Thursday 4 May 2017
Despite slugging country Victorians for ten new taxes, Daniel Andrews has slashed Victoria’s Agriculture budget.
Labor has cut $32 million from the Agriculture spend in the 2017-18 State Budget, despite pushing up taxes by 22 per cent.
No amount of Labor spin can hide this reduction and fears of Agriculture being swallowed up within the super department are ringing true.
Daniel Andrews and Jaala Pulford are bragging about a surplus, but have failed to put any new funds into productivity-focussed research and development programs.
Instead they are misleading Victorians on a ‘new’ $85 million biosecurity spend on existing programs and re-announcing funds already flagged for Labor’s go-it-alone eID scheme.
This Budget confirms the Andrews Government has no vision for the future of Victoria’s agriculture sector.
Yet again Labor has splashed cash on Melbourne while giving regional communities the scraps off the table.
Friday 17 May 2017
The Andrews Government has disgracefully abandoned 260 workers at Australian Sustainable Hardwoods’ Heyfield mill by failing to guarantee a viable timber supply.
Labor’s half-baked offer to purchase the mill at the 11th hour again confirms Daniel Andrews has no problem playing political games with Victorian jobs.
Instead, Daniel Andrews has chosen green preferences over real jobs, sitting on his hands and costing the people of Heyfield their livelihoods.
This is a massive kick in the guts to Heyfield workers, their families and the local community.
The timber supply is there, what is lacking is will from Daniel Andrews to act.
Daniel Andrews has failed the people of Heyfield and his government’s policies are creating a massive jobs crisis for the people of Gippsland.
Wednesday 8 February 2017
The Resources Legislation Amendment (Fracking Ban) Bill 2016 will pass Parliament.
In 2012 the Liberal Nationals Government announced a gas moratorium and in 2015 we committed to an extension of the existing onshore gas moratorium until 30 June 2020.
The Liberal Nationals support the ban on fracking. Indeed, fracking has never occurred under a Liberal Nationals Government. In contrast, the previous Victorian Labor Government issued 73 licences for unconventional gas exploration and approved 23 fracking operations without public consultation.
The Liberal Nationals have always said we will never allow anything to happen that puts at risk the quality or quantity of our groundwater because we know how important it is to our state.
Food and fibre production is one the powerhouses of Victoria’s economy and we must always ensure the land and water resources these vital industries need are protected, now and for the future.
Increasing gas and electricity costs to industry and Victorian households mean work must be done to ensure our state has a secure and competitive supply of energy in the future.
That is why we believe during the period of the moratorium, the energy sector needs to work with rural communities and have a sensible discussion about the use of conventional gas beyond the expiration of the moratorium in 2020. Conventional gas has over 30 years of successful co-existence with Victorian country communities.
Whether it is gas or electricity, Daniel Andrews has a political plan but not a cost of living and cost of business plans.
The policies of the Andrews Labor Government have forced the closure of Hazelwood which has already seen an increase in household electricity prices of around 10% and over 20% for some businesses.
One of Daniel Andrews’ greatest failings as Premier is that he has not even tried to attempt to find a way to curb the dramatic increases in energy costs in Victoria. If energy prices continue to sky rocket at current rates it will result in businesses closing as well as putting enormous cost of living pressures on households.
Tuesday 7 February 2017
Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford has failed to explain why the Andrews Government refuses to stand up for thousands of jobs in Victoria’s forestry industry.
In Parliament’s Upper House today, Nationals members Luke O’Sullivan and Melina Bath directly asked Ms Pulford why Labor’s Forestry Industry Taskforce, which the Premier said would ‘sustain jobs’, had failed to do so.
“Victoria’s timber industry workers are angry that Daniel Andrews bailed out Alcoa workers, but won’t do the same to save their jobs,” Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh said.
“By starving the industry of resource, Daniel Andrews is creating the Great Forest National Park by stealth.
“The Premier is more concerned about saving his own job than the thousands of jobs of people who work in our timber industries.
“The timber is there, what’s missing is the will of Daniel Andrews and Jaala Pulford to keep this industry open. If Jaala Pulford can’t resolve this issue, Daniel Andrews must step in to secure a future for East Gippsland’s forestry industry.”
VicForests has offered Australian Sustainable Hardwoods just 80,000 cubic metres of timber next year, far less than the 130,000 cubic metres required for the mill to be viable. The Andrews Government has also failed to ensure adequate supply to Auswest Timber in Orbost and Bairnsdale, threatening a further 65 jobs.
Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull said the forestry industry was the backbone of many communities in East Gippsland.
“Many of the workers whose jobs are at risk have worked in the forestry industry for years, if not much of their life and everyone has grave concerns for the future of our communities in East Gippsland if the industry is lost,” Mr Bull said.
“Daniel Andrews must immediately stop putting politics and green preferences ahead of East Gippsland jobs.
“A town hall meeting heard there was nothing stopping the minister guaranteeing supply to ASH for at least the next five to seven years.
“It’s time for the Premier and the Minister to act in the best interests of our communities.”
Wednesday 7 December 2016
A motion for a five-year moratorium on establishing national parks in Victoria’s Central Highlands was defeated in the Legislative Council today.
The motion called for no new national parks to be established in the region, including the Great Forest National Park, until further work was done on the availability of resources, impacts on existing stakeholders, fire management and the management of invasive species.
Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh
By voting against this motion, Labor’s let the cat out of the bag – they have no intention of supporting the tens of thousands of Victorians who rely on the timber industry to support their family and pay the bills.
By voting against this motion Labor has abandoned 21,000 Victorian jobs.
The city-centric Labor Government has shown again they have no intention of fighting for the best interests of the people who live and work in regional Victoria.
Wednesday 7 December 2016
Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford has refused to rule out reversing the north-south pipeline, a project that would come at significant cost to farmers.
A secret government report last week found reversing the north-south pipeline would cost $277 million, require upgraded pumps and 14km of new pipes, either under or over the Yarra River.
For the project to be economically viable, water prices in the Goulburn system would have to be consistently above $1350/ML – well above historic levels.
Ms Pulford was unable to answer questions about the report when asked in Parliament by The Nationals Member for Northern Victoria Luke O’Sullivan on Tuesday.
In a written response on Wednesday, Ms Pulford would not rule out the project and said “this option remains on the table”.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Water Peter Walsh
It wasn’t enough for Daniel Andrews to waste $27 million on a desal water order we don’t need and he is now targeting farmers’ back-pocket.
The Minister couldn’t say if there was advice from her own Department on the economic viability of Labor’s north-south-north pipe dream - despite the report detailing significant impacts for farmers.
Water prices of $300/ML came close to sending some farmers out of business last year, so $1350/ML isn't only unfeasible, it's deluded.
Victorian families and farmers can’t afford to pay for any more of Daniel Andrews’ water white elephants.
Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford today failed to explain why the State Government’s long-promised plan for hunting in Victoria is not being released.
In question time today, The Nationals’ new Member for Northern Victoria Luke O’Sullivan asked Minister Pulford to explain the five month delay in the release of the Sustainable Hunting Action Plan.
Field and Game Australia chairman Bill Patterson told October’s issue of Conservation and Hunting magazine that the government’s dragging its feet on this was a “great cause for concern”.
“Jaala Pulford is failing Victoria’s hunting community,” Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh said.
“The great fear amongst hunters is that Jaala Pulford is being blocked by members of her own government who are anti-hunting and who want to deny the recreational, environment and economic benefits that hunters deliver to Victoria.”
Last week, Victoria’s Game Management Authority announced that there are now 50,000 registered hunters in Victoria, so it beggars belief that the Andrews Government won’t recognise and support such a large recreation sector which contributes so much in Victoria.
“The resignation of respected GMA chair Roger Hallam five months ago has been a further blow to hunters and the long delay in filling this role is further cause for concern,” Mr Walsh said.
“The Liberal Nationals are strong supporters of Victoria’s hunters and we understand the importance that hunting plays in pest management and regional tourism opportunities.”
Mr O’Sullivan said hunting contributes around $450 million to Victoria’s economy each year, and a lot of that is spent in country areas.
“Jaala Pulford needs to work harder to influence her city-centric leftie colleagues and get the Sustainable Hunting Action Plan out without delay,” Mr O’Sullivan said.
Wild dog numbers are out of control because the Andrews Labor Government spent two years playing politics with an effective program set up by the former Liberal-Nationals government.
Jaala Pulford was very wrong and very arrogant to ignore the advice of farmers who are dealing with the impact of devastating wild dog attacks.
It’s disgraceful that it took two years of constant lobbying from farmers, hunters and Nationals and Liberal MPs for Jaala Pulford to come to her senses.
The city-centric Labor Government has let farmers down badly and despite the Minister’s begrudging backflip, this failure won’t be forgotten by high country communities.
Help for dairy farmers struggling through the industry downturn is overdue, Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh said.
“Daniel Andrews has announced grants that he said would extend assistance to our dairy farmers but there are 4200 dairy farms in Victoria and his program will only extend to 360 applicants,” Mr Walsh said.
“The fixed infrastructure grants are also only offered on condition of a matching dollar-for-dollar contribution from farmers which is going to be tough for a lot of businesses.
“Farmers with cash flow can try their luck but farmers in the red who don’t have funds to match will miss out.
“Dairy farmers have been struggling to pay bills calling for direct State Government relief for months.
“Instead of rebates on property rates and water charges, Daniel Andrews’ has simply offered scraps off the table.
“Daniel Andrews is sitting on a huge surplus after the $9.7 billion sale of the Port of Melbourne but he has a real problem spending it in Regional Victoria.”
Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford has refused to answer how her State Government will further support Victoria’s dairy farmers, despite her complaints that the Federal Government’s $579 million assistance package is not enough.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce announced a $555 million concessional loans scheme last month after Murray Goulburn and Fonterra unexpectedly slashed milk prices.
Extra Rural Financial Counselling services are available, and dairy families can also now receive the Commonwealth Government’s $1000 per fortnight Farm Household Allowance payments.
Victoria was immediately allocated $30 million for initial concessional loan demand, with further funds available to be allocated when needed.
However, Ms Pulford stalled the process to roll out the loans and instead focused on petty political games.
Today in the Legislative Council, The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath asked what was missing from the Commonwealth package, but the Minister refused to provide an answer.
Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh
“When put on the spot and asked what else the Andrews Labor Government planned to do to assist dairy farmers, Ms Pulford arrogantly refused to answer.”
“The $11.4 million of state and industry funds Ms Pulford has announced so far is, of course, welcome but there is more that the State Government could do.
“Farmers have requested direct financial support, like rates rebates which were last week requested by Gannawarra and Campaspe shires and water charge waivers.
“So far, Ms Pulford has ignored these calls from the very farmers she claims to represent, and instead focused on grubby political games.”