Wednesday 20 September 2017
The Heyfield mill might be open, but the Andrews Labor Government continues to refuse to guarantee 250 jobs will remain at the mill.
Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh and The Nationals Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull have called on Daniel Andrews to urgently reassure mill workers and the Heyfield community that all remaining jobs are safe.
Mr Walsh said the mill also needed certainty past the current three-year contract offer.
“While it is a relief for the Heyfield community that the mill won’t close, it is cold comfort when Daniel Andrews’ decisions brought the mill to its knees in the first place,” Mr Walsh said.
“Labor must guarantee mill workers and the community there will be no job losses and that the mill has a future beyond the current three-year contract.
“The Premier for Melbourne still hasn’t set foot in Heyfield, most likely too ashamed because locals know he’s put Greens preferences and his own job ahead of mill workers’ jobs and this community.”
Asked in Parliament about the cost to taxpayers, Special Minister for State Gavin Jennings, who led the transition process, refused to admit the price of the deal.
He would only say the Government had a “controlling share” of the mill.
Mr Bull said the community wanted to know what stake the Government had in the mill and if all remaining jobs would still be retained after one shift of more than 20 had already been lost.
“Rather than do more press conferences from the steps of Spring Street, the Government should travel down to Heyfield and address our concerns,” Mr Bull said.
“It was absolutely galling to hear a senior Labor Minister claim today it was a ‘unilateral decision of the owners to walk away from the mill’.
“The Heyfield mill was forced towards closure by the Andrews Labor Government’s refusal to guarantee timber supply because they are scared of losing inner-city seats to the Greens at next year’s election.
“The mill didn’t need new owners, it needed a government prepared to put East Gippsland jobs first.”
Wednesday 12 July 2017
Victoria’s timber industry has been given a glimmer of hope in the latest report into the Leadbeater’s Possum protection measures but the Andrews Labor Government now needs to step up.
The review of the effectiveness and impact of timber harvesting exclusion zones around Leadbeater's Possum colonies has finally been released after months of delay.
The review confirmed:
- More possums have been detected than expected.
- More than 90 per cent of the possum’s potential, or most likely occupied, habitat in the Central Highlands has never been surveyed.
- There is only limited data on the number of Leadbeater’s Possum colonies and habitat in Victoria’s National Parks and reserves.
- Further field studies across all land tenures are urgently required.
- VicForests has suffered $14 million in lost revenue as a result of the zones, and timber availability has been forecast to reduce by 65,000 cubic metres.
Comments attributable to Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh
“If the timber industry is going to survive, the Andrews Government must rapidly change its policy direction and accept that the Leadbeater’s Possum and a viable forestry sector can co-exist.
“Daniel Andrews must decide if he’s backing a $7 billion industry that support up to 50,000 jobs across Victoria, or if he’s going to sacrifice all of that in order to save a couple of inner city Labor seats with Greens preferences next election.”
Comments attributable to Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull
“There are now 618 confirmed Leadbeater’s Possum colonies, a huge increase on numbers two years ago, and that’s just from looking in a relatively small area of general public forest.
“The Andrews Government must urgently get on with recommended comprehensive survey work across all landscapes because this review makes it crystal clear past population estimates were grossly inadequate and have distorted public debate.
“The future of thousands of jobs in Victoria’s forest industry are in the hands of Daniel Andrews. Will he action the recommendations of this review, or will he continue his stealth campaign to create the Great Forest National Park in the hope of saving his own skin?”
Wednesday 21 June 2017
The Andrews Labor Government is on notice that it must get on with native vegetation law reforms.
The Victorian Farmers Federation has warned the number of trees on Victorian farmland will continue to decline unless the system is made more workable for farmers.
A review of Victoria’s native vegetation laws was released for public comment in December last year, but this was at the same time as many farmers were busy harvesting record grain crops.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh
Farmers are sending a clear and sensible message, but the Andrews Government is preparing to put even more hurdles in their way.
Hardworking farmers are being bogged down in red tape and bureaucracy while the Premier for Melbourne panders to inner-city Greens voters.
The Liberal Nationals are very happy to work with the VFF and landholders in order to get the best outcome for our farmers and our productive rural environments.
Wednesday 14 June 2017
Serious questions are being asked after the Andrews Labor Government appointed a critic of wild dog control programs to the long awaited Wild Dog Management Advisory Committee.
The advisory committee has finally been announced today, nearly two years since Labor sacked a very effective committee which included experienced landholders, and nearly six months after applications closed.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh:
Wild dog numbers have increased since 2015 after the Andrews Government missed aerial baiting opportunities, axed the Wild Dog Bounty for 12 months, and sacked the previous advisory committee without warning.
It beggars belief that Minister Pulford left high country communities that fight the scourge of wild dogs daily without an avenue to give advice on the control program for nearly two years.
While Minister Pulford has given in to pressure from farmers and finally replaced the committee, it’s disappointing that there are less landholder representatives, there are no women, and one of the members has previously criticised wild dog control measures and reportedly described farmers “extremists”.
Wild dogs are a massive daily challenge for farmers and communities in the North East and far East Gippsland but city-centric Labor are doing nothing to restore landholders’ confidence in Victoria’s wild dog control program.
Wednesday 17 May 2017
An elected Liberal Nationals government would be committed to keeping jobs in the Latrobe Valley.
Unemployment was up 50 per cent in the past two years in the Valley, even before 750 people lost their job at Hazelwood Power Station in March.
Wood processor Carter Holt Harvey yesterday flagged closure of its Morwell sawmill which would mean a further 160 people would lose their jobs.
The Treasurer claimed just two weeks ago Labor is ‘creating jobs, but we’re also focused on protecting jobs’.
Instead, Labor’s destructive policies and ideology has led the Latrobe Valley into a jobs crisis.
Comments attributable to Opposition Leader Matthew Guy
The Morwell community has been hit hard by Daniel Andrews’ tax on coal that shutdown Hazelwood and forced 750 people out of work.
A government I lead would make sure Victoria has a secure and affordable electricity supply into the future by keeping the Loy Yang and Yallourn power stations open.
Comments attributable to Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh
Daniel Andrews’ desperation for greens preferences in the city has created turmoil in our forestry industry.
A Liberal Nationals government would work with industry to return confidence to our forestry businesses, and that includes a commitment to work with Australia Paper to ensure this major employer has a strong future in the Valley and a secure supply of timber.
Friday, 5 May 2017
The Nationals MPs Danny O’Brien and Melina Bath have congratulated the South Gippsland community on a successful campaign to ‘dump the dump’ at Leongatha South.
Mr O’Brien and Ms Bath joined community campaigners at the site after news that multinational waste firm Veolia had abandoned any plans it had to pursue the proposed rubbish dump in a disused quarry.
“This was a project that was sprung on the community by Veolia and presented as something of a done deal. What the company didn’t anticipate was the fantastic community campaign that mobilised almost instantly to oppose the dump,” said Mr O’Brien.
“I was please to table in State Parliament almost 3,000 petitions against the proposal and the community campaign made it clear that South Gippsland did not want Melbourne’s waste.”
Ms Bath said, as a local resident, she was equally concerned about what the dump would have meant.
“I give great credit to the Dump the Dump group which pounded the pavement, collected signatures and prepared a significant campaign against the dump idea.
“I also pay tribute to the businesses that hosted the petitions and leant their support to the campaign.”
Mr O’Brien said neither the Gippsland nor metropolitan waste planning groups had accepted the need for the dump at Leongatha South, denting any credibility it had to proceed.
“We know we have to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and Gippsland will accept the responsibility for dealing with its own waste - Melbourne should too.
“I am disappointed that having raised community anxiety about this issue, that it took follow up from us to confirm it was now dead. That is disrespectful to the community and Veolia’s behaviour in this case has been poor.”
CAPTION: The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Danny O’Brien and Member for Eastern Victoria, Melina Bath celebrating the dumping of the dump with concerned community members Wendy Reed and Les White.
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.”