Monday 25 September 2017
Country Victoria is at the heart of the Liberal Nationals plan to better manage our population and grow our whole state – not just Melbourne.
The Liberal Nationals strongly believe a whole-of-government approach is integral to delivering the best outcome for rural and regional Victoria and our new Shadow Minister for Decentralisation portfolio is key to delivering for those communities
As Shadow Minister for Decentralisation, I will work closely with Liberal Party Leader Matthew Guy, in his role of Shadow Minister for Population, to develop a population policy for Victoria which includes maximum benefit and opportunity for regional communities.
More than 90 per cent of the people who move to our state each year move to Melbourne, but the Andrews Labor Government has no plan to manage this growth and regional Victoria is missing out as a direct result of Labor’s incompetence.
Under Labor, country roads have been left to crumble, and skyrocketing energy costs and other cost of living pressures are making it harder to do business and causing job losses across regional Victoria.
Victorians will have a clear choice at the next election. A choice between the Liberal Nationals team that is focused and united on the issues that matter like jobs, cost of living and regional connectivity, or a Labor administration preoccupied with factional fights and rorting the taxpayer.
Thursday 21 September 2017
Victorian producers still don’t know if the Andrews Labor Government will subsidise electronic identification tags for sheep and goats in 2018.
In Parliament today, Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford refused to confirm if the Andrews Government would subsidise tags in 2018.
Ms Pulford’s admission confirms the process is severely delayed, months behind the Minister’s initial promise to announce a tag price “in the first half” of 2017.
Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh urged Victorian sheep and goat producers to hold off buying tags for next year until the Andrews Government was able to confirm a price.
“Farmers have completed their budgets for next year but they’ve got no idea how much the Andrews Labor Government will charge them to comply with its eID scheme in 2018,” Mr Walsh said.
“There’s a huge discrepancy in cost – a subsidised rate of 37 cents or the full rate of 74 cents.
“Producers should hold off buying tags until the Andrews Government provides them with certainty.”
Under Labor’s plan, information should have started being uploaded to the National Livestock Identification Scheme (NLIS) from 1 July 2017.
But in practice, none of the information is being uploaded to the NLIS because the software doesn’t exist to do it.
“Industry is on board with the implementation of EID but saleyard operators and agents are concerned that things are moving too slowly, the money is drying up too quickly and deadlines to begin scanning are approaching too quickly,” Mr Walsh said.
“It’s time the Minister seriously considered the appropriateness of some of her deadlines.
“We know there are issues with software compatibility, scanning at saleyards and possible cost blowouts when Labor’s meek $2.8 million fund for saleyards dries up.
“The Andrews Government thought industry could just apply the systems used for cattle to sheep and goats. It’s now apparent that just won’t work.”
Wednesday 20 September 2017
The Heyfield mill might be open, but the Andrews Labor Government continues to refuse to guarantee 250 jobs will remain at the mill.
Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh and The Nationals Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull have called on Daniel Andrews to urgently reassure mill workers and the Heyfield community that all remaining jobs are safe.
Mr Walsh said the mill also needed certainty past the current three-year contract offer.
“While it is a relief for the Heyfield community that the mill won’t close, it is cold comfort when Daniel Andrews’ decisions brought the mill to its knees in the first place,” Mr Walsh said.
“Labor must guarantee mill workers and the community there will be no job losses and that the mill has a future beyond the current three-year contract.
“The Premier for Melbourne still hasn’t set foot in Heyfield, most likely too ashamed because locals know he’s put Greens preferences and his own job ahead of mill workers’ jobs and this community.”
Asked in Parliament about the cost to taxpayers, Special Minister for State Gavin Jennings, who led the transition process, refused to admit the price of the deal.
He would only say the Government had a “controlling share” of the mill.
Mr Bull said the community wanted to know what stake the Government had in the mill and if all remaining jobs would still be retained after one shift of more than 20 had already been lost.
“Rather than do more press conferences from the steps of Spring Street, the Government should travel down to Heyfield and address our concerns,” Mr Bull said.
“It was absolutely galling to hear a senior Labor Minister claim today it was a ‘unilateral decision of the owners to walk away from the mill’.
“The Heyfield mill was forced towards closure by the Andrews Labor Government’s refusal to guarantee timber supply because they are scared of losing inner-city seats to the Greens at next year’s election.
“The mill didn’t need new owners, it needed a government prepared to put East Gippsland jobs first.”
Thursday 14 September 2017
Statement from Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh
The closure of Hazelwood Power Station this year saw the loss of 750 jobs and Victoria’s baseload energy capacity drop by 22 per cent.
Increases to average annual power bills for homes and businesses have been far worse than the Andrews Labor Government predicted.
There are new warnings every week of further power bill pain and blackouts in the summer ahead.
Victoria is a state rich in brown coal and with an envied track record in energy production and innovation, so it is staggering we find ourselves in this position in 2017.
Victorian jobs will continue to be at risk if we do not have a reliable, affordable and sustainable supply of baseload power for our state. Renewable energy plays a role in that future, but the move must be strategically managed to protect Victorian jobs.
The Latrobe Valley’s existing power stations are ageing assets and unless action is taken to replace generation capacity the current energy crisis will only get worse.
In order to secure Victoria’s energy future and drive down household and business energy bills, immediate action is needed.
The Victorian Nationals believe the development of a new generation High Efficiency Low Emissions (HELE) power station is essential for Victoria, before another of the current Latrobe Valley generators close.
The Victorian Nationals are committed to working with the Federal Government, industry and the Latrobe Valley to ensure the right policy settings and investment certainty are put in place to investigate such a plant.
The Latrobe Valley has powered Victoria for generations and will for generations to come if the right policy settings are put in place to build such a plant. With the development of new generation HELE technology, this can be achieved, while also meeting realistic carbon reduction targets.
Daniel Andrews may not believe Victorian jobs are worth fighting for, but the Victorian Nationals do.
Motion No. 20, proposed by the Federal Young Nationals, carried at the Federal Nationals Conference:
That this Federal Conference call for the Federal Government to look into the possibilities of reutilising the Hazelwood site as a new, efficient coal power station to stabilise and secure Victoria and Australia’s energy future.
Tuesday 22 August 2017
The greatest threat to Victorian families keeping a roof over their head is Daniel Andrews’ eleven new taxes and reckless policies that are pushing up the cost of living.
Daniel Andrews has introduced eleven new taxes, increasing overall tax revenue by more than 20 per cent on Victorians. One of those new taxes forced the closure of Hazelwood Power Station, which has forced up electricity costs that are hurting families and small businesses.
A tenancy agreement that goes beyond five years will not matter if people can't afford to put their children through school, put food on the table, switch on the lights or keep heaters on in winter.
Rather than wasting money on a taxpayer funded website which is effectively mirroring the service provided by realestate.com.au or domain.com.au, Labor should be investing in our deteriorating country roads or better public transport to our regional communities.
If Daniel Andrews was serious about housing issues, he wouldn’t have introduced eleven new taxes or effectively closed Hazelwood.
Wednesday 12 July 2017
Victoria’s timber industry has been given a glimmer of hope in the latest report into the Leadbeater’s Possum protection measures but the Andrews Labor Government now needs to step up.
The review of the effectiveness and impact of timber harvesting exclusion zones around Leadbeater's Possum colonies has finally been released after months of delay.
The review confirmed:
- More possums have been detected than expected.
- More than 90 per cent of the possum’s potential, or most likely occupied, habitat in the Central Highlands has never been surveyed.
- There is only limited data on the number of Leadbeater’s Possum colonies and habitat in Victoria’s National Parks and reserves.
- Further field studies across all land tenures are urgently required.
- VicForests has suffered $14 million in lost revenue as a result of the zones, and timber availability has been forecast to reduce by 65,000 cubic metres.
Comments attributable to Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh
“If the timber industry is going to survive, the Andrews Government must rapidly change its policy direction and accept that the Leadbeater’s Possum and a viable forestry sector can co-exist.
“Daniel Andrews must decide if he’s backing a $7 billion industry that support up to 50,000 jobs across Victoria, or if he’s going to sacrifice all of that in order to save a couple of inner city Labor seats with Greens preferences next election.”
Comments attributable to Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull
“There are now 618 confirmed Leadbeater’s Possum colonies, a huge increase on numbers two years ago, and that’s just from looking in a relatively small area of general public forest.
“The Andrews Government must urgently get on with recommended comprehensive survey work across all landscapes because this review makes it crystal clear past population estimates were grossly inadequate and have distorted public debate.
“The future of thousands of jobs in Victoria’s forest industry are in the hands of Daniel Andrews. Will he action the recommendations of this review, or will he continue his stealth campaign to create the Great Forest National Park in the hope of saving his own skin?”
Wednesday 21 June 2017
The Andrews Labor Government is on notice that it must get on with native vegetation law reforms.
The Victorian Farmers Federation has warned the number of trees on Victorian farmland will continue to decline unless the system is made more workable for farmers.
A review of Victoria’s native vegetation laws was released for public comment in December last year, but this was at the same time as many farmers were busy harvesting record grain crops.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh
Farmers are sending a clear and sensible message, but the Andrews Government is preparing to put even more hurdles in their way.
Hardworking farmers are being bogged down in red tape and bureaucracy while the Premier for Melbourne panders to inner-city Greens voters.
The Liberal Nationals are very happy to work with the VFF and landholders in order to get the best outcome for our farmers and our productive rural environments.
Tuesday 20 June 2017
Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford still refuses to admit the Labor Government’s offer to buy the Heyfield mill is just smoke and mirrors.
In Parliament today, Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath asked the Minister why the Andrews Labor Government failed to make a commercially realistic offer to the mill that would secure the 260 local jobs.
But Ms Pulford failed to provide an answer, even refusing to answer simple questions about why she has been removed from the negotiations.
Australian Sustainable Hardwoods has confirmed the mill would wind down its operations from August due to “expected short supply of logs to the mill again this year” meaning 50 jobs would be lost a month earlier than initially thought.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh
Daniel Andrews and Jaala Pulford continually fail to provide Heyfield mill workers with any confidence Labor will fight for their jobs.
The Premier seems to be forcing a fire sale of the Heyfield mill after Labor’s changed timber policy undermined the business’ viability.
The Premier is putting possums before the jobs of 260 people and the wider Heyfield community.
Labor’s desperate attempt to secure greens preferences and create the Great Forest National Park by stealth has left the future of the Heyfield mill and Victoria’s forestry industry in jeopardy.
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.