Thursday 30 November 2017
The Premier and Agriculture Minister today continued to refuse to answer questions in Parliament on Labor’s reported Northcote by-election preference deal with the Animal Justice Party.
AJP Northcote candidate Nina Lenk has said AJP preferenced Labor ahead of the Greens in Northcote “because they were offering us a Victorian welfare group for animals” and “$500,000 for animal organisations and community organisations”.
AJP’s policies include ending livestock farming for a “long-term, total transition to plant-based agriculture” and urge the withdrawal of Government support for animal product industries.
Jaala Pulford continues to evade questions on her decision to announce a new public sector group, Animal Welfare Victoria, and $500,000 of grants on the same day early voting opened for the Northcote by-election.
The Liberal Nationals’ questions have gone unanswered in Parliament this week, including:
- What stakeholders did she consult with before making the decision to form Animal Welfare Victoria?
- Why didn’t she consult the Victorian Farmers Federation, the Australian Veterinary Association or even the RSPCA?
- Was the Minister aware that her decision to form Animal Welfare Victoria and commit $500,000 worth of grants would result in the Animal Justice Party preferencing Labor ahead of The Greens at the Northcote by-election?
- Why didn’t the Minister inform the Livestock Industry Consultative Committee of her decision to form Animal Welfare Victoria, which met with Chief Veterinary Officer Charles Milne four days before AWV was announced?
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh
Daniel Andrews and Jaala Pulford have serious questions to answer on this alleged cash for votes deal with the AJP ahead of the Northcote by-election.
Daniel Andrews is proving time and time again he is the Premier for Melbourne and will sell out regional Victorians at any cost.
Tuesday 14 November 2017
Daniel Andrews’ desperate bid to plug the hole in Victoria’s power supply couldn’t come at a worse time for Victorian farmers.
The Andrews Labor Government’s failure to stop the closure of Hazelwood Power Station or make up the loss of power supply means Victoria will need expensive diesel generators to keep the lights on in summer.
Today in Parliament, Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio refused to answer questions on the impact the diesel generators would have on diesel prices, leading up to a busy grain harvest.
Victorian grain farmers will be paying the price for Daniel Andrews’ incompetence.
When an additional 500,000 litres of diesel a day is needed to keeping the lights and air-conditioning on, it will mean huge pressure on diesel prices at a time when our grain farmers need it most.
Friday 10 November 2017
The Andrews Labor Government’s late announcement today of a price for electronic identification (eID) tags for sheep and goats next year is long overdue.
Jaala Pulford promised to give primary producers certainty ‘in the first half’ of 2017, only to force them to wait until nearly Christmas.
Today’s announcement fails to recognise serious concerns saleyard operators and the Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association (ALPA) have with Labor’s slow progress on developing the software and physical infrastructure needed to read and upload data to the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS).
The Agriculture Minister must stop ignoring saleyard operators’ concerns and grant them a 12 month extension past the March 2018 deadline to rollout eID.
Jaala Pulford is burying her head in the sand and assuming eID will implement itself, but it’s clear that’s not the case.
Victoria’s biosecurity is too important for a half-baked Labor rush job.
Friday 3 November 2017
Shadow Water Minister Steph Ryan is encouraging landholders to make their views known on the Andrews Labor Government’s draft Rural Drainage Strategy.
Ms Ryan said she was concerned the strategy failed to provide greater clarity around the management of rural drainage schemes.
Labor’s strategy proposes that rural drainage schemes will be managed in four ways:
· By individual landholders;
· Collectively through amicable agreements;
· Collectively through written agreements; and
· Collectively through written agreements with support from government agencies and with councils offering administrative support where landholders are prepared to pay for that service.
“By putting forward every option, the government is actually putting forward no option at all,” Ms Ryan said.
“Water Minister Lisa Neville clearly has no interest in fixing the uncertainty surrounding the management of rural drainage schemes,” Ms Ryan said.
The former Liberal Nationals Government tasked a Parliamentary committee to investigate rural drainage schemes which reported in 2013.
The committee found that the responsibilities of local government and catchment management authorities had been confused, with both groups being reluctant to take on unfunded activities.
It recommended the Victorian Government develop a rural drainage strategy which outlined the role of State Government, CMAs, councils and community committees.
The strategy was also supposed to outline the process for identifying the lead drainage body in a given areas, cost sharing principles, how to strike a tariff, the nominating agency to raise and disburse the tariff, management structure options to be adopted by the responsible authority, a policy for regulating new drainage works and systems and the standards to apply.
“Labor have had almost three years to develop this strategy, yet the result is a dog’s breakfast that provides no clear direction for landholders,” Ms Ryan said.
Landholders who wish to provide feedback on the strategy can attend a regional forum or make a submission online atwww.engage.vic.gov.au/ruraldrainage
Thursday 2 November 2017
Water Minister Lisa Neville must insist Labor’s senators stand up for the interests of Victoria’s Basin communities.
Labor’s Victorian senators Kim Carr, Jacinta Collins, Gavin Marshall and Kimberley Kitching have been completely silent about where they stand on the recovery of the 450GL of up water from the Southern Basin.
In 2013 The Nationals moved amendments in the Senate which would have prevented the 450 GL of up water from being recovered through water buybacks and to amend the target from a concrete 450 GL of water to ‘up to’ 450 GL.
Victoria’s Labor senators voted against the interests of Victoria’s Basin communities by voting the amendments down.
Minister Neville seems unable or unwilling to garner even an ounce of support from her federal colleagues when it comes to defending Victoria’s interests.
These Victorian Senators will have a chance to redeem themselves as Victoria looks for support to prevent more water leaving our irrigation districts towards the 450 GL.
Comments attributable to Shadow Water Minister Steph Ryan
“Labor’s Victorian senators have a history of putting party politics ahead of the interests of Victoria’s Basin communities when it comes to the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
“If Labor had supported The Nationals’ amendments in 2013, Victorian irrigators would have the certainty of knowing the 450 gigalitres of up water could not be recovered through buybacks.
“Lisa Neville needs to reassure northern Victorian irrigators that her Federal colleagues will not sell them down the river yet again.”
Friday 27 October 2017
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Water Steph Ryan
The Minister for Water must come clean on what has prompted another review into Goulburn Murray Water.
The advisory panel announced today is the third body created in two years to advise on GMW projects and strategic direction, and suggests the Government lacks confidence in the organisation.
The Minister must explain to customers and key stakeholders exactly what the issues are, and provide an opportunity for the community to contribute to the review process.
She must also explain why her dime-a-dozen reviews have so far failed to achieve any results.
The Minister has had three years to address the concerns of GMW and northern Victoria and it’s time we start seeing action and results, not just more reviews.
Thursday 26 October 2017
Alarm bells are ringing for Victorian dog breeders as the Andrews Labor Government dithers on its proposed Domestic Animals Amendment (Puppy Farms And Pet Shops) Bill 2016.
Breeders and stakeholder groups continue to highlight an ongoing lack of consultation and secrecy on changes to the original Bill.
Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford was forced into an embarrassing backdown in June, after admitting the Bill was “unlikely to pass the Parliament in its current form”.
It followed a highly critical Legislative Council report handed down in December 2016 that found “consultation with relevant stakeholders in regard to this Bill was inadequate” and recommended the Bill be withdrawn.
The Parliamentary Report also recommended the Government “abandon limiting breeders to 10 fertile females” as evidence from multiple witnesses confirmed there was no scientific basis to the number that had been selected by Labor for its election promise of 2014.
The Government indicated it planned to debate the Bill in the Legislative Assembly in September, but that never happened and no explanation was given.
Comments from Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh
Dog breeders and stakeholders are rightly frustrated, suspicious and angry with the ongoing secrecy from the Andrews Labor Government.
If Jaala Pulford has nothing to hide, she should immediately release the house amendments in draft form so that dog breeders and other stakeholders know exactly what is going on.
Wednesday 25 October 2017
Cuts to Victoria’s agriculture budget and little action to reduce red tape for farmers are taking a toll on Victoria’s booming agriculture sector.
The Victorian Food and Fibre Export Performance Report 2016-17 was released today and showed Victoria’s agriculture sector continues to lead the nation in exports, but that growth in exports has slowed.
Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh said our state’s agricultural export boom had hit the brakes under Daniel Andrews.
“It’s a credit to the hard work and innovation of farmers and industry that our food and fibre exports continue to top the board nationally,” Mr Walsh said.
“It’s disappointing that such an important sector has faced cuts from the Andrews Labor Government, most recently a $32 million cut to agriculture in this year’s State budget.
“Jaala Pulford is good at making promises and conducting reviews that fail to follow up in action to cut red tape or make it easier to do business in Victoria.
“Labor’s city-centric focus is stopping our agriculture industry growing even more.”
Good seasonal conditions that led to a bumper grain harvest for Victorian farmers saw grain exports increase by $839 million in 2016-17, while meat exports dropped $311 million.
“Our farmers and agricultural businesses are the backbone of our state’s economy and support tens of thousands of jobs in our regional communities,” Mr Walsh said.
“Rather than more cuts, the Premier for Melbourne must make a real investment in making sure these industries have a strong future.”
Wednesday 25 October 2017
Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford has embarrassingly admitted she has no idea of serious concerns with the implementation of electronic identification (eID) of sheep and goats.
Victorian saleyard operators say they won’t be ready to scan eID tags by March 2018 because the software they need to share data with the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) is still being trialled.
Asked about industry concerns, Ms Pulford was in denial, telling State Parliament ‘I’m certainly satisfied with how it is progressing’.
Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh called on the Andrews Government to commit to a 12 month extension on the rollout of eID at Victorian saleyards.
“The Agriculture Minister is burying her head in the sand and hoping eID will implement itself,” Mr Walsh said.
“I recently met with stock agents, vendors and transport operators in Hamilton who echoed serious concerns with the slow progress – a 12 month extension is needed to make sure eID is rolled out properly.
“Saleyard operators have been begging to meet with the Minister and discuss their concerns, but they’ve struggled to get a look in.
“Until the software to scan and upload data to the NLIS has been properly tested in a sale environment, saleyards can’t start to plan for its installation.
“Daniel Andrews must extend the deadline and make sure the rollout is done right the first time, rather than risk it turning into another Labor rush job.”
The Andrews Labor Government has also failed to announce a tag price for 2018, despite promising to announce a price ‘in the first half’ of 2017.
“Industry is committed to the implementation of eID, but Labor is botching the process,” Mr Walsh said.
“The Andrews Government thought industry could just apply the systems used for cattle to sheep and goats but, as usual, Labor got it wrong.”
Friday 20 October 2017
Daniel Andrews has snubbed the views of Victorian farmers by failing to consult with Victoria’s livestock and intensive industries before establishing Animal Welfare Victoria.
Animal Welfare Victoria was announced under the cover of darkness, without consultation with Victoria’s peak farmer group, the Victorian Farmers Federation or the Livestock Industry Consultative Committee (LICC).
LICC was established to provide advice to government on livestock industry issues and even though they met days before the announcement, were not consulted.
The VFF described the move as “bowing to an activist agenda”.
The Andrews Government provided little information on how the new body would operate.
Comments from Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh
Daniel Andrews is taking desperate steps to win over greens voters in Northcote, at the expense of our regional industries.
It’s incredibly sloppy of the Government to be surprising major stakeholders like the VFF with announcements like this.
Our farmers and regional communities have had a gutful of Melbourne-centric Labor putting city votes ahead of our regional industries.
Comments from Member for Northern Victoria Luke O’Sullivan
Labor’s trying to out-green The Greens in Northcote, putting our farmers and country communities last in the process.
Our farmers are experts in animal welfare – their livelihoods depend on it.
Animal Welfare Victoria appears to be nothing more than another barnacle clinging to Labor’s bloated public sector with no real benefit to farmers.