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.
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.”
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.
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.
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
Wednesday 9 August 2017
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.
Monday 31 July 2017
Reports today show Victoria’s drug crisis is continuing to worsen, with heroin-related deaths expected to surpass the road toll within two or three years if current trends continue.
Figures from the Coroners Court show 190 people died from heroin-related overdoses in Victoria in 2016, up 71 per cent since 2012.
A recent report from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission found drug manufacture in Victoria was rising. One in four clandestine laboratories detected in Australia in 2015-16 was in Victoria, up 10 per cent since Daniel Andrews came to office.
The report also showed Victoria recorded among the highest drug usage rates in the country.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Mental Health Emma Kealy
Reports of the rising toll of insidious drugs like ice and heroin is more evidence of Victoria’s growing crime and drugs crisis.
Drug dealers prey on the most vulnerable people in our community but the Andrews Labor Government refuses to take the action needed to toughen sentences for traffickers. Anyone who deals or trafficks hard drugs should be locked up for a very long time.
Under Daniel Andrews we are seeing drug-related crime spiral out of control, drug use skyrocket, but drug rehabilitation wait lists have blown out to over a year.
Only the Liberal Nationals have a plan to tackle the drug epidemic through targeted education, better access to drug treatment and bringing down the drug kingpins that prey on some of the most vulnerable people in our community.
Monday 31 July 2017
The $440m Murray Basin Rail Project is steaming ahead with Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister and The Nationals MP for Gippsland Darren Chester announcing Stage 2 construction works will begin today.
Stage 2 works on the project – which has been proudly driven by Victoria’s National Party MPs – will see upgrades and conversion of track from Dunolly to Yelta, and Ouyen to Murrayville from broad gauge to standard gauge.
Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh welcomed the project’s progress, after the Andrews Labor Government initially stalled works.
Mr Walsh said the Basin Rail Project would deliver critical upgrades to provide better rail access between the Murray Basin and Victoria’s major ports at Portland, Geelong and Melbourne.
“This is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to standardise and repair freight rail in western and northern Victoria, and make it more efficient for farmers to get their product to port,” Mr Walsh said.
“The Nationals’ State and Federal MPs are proud to have secured and delivered the $440 million needed to deliver this vital upgrade for north-west Victoria.”
The former Victorian Liberal Nationals government got the project underway in 2014 with a $220 million allocation, and the Federal Liberal Nationals Government delivered the final $220 million needed in April 2017.
Member for Mildura Peter Crisp said farmers in Victoria’s north-west would benefit from increased maximum freight volumes, which will see more efficient transport of agricultural products to port.
“The Murray Basin Rail Project will take trucks off our country roads and provide a more efficient way to transport our products to port,” Mr Crisp said.
“The Nationals at the State and Federal levels have worked hard to secure this Project and I am pleased to see it take the next step forward in better connecting our agricultural communities in north-west Victoria with the rest of the world.”
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?”
Thursday 7 July 2017
Today’s announcement that Australian Paper will proceed with planning and pre-construction works for a waste to energy project delivers some long overdue good news for the Latrobe Valley after months of jobs losses and industry downturn.
Quotes attributable to Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh
Australian Paper is hugely important in the Latrobe Valley, not only as a direct job provider and manufacturer but also as a key player in Victoria’s forest industries and a company which generates significant flow-on economic effects throughout the Latrobe Valley.
This is an exciting development for Latrobe Valley in terms of energy supply and local job creation, and it is also has terrific potential for future waste management in our State, so it has never been more important to ensure Australian Paper continues to have a reliable and long term supply of timber resource.
As well as Australian Paper’s commitment, I also recognise the dedicated work local Nationals MPs Russell Northe and Darren Chester have been doing over many months leading up to today’s exciting announcement.
Quotes attributable to Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath
At a time when the Valley’s industries have been doing it tough, it is really encouraging to see Australian Paper making this commitment to grow its operation and remain in our region.
Cutting edge innovation and confident investors are vital to ensuring there is a strong economic future for the Latrobe Valley, and it is terrific to have the Valley’s largest employer sending such positive signals for their future in our region.