion and care for the people they look after.
“I hope we can work together to ensure that the facilities at these centres can match the high quality of the people working there.”
Ms Bath also enjoyed meeting the staff at Swifts Creek Bush Nursing Centre.
“This is a wonderful one-stop health centre used by the community for a variety of health reasons including for maternal child and health,” Ms Bath said.
“It was fantastic to see the board and staff at Swifts Creek working together to provide the best service possible for local residents.
“I’m committed to working hard with the people of East Gippsland’s health sector to ensure that regional communities have access to quality health and medical services.”
Photo Caption: Swift Creek Bush Nursing Centre office administrator Daryl Millard, nurse manager Sue Carroll, committee of management president Peter Brick and Member for Eastern Victoria Region Melina Bath during her visit to Swift Creek Bush Nursing Centre.
Regional jobs and businesses will be some of the hardest hit by the Andrews Labor Government’s two new public holidays, according to the state’s peak tourism body.
Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh said despite Daniel Andrews’ claims that the new holidays would bring tourists to the regions, the truth was that most tourism businesses would not be able to afford to operate on those days.
The Victorian Tourism Industry Council’s Chief Executive Dianne Smith has now warned that: “Ultimately these public holidays will take money away from the businesses that should be supported to increase employment and create jobs.”
“Daniel Andrews is introducing these new public holidays at the expense of regional businesses and jobs,” Mr Walsh said.
“Small businesses will face the choice of either opening and taking a hit to their bottom line due to penalty rates; charging extra for their goods or services to cover the higher wages bill; or shutting their doors altogether.
“More than 353,000 casual workers are expected to lose their shifts on these new public holidays and the state’s economy will take a $1 billion hit.
“This is absolute economic vandalism by Daniel Andrews and will cost regional jobs and businesses dearly.”
Mr Walsh said the tourism body warned that: “Many businesses won’t be able to afford to operate on these public holidays due to increased wages costs and anticipated financial loss, which will be bad for tourism particularly in regional areas.”
An independent report commissioned by Daniel Andrews put the economic cost of the new public holidays at up to $898 million each year and wage payments of up to $286 million each year.
Shadow Minister for Disability Tim Bull and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Autism Bernie Finn recently met with Amaze (formerly Autism Victoria) to discuss the term of reference of its new Inquiry into services for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The Inquiry, to be undertaken by the Family and Community Development Committee, will provide up to date information in a range of areas, including:
- Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Victoria;
- The availability and adequacy of services provided by the commonwealth, state and local governments across health, education, disability, housing, sport and employment services;
- The adequacy of services to be provided under the National Disability Insurance Scheme;
- Evidence of the social and economic cost of failing to provide adequate services; and
- The projected demand for services in Victoria.
“To have these matters being reviewed in a bipartisan approach is welcome and having Bernie, as the first Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Autism, on the Inquiry is very pleasing,” said Mr Bull.
“The Inquiry will draw on the work that was done in the Autism State Plan and it is pertinent that it take place now when the state is transitioning to the NDIS.”
Mr Finn said he believed the terms of reference proposed by the Coalition and approved by the Parliament would allow for all aspects of Autism Spectrum Disorder to be addressed with recommendations that would be very helpful in forming state policy.
“The submission and public hearing process will provide stakeholder groups and all those touched by autism to feed their views and thoughts into the Inquiry,” Mr Finn said.
“The Family and Community Development Committee will report to the Parliament no later than 31 May 2016.”