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Coalition Government reduces fire levy rates

Friday, June 06, 2014

  • Victorian Coalition Government cutting fire levy rates from 1 July 2014
  • More funding for CFA and MFB in the 2014-15 State Budget
  • Fire services better resourced under the Coalition Government than Labor
The Victorian Coalition Government will reduce the Fire Services Property Levy rates in 2014-15 for all property owners, Treasurer Michael O’Brien and Deputy Premier Peter Ryan announced today.

"The Coalition Government’s successful implementation of the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission property-based levy has proven to be a fairer way to fund our fire services,” Mr O’Brien said.

“We are reducing the levy rates from 1 July 2014 while also increasing funding to our fire services. The Coalition Government is delivering better funding for our fire services with lower average costs for households and businesses.”

The variable levy rate will be lower across all property categories than the 2013-14 rates. A fixed charge of $102 for residential properties and $205 for all other properties will apply.

From 1 July, the average household’s contribution to fire services funding in a CFA area is expected to remain at $142, with average MFB area household contributions remaining at an average of $143. This represents a reduction in real terms for the average household.

A $50 concession for eligible pensioners and veterans will continue to apply, benefitting over 400,000 households across the state, easing cost of living pressures.

The fire services property levy funds services provided by the CFA and the MFB twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week including personnel, training, infrastructure and equipment.

“This tax reform provides greater funding for our fire services while also reducing the rates on households, businesses and farmers right across Victoria,” Mr O’Brien said.

The new rates also reflect the recategorisation from 1 July 2014 of residential-investment flats from the commercial to the residential rate, delivering further savings for tenants and property owners across Victoria.

Deputy Premier Peter Ryan said that the Coalition Government had promised to overhaul the fire services levy and had delivered.

“Last year we brought in the lowest levy rates for regional areas we could afford. This year, we’ve lowered them again,” Mr Ryan said.

“The average business in the CFA area will now pay $823 instead of $923 a year.

“The average business in a CFA area on an industrial block will see its bill drop from $1,689 to $1,389, saving $300.

“Farmers are big winners, with their average Fire Services Property Levy dropping from $449 to $402. This is a massive drop from the average of $725 each farmer was paying back in 2011-12.”

Mr O’Brien said that for more than a decade Labor refused to reform the insurance-based fire services levy. This refusal continued despite recommendations from the Bushfires Royal Commission that it should be abolished.

“It costs over $780 million a year to fund our vital fire services. Record funding of $326 million for the MFB in this year’s budget will include the replacement of all respiratory protection equipment,” Mr O’Brien said.

“The 2014-15 Budget also provides an investment of $29 million for the CFA to support an accelerated fleet replacement program.”

The Coalition Government continues to directly fund 12.5 per cent of MFB and 22.5 per cent of CFA operating budgets.

“Since coming to office in 2010, the Coalition Government has provided the CFA with more than $2.29 billion and the MFB more than $1.45 billion,” Mr O’Brien said.

The 2014-15 Budget for the CFA is $457 million, $58 million more than under the last Labor Budget. The 2014-15 Budget for MFB is $326 million, $39 million more than under the last Labor Budget.

For more information about the property-based levy visit www.firelevy.vic.gov.au

Media Contact: Les White 0409 805 122 

Coalition Government thanks emergency workers and volunteers

Friday, June 06, 2014

  • Victorian Coalition Government thanks volunteers and emergency services personnel for their contribution to protecting Victorian communities
  • More than 7,000 fire fighters fought the Hazelwood fire in Morwell
  • Thank you held during 2014 National Volunteer Week

Deputy Premier Peter Ryan and Minister for Emergency Services and Bushfire Response Kim Wells on Sunday recognised and thanked Victoria’s emergency services personnel and volunteers at a barbecue at Kernot Hall in Morwell.


“The Victorian Coalition Government is proud to support the vital work of emergency workers and volunteers who protect our state,” Mr Ryan said.

The barbecue was one of several events being held across Victoria to recognise the emergency workers and firefighting volunteers for their contribution to the community.

Mr Ryan, representing Premier Denis Napthine, said the 2013-14 bushfire season posed a serious challenge to regional Victoria, with fire conditions at their worst since Black Saturday.

A total of 4,600 bush and grass fires burned more than 463,000 hectares of land across Victoria this bushfire season. One person died and eighty houses were destroyed by fire across the state.

Morwell experienced the largest mine fire ever to occur in Australia during February and March this year. More than 7,000 firefighters engaged in the firefighting and more than 500 people worked directly and indirectly on the fire and its effects.

“The Coalition Government remains committed to helping the Morwell community get back on its feet following the Hazelwood Mine Fire,” Mr Ryan said.

Joining Mr Ryan in Morwell, Mr Wells said the event was an important opportunity to thank volunteers for their efforts during the 2013-14 fire season.

“Victoria has more than 90,000 operational and non-operational emergency services volunteers,” Mr Wells said.

“Our volunteers have a proud history assisting Victorians during times of need, and we are grateful for their outstanding support again this fire season.”

Member for Morwell Russell Northe thanked emergency services workers and volunteers for their tireless efforts during the Hazelwood Mine fire.

“This has undoubtedly been a trying time for local residents, and I join them in acknowledging, praising and being truly thankful for the relentless efforts of emergency services and volunteers who worked day and night to put out the Hazelwood fire and respond to the needs of the township.”

The barbecue was held during National Volunteer Week, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

More than six million people in Australia participate in voluntary work, representing 36 per cent of the population according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2010.

New Rosedale CFA Station open for business

Friday, June 06, 2014

  • Deputy Premier opens new Rosedale CFA station
  • Local firefighters can better protect lives and save property from the threat of fire
  • Coalition Government is delivering record investments in regional and rural infrastructure

The Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition Government has invested more than $450,000 to build a new CFA station at Rosedale, increasing the capacity of local firefighters to protect lives and save property from the threat of fire.

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan was in Rosedale on Saturday to open the new $473,000 Rosedale CFA station.


“The Coalition Government is proud to support CFA members by providing them with the facilities and equipment they need to save lives and property,” Mr Ryan said.

“This new, modern three-bay fire station has improved meeting and training facilities and replaces the 48 year old building that brigade had been operating out of.

“It also provides additional equipment storage space and an office that will make it easier for members to undertake administrative tasks.

“The new Rosedale CFA station will ensure the Rosedale Fire Brigade is well equipped to perform its critical work now and into the future.”

Mr Ryan said the new CFA station would help attract and boost membership at the unit, which has 21 members who attend about 50 calls each year.

“The Rosedale Fire Brigade has provided an invaluable service to the communities of Rosedale, Flynn, Willung and Kilmany,” Mr Ryan said.

“Volunteers have played a vital role in protecting these communities, initially as two separate entities in the early 1940s as Rosedale Urban and Rosedale Rural brigades, and then as the Rosedale Fire Brigade after an amalgamation in 2000.”

Mr Ryan said the new CFA station had been funded through the Rural Fire Station project, with the brigade also contributing $20,000 towards the $473,000 facility.

“The local contribution is a fantastic effort and shows the commitment that CFA members have for the work they do on behalf of the community,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Coalition Government is proud of the vital work performed by the CFA and we will continue to support them.”

Mr Ryan said since coming to office, the Coalition Government has provided the CFA with more than $2.29 billion.

“This financial year the CFA Budget is $457 million, $58 million more than what was provided by the former Labor Government during its last year in office,” Mr Ryan said.

“We have also invested more than $125 million over the past three years to build 250 new or upgraded CFA stations across the state, a record infrastructure investment for the CFA.”

Mr Ryan said CFA members would also benefit from the $64.5 million emergency services investment in the Coalition Government’s 2014-15 State Budget, which included:

  • $20.5 million to replace Respiratory Protection Equipment for CFA and MFB firefighters; 
  • $29 million for the CFA to acquire 78 additional vehicles; and 
  • $15 million to upgrade critical systems to support emergency call-taking and dispatch services at the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA). 

“The Liberal Nationals Coalition Government’s record investment is strengthening Victoria’s emergency services,” Mr Ryan said

Media contact: Steph Nicholls 0437 108 870 stephanie.nicholls@parliament.vic.gov.au


Victorian Coalition Government is building a better regional Victoria

Friday, June 06, 2014

The Victorian Coalition Government's 2014-15 Victorian State Budget delivers record funding to build a better Victoria by investing in the future infrastructure and services to unlock the potential and drive growth across regional and rural communities.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan said the Coalition Government was investing in new job-creating infrastructure projects that would deliver more efficient roads and rail, better hospitals and schools and safer communities.

"The Coalition Government is building a better regional and rural Victoria by delivering infrastructure and services that unlock the growth potential of the regions," Mr Ryan said.

"Responsible financial management means we have delivered a healthy $1.3 billion surplus and maintain our AAA credit rating, enabling us to invest more in rural and regional Victoria."

Rail Infrastructure

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government's investment in regional and rural Victoria was spearheaded by a commitment of up to $220 million to build the Mildura to Geelong rail standardisation link as part of the Murray Basin Rail Project.

"The Coalition Government's Murray Basin Rail Project will transform the movement of freight across the state and unlock economic potential by delivering key country freight rail line upgrades and building the Mildura to Geelong rail standardisation link," Mr Ryan said.

"An additional $209.5 million is also delivered for the maintenance of new stations, bridge, other infrastructure and the delivery of new train and bus services along the $4.1 billion new Regional Rail Link, which will transform regional passenger rail services.

"Other rail investment includes $5.8 million to improve disability access at the Geelong Station and to upgrade the bus interchanges at Moorabool Street and North Shore in Geelong, $14.3 million for a new crossing loop at Rowsley to improve rail operations on the Ballarat line and $1.3 million for planning for the Avalon Airport Rail Link transport corridor," Mr Ryan said.

Road Infrastructure

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government was strongly investing in building and upgrading roads across Victoria with an extra $130 million for roads maintenance and restoration, increasing our roads maintenance investment to more than $500 million for the coming year.

The State Budget delivers key regional and rural road projects in partnership with the Commonwealth including:

  • $362.2 million to duplicate the Princes Highway from Winchelsea to Colac;
  • $86 million for the Calder Highway interchange at Ravenswood;
  • $31.8 million for the Princes Highway East interchange at Sand Road;
  • $11 million for Princes Highway East overtaking lanes; and
  • $56.2 million for the Transport Solutions initiative which delivers targeted improvement projects to reduce bottlenecks and improve transport flows in key regional areas.

The Coalition Government will also invest $12.9 million to deliver the Pioneer Road duplication.

"In stark contrast, Labor's transport plan says it will set aside just $1 billion over eight years, or $125 million a year, for regional roads – slashing regional roads spending by two-thirds," Mr Ryan said.

"The money Labor cuts from country roads will be used to pay for Melbourne level crossing removals, where 32 of the 40 promised level crossing removals are in Labor held seats."

Hospitals and healthcare

Mr Ryan said that country hospitals would share in an extra $287 million to hospital bottom-line funding over the next year alone, to treat more patients and assist more people in emergency departments.

"The Coalition Government is investing in building better hospitals and delivering more efficient services so that regional Victorians can access the best healthcare," Mr Ryan said.

The State Budget's key regional and rural health investments include:

  • $73 million for Stage 2a of the Latrobe Regional Hospital redevelopment;
  • $28million to build the new Barwon Health-North facility;
  • $14 million for the Boort Hospital redevelopment; and
  • $8.6 million for two new Prevention & Recovery Care (PARC) mental health services, at Mildura and Warrnambool.

"This new spending builds on what we have already delivered including the biggest regional hospital in Australia's history – the $630 million Bendigo Hospital; the $46.4 million expansion of the Ballarat Hospital, the $65.6 million Echuca Hospital redevelopment and the $10 million Castlemaine Hospital upgrade, and hospital redevelopments at Mildura, Swan Hill, Kerang, Charlton, Numurkah, Geelong and Kilmore," Mr Ryan said.

"The regions will also share in $34.1 million to expand drug and alcohol treatment services and tackle the use of illicit drugs including ice.

"This funding boost will provide support services for over 2,000 extra people a year in rural and metro areas to respond to the growth in the use of ice," Mr Ryan said.

Education and training


Mr Ryan said regional and rural schools would share in a massive $500 million school capital investment package in the 2014-15 State Budget.

"The Coalition Government is building new schools, including $10 million Horsham College for modernisation and regeneration, $8.5 million for Geelong High School as part of $20 million commitment for a modernisation, and $7.8 for the Ballarat High School modernisation," Mr Ryan said.

"Additional to general budget spending, we're also investing $5 million over four years from the Regional Growth Fund into Year 12 retention in the regions.

"The regions will also share in $272.8 million in funding for increased support for students with moderate to severe disabilities in mainstream and specialist government schools.

"For skilling Victorians, the Coalition Government is investing $1.2 billion per year in vocational education and training. The Victorian Coalition Government is also investing $30 million in training for automotive workers," Mr Ryan said.

Food and fibre production

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government will continue to build a stronger food and fibre sector with $41 million of new initiatives in the 2014-15 Budget.

"This year's budget includes $35.4 million over four years, plus a further $6 million thereafter, for the Government's Food into Asia Action Plan to increase the volume and value of food exports into Asia, as we aim to double Victorian agricultural production by 2030," Mr Ryan said.

"The 2014-15 Budget will assist farmers in the war against wild dogs with an additional $1.8 million allocated for aerial baiting and ground baiting in North East Victoria and Gippsland.

"There is also $2.3 million to help establish a poppy industry in Victoria, and $1.6 million to deliver the Goulburn Valley fruit growing industry concessional loans package.

"The Coalition Government will also invest a further $40 million in water management initiatives which will help protect more communities from floods, tackle salinity and support the Murray Darling Basin Authority," Mr Ryan said.

Public Safety

Mr Ryan said the State Budget continues to invest in the CFA and the three highest CFA budgets in Victoria's history have all been delivered by the current Victorian Coalition Government.

"The 2014-15 CFA Budget is $457 million, $58 million more than Labor provided in its last year of office. This record investment shows Labor's 'CFA budget cuts' mantra is an outright lie," Mr Ryan said.

"The CFA investment will now include a bonus $17.2 million to purchase 49 additional medium tankers for CFA brigades on top of the 29 vehicles already coming out of the CFA's usual budget, and $20.5 million to replace all existing respiratory protection equipment for Victoria's fire services.

"The State Budget delivers $13.5 million to roll out Tasers to all regional 24-hour police stations as well as $14.4 million for the new Echuca Police Station and $8.4 million to establish an emergency service precinct at Ballarat West," Mr Ryan said.

Funding announced in the 2014-15 State Budget was in addition to the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund, which has so far invested almost $400 million in more than 1,400 projects, generating more than $1.6 billion of total investment and expected to create thousands of jobs.

Media contact: Les White 0409 805 122

$10,000 grants for crime prevention initiatives

Friday, June 06, 2014

  • Grants of up to $10,000 now open to local groups, schools and councils
  • Funding can be used for security lighting, fences and alarms
  • More than $200,000 in grants funding already delivered

Community groups, schools and councils in Gippsland are encouraged to apply for grants of up to $10,000 for crime prevention initiatives as part of the Victorian Liberal National Coalition Government’s Community Safety Fund.

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said groups with innovative and practical community safety projects should apply.

“In the two previous rounds of these grants, groups in Wellington and South Gippsland shared in more than $200,000 to deliver projects in and around their clubrooms that improve safety and security,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Coalition Government recognises that locals are best placed to identify and prioritise safety and security issues in their communities, and we will support them to do so.”

Mr Ryan said councils, community and sporting groups, and local schools are able to access these grants that can be used to install a range of security measures.

“This includes installing security lighting, padlocks, security screens, fencing, or undertaking awareness activities to deter crime and increase community safety,” he said.

Mr Ryan said previous local grant recipients included Nyora Recreation Reserve Committee, which received $10,000 to install security lighting, and Sale Scout Group, which was granted more than $9,000 to install security lighting and fencing.

Crime Prevention Minister Edward O’Donohue said the grants support local community groups to help provide safer and more secure facilities for local people.

“Over the past three years, the Coalition Government has provided more than $2.8 million to fund 422 projects across the state through the grants,” Mr O’Donohue said.

“The grants are part of the Coalition Government’s $35 million Community Crime Prevention Program, which helps promote community safety and prevent crime in communities across Victoria.”

Applications close on Monday 12 May and to apply, visit: www.crimeprevention.vic.gov.au/safetygrants

Media contact: Steph Nicholls 0437 108 870 

$110,000 for Benalla Airport master plan

Friday, June 06, 2014
 
  • Victorian Coalition Government invests $110,000 in Benalla Airport master plan 
  • Project is a local priority ahead of the 2017 World Gliding Championships 
  • The Regional Growth Fund has delivered almost $400 million to support more than 1400 projects, leveraging more than $1.6 billion in total investment

The Victorian Coalition Government is investing $110,000 from its $1 billion Regional Growth Fund in a detailed master plan for the Benalla Airport.

In Benalla today, Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan said the project was a priority for the Benalla Rural City Council as it prepares for the pre World Gliding Championships test event in December 2015 and the World Gliding Championships in January 2017.
“We’re delighted to be able to be part of it,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Benalla airport precinct includes more than 15 active user groups including aviation businesses, club members, accommodation facilities, recreational aviation, potters, museums, tertiary education facilities and a Performing Arts Centre.

“This Regional Growth Fund investment will help Benalla Rural City Council complete a strategic review of the airport and engage with user groups about the planning for future growth and development of this facility.”

Mr Ryan said the airport master plan would provide strategic development advice to Benalla Rural City Council and give confidence to user groups and investors looking to develop and grow businesses at the airport.

“The project will develop a collective vision across all user groups and a broader plan for the airport precinct,” Mr Ryan said.

“It will help ready the airport for the World Gliding Championships.”

Nationals candidate for Euroa Steph Ryan said Benalla’s airport was renowned for good weather and safe, reliable flying conditions.

“The future of the airport is important to pilots and gliders as well as local businesses who benefit from the economic activity and tourism it brings.”

Member for Benalla Bill Sykes said the Coalition Government’s Regional Growth Fund was investing in community-led projects to strategically drive jobs, investment and innovation in rural and regional Victoria.

“The Regional Growth Fund has delivered almost $400 million, generating over $1.6 billion of total investment across more than 1400 projects,” Mr Sykes said.

“In Benalla Rural City, the Regional Growth Fund has provided $4.1 million to 18 projects, leveraging about $12.4 million in total investment. This includes $1.6 million for the $4.58 million Benalla Library/Civic Centre Conversion; $104,075 for the $3.5 million Benalla Aquatic Centre Re-development and $300,000 for the $400,000 Benalla Town Hall Restoration.”

The Benalla Airport master plan will be completed in June 2014.

Media contact: Les White
0409 805 122

New Poowong CFA Station open for business

Friday, June 06, 2014
  • Deputy Premier opens new Poowong CFA station
  • Local firefighters can better protect lives and save property from the threat of fire
  • Coalition Government is delivering record investments in regional and rural infrastructure

The Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition Government has invested more than $400,000 to build a new CFA station at Poowong, increasing the capacity of local firefighters to protect lives and save property from the threat of fire.

Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan was in Poowong today to open the new $434,000 Poowong CFA station.

“The Coalition Government is proud to support CFA members by providing them with the facilities and equipment they need to save lives and property,” Mr Ryan said. 

“This new, modern three-bay fire station has improved meeting and training facilities.

“It also provides space for the brigade’s response trailer, which was previously housed at a brigade member’s property.

“The new Poowong CFA station will ensure the Poowong Fire Brigade is well equipped to perform its critical work now and into the future.”

Mr Ryan said the new CFA station would help attract and boost membership at the unit, which has 37 members who attend about 60 calls each year.

“The Poowong Fire Brigade has provided an invaluable service to the communities of Poowong, Loch and Nyora since it was formed 132 years ago,” Mr Ryan said.

“It has played a vital role in protecting the local community and the people of Victoria during some of the state’s biggest fires, including the Black Saturday fires in 2009.

“The Coalition Government is proud of the vital work performed by the CFA and we will continue to support them.”

Mr Ryan said the new Poowong CFA station had been funded through the Rural Fire Station project and highlighted the Coalition Government’s ongoing commitment to build and upgrade rural fire stations.

“Since 2010, the Coalition Government has provided the CFA with more than $1.84 billion,” Mr Ryan said.

 “This financial year the CFA Budget is $446 million, $47 million more than what was provided by the former Labor Government during its last year in office.

“We have also invested more than $125 million over the past three years to build 250 new or upgraded CFA stations across the state, a record infrastructure investment for the CFA.

“The Liberal Nationals Coalition Government’s record investment is strengthening Victoria’s emergency services.”

Media contact: Stephanie Nicholls 0437 108 870 stephanie.nicholls@parliament.vic.gov.au

 

Deputy Premier announces Terms of Reference for Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry

Friday, June 06, 2014


  • Deputy Premier announces full board to undertake the Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry and outlines Terms of Reference
  • Victorian Coalition Government is focused on ensuring community safety for all Victorians

Deputy Premier Peter Ryan today announced the full board to undertake the Hazelwood Mine Fire inquiry and outlined the inquiry’s Terms of Reference.


The Hon Bernard Teague AO, who headed the Black Saturday bushfires Royal Commission, will head the inquiry. He will be joined by Professor John Catford and Ms Sonia Petering.

“Justice Teague will be ably supported by Professor Catford and Ms Petering, who bring appropriate expertise in health and emergency services to the inquiry,” Mr Ryan said.

“Professor Catford is a senior health professional and is Executive Director of Medical Services at Epworth HealthCare.

“Ms Petering is an experienced corporate lawyer. She is Chair of the Rural Finance Corporation of Victoria and a Director of the Transport Accident Commission.”

The inquiry will be given broad terms of reference to examine the circumstances of the Hazelwood mine fire; the emergency response to the fire; and the response and support provided to Morwell and other affected communities.

“The inquiry’s Secretariat will be based in Morwell and the Board will be given all necessary resources to fully support its inquiry,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Inquiry will have broad powers of investigation, similar to a Royal Commission. This includes power to conduct examinations, summon documents and examine witnesses under oath.”

Premier Denis Napthine announced the Inquiry into the Hazelwood Mine Fire on Tuesday 11 March, and said the inquiry would give Victorians confidence that the government is focused on ensuring community safety.

“The inquiry will allow us to review the mine operations and emergency response to the Hazelwood fire,” Dr Napthine said.

The Board will be asked to submit its final report and any recommendations to the Victorian Government by the end of August 2014.

Media contact: Les White 0409 805 122

Premier announces independent Inquiry into Hazelwood Mine Fire

Friday, June 06, 2014

  • Premier and Deputy Premier announce independent inquiry into Hazelwood mine fire and the response to and support of Morwell and affected communities 
  • Inquiry to be headed by the Hon Bernard Teague AO 
  • Inquiry to convene by the end of March

Premier Denis Napthine and Deputy Premier Peter Ryan today announced the establishment of an independent Inquiry into the Hazelwood Mine Fire, the response to and support of the Morwell and affected communities and the emergency response.

The Board of Inquiry will comprise three members and be headed by the Hon Bernard Teague AO. It will be asked to submit its report to the Government by the end of August 2014.

Justice Teague will bring to this Inquiry his extensive experience, which includes having headed the Royal Commission into the Black Saturday bushfires.

The Inquiry will be convened by the end of March. Its Secretariat will be based in Morwell and will be given all necessary resources to fully support the Inquiry.

Dr Napthine said the Government had decided that a Board of Inquiry – with coercive powers similar to a Royal Commission – was the most appropriate legal form for the Inquiry. 

"I have directed the establishment of this Inquiry to give Victorians confidence that the Government is focused on ensuring community safety and recovery. The Inquiry will enable us to review the mine operations and the emergency response to the fire. The Inquiry will also cover health and environmental responses and the response to and support of the affected communities,” Dr Napthine said.

Dr Napthine also thanked everyone involved in fighting the fire and supporting the community.

“I welcome the news that the fire is under control and congratulate all those involved in this work over the last few weeks in addition to agencies and volunteers who have, and continue to, support the community as it recovers,” Dr Napthine said.

"Now is the time for individuals, families, community representatives and businesses to have the opportunity to have their say on how they and their communities have been impacted by the fire, the level of support they received and their views of the emergency response.” 

Mr Ryan said the Government had made good on its vow for an open, independent inquiry.

"This inquiry is testament to the Government's commitment to be open, transparent and straightforward with the community,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Inquiry provides the local community the chance to have its say, and it is important the views of the local community are heard.

“The Government will continue to work with the community and council to get businesses and the community back to full strength as soon as possible.”

The Terms of Reference will be finalised after consultation with Justice Teague and the Solicitor General before being submitted to Governor in Council and made public.

Broadly, the Terms of Reference will examine the regulatory regime which applied to the Hazelwood mine; the adequacy and effectiveness of the emergency response; how the fire started and spread into the mine; and the adequacy of information to and support of the affected communities.

Media contacts: Les White 0409 805 122 les.white@minstaff.vic.gov.au (Deputy Premier)

Victoria records lowest road toll in 90 years

Friday, June 06, 2014

 

Acting Premier Peter Ryan, along with Minister for Roads Terry Mulder and Assistant Treasurer Gordon Rich-Phillips, today welcomed news of a record low Victorian road toll of 242, some 40 less than last year.

“Victoria has just recorded its lowest road toll in almost 90 years,” Mr Ryan said.

“We haven’t seen a road toll this low since 1924, when 224 people were killed on our roads.

“We are proud of the work done so far and proud that the community and all road users have joined with police and all arms of government in a real team effort to reduce tragedies on our roads.

“However, there is still a long way to go. Most road deaths are not ‘accidents’ as such, but the result of poor choices, including choices to speed, or drive under the influence of alcohol.

“Everyone in the community needs to deeply consider the choices they make.

“There are towns in my electorate of South Gippsland with populations of fewer than 242 and to think of this many people dying on our roads every year is tragic.

“We have come a long way in saving lives, but we will not rest until the road toll is zero.”

Mr Ryan said the state’s road safety strategies, including the introduction of the Graduated Licensing System and the Safer Road Infrastructure Program, had helped save lives.

“The Victorian Coalition Government Road Safety Strategy and Action Plan, unveiled in March, included some bold new initiatives to build on these gains,” Mr Ryan said.

“We asked Victorians to tell us what they thought would help save lives and reduce injuries on our roads.

“Victorians called for more enforcement, a stronger approach to those doing the wrong thing and more education, and we’ve listened.”

Mr Ryan said 2013 saw the Coalition Government announce increased measures to stop drink driving; compulsory increased penalties for using a mobile phone while driving, the release the Road Mode mobile phone app and the start of education programs for reckless drivers to supplement tough hoon penalties.

Mr Mulder said the road safety partners, including Victoria Police, the TAC, VicRoads and the Department of Justice, have created new road safety campaigns and public education programs targeting road safety issues.

“This year we saw Victoria’s first ever distractions campaign and we worked with motorcyclists on a campaign to help them achieve the perfect ride,” Mr Mulder said.

“While it has been great to see the reductions in fatalities this year we know that we are only ever one bad week or one bad month away from losing those gains.

“We need to continue to work together to come up with new initiatives and strategies to help us achieve our vision of zero deaths and serious injuries.”

Assistant Treasurer Gordon Rich-Phillips said while it is encouraging to see the reduction in road fatalities there is still work to be done to reduce serious injuries on our roads.

“The last 12 months have seen a reduction in fatalities but we have not seen the same reduction in serious injury collisions,” Mr Rich-Phillips said.

“We have a number of initiatives underway in 2014 to reduce serious injuries including the Enhanced Crash Investigation Study with the Monash University Accident Research Centre which will be unveiled in February.

“The TAC has also committed $1 billion under the Safer Road Infrastructure Program over the next decade to make Victoria’s most dangerous roads safer for all road users, a vital element of the Safe System approach.

“The release of the Parliamentary Road Safety Committee inquiry into serious injury later this year will give us a better understanding of what we can do to reduce life changing injuries.”

Media contact: Les White 0409 805 122 les.white@minstaff.vic.gov.au