Wednesday 14 June 2017
Australian Sustainable Hardwoods has announced today it will close its Heyfield mill earlier than planned.
ASH confirmed today the mill will wind down from August due to “VicForests expected short supply of logs to the mill again this year”.
At a recent hearing for the parliamentary inquiry into VicForests, VicForests Acting CEO Nathan Trushell confirmed the amount of timber available to industry has dropped by nearly 60,000m3 due to confirmed possum sightings and projected future sightings.
Mr Trushell also said the possum was being discovered at a rate “much higher than ever anticipated”.
There are 260 people employed at the Heyfield mill, while the mill’s operations support 7000 jobs down the line.
Leader of the Opposition Matthew Guy and Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull visited the Heyfield mill again today to speak with ASH.
Comments attributable to Leader of the Opposition Matthew Guy
The Liberal-Nationals understand the importance of this business to the Heyfield community and committed in February that an elected Liberal-Nationals government would keep the mill open and save these jobs.
Daniel Andrews' promise to fight for every Victorian job was clearly a lie. The Andrews government has presided over thousands of lost Gippsland jobs with no remorse for their failure to step in and save them.
Comments attributable to Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh
The Heyfield community and Victoria’s forestry industry have endured increasingly difficult conditions under a Labor Government more concerned with protecting possums than Victorian jobs.
The Premier for Melbourne is so desperate to keep his own job and the greens preferences that got him there that he is condemning 260 jobs in the Heyfield community.
Comments attributable to Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull
The closure of the Heyfield mill is devastating news for the workers, their families and the Heyfield community.
Daniel Andrews promised to visit Heyfield in February, but more than three months later he still refuses to show any support for our community.
The Premier for Melbourne fails to understand the mill doesn’t need a new owner to save these jobs, it needs a change in government policy.
Wednesday 14 June 2017
Serious questions are being asked after the Andrews Labor Government appointed a critic of wild dog control programs to the long awaited Wild Dog Management Advisory Committee.
The advisory committee has finally been announced today, nearly two years since Labor sacked a very effective committee which included experienced landholders, and nearly six months after applications closed.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh:
Wild dog numbers have increased since 2015 after the Andrews Government missed aerial baiting opportunities, axed the Wild Dog Bounty for 12 months, and sacked the previous advisory committee without warning.
It beggars belief that Minister Pulford left high country communities that fight the scourge of wild dogs daily without an avenue to give advice on the control program for nearly two years.
While Minister Pulford has given in to pressure from farmers and finally replaced the committee, it’s disappointing that there are less landholder representatives, there are no women, and one of the members has previously criticised wild dog control measures and reportedly described farmers “extremists”.
Wild dogs are a massive daily challenge for farmers and communities in the North East and far East Gippsland but city-centric Labor are doing nothing to restore landholders’ confidence in Victoria’s wild dog control program.
Thursday 1 June 2017
The Andrews Labor Government could save thousands of forestry jobs in Victoria by reducing the size of ‘highly precautionary’ timber harvest exclusion zones.
At a parliamentary inquiry into VicForests, VicForests Acting CEO Nathan Trushell confirmed the Leadbeater’s Possum was being detected at a rate “much higher than ever anticipated”.
Mr Trushell also described the current 200m buffer zones as “highly precautionary and having a significant impact on industry”.
At May 18 this year, 617 Leadbeater’s Possum colonies had been recorded and an estimated 1851 individual possums found.
Mr Trushell also confirmed the amount of timber available to industry had dropped by nearly 60,000m3 because of possum sightings and projected sightings in the future.
The Andrews Labor Government is months overdue with a required review of the exclusion zones.
At a Parliamentary Accounts and Estimates Committee hearing today, Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford showed an embarrassing lack of understanding of her portfolio and had to refer to Department staff when questioned if she had seen the exclusion zone review.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh
Daniel Andrews has created this crisis in our forestry industry and is trying to force a fire sale of Heyfield’s mill instead of saving jobs and reducing the size of the exclusion zones.
Demand has never been higher for Victoria’s high-quality timber products but Daniel Andrews has put the industry in peril.
The 200m buffer zones were put in place at a time when Leadbeater’s possum numbers were unknown and they were supposed to be reviewed once 200 colonies were found but Daniel Andrews looks hell bent on creating the Great Forest National Park by stealth instead.
Daniel Andrews is sacrificing timber workers and their livelihoods because he is desperate to cling to power and needs city greens preferences next election.
Wednesday 17 May 2017
An elected Liberal Nationals government would be committed to keeping jobs in the Latrobe Valley.
Unemployment was up 50 per cent in the past two years in the Valley, even before 750 people lost their job at Hazelwood Power Station in March.
Wood processor Carter Holt Harvey yesterday flagged closure of its Morwell sawmill which would mean a further 160 people would lose their jobs.
The Treasurer claimed just two weeks ago Labor is ‘creating jobs, but we’re also focused on protecting jobs’.
Instead, Labor’s destructive policies and ideology has led the Latrobe Valley into a jobs crisis.
Comments attributable to Opposition Leader Matthew Guy
The Morwell community has been hit hard by Daniel Andrews’ tax on coal that shutdown Hazelwood and forced 750 people out of work.
A government I lead would make sure Victoria has a secure and affordable electricity supply into the future by keeping the Loy Yang and Yallourn power stations open.
Comments attributable to Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh
Daniel Andrews’ desperation for greens preferences in the city has created turmoil in our forestry industry.
A Liberal Nationals government would work with industry to return confidence to our forestry businesses, and that includes a commitment to work with Australia Paper to ensure this major employer has a strong future in the Valley and a secure supply of timber.
Wednesday 10 May 2017
Country Victorians will get the vital investments they need after the Federal Liberal Nationals Government delivered for the projects that Daniel Andrews refuses to fund.
Investments in rail and road infrastructure projects in regional Victoria and new agriculture initiatives for our primary producers were welcome commitments in Tuesday’s Federal Budget.
The $8bn inland freight rail line from Melbourne to Brisbane will take trucks off our roads and cut the cost for farmers to transport their product to port.
While Daniel Andrews refuses to spend a cent of State Government money on his $1.45bn wish list for regional rail, the Federal Liberal Nationals Government has invested $1bn in regional rail and other infrastructure projects.
This includes a $100 million investment in the north east rail line – five times more than was allocated in Labor’s unfunded wish list – and $290m for track duplications and upgrades on the Gippsland line.
These projects are fully funded and will deliver real benefits for country rail passengers who are sick of the Andrews Labor Government’s announce first, fund later approach.
I welcome the more than $4.1 billion investment in agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors and the $4bn Regional Investment Corporation which will support growth in our rural and regional communities.
The Federal Liberal Nationals have delivered where the Andrews Labor Government refuses to.
Regional Victorians deserve better than Labor’s offer of scraps off the table after the $9.7 billion sale of the Port of Melbourne lease.
The Federal Budget delivers funding and vision for infrastructure and rail for country Victorians who have been abandoned by the Labor Premier for Melbourne.
Friday, 5 May 2017
The Nationals MPs Danny O’Brien and Melina Bath have congratulated the South Gippsland community on a successful campaign to ‘dump the dump’ at Leongatha South.
Mr O’Brien and Ms Bath joined community campaigners at the site after news that multinational waste firm Veolia had abandoned any plans it had to pursue the proposed rubbish dump in a disused quarry.
“This was a project that was sprung on the community by Veolia and presented as something of a done deal. What the company didn’t anticipate was the fantastic community campaign that mobilised almost instantly to oppose the dump,” said Mr O’Brien.
“I was please to table in State Parliament almost 3,000 petitions against the proposal and the community campaign made it clear that South Gippsland did not want Melbourne’s waste.”
Ms Bath said, as a local resident, she was equally concerned about what the dump would have meant.
“I give great credit to the Dump the Dump group which pounded the pavement, collected signatures and prepared a significant campaign against the dump idea.
“I also pay tribute to the businesses that hosted the petitions and leant their support to the campaign.”
Mr O’Brien said neither the Gippsland nor metropolitan waste planning groups had accepted the need for the dump at Leongatha South, denting any credibility it had to proceed.
“We know we have to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and Gippsland will accept the responsibility for dealing with its own waste - Melbourne should too.
“I am disappointed that having raised community anxiety about this issue, that it took follow up from us to confirm it was now dead. That is disrespectful to the community and Veolia’s behaviour in this case has been poor.”
CAPTION: The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Danny O’Brien and Member for Eastern Victoria, Melina Bath celebrating the dumping of the dump with concerned community members Wendy Reed and Les White.
Thursday 4 May 2017
Despite slugging country Victorians for ten new taxes, Daniel Andrews has slashed Victoria’s Agriculture budget.
Labor has cut $32 million from the Agriculture spend in the 2017-18 State Budget, despite pushing up taxes by 22 per cent.
No amount of Labor spin can hide this reduction and fears of Agriculture being swallowed up within the super department are ringing true.
Daniel Andrews and Jaala Pulford are bragging about a surplus, but have failed to put any new funds into productivity-focussed research and development programs.
Instead they are misleading Victorians on a ‘new’ $85 million biosecurity spend on existing programs and re-announcing funds already flagged for Labor’s go-it-alone eID scheme.
This Budget confirms the Andrews Government has no vision for the future of Victoria’s agriculture sector.
Yet again Labor has splashed cash on Melbourne while giving regional communities the scraps off the table.
Friday 17 May 2017
The Andrews Government has disgracefully abandoned 260 workers at Australian Sustainable Hardwoods’ Heyfield mill by failing to guarantee a viable timber supply.
Labor’s half-baked offer to purchase the mill at the 11th hour again confirms Daniel Andrews has no problem playing political games with Victorian jobs.
Instead, Daniel Andrews has chosen green preferences over real jobs, sitting on his hands and costing the people of Heyfield their livelihoods.
This is a massive kick in the guts to Heyfield workers, their families and the local community.
The timber supply is there, what is lacking is will from Daniel Andrews to act.
Daniel Andrews has failed the people of Heyfield and his government’s policies are creating a massive jobs crisis for the people of Gippsland.
Wednesday 8 February 2017
The Resources Legislation Amendment (Fracking Ban) Bill 2016 will pass Parliament.
In 2012 the Liberal Nationals Government announced a gas moratorium and in 2015 we committed to an extension of the existing onshore gas moratorium until 30 June 2020.
The Liberal Nationals support the ban on fracking. Indeed, fracking has never occurred under a Liberal Nationals Government. In contrast, the previous Victorian Labor Government issued 73 licences for unconventional gas exploration and approved 23 fracking operations without public consultation.
The Liberal Nationals have always said we will never allow anything to happen that puts at risk the quality or quantity of our groundwater because we know how important it is to our state.
Food and fibre production is one the powerhouses of Victoria’s economy and we must always ensure the land and water resources these vital industries need are protected, now and for the future.
Increasing gas and electricity costs to industry and Victorian households mean work must be done to ensure our state has a secure and competitive supply of energy in the future.
That is why we believe during the period of the moratorium, the energy sector needs to work with rural communities and have a sensible discussion about the use of conventional gas beyond the expiration of the moratorium in 2020. Conventional gas has over 30 years of successful co-existence with Victorian country communities.
Whether it is gas or electricity, Daniel Andrews has a political plan but not a cost of living and cost of business plans.
The policies of the Andrews Labor Government have forced the closure of Hazelwood which has already seen an increase in household electricity prices of around 10% and over 20% for some businesses.
One of Daniel Andrews’ greatest failings as Premier is that he has not even tried to attempt to find a way to curb the dramatic increases in energy costs in Victoria. If energy prices continue to sky rocket at current rates it will result in businesses closing as well as putting enormous cost of living pressures on households.
Wednesday 7 December 2016
A motion for a five-year moratorium on establishing national parks in Victoria’s Central Highlands was defeated in the Legislative Council today.
The motion called for no new national parks to be established in the region, including the Great Forest National Park, until further work was done on the availability of resources, impacts on existing stakeholders, fire management and the management of invasive species.
Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh
By voting against this motion, Labor’s let the cat out of the bag – they have no intention of supporting the tens of thousands of Victorians who rely on the timber industry to support their family and pay the bills.
By voting against this motion Labor has abandoned 21,000 Victorian jobs.
The city-centric Labor Government has shown again they have no intention of fighting for the best interests of the people who live and work in regional Victoria.