George Neophytou, independent candidate for Gippsland East is concerned our electorate is being taken for granted.
For too long Gippsland East has been the electorate that Labor couldn’t win and the Nationals believed they could not lose. We were promised a great deal before Tim Bull won the seat from Independent Craig Ingram. Since then we have been promised and received very little from the Liberal/National and Labor governments. The focus at election time is on the swinging seats, the seats that change hands. The seats both parties think they can win.
Latrobe Regional Hospital, in the seat of Morwell, held by 1.8%, has been promised $217 million. Promises have been made to relocate government jobs to the electorate. More train services, faster trains have been promised to Traralgon. What has Gippsland East been promised? Sadly, nothing in the foreseeable future.
This election is likely to lead to a hung Parliament. A Vote 1 for George Neophytou is a vote for someone who will fight for you and to get our share.
Public Transport – Labor promised to build the new rail bridge at Stratford, then promptly pushed it back till 2022. We are clearly not a priority, and this is by both Labor and Liberal National parties. Instead of improvements to train services, we have been given bus services to Bairnsdale adding half an hour to an already long journey.
I will fight for the rail bridge at Stratford, track works to be completed and new trains to be added to the Bairnsdale line as a priority. I will also fight for more bus services within and to the towns and villages in the electorate.
Electricity – In an electorate where brownouts still occur, like some third world country and the cost of electricity a real issue, I support the Victorian Solar Homes Package, the initiative that subsidises the installation of solar panels on homes by 50%. I would however extend that program to small business and increase the subsidy by $500 in rural areas. I would also double the subsidy for farmers in this electorate. The savings on electricity may help in a sustained way to reduce the stress of farm costs during the current drought.
Renewable Energy – I would also fight to provide funding to East Gippsland Water for the replacement of pressure reduction valves with microgenerators and to Southern Rural Water for power generation infrastructure.
Agriculture – While we are currently in drought I will be fighting for greater planning and funding for water security, not only in the Macalister Irrigation District which has always been the poor cousin to its northern neighbours but on all of the rivers in the region. There are clear predictions that future floods will be far greater than in the past, and droughts more severe. We need to mitigate against both but at the same time protect any future dams from being plundered to water Melbourne’s gardens. This water will be for our towns and our farms.
Funding for roads, bridges and local government – Given that East Gippsland Shire is 75% crown land and areas such as the Avon Wilderness Park and state forests consume a significant proportion of Wellington Shire, I believe that these Shire Council’s deserve a greater proportion of state funding for roads from the State Government. I will fight for that. Such funding will also enable Council’s to better service country roads. Both major parties underfund country roads and bridges.
Timber – I will oppose the creation of the Great Forest National Park on the outskirts of Melbourne. This proposal would destroy our timber industry. Victoria only harvests around 0.05% of its forests each year and all areas are regrown with the same species of tree.
Legislative Assembly, Gippsland East District