Media releases LOCAL ISSUES Community Services Agriculture

Coalition delivers $240,000 for Goulburn Valley growth

  • $240,000 to expand fruit production in Goulburn Valley & create 40 jobs
  • Supporting four projects in Shepparton, Toolamba and Bunbartha
  • Coalition Government supporting Goulburn Valley’s horticulture industry

Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh was today joined by The Nationals candidate for Shepparton Greg Barr to announce $240,000 from the Victorian Coalition Government to support the expansion of fruit production in the Goulburn Valley.
Mr Walsh said the investment from the Coalition’s $5 million Goulburn Valley Industry and Infrastructure Fund would support four projects in Shepparton, Toolamba and Bunbartha and create 40 local jobs.
“This is not an election promise, it is funding that has already been approved and will be delivered no matter what happens on 29 November,” Mr Walsh said.
The Coalition’s investment will support four projects totalling $2.88 million:

  • A new fruit grader, cool store and shed extension at ACN Orchards to improve packing efficiency;
  • An expansion at Boumbis Orchards to increase packing capacity by 50 per cent and allow the company to expand production;
  • New equipment at Barolli Orchards to allow the company to respond to a growing demand for stone and pome fruit in Asia, and increase production; and
  • New grading, shedding and packing equipment to enable Toolamba Fresh Produce to diversify into new tomato varieties.

Mr Barr said the Goulburn Valley currently produces 90 per cent of Australia’s processed fruit and these projects would ensure the local companies could expand production and unlock new export markets.
“The Coalition established the $5 million Goulburn Valley Industry and Infrastructure Fund out of the Regional Growth Fund to leverage new industry, investment and employment opportunities and support a strategic long-term plan for the region,” Mr Barr said.
“These are exactly the types of projects we want to support in the Goulburn Valley – projects that create jobs, expand businesses and increase production.
“The Coalition’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund  has invested in almost 1,800 community-driven projects outside of Melbourne, generating almost $2 billion of total investment.
“Our $1 billion fund is money set aside for regional spending, over and above normal spending on health, education, sport and roads.
“This compares to the Labor Party’s imitation fund announced this week – the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund – which is purely rebadged general revenue, not extra money for the regions.
“Labor is claiming to be investing in the regions while it funnels more money back to the city.
“Labor will cut the country.”

Media releases Transport Regional Development Infrastructure Community Services

Extra trains on Traralgon and Bairnsdale lines and track duplication between Bunyip and Longwarry


  • $178.1 million to improve Victoria’s long distance V/Line train frequencies
  • Extra weekday and weekend trains on the Traralgon and Bairnsdale lines
  • 79 extra long-distance V/Line weekly trips around Victoria

A re-elected Victorian Coalition Government will give the biggest boost to Gippsland’s trains in 60 years with new train trips to be added to timetables on the Traralgon and Bairnsdale lines and more than four kilometres of single line to be duplicated between Bunyip and Longwarry, Deputy Premier and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan announced today.
Mr Ryan, who was joined in Traralgon to make the announcement by The Nationals Member for Morwell Russell Northe and The Nationals Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull, said it was great news for Gippsland.
“The Victorian Coalition Government wants to double V/Line’s long distance train patronage within 20 years,” Mr Ryan said
“Commencing in 2016-17, the Coalition will introduce an additional 79 weekly V/Line trips on eight long distance country rail lines – Albury, Ararat, Echuca, Maryborough, Shepparton, Swan Hill and Warrnambool, as well as Bairnsdale.”
Mr Ryan said highlights on the Traralgon and Bairnsdale lines include:

  • an extra early-morning weekday return peak period train departing Traralgon, stopping all stations,
  • on the return, this new weekday train will depart Southern Cross at 5:10pm and stop all stations, allowing the 4:58pm train to run express from Dandenong to Drouin and then stop all stations to Traralgon,
  • an increased weekend train frequency on weekends with three additional return trains on Saturdays and four extra each way on Sundays, increasing train frequencies between 7am and 11pm on Saturdays and 8am and 9pm on Sundays,
  • extending the 6:37am weekday train from Traralgon to originate at Sale at 6am,
  • extending the 3:19pm Southern Cross to Traralgon train to Sale, arriving at 6:20pm, and
  • a new Sunday return train at 9:25am from Southern Cross to Sale and Bairnsdale where it will arrive at 1:10pm, with an extra train departing Bairnsdale at 2:00pm, arriving at Southern Cross at 5:45pm. 

Mr Ryan said the duplication of the Bunyip to Longwarry section of single track would benefit passengers by improving train punctuality on the Traralgon and Bairnsdale lines.
“Bunyip and Longwarry stations will each receive a new second platform with at least a 20 metre long canopy on each to protect waiting passengers from the elements,” Mr Ryan said.
Mr Northe said that the extra trains and track duplication would be a huge boost for the Latrobe Valley.
“Weekday commuters and weekend leisure travellers will be winners. The Latrobe Valley has strong links with not just Melbourne’s CBD but also Dandenong, so more frequent trains is a marvellous move,” Mr Northe said.
Mr Bull said Bairnsdale had already benefited from an additional two weekday return V/Line road coaches introduced earlier in 2014 between Traralgon, Sale and Bairnsdale.
“The extra Sunday trains help residents to have a choice of trains to get them to or from Melbourne for the start of the working week,” Mr Bull said.
The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region Danny O’Brien said the new timetable would formally bring Sale into V/Line’s commuter belt.
“The extra train trips are all about making it easier to work and study,” Mr O’Brien said.
Member for Narracan Gary Blackwood was thrilled with the announcement.
“For a long time, the community has asked me why the track between Bunyip and Longwarry is only a single line. It is a regular cause of train delays that under a re-elected Victorian Coalition Government will be consigned to the history books,” Mr Blackwood said.
“Because Traralgon line trains share tracks with Metro trains between Pakenham and Southern Cross, it is vital that the V/Line trains from Warragul and Drouin arrive at Pakenham on time, or very close to it, to avoid being delayed by a suburban train pulling out just ahead of the V/Line train.
“Having two tracks between Bunyip and Longwarry will be very helpful to improving train punctuality on the Traralgon and Bairnsdale lines,” Mr Blackwood said.
Minister for Public Transport Terry Mulder passed on support and said that the Coalition would also provide V/Line with capital funding to construct a secure train stabling compound at Sale and additional train crew facilities at Bairnsdale.
“This will keep the train that will stable overnight at Sale free from the scourge of vandalism and graffiti,” Mr Mulder said.
Mr Mulder said that the Coalition would also investigate providing improved air-conditioning to V/Line’s N set carriages that were the mainstay of V/Line’s long distance trains.
“We will make a decision on this within a year of being re-elected,” Mr Mulder said.

Media releases HEALTH AND AGE CARE Community Services

$85 million package to support health and wellbeing of Victoria’s seniors


  • $27 million boost to surgery for seniors to improve quality of life
  • $32.4 million for community-based mental health care for seniors
  • Napthine Coalition Government caring for the community 

A re-elected Napthine Coalition Government will provide an $85 million package to support the health and wellbeing of senior Victorians, Premier Denis Napthine, Minister for Health and Ageing David Davis and Minister for Mental Health Mary Wooldridge announced today.
“The Coalition Government understands that a key ingredient of staying healthy and happy in older age is to remain active in the community and engaged in the activities that we enjoy,” Dr Napthine said.
“This package for seniors will address a full spectrum of services, including community participation and wellbeing, mental health services, targeted support for Victorians with dementia and their family and carers and increased access to elective surgery and other health care.
The package includes:

  • $12.1 million to support community participation and wellbeing, including funding for Men’s Sheds and University of the Third Age (U3A) organisations;
  • $32.4 million to boost community-based mental health care for seniors, a new hotline and information service for children and carers of older people with a mental illness;
  • $13.5 million to provide better research, early intervention and support for Victorians with dementia, their families and carers; and
  • $27 million to significantly increase access to specific elective surgeries for seniors, including procedures on hips, knees and cataracts.

Dr Napthine made the announcement at the Alamein Men’s Shed, which will be awarded a grant of $20,000 to allow it to open on Saturdays.
“Men’s Sheds have proven to be a fantastic way of providing men, particularly seniors, with a safe and friendly environment to meet, talk and learn new skills,” Dr Napthine said.
“They are an important way for local communities to combat the challenges of isolation and depression often faced by men.”
Mr Davis said that the package would significantly support the roll out of the Seniors Count! participation action plan launched in October this year.

He said that $4 million would be directed towards the University of the Third Age (U3A).
“This funding will boost the good work and reach of U3A organisations, which help seniors keep brains and bodies active with regular education, social and physical activities,” Mr Davis said.
Minister for Mental Health Mary Wooldridge said more than $31 million would be invested in intensive community-based mental health care for older people to be available state-wide.
“People experiencing a mental health issue should be given the opportunity to receive care in the community, rather than having to be admitted to hospital,” Ms Wooldridge said.
“This is particularly true of older Victorians, who often wish to remain in a familiar environment and close to the support of their family and friends.
“Supporting an older relative or friend in managing a mental illness can be a challenging task and the Coalition recognises that an information service will provide assurance and comfort to children and carers of the options available.”
Mr Davis said a re-elected Napthine Coalition will provide a dedicated $6 million dementia research fund.
“This fund will specifically target research for earlier diagnosis and treatment and will position Victoria to leverage additional funding from the Commonwealth’s $200 million dementia fund,” Mr Davis said.
“To support Victorians living with dementia, their carers and families, the Coalition will also provide $7.5 million to boost diagnosis, treatment and support services.”
Mr Davis said a re-elected Napthine Coalition will deliver $27 million to boost surgery places for the most common surgeries accessed by senior Victorians.
“Of this, $25 million will be provided as a once-off, competitive funding pool to significantly increase the number of hip and knee surgeries, and $2 million will be provided for cataract surgery,” Mr Davis said.
Mr Davis also said that a re-elected Napthine Coalition Government will continue its cost of living measures for eligible seniors initiated during the current term of government, including year-round energy concessions, discounted energy plans through energy retailer AGL, stamp duty relief and the introduction of a new Seniors Business Discount Card in 2015 for senior Victorians who are still working full time.
Member for Burwood Graham Watt welcomed the initiative, particularly the $20,000 grant to the Alamein Men’s Shed.
“The Alamein Men’s Shed is a valuable community asset that gives local men a place to meet, establish social networks and work on projects for the good of the community,” Mr Watt said.

Media releases Community Services

Coalition to invest $12 million to protect Aboriginal cultural heritage

  • $12 million over four years to sustainably fund Traditional Owner organisations
  • $13 million red tape reductions and greater certainty for business
  • Coalition committed to protecting Victoria’s Aboriginal cultural heritage


Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Tim Bull today announced a re-elected Coalition Government will invest almost $12 million over four years to strengthen the protection of Victoria’s rich Aboriginal cultural heritage.

Mr Bull said for the first time Aboriginal Traditional Owner organisations would be sustainably funded to deliver heritage protection services and facilitate economic development.

“The Coalition values the central role of Traditional Owners in making decisions about their cultural heritage,” Mr Bull said.

“Aboriginal people have made an important contribution to Victoria over the past 40,000 years and it is vital this cultural heritage is preserved for the benefit of current and future generations.

“Victoria has a world class system for protecting Aboriginal cultural heritage but the Traditional Owner organisations charged with managing that heritage and engaging with developers have historically not been funded adequately to do so,” Mr Bull said.

Mr Bull said as a result of the Government’s strong economic management, the Coalition will be able to increase future funding for Traditional Owner organisations to sustainable levels during the next term of office.

“Aboriginal organisations such as the Ballarat-based Wathaurung Aboriginal Corporation will see cultural heritage management funding increased from $30,000 this year to $300,000 by 2017,” Mr Bull said.

“Improving the funding of Traditional Owners to protect cultural heritage will deliver an estimated $13 million in red tape reductions for Victorian businesses over four years and will support economic development across metropolitan and regional Victoria.

“This election commitment builds on the Coalition Government’s $3.1 million Aboriginal cultural heritage package announced in this year’s State Budget,” Mr Bull said.

Mr Bull said a re-elected Coalition Government will also continue to consult with Traditional Owners and land users on proposed amendments to strengthen the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006 by enhancing the role of the Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council in monitoring the performance of Traditional Owner organisations.

Media releases Community Services

Coalition committed to a stronger Aboriginal Victoria

  • Coalition commits $15.7 million to Aboriginal Affairs if re-elected
  • 40 more people to be inducted onto the Victorian Indigenous Honour Roll
  • Victorian Coalition committed to closing the gap, protecting cultural heritage


A re-elected Napthine Coalition Government will invest almost $16 million over four years in new and extended funding to preserve and respect cultural heritage, promote reconciliation and close the gaps on Aboriginal disadvantage.

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Tim Bull said the Victorian Coalition Government is strongly committed to the protection of Victoria’s rich Aboriginal cultural heritage and closing the gap on Aboriginal disadvantage. 

“A re-elected Coalition Government will significantly increase support to Traditional Owner organisations, properly funding them to undertake their important work protecting Aboriginal cultural heritage for the benefit of future generations,” Mr Bull said.

“We inherited from Labor a chronically under-funded Aboriginal heritage protection system, which has resulted in delays in development approvals and Traditional Owner organisations struggling to pay for heritage protection activities required by legislation.

“A re-elected Coalition Government would commit almost $12 million over four years to sustainably fund Registered Aboriginal Parties, which are the Aboriginal organisations charged with advising on, and protecting, cultural heritage.”

Mr Bull said a re-elected Coalition Government would also induct a further 40 outstanding Aboriginal Victorians onto the highly successful Victorian Indigenous Honour Roll.

“This will ensure more than 100 remarkable Aboriginal people and their achievements and contributions to the community will forever be held in high honour,” Mr Bull said.

”A re-elected Coalition Government will also invest $1.9 million to closing the gap in economic outcomes by driving the Victorian Aboriginal Economic Strategy and boosting economic opportunities for Aboriginal people and businesses.”

The commitment builds on the Coalition’s record $61.7 million investment to close the gap in Aboriginal health, funded in last year’s State Budget.

“We have restored funding to Reconciliation Victoria since coming to office and will provide a further $800,000 over four years to support the organisation to continue its important work bringing Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people together in lasting reconciliation,” Mr Bull said.

“The work of Reconciliation Victoria will be especially important over the next few years given the Federal Government’s proposal to hold a referendum to recognise Aboriginal people in the Commonwealth Constitution by 2017.”

A re-elected Napthine Government will also invest $1 million over four years to establish an audio-visual collection of the stories of Aboriginal Victoria to be held across the public library network.

“This collection will be an invaluable resource for promoting understanding and respect across the community, enabling library users, school children and local history groups to learn about the Aboriginal history of their local regions,” Mr Bull said.