National news

April 14, 2018

Goulburn Valley Health will receive $460000 to help combat flu this winter, as part of the Victorian Government’s $50million boost to emergency departments across the state.

Flu funding

Goulburn Valley Health will receive $460000 to help combat flu this winter, as part of the Victorian Government’s $50million boost to emergency departments across the state.

State Member for Northern Victoria Mark Gepp announced the funding on the weekend, saying it would help hospitals open more beds, hire more doctors and nurses and treat more patients.

Mr Gepp said the early budget funding boost would give 17 of Victoria’s largest health services the extra funding to plan ahead of winter and cater for more patients presenting to emergency departments with the flu.

Last year, Victoria experienced a horror flu season — one of the worst on record — with more than 48000 confirmed cases of influenza and a record number of people presenting to emergency departments each day.

The government will also provide $3.5million for free flu shots for Victorian children aged six months up to five years, available from May. Pool crackdown

The Victorian Government is set to establish a comprehensive register of all household pools and spas across the state as part of a major regulatory overhaul to keep children safe.

Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne announced the mandatory register on Friday and regular inspections to ensure pool and spa safety barriers are effective and working properly.

‘‘We’re creating a dedicated database of every household pool and spa in Victoria, and ensuring they’re regularly inspected to make sure they comply with high safety standards,’’ Mr Wynne said.

‘‘Too many families have had to endure the heartbreak of losing a child in a drowning tragedy and it has to end.’’

There are an estimated 158000 pools in Victoria and all are required to meet high safety standards in place at the time of construction.

Under the regulatory changes, pool and spa owners will be required to ensure their safety barriers remain in working order at all times just as at the day they were installed.

The government will introduce the regulatory overhaul into parliament in June, and the new register and a self-assessment tool is expected to be in place before next summer.

Illegal tobacco bust

The Australian Taxation Office has seized 17.6tonnes of illegal tobacco and 44kg of seedlings from a farm in Koonoomoo.

The tobacco seized on Thursday has an estimated excise value of more than $16million.

The warrant action is in addition to 23 operations since July 1, 2016, where officers seized more than $170million of illegal crops.

‘‘Engaging in the illegal tobacco trade not only supports organised criminal syndicates, it also robs the community by denying them of taxes that would be raised,’’ Assistant Commissioner Peter Vujanic said.

‘‘The ATO takes the detection and prosecution of illegal tobacco growers very seriously to help protect the community.’’

Growing tobacco without an excise licence has been illegal in Australia for more than a decade.

There is no legal avenue for Australian-grown tobacco to be manufactured and sold.

‘‘The ATO is concerned that farmers in these areas may be targeted by organised criminal organisation or be at risk of unintentionally becoming involved,’’ Mr Vujanic said.

‘‘If you are approached about growing tobacco or think you may be unwittingly involved in growing illegal groups, you should let the ATO know.’’

● To report a concern, phone 1800060062 or visit

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