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All Heyfield jobs must be saved

Friday 15 September 2017

Background

The glaring omission in the Andrews Government’s confirmation of the Heyfield mill sale is a promise that all 250 jobs will be saved.

Labor MP Harriet Shing promised in March the mill would “not lose jobs overall” if the Government became a buyer of last resort, but Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford recently said “less timber for the mill does mean that there will need to be some change”. 

Today’s announcement details nothing of what that change might mean for the 250 people employed at the mill and for the Heyfield community.

Up to 20 jobs have already been lost at the green mill when one shift was cut in August.

The Andrews Labor Government must urgently guarantee there will be no further job losses at the Heyfield mill.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh

Daniel Andrews’ decision to refuse timber supply to the Heyfield mill left the local community in limbo for nearly a year.

Labor is desperate to paint this deal as a win for the community to cover up the fact jobs have already been lost at the mill and that they have not guaranteed there won’t be further losses to come.

Daniel Andrews promised he would fight for every job, but it seems jobs in country Victoria just don’t make the cut.

Comments attributable to Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull

Each and every one of these mill jobs are vital to the Heyfield community.

These jobs wouldn’t have needed saving if Labor hadn’t refused to guarantee a viable timber supply.

Daniel Andrews is so desperate to secure Greens preferences and the seats of his inner-city MPs that he is willing to sacrifice those in our East Gippsland communities.

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Keeping the lights on in Victoria

Thursday 14 September 2017

Statement from Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh

The closure of Hazelwood Power Station this year saw the loss of 750 jobs and Victoria’s baseload energy capacity drop by 22 per cent.

Increases to average annual power bills for homes and businesses have been far worse than the Andrews Labor Government predicted.

There are new warnings every week of further power bill pain and blackouts in the summer ahead.

Victoria is a state rich in brown coal and with an envied track record in energy production and innovation, so it is staggering we find ourselves in this position in 2017.

Victorian jobs will continue to be at risk if we do not have a reliable, affordable and sustainable supply of baseload power for our state. Renewable energy plays a role in that future, but the move must be strategically managed to protect Victorian jobs.

The Latrobe Valley’s existing power stations are ageing assets and unless action is taken to replace generation capacity the current energy crisis will only get worse.

In order to secure Victoria’s energy future and drive down household and business energy bills, immediate action is needed.

The Victorian Nationals believe the development of a new generation High Efficiency Low Emissions (HELE) power station is essential for Victoria, before another of the current Latrobe Valley generators close.

The Victorian Nationals are committed to working with the Federal Government, industry and the Latrobe Valley to ensure the right policy settings and investment certainty are put in place to investigate such a plant.

The Latrobe Valley has powered Victoria for generations and will for generations to come if the right policy settings are put in place to build such a plant. With the development of new generation HELE technology, this can be achieved, while also meeting realistic carbon reduction targets.

Daniel Andrews may not believe Victorian jobs are worth fighting for, but the Victorian Nationals do.

 

BACKGROUND

Motion No. 20, proposed by the Federal Young Nationals, carried at the Federal Nationals Conference:

That this Federal Conference call for the Federal Government to look into the possibilities of reutilising the Hazelwood site as a new, efficient coal power station to stabilise and secure  Victoria and Australia’s energy future.

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Have your say on roads

Tuesday 12 September 2017

 

Reports that Daniel Andrews will reduce the speed limit to 70 kmh on some unsealed country roads is just lazy policy by a lazy government, Member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh has said.

The Andrews Labor Government has flagged the government is considering a proposal to reduce the speed limit on unsealed country roads to 70kmh.

Mr Walsh said the Melbourne-centric Labor Government should instead commit to properly funding the maintenance and upgrade of crumbling country roads to keep motorists safe.

“Our country roads are vital to keeping northern Victorians moving and connected,” Mr Walsh said.

“But the State Government is spending less on road maintenance, causing our roads to crumble and putting lives at risk.

“Daniel Andrews’ lazy response is to reduce the speed limit to 70kmh on some country roads.

“The better solution is to provide adequate funding to maintain and upgrade our country roads.

“Rural and regional councils have consistently called for the return of the Liberal-Nationals’ Country Roads and Bridges Program, axed by Daniel Andrews and his Labor Government.”

The Nationals are fighting for more funding for country roads in northern Victoria to keep our community safe on our travels.

“I’d like to know what you think,” Mr Walsh said.

“Go to www.haveyoursayvictoria.org and share your views about the proposal to reduce speed limits.”

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Labor’s Heyfield mill jobs promise in tatters

Thursday 7 September 2017

The Andrews Labor Government has broken its promise to the Heyfield community that jobs will not be lost at the Heyfield mill.

In Parliament today, Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford failed to stand by a promise from Labor’s Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing in March that the mill would “not lose jobs overall” if it was sold to the Government.

Ms Pulford worked hard to shift the blame for the Andrews Labor Government’s role in putting jobs at the Heyfield mill in jeopardy.

Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh said the process to sell the Heyfield mill had gone on for too long.

“Heyfield mill workers have been forced to put their lives on hold while the Andrews Labor Government drags its heels on the sale negotiations,” Mr Walsh said.

“If Jaala Pulford worked as hard to finalise the mill sale as she did in Parliament to shift the blame for jeopardising country jobs, the sale would already be finalised.

“The only jobs Labor care about are those of their inner-city MPs who will rely on Greens preferences to hold their seats at next year’s election.”

Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull said the Andrews Labor Government’s promises of no job losses were hollow words, after mill management confirmed last month the afternoon shift had been cut from the green mill, costing 20 jobs.

“The Andrews Labor Government is desperately spinning a ‘future for the mill’ as the best outcome, when it is clear our community wants to see a future for the mill and all 250 jobs saved,” Mr Bull said.

“The kick in the guts is that the sale of the Heyfield mill never had to happen in the first place – the timber supply is there.

“Yet again it’s clear that Labor is sacrificing jobs in the country for its own political survival.

“The Andrews Labor Government must urgently confirm none of the 250 jobs will be lost under its ownership.”

Media releases Community Services

Statement on Russell Northe’s resignation

Monday 28 August 2017

The Member for Morwell Russell Northe has announced today that he has resigned from the Parliamentary National Party and his membership of The Nationals.

The Parliamentary team have been supporting Russell with his challenges over the last 12 months.

In June Russell explained to the Party that he needed to take leave for mental health issues.

The Party was relieved when Russell finally sought professional help for his issues and has continued to support him.

Russell’s statement today has given the Party and his colleagues more clarity on the severity of the issues he is battling.

We sincerely hope Russell continues to seek professional assistance and makes his personal wellbeing his number one priority.

The Nationals remain steadfastly committed to fighting for the people and communities of the Latrobe Valley which are under pressure due to the closure of Hazelwood Power Station and Carter Holt Harvey’s sawmill, and the anticipated job losses at the Heyfield sawmill.

The Nationals will be fielding a strong candidate in next year’s state election and in the lead up Melina Bath, from her office in Traralgon, will be working hard for the people of the Latrobe Valley.

In due course there will be a pre-selection for a candidate for The Nationals who will contest the seat of Morwell at the 2018 State Election.

Media releases Health and Aged Care Community Services

Country hospitals hit by rising power bills

Wednesday 23 August 2017

The Andrews Labor Government has refused to commit to providing more funding to country hospitals facing skyrocketing power bills.

In Parliament on Wednesday, Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio would not guarantee additional energy costs at country hospitals – expected to be worth about $2 million in western Victoria alone – would be covered.

Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh condemned the Minister for abandoning country hospitals, just months after the Andrews Government failed to stop the closure of Hazelwood Power Station and the loss of 22 per cent of the state’s baseload power.

“Regional hospitals deliver a vital service to our country communities, but the Andrews Labor Government has turned its back on us,” Mr Walsh said.

“Daniel Andrews was wrong when he said power bills would only go up about four per cent after he let Hazelwood close without a back-up plan to replace the lost power supply.

“Rising energy bills add more strain to country hospital budgets that are already stretched thin and it is up to Daniel Andrews to increase funding and make sure regional health services aren’t cut as a result.”

In her question to the Minister, Member for Lowan Emma Kealy said Wimmera Health Care Group in Horsham expected power bills to rise by more than $500,000 this financial year, while Hamilton’s Western District Health Service has been notified by Health Purchasing Victoria that its electricity costs would increase by more than $360,000 this year.

“Country hospitals in western Victoria have told me they expect power bills to go up about 80 per cent – about $2 million more than previous years,” Ms Kealy said.

“Regional hospitals can’t rely on hospital auxiliary cake stalls to help cover soaring energy costs.

“The Andrews Labor Government must urgently commit to funding the significant increase in energy costs in full.”

Media releases Education and Skills Community Services

Daniel Andrews failing to fix Victoria’s training crisis

Wednesday 23 August 2017

Victorian students are continuing to lose faith in our state’s training sector, as enrolments under the Andrews Labor Government continue to plummet.

Data released by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) shows TAFE student numbers dropped by 52,400 between 2015 and 2016.

Asked about the decrease in Parliament on Wednesday, Minister for Training and Skills Gayle Tierney appeared unaware of the data, which is a key measure of Victoria’s training system.

It isn’t the first time Ms Tierney has been unaware of key events in her own portfolio. Two weeks ago she failed to explain why Victoria’s 2016 training market data was eight months overdue. The report still hasn’t been published.

Labor cut $45 million from the state’s training budget in its May budget.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Training, Skills and Apprenticeships Steph Ryan

The training sector is in chaos but the Andrews Labor Government continually fails to provide the leadership needed to fix this mess.

Daniel Andrews and Gayle Tierney are stuck in the past if they believe their 2015 ‘quality blitz’ on dodgy private providers can explain why droves of Victorian students have left TAFE.

Gayle Tierney is so distracted by her Corrections portfolio and the state’s crime crisis that she appears to have no clue of the crisis within Victoria’s training sector.

Media releases Regional Development Education and Skills Infrastructure Energy Environment Community Services

Daniel Andrews’ 11 new taxes, skyrocketing energy bills are the problem; his website isn’t the solution

Tuesday 22 August 2017

The greatest threat to Victorian families keeping a roof over their head is Daniel Andrews’ eleven new taxes and reckless policies that are pushing up the cost of living.

Daniel Andrews has introduced eleven new taxes, increasing overall tax revenue by more than 20 per cent on Victorians. One of those new taxes forced the closure of Hazelwood Power Station, which has forced up electricity costs that are hurting families and small businesses.  

A tenancy agreement that goes beyond five years will not matter if people can't afford to put their children through school, put food on the table, switch on the lights or keep heaters on in winter.

Rather than wasting money on a taxpayer funded website which is effectively mirroring the service provided by realestate.com.au or domain.com.au, Labor should be investing in our deteriorating country roads or better public transport to our regional communities.

If Daniel Andrews was serious about housing issues, he wouldn’t have introduced eleven new taxes or effectively closed Hazelwood. 

Media releases Health and Aged Care Community Services

Liberal-Nationals announce record funding boost for palliative care

Monday 21 August 2017

Murray Plains residents will have access to world-class palliative care under a Liberal-Nationals government, Member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh has said.

Mr Walsh said an elected Liberal-Nationals government would provide $140 million – the largest investment of its kind in Australia – to ensure terminally ill patients and their families can get the support they need as they approach the end of their lives.

“The majority of Victorians want to live their final days at home surrounded by family and friends,” Mr Walsh said.

“Research shows around 70 per cent of us would prefer that, but barely a third of Victorians get to realise that wish because there is inadequate funding for community-based palliative care.”

In 2015/16, funding for community palliative care provided support for 16,777 Victorians. 

The Liberal Nationals’ $140 million commitment will help provide palliative care support for up to another 8000 Victorians.

“With an ageing population and increasing rates of complex chronic illness, demand for palliative care will continue to grow,” Mr Walsh said.

“Only a Liberal-Nationals government will make the necessary investment to deliver timely and comprehensive community palliative care for those who want it.”

The Liberal Nationals’ package will include*:

  • Doubling specialist palliative care medical and nursing services to community palliative care clients, especially in rural and regional Victoria.
  • A 50 per cent increase in funding for community palliative care provided in the home, including overnight care, in-home respite and carer support, and enhanced links to after-hours support such as GPs and pharmacists.
  • Significant education and workforce development to recruit and train skilled palliative care workers to deliver expanded services, enhance health professionals’ capacity to have end-of-life conversations, and support volunteers.
  • A community awareness and engagement campaign to assist Victorians to understand the availability and benefits of palliative care, including under-represented groups such as rural and regional Victorians, children, non-cancer related illnesses, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and indigenous Victorians.
  • Establishing of an End-of-Life Ministerial Council, with representation from palliative care and broader health sectors as well as patients and carers, to ensure palliative care is integrated with broader health services and flexibly and effectively meeting the needs of terminally ill Victorians and their families.

*Based on 2016/17 funding for Community Palliative Care Services and Consultancy Services

Media releases Education and Skills Community Services

Tierney hides training report, now eight months overdue

Wednesday 9 August 2017

Background

The Andrews Labor Government is burying key data showing the extent of its cuts to Victoria’s struggling training system.

Asked about the delay of the 2016 training market report in Parliament, Training and Skills Minister Gayle Tierney claimed the report could not be completed until the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) published its 2016 data on training activity.

The NCVER published that information on July 12 this year.

Gayle Tierney is either engaged in a cover up or she is so incompetent that she is unaware of key events in her own portfolio.

The 2015 report, published in May 2016, showed Victoria’s training system has gone into steep decline under Labor.

Labor cut $45 million from the state’s training budget in its May budget and, on the last available figures, the number of students enrolled in government-subsidised training in Victoria has declined by 122,597 since December 2014.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Training, Skills and Apprenticeships Steph Ryan

Gayle Tierney is hiding this report because it shows that Victoria’s training system has gone down the gurgler under Labor.

Daniel Andrews used TAFE to get elected, but now he’s Premier he isn’t interested in helping students get the skills they need to get a job.

Victorian students have been left in the dark for eight months because Labor wants to keep its failed TAFE ‘rescue’ a secret.

The sector has lost more than 122,000 students since Labor was elected and Daniel Andrews’ answer is to cut $45 million from the training budget.