Tuesday 6 December 2016
A report released today by SGS Economic and Planning has shown that regional Victoria’s economy shrank by 1 per cent in 2015-16, making it the only area in all of Australia to have its economy go backwards.
Shadow Minister for Regional Development Tim McCurdy said “regional Victoria is going backwards under Daniel Andrews and his city-centric Labor Government”.
“Under Daniel Andrews, country roads and bridges funding has been spent in the Premier’s own city electorate and regional rail commuters have been stranded for days due to Labor’s failure to maintain the rail lines,” Mr McCurdy said.
“Whether it is taking an axe to the Country Fire Authority or leaving country roads in disrepair, regional Victorians have been the biggest losers under Daniel Andrews’ Government.”
Mr McCurdy said Daniel Andrews has no plan to manage Victoria’s population growth.
“More than 90 per cent of Victoria’s population growth is centred on Melbourne, an unsustainable situation that hurts both the city and the country,” Mr McCurdy said.
“The Liberal Nationals are developing a comprehensive plan to manage the huge growth in Victoria’s population and make sure regional Victoria is a beneficiary of the opportunities population growth provides not a loser from it.”
The Andrews Labor Government are hiding the extent of Victoria's training crisis, failing to release the half-yearly update on the state of our TAFE and training sector.
Steve Herbert's time-keeping skills are on par with his dismal record-keeping skills.
We are nearly to the end of the year and have no idea of the state of our training system after the Andrews Labor Government failed to release the half-yearly update for 2016.
It is now months overdue.
Steve Herbert leaves a shameful legacy of plummeting training enrolments and $175 million in cuts to student training at TAFE.
Gayle Tierney has inherited a fragmented and struggling training sector from an incompetent Minister, but she shouldn’t cover for him by continuing to delay the release of the half-year data.
Woolworths said in 2014 they would stand with SPC Ardmona suppliers “for the long-term”, yet today there are reports they might break that promise just two years in.
We were reassured at the time that the supermarket giant would “bring certainty” and “confidence” to farmers, but now they appear to be taking these same farmers for fools.
The work of The Nationals and Liberals in the former government secured a $22 million support package for vital machinery upgrades that kept the cannery open and thousands of people in work.
It is appalling Woolworths would even consider reneging on this deal.
The Andrews Labor Government has failed to support more than 25 community-based groups to establish ice prevention programs in their local area.
Established education and prevention strategies in rural and regional Victoria have also missed out in the latest round of the Community Ice Action Grants.
“The ice scourge is hurting families and country communities and there are dozens of groups ready to make a real difference but have been passed over by Labor,” Shadow Minister for Mental Health Tim Bull said.
“If this Government was serious about tackling the damaging impacts of ice they would fund all of these programs and continue support to those with successful programs already in place.
“After the windfall $9.7 billion sale of the Port of Melbourne lease there is no excuse to refuse funds to those trying to make a positive difference in their community.”
About 40 applications were submitted from groups across the state, 12 received funding.
Under Labor the 13 groups funded last year, including Mildura’s Project Ice and other programs in Rochester, Warrnambool and Wangaratta, will not receive ongoing funding.
“The reality is Labor talks a big game with its Ice Action Plan, but when groups put their hand up to work with Government at the community level they are being ignored,” Mr Bull said.
“Given Labor is beating its chest about a massive budget surplus and the windfall $9.7 billion Port of Melbourne lease, there is no excuse to continue to neglect our country communities.”
More than 1000 Victorians have been locked out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) under Daniel Andrews’ botched implementation, Shadow Minister for Disability Tim Bull said.
Reports today show the Andrews Labor Government has failed to meet a deadline to pass on information to meet a target to assess the eligibility of 6110 Victorians for the NDIS.
It means more than 1000 people with a disability will miss out on vital financial support this year.
“More than 1000 Victorians with a disability are being locked out of the NDIS under Daniel Andrews’ botched implementation of the scheme in Victoria,” Mr Bull said.
“Daniel Andrews says he is committed to getting the rollout on track, but has failed to meet the most basic requirements of the NDIS rollout.”
All state and territory governments agreed to provide data on existing clients six-months before they can be transitioned to the NDIS.
Victoria is the only state to have failed to meet these deadlines and those who missed out must now wait until next year to have their eligibility assessed.
“The scheme is vital to the wellbeing and quality of life of thousands of Victorians across the state, but Daniel Andrews has shown even the state’s most in need must take a number and join the line,” Mr Bull said.
“Rather than fighting for a union takeover of the CFA, Daniel Andrews should be fighting for support for our state’s most vulnerable.”
Demand for public housing is growing, but a lack of direction from the Andrews Labor Government is putting more stress on vulnerable Victorians, according to Shadow Minister for Housing Tim Bull.
Infrastructure Victoria found demand for affordable housing is outstripping the relative supply, with thousands of homes in the existing public housing stock in disrepair (Source: Infrastructure Victoria Draft 30-year Strategy, p90).
The Draft 30-year Infrastructure Strategy, released on Tuesday, identified a clear need to provide better access to housing, now and in coming decades.
“Daniel Andrews has no plan to relieve the intense stress on our state’s public housing assets, while tens of thousands of vulnerable Victorians are reduced to a number on extensive wait lists,” Mr Bull said.
“Simply building more homes isn’t the complete answer either. Daniel Andrews also continues to fail to address the underlying issues that have contributed to this crisis, like spiralling unemployment in a number of rural areas."
There were 32,250 applicants on the public housing wait list at June 2016, more than 8000 are in regional Victoria.
Labor’s own hand-picked infrastructure advisers identified a lack of leadership in social housing.
“This is no surprise, given Labor failed to allocate any significant funds for public housing in this year’s State Budget,” Mr Bull said.
“Under the previous Coalition government the public housing list decreased by more than 6000 applicants. Daniel Andrews has relegated this issue to the too-hard basket for too long.
“We already know our state is facing an affordable housing crisis.
“Our most vulnerable shouldn’t be forced to wait for a report to confirm this to get a roof over their heads.”
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.”