Nationals Candidate for Polwarth David O’Brien will fight for a $4 million Farmer’s Defender’s Office to defend the right to farm.
When in government, Mr O’Brien was instrumental in pushing for a Farmer’s Defenders Office, which became Coalition policy.
“My Farmers Defenders Office would give farmers free legal assistance when dealing with issues around the right to farm,” Mr O’Brien said.
"It is intended to assist farmers in Polwarth in fights against non farming uses such as CSG.
“The FDO would also set up partnerships with rural and regional law firms, and will be a first point-of-contact for farmers.
“Farmers don’t always have the money or the legal know how to defend their interests. Further, farmers are often involved in cases which have widespread implications across the nation - cases against competing uses including CSG; or against activists or property developers who move into farming land.
“Farming is the backbone of our rural economies and we need to protect it to protect the jobs of the future.
“To ensure viable farms and food security, we must stop farms being threatened by urban encroachment, unlawful conduct by activists and competing commercial interests including CSG,” Mr O’Brien said.
Rokewood farmer Kylie Walton said farmers had been crying out for a service like this for years.
"Farmers don't have the money and resources that big mining companies and big property developers do to fight legal battles – we don't have in-house lawyers," Ms Walton said.
"Finally, this is an idea which may even the playing field a little."
"We need to protect our right to farm, our land and our water for our children."
The Nationals candidate for South West Coast Michael Neoh has today called for a new age energy centre of excellence to be established at Portland.
Speaking ahead of the candidates' forum at Portland on Wednesday, Mr Neoh said that new age, or renewable, energy industry was a perfect fit for Portland.
“Victoria’s south west coast has many natural advantages for renewable energy such as an abundance of wind, the ocean coastline and sunlight.
“There are a number of wind turbines installed around the district, and components for wind turbine towers are already manufactured at Portland by Keppel Prince so it makes sense to continue to build on this natural advantage.
“In addition, the relevant renewable energy department and staff should be located in Portland to ensure critical work at the centre of excellence is done locally.
“The locating of the department in Portland would create a welcomes boost to the local economy as well as bring new jobs and families to the area.
“The locating of the centre of excellence in Portland would no doubt see hundreds of new jobs created for our whole region in the future.”
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.”
The 2014/15 Food and Fibre Export Performance Report shows Victorian food and fibre exports increased by $282 million.
That is compared to a $1.2 billion increase last year under the Liberal-Nationals Coalition.
Over the past four years under the Coalition, food and fibre exports grew from $8.8 billion to $11.4 billion.
Comments from Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh:
“These figures reinforce the importance of the food and fibre sector to Victoria’s economy and the jobs it creates in our regional communities.
“It is concerning Labor has cut the agriculture output budget by 12 per cent, the trade output budget by 61.5 per cent and refuses to fully support the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement.
“If our food and fibre sector is to continue to prosper, it needs a real budget commitment from the Labor Government – not just words.”
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The Nationals candidate for Polwarth David O’Brien attended last night’s China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) forum in Colac.
The forum was hosted by the Victorian Farmers Federation and was part of a regional roadshow highlighting the importance of the ChAFTA, which is yet to be ratified.
Mr O’Brien said it was a valuable opportunity to learn more about the ChAFTA and how it will benefit farmers and local jobs, particularly in the dairy industry.
“The Victorian Nationals fully support the ChAFTA and the jobs, opportunity and investment that it will bring,” Mr O’Brien said.
“Polwarth is renowned for its quality dairy industry and we are home to some major dairy businesses including Camperdown Dairy International, which has recently signed a 15-year deal to export baby formula to China.
“The dairy industry, and the jobs it creates, will benefit from the elimination of tariffs across a range of dairy export products through the ChAFTA.”
Mr O’Brien said Western Victoria produced about 2.1 billion litres of milk a year,accounting for approximately 23% of national milk output.
China is Victoria’s largest export destination and in 2013/14 Victoria exported $369 million worth of dairy products to the country.
“I just hope the Andrews Labor Government and its union friends get on board and start supporting this historic agreement,” Mr O’Brien said.
“Failing to ratify the ChAFTA would cost rural Australia $300 million in lost opportunity next year alone.”
The Nationals candidate for South-West Coast, Michael Neoh, has called on the Andrews Labor Government to make its position clear on unconventional onshore gas ahead of the by-election.
Labor have a terrible track record on onshore gas exploration. When last in government they issued 73 exploration licences and 23 fracking permits without undertaking any scientific or hydrological studies.
Mr Neoh said he had discussed unconventional onshore gas with the The Nationals MP Emma Kealy, whose neighbouring electorate Lowan faces the same issues.
“Today in Parliament, Emma Kealy asked Labor’s Minister for Energy and Resources to disclose her intentions regarding the future of onshore gas mining activities in Western Victoria,” Mr Neoh said.
“I am sure the local communities in South-West Coast will be keen to hear how the Minister responds.
“As I travel around the electorate – including Portland and the rural areas of Heywood, Condah, Macarthur, Woolsthorpe and Port Fairy – I will be speaking to local residents about their views on onshore unconventional gas mining.
“The Nationals will never support any mining activity that risks harm to our prime agricultural land, water resources or the environment.
“The South-West Coast has some of the best dairy farmland in the world and we need to make sure it is not negatively impacted by gas mining activity.
“The people of South-West Coast deserve to know what the Government is intending for our region prior to the by-election.”
The Nationals Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie welcomed today’s decision to ensure licensed firearms users and industry representatives have meaningful input into the review of the technical aspects of the National Firearms Agreement (NFA).
“This is a common sense decision which is long overdue,” Senator McKenzie said.
“Establishing the Industry Reference Group and providing further stakeholder consultation is critical to ensuring we get the NFA review right.
“Our licenced and law-abiding shooters are the people who are most affected by the NFA review yet they have not had the opportunity to formally engage with the overly bureaucratic Firearms and Weapons Policy Working Group.
“Shooters and industry representatives right across the country have been telling me they are angry at being locked out of the decision making process, a process which directly impacts on their ability to earn a living or participate in lawful recreational pursuits.
“The decision to suspend the importation of the Adler A110 was made without consulting firearms owners or industry representatives and was further proof that the system is broken.
“The Nationals have fought hard to ensure there is genuine and meaningful consultation with shooters and industry and we are grateful that the Minister for Justice, Michael Keenan, has listened and acted.
“Australia’s more than 800,000 licenced firearms users are not terrorists or criminals, they are responsible law-abiding members of our community and part of a broader industry that contributes in excess of $1 billion a year to Australia’s economy.
“The Nationals accept that the use of firearms must be regulated and that owners need to be responsible citizens, but licenced shooters do not need more red tape, they must be treated with respect and their very real concerns must be heard – the Minister’s decision ensures this will now happen.
“This newly established Industry Reference Group will be made up of highly experienced individuals and organisations who will add a great deal of knowledge and expertise to the review of the NFA, including issues of the lack of harmonisation between states and gaps in data collection.”
The Nationals have heard the concerns of our communities and will demand stronger safeguards for landholders regarding onshore coal seam gas operations should the industry ever develop in Victoria.
The Nationals support landowners having the right to say no to coal seam gas extraction activity on their property.
We also believe the regions where mining takes place should share the benefits from the activity. The Nationals support the introduction of a landowner and community benefit structure, so that when mining activity takes place the local community and landowner get a share of the wealth to invest in local priorities.
The Victorian Nationals will never support any activity that risks harm to our state’s water or land assets. Victoria’s agricultural industries are the lifeblood of our regional communities and are too valuable to jeopardise.
The previous Victorian Coalition Government, of which we were part, introduced a sensible moratorium to stop any hydraulic fracking activity and stop any new coal seam gas exploration or extraction licences until more is known about this activity and how it might affect our water and land assets.
The previous Victorian Coalition Government also brought in legislation so that BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene) chemicals can never be used in any future fracking practice.
In January this year Premier Daniel Andrews indicated the current moratorium would be extended until a public Parliamentary Inquiry is conducted.
The Nationals support maintaining the moratorium, and believe there should be no coal seam gas mining or extraction in Victoria until thorough scientific assessment and community consultation has been completed.
The Nationals also believe we need to better protect landowners. The concerns of our community are important to us, and Victoria’s farming resources are too valuable to lose.
The Nationals position on onshore unconventional gas:
· Maintain Victoria’s moratorium on coal seam gas
· Only if science proves CSG is safe should industry proceed
· Ensure water resources and the environment are protected
· Farmers should have the right to say no to CSG extraction on their land
· Farmers should get fair compensation for and complete rehabilitation of any CSG activities
· Any CSG activity must deliver a benefit to the land owner
· Any CSG activity must deliver a benefit to the local community
- $12.5 million to upgrade and expand Grains Centre of Excellence at Horsham
- Research capacity boosted with new laboratories, greenhouses & infrastructure
- Napthine Coalition is building a better agriculture industry for Victoria
A re-elected Coalition Government will invest $12.5 million to upgrade Victoria’s Grains Centre of Excellence, Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh announced today.
Mr Walsh, joined by The Nationals candidate for Lowan Emma Kealy, said the $12.5 million investment would enhance research capabilities at the Horsham centre.
“The Liberal-Nationals Coalition recognises that modern facilities are crucial to equipping our research centres to undertake important, cutting-edge work that supports our agricultural industries,” Mr Walsh said.
“Under a re-elected Liberal-Nationals Coalition Government, $12.5 million will be invested into a modernisation project at the Horsham centre that will improve and expand existing laboratories and greenhouses, and upgrade critical infrastructure including power, water, IT capacity and road access.”
Ms Kealy welcomed the announcement and said it would be another enhancement to Horsham’s growing research hub.
“The creation of the Australian Grains Genebank and the new Bayer CropScience wheat and oilseed breeding centre at Longerenong College alongside an upgraded Grains Centre of Excellence at Horsham will help establish Horsham as the leading place for grains research in Australia,” Ms Kealy said.
“The Grains Centre of Excellence modernisation project will help us to attract and retain world-leading scientists here at Horsham.
“The Nationals in government set a goal to double food and fibre production in Victoria by 2030, and we are committed to making the research, development and extension investments that are critical to helping our farmers meet that target.”
Mr Walsh said the Liberal-Nationals Coalition’s commitment to farmers was in stark contrast to Labor, which failed to commit any additional funding for critical research, development and extension work.
“This $12.5 million commitment comes on top of the additional $60 million a re-elected Coalition Government has already committed for a further four years of the successful Growing Food and Fibre initiative, which partners with industry to co-invest in strategic research, development and extension projects,” Mr Walsh said.
“Only the Liberal-Nationals Coalition has committed the funding necessary to deliver the research, development and extension programs needed that will help Victoria’s food and fibre producers increase productivity and profitability.”
In 2013-14 Victorian cereal, oilseed, pulse and processed grain exports totalled $1.955 billion.
· $10.4 million war on weeds, rabbits under a re-elected Liberal Nationals Coalition
· Supporting councils to control pest weeds and rabbits on rural and regional roads
· Liberal Nationals Coalition delivering for Victoria’s farmers
A re-elected Victorian Coalition Government will commit a further $10.4 million over the next four years to assist rural and regional councils to fight the war on pest weeds and rabbits on municipal roadsides.
Minister for Local Government Tim Bull and Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh today announced the Victorian Coalition would be extending the Government’s successful Roadside Weeds and Pests Management Program if re-elected on 29 November to help build a sustainable Victoria.
Mr Bull said rural roadsides can be a major corridor for the spread of weeds and rabbits, which in turn can threaten the state’s agricultural productivity, biosecurity and environmental assets.
“The Coalition recognises the challenges facing small rural and regional councils in managing assets and controlling pests which is why we are committed to providing local government with this funding assistance,” Mr Bull said.
“This renewed commitment provides for a more than doubling of the level of assistance provided to councils under the previous Labor Government.
“By committing a further $10.4 million to roadside weed and rabbit control if re-elected, the Coalition will be helping put more downward pressure on council rates.”
Mr Walsh said 56 rural and regional councils will benefit from the extended roadside weeds and rabbit control program.
“The Coalition has worked constructively to build a partnership between the Department of Environment and Primary industries and the local government sector to clarify responsibilities for the control of pest weeds and rabbits on roadsides,” Mr Walsh said.
“Councils have reported treating more than 14,000 kilometres of roadsides for rabbits and weeds over the past two years under this program.
“Funding will be strictly targeted to deliver on-ground works controlling pest weeds and rabbits.”
Mr Walsh said the Coalition has given councils the ability to set roadside pest management plans in
consultation with their communities to target weed and rabbit control activities where they would have the greatest positive impact.
The Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) has strongly supported this Coalition election commitment with VFF president Peter Tuohey welcoming the extra investment in roadside pests and weeds.
“It’s vital that councils get the funding they need to manage pest and weeds along these road corridors, given their resources,” Mr Tuohey said.
“If councils don’t do this work these roadsides end up acting as a breeding ground for weeds and vermin to invade our farms.”
Mr Bull said Labor had failed to commit to the roadside weeds and rabbits control program meaning rural rates would rise and farm biosecurity would be threatened under an Andrews Labor government.