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Lots of questions, but no answers on Northcote by-election preference deal

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.

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The Nationals launch Shepparton community preselection

Wednesday 22 November 2017

The Nationals have announced key dates for Victoria’s first community preselection, to be held in the seat of Shepparton leading up to the 2018 State Election.

Leader of The Nationals in Victoria Peter Walsh and State President Neil Pankhurst were in Shepparton today to announce candidate nominations for the community preselection will open on 12 February 2018 and close on March 9.

Voters registered for the seat of Shepparton will vote in the preselection on April 14 next year, ahead of the State Election in November.

Mr Pankhurst said he was looking forward to opening nominations.

“The community preselection gives the people who know the region best a leading role in choosing who will be The Nationals candidate in the 2018 State Election,” Mr Pankhurst said.

“I look forward to working with the Shepparton Branch and Peter Walsh on this unique opportunity for a truly democratic preselection process.”

The Nationals’ community preselection will be the first ever held in Victoria, giving the Shepparton region a full vote on their elected representative.

“People who live and work in the Shepparton region have a deep understand of what matters to local people,” Mr Walsh said.

“We are looking for candidates who are prepared to be a strong voice for the region in State Parliament and fight for the community’s best interests.”

Candidate nominations will open on 12 February 2018 and close on March 9. The community preselection will be held on April 14.

For more information visit



Candidate nominations open

12 February 2018

Candidate nominations close

9 March 2018

Shepparton community preselection

14 April 2018

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Farmers face skyrocketing diesel prices to keep the lights on

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.

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Labor must commit to 12 month extension on eID

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.

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Labor cuts funding to sign language courses

Wednesday 1 November 2017


The Andrews Labor Government has cut funding for Australian sign language (AUSLAN) courses.

From January 1 next year, Melbourne Polytechnic, as the sole provider of accredited AUSLAN qualifications in Victoria, will no longer be subsidised by the Victorian Government to deliver a Certificate II, III and IV or Diploma in Auslan.

The decision to cut funding for Auslan was revealed in changes to the Andrews Government’s 2018 funded course list.

The course was first accredited in 2011 by the Victorian Registrations and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) to enable the acquisition of skills by members of the deaf community.

In 2012 as Labor’s spokesperson for Skills and Training, Steve Herbert stated: “Clearly there’s a need for this training, and the government should simply fund at TAFE to provide it from the start of next year”.

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

Victoria’s deaf community deserve better than Daniel Andrews’ callous funding cuts.

From the start of next year, Victorians will have to pay more than $5000 to gain these important skills.

Daniel Andrews should immediately reinstate this qualification to ensure it can continue to be delivered as an accredited qualification next year.

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Young people call bull on Mikakos’ excuses

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Young people encouraged to apply for Labor’s Youth Congress are still waiting to hear if their applications were successful, four months after the Congress was due to begin.

Asked about the delay in Parliament on Tuesday, Youth Affairs Minister Jenny Mikakos blamed Australia Post, despite applicants confirming that all correspondence with them to date has been via phone and email.

Ms Mikakos said the letters were signed, but ‘must still be making their way through Australia Post’s unreliable and slow service’.

Shadow Minister for Young Victorians Steph Ryan said the bizarre claim didn’t explain the four-month delay.

“The Andrews Government touted the Youth Congress as a flagship project designed so young people could get a genuine say in the development of policy, yet four months after it was due to begin people don’t even know if their applications have been accepted or rejected,” Ms Ryan said.

“Jenny Mikakos is so distracted by the crisis in the youth justice system that she has little time for young Victorians who want to make a positive contribution to our state.

“I have spoken with three young people from different parts of Victoria who applied to be on Youth Congress and not one has been advised on the outcome of their application.

“When they were interviewed in June they were told they would be contacted in the next four weeks, advising them of the outcome.

“These applications have been gathering dust on the Minister’s desk for months, awaiting her signature.

 “Jenny Mikakos has done nothing but pay lip service to the participation of young people in shaping policy.”

When they were asked to apply, young people were required to fill out an application form which stated they would be required for a ‘12 month commitment from late June 2017 to 30 June 2018’.

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New portfolio elevates country Victoria

Monday 25 September 2017

Country Victoria is at the heart of the Liberal Nationals plan to better manage our population and grow our whole state – not just Melbourne.

The Liberal Nationals strongly believe a whole-of-government approach is integral to delivering the best outcome for rural and regional Victoria and our new Shadow Minister for Decentralisation portfolio is key to delivering for those communities

As Shadow Minister for Decentralisation, I will work closely with Liberal Party Leader Matthew Guy, in his role of Shadow Minister for Population, to develop a population policy for Victoria which includes maximum benefit and opportunity for regional communities.

More than 90 per cent of the people who move to our state each year move to Melbourne, but the Andrews Labor Government has no plan to manage this growth and regional Victoria is missing out as a direct result of Labor’s incompetence.

Under Labor, country roads have been left to crumble, and skyrocketing energy costs and other cost of living pressures are making it harder to do business and causing job losses across regional Victoria.

Victorians will have a clear choice at the next election.  A choice between the Liberal Nationals team that is focused and united on the issues that matter like jobs, cost of living and regional connectivity, or a Labor administration preoccupied with factional fights and rorting the taxpayer. 

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Labor still not prepared to put East Gippsland jobs first

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.”

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Labor trading insults, not answers, on rising energy costs

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Comments attributable to Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh

The Andrews Labor Government’s trivial response to questions in Parliament today on rising energy costs in regional Victoria is an utter insult to country business owners.

Minister for Energy Lily D’Ambrosio would rather blame others than make sure families and businesses can afford to pay their energy bills.

Agricultural businesses are the lifeblood of our country communities, but when extra money has to be spent keeping the lights on it means there’s less to spend on wages, in local small businesses and on supporting our country sporting clubs.

Closing Hazelwood with no plan to replace the loss of 22 per cent of our state’s baseload power supply and attempting to shift the blame to the Federal Government does nothing to support our rural and regional businesses.

The Premier for Melbourne must stop putting his own job and the jobs of his inner-city MPs who rely on Greens preferences before those in country Victoria.

Unlike Labor, a Liberal-Nationals government would prioritise energy security, affordability and reliability.


Member for Gippsland South Danny O’Brien took the story of the Peddles, a Gippsland dairy farming family, to State Parliament today.

The Peddles face a 400 per cent increase in energy costs, with a 150 per cent jump in the price of electricity. They already spend about $150,000 a year on energy.

Minister for Energy Lily D’Ambrosio could not answer Mr O’Brien’s question on how the Peddle family, who employ eleven people in their dairy operation, could afford to pay for this year’s electricity increase.

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All Heyfield jobs must be saved

Friday 15 September 2017


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.