Member for Morwell Russell Northe has said reports this morning that the Hazelwood mine, one of the Latrobe Valley’s key employers, plans to close its doors in April are a “distressing” prospect for the local community.
“Jobs in the region are very hard to come by with unemployment currently at 19.7 per cent in Morwell. If the mine’s approximately 550 direct jobs and hundreds and hundreds of indirect jobs disappear it will snowball a growing unemployment crisis in the Valley,” Mr Northe said.
“Labor first slated closure of Hazelwood in 2010 – they’ve got their wish, so it would be a show of absolute ignorance for Labor to sit on their hands until Latrobe Valley workers are left without jobs.
“Labor must come clean now on what they know of this closure and what their plan is to keep jobs in the Latrobe community.
“The Nationals understand this closure would have a significant impact on the local community. I will meet with business and industry in the near future to discuss what can be done to ease this pressure on our local workforce.”
The Government has refused to hold a joint sitting of parliament to swear in the new Member for Northern Victoria Luke O’Sullivan.
The Government said it would not hold a joint sitting until Gavin Jennings was allowed back into the house.
But Legislative Council Speaker Bruce Atkinson said the Government’s argument was contrary to long-standing parliamentary convention and had turned Mr O’Sullivan’s appointment into a ‘political football’.
The Nationals’ Northern Victoria seat in the Legislative Council was vacated by Damian Drum in May and Mr O’Sullivan was preselected in late July, in compliance with party rules.
Under normal conventions, a new member of parliament is sworn in at the earliest convenience at a joint sitting of parliament.
That joint sitting has now been refused by the Government.
Quotes attributable to Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh
Daniel Andrews' petulant dummy-spit today has denied the people of Northern Victoria a member of parliament and their right to democracy.
Not only has Daniel Andrews ostracised 60,000 CFA volunteers, he has now denied 500,000 Northern Victorians their right to a member in the Victorian parliament.
Daniel Andrews has overturned 150 years of convention with a petulant dummy-spit.
Luke O’Sullivan was today preselected to serve as The Nationals’ new Member of the Legislative Council for Northern Victoria.
A casual vacancy for the seat was created when former member, Damian Drum, resigned to successful contest the Federal seat of Murray at the July election.
Raised in Patchewollock, Mr O’Sullivan was most recently the Chief-of-Staff to Leader of The Victorian Nationals,
Peter Walsh, and was campaign director for Murray at the 2016 Federal election.
He was previously the state director for The Nationals and has worked in senior positions both in government and opposition.
The Nationals State President Neil Pankhurst congratulated Luke on his selection and said Luke would be a fierce advocate for communities in the north of the state.
“Luke has a strong connection with rural Victorian communities and I have no doubt he will work hard to get the best outcomes for country people,” Mr Pankhurst said.
The Nationals Leader Peter Walsh said Luke will be a great addition to The Nationals parliamentary team.
“Luke has a proven track record of standing up and delivering for country communities, and the constituents of Northern Victoria will be well served by Luke’s experience and skills.
“The Nationals are the dedicated and united voice for regional communities in our Parliament, and Luke has already shown he/she is clearly committed to making sure regional Victoria gets its fair share.”
Mr O’Sullivan said it was a privilege to be selected to represent the people of northern Victoria.
“This is an humbling opportunity to serve the people of Victoria,” he said.
“I sought this role because I’m focused on fighting for regional Victoria and making sure regional communities are not ignored by this city-centric Labor Government.”
Mr O’Sullivan will be officially sworn in after the Victorian Parliament resumes from the winter break.
The pre-selection vote was held on Sunday morning (July 31), with delegates convening in Melbourne to hear final words from each candidate.
The Federal Election results have confirmed voters still see The Nationals as the one true party that delivers for regional Victoria.
“The 2016 election confirms that even after 100 years, voters still see The Nationals as their strong voice for Victoria’s regional communities,” Victoria’s Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh said.
“Voters overwhelmingly returned The Nationals MPs Darren Chester, Andrew Broad and Senator Bridget McKenzie, and we saw tremendous support for Damian Drum who will be the new Nationals Member for Murray.
“I also recognise the outstanding efforts of Rebecca Treloar, Marty Corboy, Paul Tatchell, Andy Maddison and James Anderson and thank them for standing for The Nationals in contests where the odds were against us, but it was important to be on the ballot paper.
“The Nationals are celebrating their centenary in Victoria this year, and throughout the last 100 years we have been steadfastly committed to being the strong voice of regional Victorians. That will never change.
“The Federal Election results point to a bright future for The Nationals, and this is reinforced with so many people expressing interest in becoming The Nationals’ next Member for Northern Victoria replacing Damian Drum in State Parliament.
“I’m very proud to be leading The Nationals at a time when the party is rejuvenating with younger people and more women are being elected to our ranks, and we must continue to do this if The Nationals are going to be here for another 100 years.”
Mr Walsh also paid tribute to the leadership of Barnaby Joyce and Fiona Nash.
“Barnaby and Fiona have led a united team and their can-do, common sense approach resonated with voters across the nation.
“Barnaby has taken to the Leader’s position with his trademark gusto, and we look forward to working with our Federal Nationals colleagues to help deliver more jobs, more investment, more infrastructure and more opportunity for the people of regional Victoria.”
Daniel Andrews’ decision to back demands from the United Firefighters Union (UFU) puts in jeopardy Australia’s largest volunteer organisation, Victorian Nationals leader Peter Walsh said.
The Premier’s support of the UFU’s bid to take over the Country Fire Authority (CFA) confirms Daniel Andrews puts the demands of his union mates before the needs of 60,000 selfless volunteers and our rural communities.
The UFU’s demands include the ability to veto CFA management decisions, handing control of the organisation to the union.
“The strength of the CFA is in its volunteers,” Mr Walsh said.
“Volunteers willingly sacrifice their time, without hesitation, to be at the front-line of protecting country communities from the devastating effects of bushfire.
“It is horrifying to see Daniel Andrews’ bureaucrats urging support for demands that would sell out 60,000 volunteers to his union mates.
“The UFU has made it clear in the past it has no respect for volunteer firefighters.
“Daniel Andrews must stop this deal before it decimates Australia’s largest volunteer organisation.
“The important work of the CFA and its thousands of volunteers must not be compromised by this city-centric Labor Government.”
To show your support for the Country Fire Authority sign the petition at www.peterwalsh.org.au/hands_off_the_cfa
Mr Andy Maddison will be standing in the 2016 Federal Election as the Nationals candidate for the electorate of Bendigo.
Mr Maddison works within his family’s business as a stock and station agent, he knows intimately the daily reality of operating a small business as well as the importance of supporting rural industries across the community.
Mr Maddison is married to Sarah and is father to four boys. He has a strong commitment to the people of the Bendigo electorate and a personal understanding of what support families need from their Government.
Andy’s focus is on fighting for safe roads and infrastructure, rural health needs and bringing economic growth opportunities to the people of Bendigo. Andy is keen on ensuring regional communities have equitable access to services as those Victorians in Melbourne have.
Andy Maddison believes the people of Bendigo deserve a strong future.
The Nationals for Regional Victoria are pleased to announce Paul Tatchell as our strong local candidate for the Federal electorate of Ballarat.
Mr Tatchell has an impressive record of community service within the wider Ballarat community, serving as Moorabool Mayor and in many, varied local leadership roles in areas of health, community safety and planning.
He is married with adult children and is a proud grandfather of one. Mr. Tatchell has lived in the Ballarat electorate for 35 years and over these years he has earned community respect and built a reputation as a passionate, fair community advocate.
Mr Tatchell has run his own family businesses in the trucking industry and knows the true realities of small business as an experienced and community minded business owner. As a business operator and father Mr Tatchell believes local jobs, roads, health, community safety and education are local issues that need a strong conservative candidate to progress.
Mr Tatchell is a community leader who is focussed on finding solutions and recognising local opportunities, he will be a strong voice within the Coalition Government for delivering for the region.
The National party is a growing political force in Canberra because of our strong representation on issues of regional importance such as support for small businesses, increased road funding and delivering on infrastructure development.
With Paul Tatchell as the candidate for Ballarat, local people will have a strong and experienced voice who has the support of a winning Coalition team.
Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan has added to the misery of regional Victorians by admitting in Parliament that the V/Line crisis is costing taxpayers $300,000 a day in replacement buses.
At the same time, it was revealed through a Parliamentary inquiry today that the cause of the wheel-wear problems plaguing V/Line won’t be known until the end of March, while timetables won’t be back to normal until mid-year at the earliest.
Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh said the revelations would rub salt in the wounds of regional commuters.
“After everything they have gone through – train cancellations, overcrowding, replacement buses, signalling faults, wheel wear – to find out it’s costing taxpayers $300,000 per day is a slap in the face for regional Victorians,” Mr Walsh said.
“That’s $300,000 every day that could be better spent providing a better train service, or fixing up our ageing schools, repairing dangerous potholes on our roads, or improving our hospitals.
“Just like the $1.1 billion wasted on not building the East West Link, we are seeing more money going down the drain under Daniel Andrews and Jacinta Allan’s watch.”
Mr Walsh said rural and regional Victorians needed some real answers on the V/Line crisis.
“Regional Victorians are sick and tired of excuses. If Jacinta Allan can’t fix the train mess, then Daniel Andrews should step in and take over,” Mr Walsh said.
Bendigo residents will have lost all confidence in Jacinta Allan.
Just two weeks ago, she promised that “Bendigo will have better train and bus services, making it easier get to get to work or to school, and home again at the end of the day.”
But now Bendigo’s train network is collapsing under her watch, all Jacinta Allan has to offer are excuses – and no solutions.
‘Conversations’ and ‘consultation’ will not solve the countless issues plaguing VLine.
If Jacinta Allan continues to refuse taking responsibility for Bendigo’s train problems, Premier Daniel Andrews must urgently step in and take control.
Daniel Andrews has dealt yet another blow to regional Victoria, and this one on the eve of Christmas.
Under Daniel Andrews’ city-centric government, we’ve lost the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund and the highly popular Country Roads and Bridges Program, the regional development budget has been slashed by 24 per cent, and there have been paltry investments in regional major projects and regional hospitals.
It’s outrageous that Daniel Andrews happily spent $1.1 billion of taxpayers’ money not building a road in Melbourne but he won’t invest even a fraction of this into our Regional Living programs.
Jaala Pulford was asked about the future of the Regional Living Expo in Parliament just five days ago and said “no decision has been made”.
Why didn’t the Minister come clean when questioned in Parliament last week, instead of fudging the answer and rolling out a press release five days later? It looks like Labor has been embarrassed into making a decision.
What Minister Pulford used to say – media release, 1 May 2015
“The Expo is a chance for rural and regional councils to showcase the outstanding benefits of their local areas, helping to attract potential residents, skilled workers, business and investment.”
What Regional Development Victoria says – annual report 2014/15
“The fourth edition of the Regional Victoria Living Expo was a success, attracting a record 10,156 patrons.”
“Once again, the Expo proved particularly popular with young families and working professionals, and councils continue to receive positive enquiries from attendees keen to move to their regions.”