GREG'S LEGACY

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Weekly roundup from Bill Sykes

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SYKES TABLES TATONG ROAD PETITION IN PARLIAMENT

A petition calling on the Bracks Government to increase the safety of the Benalla-Tatong Road was tabled in Parliament this week by Bill Sykes, Nationals Member for Benalla.

The petition bearing 371 signatures highlighted the dangers to cyclists and drivers due to the inadequate width of the road and the poor condition of the bitumen shoulders, particularly on corners. The petition called for sealing of the bitumen shoulders as a start.

Dr Sykes has met with concerned local residents and encouraged them to work with local VicRoads staff, in particular drawing to the attention of VicRoads the dozen or more accidents or near misses in the past 12 months.

Mr Brian Vial has presented this information to VicRoads who are going to place a traffic meter on the road to gain updated information upon which to seek funding for 2007/08.

Dr Sykes said, “It appears that repairs to Tatong Road and many other roads in country Victoria are low on the Bracks Government’s priority list.

“This week’s budget offers little, if any, addition State money for country roads.”

Dr Sykes concluded, “I and my Nationals Parliamentary colleagues will continue to press the Bracks Government to adopt our policy of 1% of Victoria’s GST (ie. $80m pa) being directed to local councils for road and bridge repairs with the ‘lion’s share’ going to disadvantaged councils such as Benalla, Mansfield, Strathbogie, Murrindindi and Alpine.


FOX BOUNTY PAY OUT

Benalla Field and Game Association Member, Noel O’Connor collected $10 for the first fox tail presented to Bill Sykes, The Nationals Member for Benalla last week. The photo shows Bill Sykes delivering around 100 fox tails to Parliament House. The Minister for Agriculture, Bob Cameron, politely declined to accept the fox tails from Dr Sykes. (Click photo for enlargement)

Bill Sykes initiated his own bounty in order to highlight to the Bracks Government the importance of the bounty as part of a coordinated assault on foxes.

Dr Sykes said, “Noel O’Connor gave me the statistics which confirmed the positive impact of the fox bounty on reducing the numbers of foxes.

“Mr O’Connor said that at the time of the bounty in 2002, his group of shooters shot 170-180 foxes on district farms. Numbers shot on the same farms then decreased to 60-70 per year for a couple of years before building up again to 170 – 180 per year.”

Dr Sykes continued, “This evidence strongly suggests that the fox bounty contributed significantly to reducing fox numbers and there are similar experiences elsewhere in the State”.

Dr Sykes concluded, “It is about time the Bracks Government listened to country people and made some commonsense decisions like reinstating the fox bounty. I and my Nationals colleagues will continue to hound the Bracks Government to live up to its promise to govern for all Victorians”.


SYKES SPEAKS UP FOR SPORTS CLUBS ON WATER

A call for the Bracks Government to reduce the cost of water for local recreation reserves was made in Parliament this week by Bill Sykes, Nationals Member for Benalla.

Dr Sykes used the experiences of Devenish Football/Netball Club and Tatong Football/Netball Club to highlight the additional burden that increased water costs and delays in water projects have on clubs already struggling to get teams on the fields and courts each week.

Dr Sykes’ statement follows:
“I wish to draw the attention of the house to the plight of many small country football and netball clubs as they battle for survival. In the Benalla and District Football and Netball League several matches have had to be forfeited this year due to a lack of players.

The Devenish Football and Netball Club has been particularly hard hit. To compound its problems, it is facing significant increases in the cost of water for its ground. This is because Goulburn Murray Water is applying tough, user-pay principles to the water used for community recreation facilities. Similarly, the attention of the Tatong community is being diverted from recruiting footballers and netballers because of the protracted negotiations with Goulburn Murray Water and other organisations over putting in a dam to provide emergency water supplies in the event of a drought or fire.

The Bracks government could make life a lot easier for small country football and netball clubs by showing some commonsense and compassion in the application of water management policies. In particular, I ask the Bracks government to review its policy of requiring community recreation reserves to purchase water — or alternatively, to provide grants for the purchase of water and the costs of metering et cetera. I also request the Bracks government to direct organisations such as Goulburn Murray Water to adopt a can-do approach and implement projects such as the Tatong community emergency water supply promptly and efficiently. It is time the Bracks government lived up to its claim to govern for all Victorians.”


BUDGET OF MISSED OPPORTUNITIES

The Bracks Government’s city-centric 2006 Budget has resulted in missed opportunities to improve infrastructure and services to country Victoria according to Bill Sykes, Nationals Member for Benalla.

Dr Sykes was also very critical of the Government’s borrowings – he said, “In spite of receiving double the income of a few years ago, the Labor Government is now doubling its debt to fund recurrent expenditure and costly, mismanaged major projects.

Dr Sykes continued, “Support for country taxis was good news as was funding for Neighbourhood Centres. These are both issues which I and my Nationals colleagues have battled long and hard alongside taxi owners and community groups.

“That said the Government’s commitment to Neighbourhood Centres (around $27m) was well short of the $84m requested to ensure adequate funding for all Neighbourhood Centres.

“At this stage, the Government still won’t fund 30 Neighbourhood Centres (including Bonnie Doon Community Centre) because it hasn’t worked out the process yet – that is taking management incompetence to another level!”

Funding for Mt Beauty Neighbourhood Centre is still well short of what is needed because the Government continues to use statistics which even they acknowledge are grossly incorrect.

Dr Sykes said, “Missed opportunities included failure to fund the co-location of emergency services (CFA, SES, Police & Ambulance) in centres such as Benalla, Euroa and Nagambie.

“Roads missed out – so users of the Whitfield-Wangaratta Road and many other country roads will continue to have their lives put at risk due to dangerous road conditions.

“Adoption of the Nationals policy of 1% of GST going direct to local Shires for roads and bridges would have solved many problems.”

Dr Sykes continued, “$50m for school maintenance works is a start but given that there has been little funding for school maintenance for several years, I suggest that only the most urgent repairs will be done.

“And of course energy costs in Country Victoria continue to soar but there was nothing in the Budget for more natural gas connections to honour previous promises of Mr Bracks & Co to connect Alexandra, Bonnie Doon, Mansfield, Myrtleford and Bright to natural gas.

“I am also very disappointed with the lack of funding for railway level crossing safety.”

Dr Sykes concluded, “Country Victoria has been forgotten by the Bracks Government – but country people will not forget what Mr Bracks has done come the election of 25 November 2006.


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Written by Greg Naylor

2 June 2006 at 8:00 pm

Posted in media release

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