Press Releases

New guide reveals secrets of landscaping for bushfires

* * - Friday, March 30, 2012

A new guide to landscaping and designing gardens to best defend homes against bushfires has been launched by Deputy Premier and Minister for Emergency Services Peter Ryan at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show today.

Mr Ryan said the 65-page publication called Landscaping for Bushfire: Garden Design and Plant Selection was developed by the CFA in response to Recommendation 44 of the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission and would be an invaluable resource.

“With the right advice, landscaping and garden design can minimise the effects of direct flame contact and radiant heat on a house during a bushfire,” Mr Ryan said.

“Even though all plants burn in severe bushfire conditions, greater understanding of vegetation, suitable plant choices and more practical garden layouts can help reduce the likelihood of losing a home.”

CFA Chief Officer Euan Ferguson said the booklet and associated online tools would further educate people living in high-risk areas of simple measures to reduce the impact of bushfires.

“The booklet will demonstrate planning and design principles for gardens in coastal, hilly, rural and suburban environments,” Mr Ferguson said.

“It also discusses the importance of appropriate water supply, access, house construction and general property maintenance, as well as keeping areas around homes and other structures free of plants that could easily catch fire and ignite a building.

“For the first time, people can also assess the flammability of certain plant species using the plant selection key, which is available in the booklet as well as on the CFA’s website.

“The plant selection key will help guide decisions about the suitability of trees, plants or shrubs in gardens in areas of high bushfire risk.”

Mr Ryan said improved garden landscaping and design could help protect property, but on severe, extreme and code red days, leaving early was always the safest option.

To download a copy of the booklet or use the online plant selection tool visit:

Media contact: Sonia Heath 0413 485 526

Rural Youth Ambassadors have their say on keeping kids at school longer

* * - Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mirboo North Secondary College students Lauren Cain and Sinead Allen and Korumburra Secondary College student Daniel Longdon were given the opportunity to share their insights with the Victorian Government on how to keep rural students at school for longer.

Lauren, Sinead and Daniel were among 13 students selected from regional Victoria as Rural Youth Ambassadors and met with Higher Education and Skills Minister Peter Hall and Education Minister Martin Dixon at Parliament House on Wednesday to discuss their ideas.

Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said the ambassadors participated in a range of workshops to explore strategies for keeping rural students engaged in learning and had produced a report, Engaging and Retaining Rural Young People in Learning, which contained a number of valuable recommendations.

“Over the past 10 months the students have participated in workshops, web forums and face-to-face meetings to examine the key factors affecting the number of students completing year 12 in rural and regional Victoria, including course options, technology in the classroom and local training and tertiary options,” Mr Ryan said.

“Their insights and first-hand experiences will be a valuable tool for future planning.”

Mr Ryan said the report recommended a range of strategies including:

· Supporting all pre-service teachers to undertake a placement within a rural community;
· Promoting and maintaining a culture of high expectations to support rural communities;
· Regular professional development for rural teachers to update their skills in using the latest technology;
· Implementing mentoring initiatives, such as Big Brother Big Sister; and
· Rural schools developing a network of ex-students who are willing to provide support and guidance to current students.

Mr Ryan said the Rural Youth Ambassadors initiative is supported by the Country Education Project and the Victorian Student Representative Council (SRC).

“The project complements a raft of Victorian Coalition Government initiatives to assist rural students, including $5 million for the Local Solutions Year 12 Retention Fund which enables government, Catholic and independent schools to design and deliver programs to improve retention rates and pathway options for senior students,” Mr Ryan said.

“A Rural Education Reference Group, comprising two Rural Youth Ambassadors, has also been established to assist in developing strategies to address the type of issues contained in the Rural Youth Ambassadors’ report.”

Mr Ryan said the Victorian Coalition Government had also established a $20 million Regional Partnerships Facilitation Fund to help students gain easier access to higher education opportunities in regional Victoria.

Victorian Rural Youth Ambassadors

Rebecca McKenzie - Cohuna SC

Emma Inglis - Timboon College

Alexander Kerr - Timboon College

Brittney Anderson - Mooroopna SC

Reece Rowe - Mooroopna SC

Lauren Cain - Mirboo North SC

Sinead Allen - Mirboo North SC

Ryley Afford - Hopetoun SC

Ashlee Schultz - Warracknabeal SC

Blaise Mortimer - St Mary of the Angles, Nathalia

 Anna Tinkler - St Mary of the Angels, Nathalia

Rachael Marriner - Lavers Hill P-12 College

Danial Longdon - Korumburra SC


Wellington receives $12,000 heritage support

* * - Thursday, March 29, 2012
Wellington Shire Council has received $12,000 towards the provision of Heritage Advisory Services for 2011-12, Deputy Premier and Member for South Gippsland Peter Ryan announced today.

Mr Ryan said the funding would be used to provide Heritage Advisory Services through the appointment of an experienced professional to:

· Provide free advice to owners of heritage places;
· Assist councils with the management of heritage assets; and
· Promote heritage conservation in the municipality.

Mr Ryan said advisors helped residents make appropriate decisions on restoration and development plans for heritage sites.

“The Wellington Shire is home to Gippsland’s first city, Sale which was discovered in 1840, and Gippsland’s first port, Port Albert which discovered a year later in 1841,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Shire has a long and rich history and the Heritage Advisory Services will be of great assistance to the local community.”

Mr Ryan said the funding was based on previous expenditure and reflected the council’s commitment to preserving local heritage, with council supplementing the funds with a minimum $1 for $1 expenditure.

Planning Minister Mr Matthew Guy said the programs provided by Heritage Advisory Services had been successful in developing a positive attitude towards heritage through the provision of free heritage advice to councils, communities and owners and managers of heritage properties.

“The benefits of these services are now evident in many towns with restored heritage buildings, appropriate signage and upgraded streetscapes,” Mr Guy said.

“These services have helped people recognise the importance of early buildings, their role in our social lives and how they can enhance streetscapes and enrich our understanding of the past.”

Mr Guy said the Heritage Advisors would also be used to assist councils with the development of a Municipal Heritage Strategy for their municipality, a Victorian Coalition Government planning commitment.

Media contact: Ben Bulmer 0437 108 870

Local knowledge to protect the Gippsland Lakes

* * - Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Victorian Coalition Government has appointed 12 members to the Gippsland Lakes Ministerial Advisory Committee, which will convene its first meeting in Lakes Entrance on 29 March.

The new advisory committee, which is made up of community members all of whom live in Gippsland, will advise the Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan, and the Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith, on how to secure the environmental health of the Lakes.

“The health of the Lakes supports the communities around them, as well as major tourism and fishing industries,” Mr Smith said.

“Last summer’s algal bloom in the Lakes was an example of the sort of impact that environmental problems can have on industries and recreation in the region.

“The formation of this committee marks a new era in protecting the environment of the Lakes and the surrounding catchment, and in turn that will support tourism, recreation and business opportunities.

“Under the chairmanship of Dr Peter Veenker, the Gippsland Lakes Ministerial Advisory Committee will prepare an environment strategy and recommend a program of practical environmental works to protect the health of the Lakes into the future,” Mr Smith said.

Mr Ryan said the breadth of local knowledge on the committee would lead to good outcomes for the Lakes.

“The committee members’ skills include land and water management, strategic planning, business management, board governance and community engagement,” Mr Ryan said.

“All of the members know Gippsland and appreciate the importance of the Lakes, and I am confident that the committee will provide sound advice to the Government on how we can work together to protect Victoria’s most important Lakes system.”

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government was investing $10 million over four years for practical environmental projects to protect the Gippsland Lakes, which were one of Australia’s most significant natural landmarks.

Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull said the committee had great potential to achieve at a local level.

“The new advisory committee group will be able to get on with the job of monitoring and dealing with issues relating to the Gippsland Lakes system,” Mr Bull said.

“The Lakes are an icon, not only in Gippsland and Victoria but across Australia, and the appointment of this committee is proof the Coalition Government is serious about ensuring the Gippsland Lakes can remain a jewel in the crown of this country.”

Mr Bull said the committee would be working closely with local communities and industries.

Committee Members:
Peter Veenker (Chair)
Arthur Allen        
Wayne Bath          
Roger Bilney          
Rachel Bromage      
Richard Ellis        
Michael Freshwater    
Angus Hume           
Peter Johnstone      
Nick Murray           
Richard Desmond Sinnott              
Margaret Supplit
Kate Young       

$10,000 for campervan and motor club rally in Sale

* * - Tuesday, March 27, 2012
The Easter 2012 Campervan and Motor Club of Australia Rally – Sale is being supported with $10,000 in Victorian Government funding, Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said today.

Mr Ryan said the 4-10 April event, held at the Sale Showgrounds, Gippsland Grammar and Sale Greyhound Club, was expected to attract around 2000 participants and would generate more than $1 million for the local economy.

“The economic stimulus of this event will not be limited to Sale but will expand across the region as ‘motorhomers’ and ‘caravaners’ travel to Gippsland from all corners of Australia,” Mr Ryan said.

“Based on previous rallies, it is expected attendees will enter the region a week prior to event and continue to explore the region for a week after the event.”

Mr Ryan said the rally would feature a number of satellite activities to ensure other towns in Gippsland directly benefit from the rally.

“An associated event, the Solos Rally that is expected to attract about 300 visitors, will be held at Yarram in the week before the rally in Sale,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said the rally would celebrate the Campervan and Motorhome Club of Australia’s 26th anniversary and would feature special interest group activities, the Poets' Breakfast, seminars, trade stands, market stalls and entertainment.

He said funding for the rally would be provided to Wellington Shire Council through the Victorian Coalition Government’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund Putting Locals First Program.

“Putting Locals First is a $100 million initiative that enables regional communities to devise and deliver service and infrastructure responses that reflect local priorities,” Mr Ryan said.

“It is supporting stronger and more sustainable regional communities by building their capacity to drive development in their region.”

Media contact: Ben Bulmer 0437 108 870

Gippsland hunters hand in more than 1,300 fox scalps

* * - Monday, March 26, 2012
Gippsland hunters are reaping the benefits of the Victorian Coalition Government’s fox and wild dog bounty, which has easily outdone the former Labor government’s Fox Stop program.

Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said the response to the Coalition’s decision to reinstate a true and proper fox and wild dog bounty had been overwhelming.

“Since the bounty began in October last year a total of 1341 fox scalps have been collected from four collection centres located throughout Gippsland, including 285 from Yarram, 307 from Maffra, 124 from Bairnsdale and 625 from Ellinbank.

“Total collections across Victoria are nearing 30,000, which speaks volumes about how badly this bounty was needed.”

Mr Ryan said Labor had all but ignored the pleas of farmers and landholders who were fighting a losing battle against rising fox and wild dog numbers.

“The bounty is not a total solution, but it’s playing an important part in our efforts to reduce the impact of foxes and wild dogs on Gippsland food and fibre producers,” Mr Ryan said.

“Not surprisingly I have received extremely positive feedback from local hunters who have been calling for an end to the previous ad hoc and inconsistent fox control programs.”

Mr Ryan said the Coalition’s $4 million bounty had already seen 27,824 fox scalps and wild dog skins handed in across Victoria, compared to just 20,034 foxes killed over the life of Fox Stop.

“We are delivering on our key election commitment to reinstate a true fox and wild dog bounty by offering Victorian farmers and hunters $10 for each fox and $50 for each wild dog,” Mr Ryan said.

For opening times and full details of the terms and conditions for the fox and wild dog bounty, go to or contact the DPI Customer Service Centre on 136 186.

Media contact: Ben Bulmer 0437 108 870

Funding for Ferny Creek Bushfire Alert System

* * - Monday, March 26, 2012
The Ferny Creek Bushfire Alert Committee will receive $14,500 from the Victorian Coalition Government to support vital improvements to the region’s bushfire alert system.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Bushfire Response Peter Ryan made the announcement during a visit to Yarra Ranges and Cardinia shires today.

Mr Ryan said the improvements would enable the manual activation of the Ferny Creek Bushfire Alert System from the Sassafras Ferny Creek Fire Station.

“This improvement will help overcome barriers experienced with the existing pager-based activation system and give CFA personnel the capacity to manually switch on the alert network from the local fire station,” Mr Ryan said.

“The manual activation system will link in with the three sirens at Dunn's Hill, One Tree Hill and Sassafras/Ferny Creek via a new wireless telemetry network, which will include a repeater module to overcome any geographical obstacles.”

Mr Ryan said the Ferny Creek Bushfire Alert Committee (FCBAC) was a not-for-profit community organisation, run by volunteers, that provided an invaluable service to the district.

“The Dandenong Ranges is one of the most bushfire-prone areas in Victoria and an effective bushfire alert system is crucial,” Mr Ryan said.

“The improvements to the alert system will benefit 150 households in the immediate area, tourists and bushwalkers using the local recreational facilities and walking tracks, and the wider Ferny Creek and Sassafras communities.

“I thank the volunteers of the FCBAC and the local CFA for their dedication and ongoing commitment to protecting the community against the threat of bushfire.”

Mr Ryan said funding for the project was from the Coalition Government’s $5 million Fire Ready Communities program which was designed to support grass-roots initiatives in Victoria’s 52 most at-risk bushfire-prone communities.

To apply for Fire Ready Communities grants, local councils and community organisations should contact the Department of Planning and Community Development in their region. Visit for details.

Media contact: Sonia Heath 0413 485 526

Marketing seminar to boost South Gippsland businesses

* * - Monday, March 26, 2012
The Victorian Coalition Government is supporting South Gippsland’s inaugural Marketing and Image Networking Seminar, which aims to develop the marketing and presentation skills of local business operators.

Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan today announced the Coalition Government’s sponsorship of the all-day seminar, to be held at GippsTAFE in Leongatha this Saturday (31 March) between 9am and 4pm.

“The Coalition Government is pleased to be sponsoring the Marketing and Image Networking Seminar, which is being hosted by Southern Business Women’s Network,” Mr Ryan said.

“Attendees can look forward to keynote speaker L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival’s CEO Graeme Lewsey, who will discuss how important image is to a business.

“There will also be opportunities to learn about marketing on a small budget, business etiquette, social media tools and how businesses can establish a point of difference.”

Mr Ryan said further information on the seminar could be accessed online at

Media contact: Ben Bulmer 047 108 870

$550,000 improves Bairnsdale line level crossing safety

* * - Monday, March 26, 2012

The Coalition Government has completed the installation of boom barriers to improve safety at two level crossings in Traralgon and Wurruk, Minister for Public Transport Terry Mulder said today.

Mr Mulder said that these level crossings were upgraded at a cost of $550,000 under the Coalition Government's $47 million Fix Regional Level Crossings upgrade program.

"The crossings have been upgraded with boom barriers adding to the previous flashing lights and warning bells, significantly improving safety for people who use the crossings," Mr Mulder said.

Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan and Member for Morwell Russell Northe said that they were very pleased with these new Bairnsdale line boom barriers.

“The Traralgon to Sale area has a history of level crossing accidents dating back many years. These safety imrprovements will be welcomed by Gippsland residents,“ Mr Northe said.

The Hunt Place, Wurruk level crossing is about two kilometres west of Sale railway station while Minniedale Road, Traralgon’s crossing is about four kilometres east of Traralgon railway station.

Mr Mulder said that there were 40 V/Line passenger trains through these level crossings a week.

“With Sale, Traralgon and Bairnsdale continuing to grow, it is more important than ever to improve safety between road users and trains. Hunt Place is a key local road connection to the Princes Highway. Minniedale Road, Traralgon links residents with the Princes Highway between Traralgon and Flynn,” Mr Mulder said.

Mr Mulder said that these two level crossing upgrades undertaken by VicTrack were among the first of up to 75 level crossings to be upgraded across the state as part of the Coalition Government's $47 million Fix Regional Level Crossings Upgrade program funded over four years from 2011/12 .

"This program is in addition to the Coalition Government’s ongoing State Level Crossing Upgrade Program. It is part of the Coalition Government's aim to accelerate improved level crossing safety across Victoria. It is important that all Victorians continue to take care at all level crossings, whether or not crossings have give way or stop signs or flashing lights with or without boom barriers."

Further Information about level crossing upgrades is at

Report guides Latrobe Valley’s Industry and Employment Roadmap

* * - Friday, March 23, 2012

A newly-released independent report has revealed the Gillard Labor Government has seriously underestimated the carbon tax’s impact on the Latrobe Valley.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan said the Victoria University report, released 100 days out from the Gillard Labor Government’s carbon tax coming into effect, highlighted the level of volatility facing Latrobe Valley from 1 July this year.

“This report is proof more Commonwealth Government assistance is required to back up the Victorian Coalition Government’s already significant investment to support industry and employment in the Latrobe Valley,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Victorian University Centre for Strategic Economic Studies report The Regional Effects of Pricing Carbon Emissions: An Adjustment Strategy for the Latrobe Valley examined the social and economic impacts of a carbon price in the Latrobe Valley and the wider Gippsland region.”

The report describes the assistance set aside by the Commonwealth to assist regions across Australia affected by its carbon pricing policies as ‘modest’. The report also notes the coal-fired electricity sector remains a ‘cornerstone’ of the Latrobe Valley economy.

‘About 15% of total employment is directly attributable to the coal-fired electricity industry … however the importance of the sector to the local economy is greater since the electricity and related sectors account for almost 26 per cent of the valley’s wage income.’ (page 52)

Mr Ryan said one of the Victoria University report’s main conclusions was the magnitude of the adjustment required in the Latrobe Valley as a result of the carbon tax was likely to be larger and more complicated than currently anticipated by the Commonwealth.

“The Victorian Coalition Government recognises the Latrobe Valley is a major contributor to Victoria’s economy,” Mr Ryan said.

“This newly-released report is being factored into the development of the Coalition Government’s Latrobe Valley Industry and Employment Roadmap which will drive new industry and investment and secure long-term employment for the Latrobe Valley.”

Mr Ryan said there was an agreement between the Commonwealth and the state that both governments would work together to assist Latrobe Valley communities minimise the inevitable adverse impacts from the introduction of a price on carbon.

“The Coalition Government has taken early action to fund the Roadmap Project and to implement programs to improve skills training while the Latrobe Valley Industry and Infrastructure Fund will support diversification of the Latrobe valley economy,” Mr Ryan said.

“To date the Commonwealth has made no specific financial commitment to the Latrobe Valley but I am hopeful this situation will change in coming months,” Mr Ryan said.

The Victorian University Centre for Strategic Economic Studies report is available at

Media contact: Sonia Heath 0413 485 526

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