Daily Bulletin


Politics

  • Written by Media Release


George Neophytou has pledged to support all promises that the Coalition have made to benefit Gippsland East including funding for Bairnsdale Secondary College, funding for text books, more funding for Bush Nursing Centres, new trains and extra services to Bairnsdale.

But being an independent, he is not constrained by the National Party and will also fight for additional funding for targeted initiatives to benefit people and organisations in the electorate. As a solicitor, George Neophytou is experienced in fighting for his clients and negotiating for their benefit. These initiatives will be the price of his support for the government. Unlike the Labor and National Party candidates he does not have to toe the party line and has no hopes of being a Minister.

George believes that electricity costs need to be addressed but unlike the Nationals is not hostage to the power companies or coal interests. He has received many complaints of ‘brown outs” where sporadically the level of power supplied is not quite enough to meet community needs. “This is inexcusable in a first world country” he says. “To increase the amount of power in the system, reduce electricity costs and help farmers and small businesses, I will put forward the following strategies”:

  • Increasing the Victorian Solar Homes Package by $500 to $2,750 to compensate for higher installation costs and ensure that Gippsland East residents do not miss out on the limited Solar Battery funding promised by Labor.

  • Extend the Victorian Solar Homes Package funding to small and medium businesses within the electorate as a pilot program to battle the high electricity costs for businesses.

  • Fully fund the installation of solar panels on farms up to $5500 to reduce electricity costs. “This will provide a longer lasting benefit than subsidising feed” he says.

  • Provide funding to East Gippsland Water to replace pressure reduction valves with microgenerators to feed into the electricity grid.


Looking at the history of Gippsland East, apart from when we had an independent, we always seem to be last in line for funding, to be given bus services while others receive more trains and new trains or to be given thousands of dollars for infrastructure and marketing while other electorates receive millions of dollars”.

Also on my bargaining list will be the following funding to catch up on the neglect of decades”. He says.

  • Provide direct funding to the East Gippsland Marketing Board and Wellington Regional Tourism for marketing of the region’s attractions of the high country, the 90 Mile Beach and the lakes and rivers.

  • Provide $1 million in funding to the hard-working voluntary committees of the East Gippsland Rail Trail and Gippsland Plains Rail Trail for sealing and improving the trails.

  • Provide real funding increases to all hospitals in the electorate to help cope with the increasing use of the services by people who can’t afford to visit a GP.

  • Provide an additional $12 million in roads and bridges funding to East Gippsland Shire Council and $8 million to Wellington shire Council in recognition of the high proportion of land in both the Shires that is Crown land and unrateable yet still needs to be serviced. This additional funding should also enable the Councils to further discount farm rates during the drought.

  • Provide funding to Southern Rural Water for-

    • * cleaning out Lake Glenmaggie of silt built up as a result of bushfires and floods.

    • * Increasing the size of storage for the Macalister Irrigation district without additional cost to irrigators

  • New trains for the Bairnsdale line and additional services as a priority, not waiting as we have in the past, until after the other towns in the west have received their new trains. (The Coalition’s Fast Train promises stop at Traralgon.)


If we remain a SAFE electorate, Gippsland East will continue to be ignored and short changed. We need to show both major parties we are tired of being taken for granted. The list I have outlined for Gippsland East is modest compared to the promises made for swinging seats. Labor has promised $13.4 million for St Kilda’s Palais theatre in the marginal seat of Albert Park. Liberals have countered that with a promised $36.2 million for a park in the St Kilda green triangle.

As a more local example; The marginal seat of Morwell has been promised by the Coalition $217 million for Latrobe Hospital, the $266 million Hazelwood Transition Fund, 130 Fast Rail jobs, $9 million for a Regional Aquatic Centre, $13 million for the Morwell primary schools regeneration project, $5 million towards the Gippsland Innovation and Enterprise Development Centre at Federation University Churchill, tipped to create 200 skilled jobs for the Valley. $230,000 towards redeveloping the Traralgon Court House, $120,000 for Gippsland Carers Association. $1.2 million to upgrade the Newborough fire station. $1 million Hazelwood pondage upgrade and development plan. Change room upgrade at Traralgon South Rec Reserve - $150,000. And a range of smaller grants.

Labor has promised $10 million to green light construction of the Gippsland Logistics Precinct in Morwell’s industrial area. $10 million to build a Gippsland-based specialised technical school in Morwell. $7.8 million to rebuild ageing and asbestos ridden school buildings at Kurnai College’s Morwell campus. $3 million to expand the scope of a pending $5 million CFA station for Morwell, to include an upgraded ambulance depot. $1.5 million to reopen Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry, to investigate improved mine rehabilitation options and claims smoke caused local deaths. $1 million towards construction of a Latrobe Community Health Service dental prosthetics lab and university training clinic in Churchill. Increase the number of full-time fire fighters at the Morwell and Traralgon CFA stations.

The Gippsland East list is quite modest by comparison.

One of the National Party policies that George Neophytou has pledged to support is to vote against the creation of the Great Forest National Park near Melbourne. “The Greens have demanded of Labor this conversion of valuable forest to National Park as the price of their support in gaining government and would destroy the Timber Industry in Gippsland”. says George Neophytou. “Polls seem to indicate that it will be a hung parliament. I and other Independents, offer an alternative to bowing to the Greens to form government.

One area that George Neophytou differs from the major parties is his steadfast opposition to Fracking and to any other mining operation that threatens agriculture and the environment. George supports Labor’s ban on fracking and would like to see a ban on conventional on shore gas mining rather than Labor’s Moratorium for fear that in 2020 the door could be opened under pressure from the Liberal/Nationals.

George strongly opposes the proposed mine at Glenaladale not only because of the risk to the clean, green reputation and quality of vegetable growing in the area but also because of the huge demand the mine would place on the aquifer. As a student of history, George Neophytou is very aware how mine tailings from the Stockman mines polluted the Tambo river and the Gippsland Lakes until the State Government was forced to spend $7 million to remediate the tailing dam. “While the proposed new mining operation claims that it would not pollute waterways, we have heard these stories from miners before” he says.

As an independent, I am free to do deals with the government of the day. I will fight for my electorate. I don’t have to toe the party line.” Says George Neophytou. “Lets give the coalition a huge shack out so we will never be taken for granted again”.

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