The Victoria Liberal-Nationals Coalition has urged the Andrews Labor Government to finalise a concessional loans package and consider offering municipal rates rebates and other practical support to Victoria’s drought affected farm communities.
Comments from Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh:
“On behalf of our struggling farmers, we strongly urge the Andrews Government to finalise negotiations and accept the Commonwealth’s latest offer of concessional loans funding.
“We also urge the Andrews Government to offer practical relief to households, such as municipal rates rebates. This measure helped struggling farm families during the last drought and would be welcomed by those who are already facing cash flow pressure.
“The hardship is spreading, and we aren’t even into summer yet. Farmers know this is going to get worse before it gets better.
“Droughts take an awful emotional toll, but our regional communities can be reassured and ready for the tough months ahead if they know there is a comprehensive package of support ready to go.
“Farm businesses are the backbone of our country communities, so when drought strikes it reaches far beyond the farm gate. By supporting farmers, we are supporting everyone who lives and works in regional Victoria.
“Federal Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce will be here in the next couple weeks and I am keen for the Minister to see first-hand the severity of conditions in Victoria.”
Bannockburn residents are concerned that someone will suffer dearly from ambulance delays, according to The Nationals candidate for Polwarth, David O’Brien.
Mr O’Brien recently doorknocked Bannockburn with The Nationals Leader, Peter Walsh, and said that a number of residents raised concerns about the delays in ambulance response times.
“One particular resident was a young mother, particularly concerned for the health and safety of children who may through incident, accident or illness required the service of an ambulance,” said Mr O’Brien.
“Some of the elderly folk we spoke with shared the concern. It is worrying to elderly people that the emergency services they rely on might not be there for them.
I call upon Jill Hennessey, Labor’s Minister for Health, to address the long delays as a matter of urgency,” said Mr O’Brien.
“The Minister should get down here herself and talk to the people of Bannockburn about their concerns with ambulance delays,” said Mr O’Brien.
The Labor Party has chosen not to field a candidate in the October 31, By-election for former Liberal Transport Minister Terry Mulder’s seat of Polwarth.
The Nationals Candidate for South West Coast Michael Neoh has welcomed today's pledge from the Liberal-National Coalition to invest $100 million for Stage 2 of the Warrnambool Base Hospital upgrade.
"Our hospital is a critical piece of infrastructure, and everyone who lives in this community understands we need Stage 2 of the upgrade project to keep up with growing service demands,” Mr Neoh said.
"The Andrew's Government has been in charge for nearly a year now but the Health Minister has focused on Melbourne issues and ignored the needs of Warrnambool.
"Now the people of South West Coast have an iron-clad guarantee that the next Liberal-National Coalition government will deliver the hospital that our region deserves."
The state of Foxhow and Ayresford roads, is a major concern to the local community and must be addressed as a matter of urgency according to the Nationals candidate for Polwarth, David O’Brien.
Mr O’Brien, who made a strong declaration to make roads his number one priority at his campaign launch in Camperdown two weeks ago, is calling on the local community to attend a roads forum in Simpson on Thursday evening.
“I am in no doubt that roads is the number one issue for people in Polwarth at the moment and I am calling on the Andrews government to take action right now to get this road fixed,” said Mr O’Brien.
Mr O’Brien also responded to Corangamite Mayor Chris O’Connor’s, recent comments on the lack lustre of election campaign and stating the was disappointed with the Mayor’s comments.
“I have been calling for the planning for the necessary upgrades and duplication of the Princes Highway including the consideration of Mr O’Connor’s 2:1 option to commence, since I announced my candidacy for Polwarth.
“In fact I discussed the matter with him in person on the day of my campaign launch. The first step is to have the road recognised as an Auslink status road,” Mr O’Brien commented.
“I listen to the local community and I act. That is why I am inviting Mayor O’Connor and all interested members of the community to attend my Roads Forum in Simpson on Thursday evening.
We need to stand together on this, and if elected I will make personal representations to the State Minister and work with my Nationals colleague in Canberra, Deputy Prime and Minister for Infrastructure, Warren Truss, to see that the Princes Highway duplication to Warrnambool is everyone’s number one priority,” Mr O’Brien declared.
“Right now though the Andrews government should be pushing Vic Roads to fix Foxhow Road, and address the state of Ayresford Road. These roads are hazardous and they need to be fixed immediately,“ stated Mr O’Brien.
The Roads Forum will be held at the Simpson Hotel on Thursday 15 October 2015 at 7:00pm.
Former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer a renowned train book author, is backing David O’Brien’s call for trials of increased shuttle trains from Geelong to Warrnambool.
Mr O’Brien, the Nationals candidate for Polwarth has called for further investigations of a trial sprinter train service between Warrnambool and Geelong using Velocity trains to further increase train services for residents of Colac, Camperdown, Terang and Winchelsea.
A passionate user of train services and a musician, Mr O’Brien believes an extended train service will bring economic benefit to the region.
“With events like Colac Kana Festival, the Warrnambool Music Festival and the Colac and Warrnambool Cup we can bring city folks out to our region to enjoy the events and at the same time trial a train service with genuine potential for the future.” said Mr O’Brien.
Former Deputy Prime Minister, Tim Fischer, known all over the country for his interest in and love of trains and rail services said the idea had meriit.
"Shuttle velocity operations make a great deal of sense and are practicable and viable," said Mr Fischer.
Mr O’Brien said that the Coalition announcement made last week that they would deliver a fourth train if returned to government was a terrific announcement and a great start for improved train services.
“My vision for this region is a vibrant one and I can see long term opportunities for additional services that connect with Geelong’s services to Melbourne. There is work to be done in bringing about greater service.
Obviously there will need to be co-ordination with freight train pathways as well as community consultation
to get the balance right between through trains and additional shuttle services,” said Mr O’Brien.
“I am calling on the Andrew’s government to make a genuine investment in regional Victoria, and trial a shuttle train to Colac and Warrnambool for these significant local events.
In the long term, an investment in a shuttle service to Geelong a number of times a day that connects to the frequent Geelong to Melbourne service will open significant potential for regional development in Polwarth and the South West,” said Mr O’Brien.
Victoria’s Shadow Minister for Mental Health, Tim Bull, is calling on all Victorians to get involved in Mental Health Week which finishes on World Mental Health Day, Saturday October 10th.
Mr Bull said Mental Health Week is a great opportunity to educate and raise awareness among all Victorians about the effects of mental health on our society.
“With one if five people experiencing a mental health disorder it is very likely that you or someone you know will be affected during your lifetime.
“Mental Health Week is about helping to remove the stigma associated with mental health disorders so it can be treated like any other illness such as diabetes.
“I would encourage all Victorians to visit the mental health week website and get involved in one of the many events that are running right around the state,” Mr Bull said.
For more information about Mental Health Week and how you can get involved visit: http://mentalhealthvic.org.au/
Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford has failed to answer questions on the appointment of two union members to the board of Primesafe, Victoria’s industry-funded meat regulator.
Belinda Jacobi, Lead Organiser of the National Union of Workers, was announced as a new member of the Primesafe board on June 2 2015 in a ministerial media release issued by Minister Pulford.
The Minister has a declared membership of the NUW, an organisation which paid $175,117 to the Victorian Labor Party last year.
Today in Question Time Minister Pulford refused to say whether she exempted herself from the process and decision surrounding Ms Jacobi’s appointment.
Just days after Ms Jacobi’s appointment a second union organiser, Australian Meat Industry Employees Union secretary Paul Conway was appointed without public announcement.
There are now 2 union representatives on the 8 member Primesafe board.
Primesafe is funded entirely through levies paid by the red meat, poultry meat and seafood industry.
Comments from Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh:
“The Minister failed to answer a very simple question put to her in Question Time – did she excuse herself from a conflict of interest situation when Ms Jacobi was appointed?”
“Primesafe is the regulator of Victoria’s multi-billion meat industry, not an arena for Labor to repay favours to union allies.”
Disability Minister Martin Foley must make it clear today how people living with disabilities will be compensated for the additional costs of care on AFL parade day.
At the eleventh hour last Friday, Martin Foley promised that Individual Support Packages (ISPs) would be topped up to meet the cost of care, which will increase due to penalty rates.
But this week one person with an ISP, Rachel Croucher, was told to submit an “application for non-recurrent funding”, a process which can take months, because the Department of Health and Human Services had not given any directive to care providers that there would be top-up funding. It has been a similar story for other people.
“My care agency know nothing about additional funding, no one else with an ISP I know is aware of anything, basically no one has heard of anything about additional funding,” Rachel said.
“This is affecting thousands of people who require disability support and in-home care.”
Shadow Minister for Disability Tim Bull said it was unacceptable that the Andrews Labor Government may wait until after the public holiday and then ask individuals to submit an application for the extra costs.
“This means those who are facing uncertainty and anxiety are being left to organise family to assist or are cutting back on care – all due to the uncertainty created by this government,” Mr Bull said.
“It is just not good enough.
“The government needs to commit to the full amount of the increased costs for support workers and put this money straight into ISPs, so there is no change to support for people with disabilities tomorrow.”
Victorians with disabilities and their families will receive funding to cover the cost of the AFL parade holiday, thanks to pressure from the Liberal-Nationals Coalition.
People with disabilities and their families were going to have to pay up to hundreds of extra dollars for carers on AFL parade day, because their Individual Support Packages did not include money for the penalty rates.
In some cases people with disabilities were planning to cancel part or all of their care on AFL parade day to lower the cost, leaving them bed-ridden or their families taking on the carer role for the day.
Shadow Minister for Disability Tim Bull said the Andrews Labor Government last night gave in to pressure from the Coalition, disability sector and Herald Sun, and would now make funding available.
“It’s disappointing the Andrews Labor Government has only provided this support under pressure at the 11th hour, but I’m pleased common sense has prevailed,” Mr Bull said.
“In Daniel Andrews’ rush to introduce this parade holiday he forgot all about those in the disability and aged care sectors, who are some of the most vulnerable in our community.
“I’m sure people with disabilities and their families will breathe a sigh of relief today, and now the government needs to show the same support to the aged care sector, which is facing a similar situation of increased costs because of AFL parade day.”
Warrnambool Mayor Michael Neoh has been endorsed as The Nationals candidate for the South West Coast by-election.
Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh said Mr Neoh was a proven local leader who listens and delivers for his community.
“Michael is a high-calibre candidate who has a track record of action and results,” Mr Walsh said.
“South-West Coast communities will get an outstanding, hardworking local champion if they elect Michael Neoh.”
Mr Neoh said the people of South-West Coast needed a strong local voice in Parliament.
“I'm Warrnambool born and bred, I'm an active part of our community, and I understand the local issues that matter to us,” Mr Neoh said.
“We want safer roads, better health and hospital services, investment in our schools and training programs that will lead to good jobs for our young people.
“We want more support for local families who are doing it tough and we want State Government investments that deliver jobs, business opportunity and better community services.
"As Mayor and Councillor I have been dedicated to listening to my community and delivering practical benefits for our region.”
Mr Neoh has been a Councillor since 2005 and Mayor of Warnambool City for 5 terms (2008, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014 to current). He lives in Warrnambool with his wife Robyn and son Dujon.
Mr Neoh is also CEO of the South West Sports Assembly, a former secondary teacher at Warrnambool College, and currently serves as the Chairman of the consumer reference group of St John of God Hospital Warrnambool.
Mr Walsh said The Nationals had a proud 100-year history of standing up for regional communities.
"While the other major parties are busy focusing on Melbourne, The Nationals are dedicated to representing people who live in regional and rural Victoria," Mr Walsh said.
"A key focus for The Nationals during both the South West Coast and Polwarth by-elections will be the issue of onshore gas, which is a big community concern.
"The Nationals will never support any mining activity that jeopardises our agricultural land, water supplies or the environment."