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.”
More young people are without a job under the Andrews Labor Government.
ABS data released today show there are 9,453 fewer young people in full time work than when Daniel Andrews came to office 12 months ago.
Statewide, there are 74,959 young people without a job.
Victoria’s youth unemployment rate is at 14.6 per cent, despite Daniel Andrews’ promise to create 100,000 new full-time jobs as part of the Back to Work scheme.
Shadow Minister for Young Victorians Steph Ryan:
“Daniel Andrews’ Back to Work scheme continues to fail young people in Victoria.
“Daniel Andrews used to say that every job is worth fighting for but now Victoria's young people are getting nothing but excuses.
“The Andrews Labor Government doesn’t have an economic and jobs plan for Victoria’s youth. Daniel Andrews has a media plan, but he doesn’t have a jobs plan.”
Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh:
“Today’s announcement is underwhelming for regional Victoria to say the least.
“If Daniel Andrews is putting the government ‘back to work’ for regional Victoria, where have they been for the past 12 months?
“Regional Victoria has lost 10,100 full-time jobs since Daniel Andrews came to office and this brochure does nothing to reverse that trend.”
Shadow Regional Development Minister Damian Drum:
“We’ve waited a year for the Labor Government to come up with nine committees and a glossy booklet with no new money.”
Country-based Liberal-Nationals MPs were unable to make it back in time for the start of Parliament today, after travelling to Remembrance Day services in their local electorates.
Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh said the Andrews Labor Government had scheduled a sitting day of Parliament on Remembrance Day, with a delayed start time of 2pm.
That only allowed enough time for city MPs to attend Remembrance Day services in their electorates, while country MPs were left unable to get back to Parliament on time.
“Remembrance Day is such an important opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices made to keep our country safe and it’s a day all MPs rightly want to spend with their communities,” Mr Walsh said.
“Postponing the start of Parliament has been of no help to country MPs who live three or four hours away from Melbourne and have been unable to get back to Parliament on time.
“Yet again we have seen the Andrews Labor Government make a decision that is solely focused on the city while forgetting all about country Victorians.
“Parliament should not sit on Remembrance Day at all, as a mark of respect.
“The former Coalition Government made a deliberate decision not to schedule Parliament on Remembrance Day and I urge Daniel Andrews to show more respect and do the same in future.
“Country MPs should not be forced to choose between spending this important day with their communities and attending Parliament on time.”
Under pressure from the Liberal-Nationals Coalition, the Andrews Labor Government has been shamed into reinstating funding for Workplace Learning Coordinators.
Comments attributed to Steph Ryan:
“Young people will be relieved by Labor’s last minute backflip on funding for Victoria’s workplace learning coordinators.
“It is disappointing that Daniel Andrews had to be shamed into reinstating funding for these positions.
“Labor’s belated funding announcement is too little too late for some coordinators who were forced to quit their jobs to find more secure work.
“It is imperative that the government immediately engages the remaining coordinators to ensure the program is in place for next year.”
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.