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Neville must demand Labor senators stand up for Victoria

Thursday 2 November 2017

Water Minister Lisa Neville must insist Labor’s senators stand up for the interests of Victoria’s Basin communities.

Labor’s Victorian senators Kim Carr, Jacinta Collins, Gavin Marshall and Kimberley Kitching have been completely silent about where they stand on the recovery of the 450GL of up water from the Southern Basin.

In 2013 The Nationals moved amendments in the Senate which would have prevented the 450 GL of up water from being recovered through water buybacks and to amend the target from a concrete 450 GL of water to ‘up to’ 450 GL.

Victoria’s Labor senators voted against the interests of Victoria’s Basin communities by voting the amendments down.

Minister Neville seems unable or unwilling to garner even an ounce of support from her federal colleagues when it comes to defending Victoria’s interests.

These Victorian Senators will have a chance to redeem themselves as Victoria looks for support to prevent more water leaving our irrigation districts towards the 450 GL.

Comments attributable to Shadow Water Minister Steph Ryan

“Labor’s Victorian senators have a history of putting party politics ahead of the interests of Victoria’s Basin communities when it comes to the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

“If Labor had supported The Nationals’ amendments in 2013, Victorian irrigators would have the certainty of knowing the 450 gigalitres of up water could not be recovered through buybacks.

“Lisa Neville needs to reassure northern Victorian irrigators that her Federal colleagues will not sell them down the river yet again.”

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Statement on GMW advisory panel

Friday 27 October 2017

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Water Steph Ryan

The Minister for Water must come clean on what has prompted another review into Goulburn Murray Water.

The advisory panel announced today is the third body created in two years to advise on GMW projects and strategic direction, and suggests the Government lacks confidence in the organisation.

The Minister must explain to customers and key stakeholders exactly what the issues are, and provide an opportunity for the community to contribute to the review process.

She must also explain why her dime-a-dozen reviews have so far failed to achieve any results.

The Minister has had three years to address the concerns of GMW and northern Victoria and it’s time we start seeing action and results, not just more reviews.

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Dog breeders slam Labor’s secrecy on change

Thursday 26 October 2017

Background

Alarm bells are ringing for Victorian dog breeders as the Andrews Labor Government dithers on its proposed Domestic Animals Amendment (Puppy Farms And Pet Shops) Bill 2016.

Breeders and stakeholder groups continue to highlight an ongoing lack of consultation and secrecy on changes to the original Bill.

Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford was forced into an embarrassing backdown in June, after admitting the Bill was “unlikely to pass the Parliament in its current form”.

It followed a highly critical Legislative Council report handed down in December 2016 that found “consultation with relevant stakeholders in regard to this Bill was inadequate” and recommended the Bill be withdrawn.

The Parliamentary Report also recommended the Government “abandon limiting breeders to 10 fertile females” as evidence from multiple witnesses confirmed there was no scientific basis to the number that had been selected by Labor for its election promise of 2014.

The Government indicated it planned to debate the Bill in the Legislative Assembly in September, but that never happened and no explanation was given.

Comments from Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh

Dog breeders and stakeholders are rightly frustrated, suspicious and angry with the ongoing secrecy from the Andrews Labor Government.

If Jaala Pulford has nothing to hide, she should immediately release the house amendments in draft form so that dog breeders and other stakeholders know exactly what is going on.

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Food and Fibre Export Performance Report

Wednesday 25 October 2017

Cuts to Victoria’s agriculture budget and little action to reduce red tape for farmers are taking a toll on Victoria’s booming agriculture sector.

The Victorian Food and Fibre Export Performance Report 2016-17 was released today and showed Victoria’s agriculture sector continues to lead the nation in exports, but that growth in exports has slowed.

Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh said our state’s agricultural export boom had hit the brakes under Daniel Andrews.

“It’s a credit to the hard work and innovation of farmers and industry that our food and fibre exports continue to top the board nationally,” Mr Walsh said.

“It’s disappointing that such an important sector has faced cuts from the Andrews Labor Government, most recently a $32 million cut to agriculture in this year’s State budget.

“Jaala Pulford is good at making promises and conducting reviews that fail to follow up in action to cut red tape or make it easier to do business in Victoria.

“Labor’s city-centric focus is stopping our agriculture industry growing even more.”

Good seasonal conditions that led to a bumper grain harvest for Victorian farmers saw grain exports increase by $839 million in 2016-17, while meat exports dropped $311 million.

“Our farmers and agricultural businesses are the backbone of our state’s economy and support tens of thousands of jobs in our regional communities,” Mr Walsh said.

“Rather than more cuts, the Premier for Melbourne must make a real investment in making sure these industries have a strong future.”

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Labor in denial on botched eID rollout

Wednesday 25 October 2017

Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford has embarrassingly admitted she has no idea of serious concerns with the implementation of electronic identification (eID) of sheep and goats.

Victorian saleyard operators say they won’t be ready to scan eID tags by March 2018 because the software they need to share data with the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) is still being trialled.

Asked about industry concerns, Ms Pulford was in denial, telling State Parliament ‘I’m certainly satisfied with how it is progressing’.

Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh called on the Andrews Government to commit to a 12 month extension on the rollout of eID at Victorian saleyards.

“The Agriculture Minister is burying her head in the sand and hoping eID will implement itself,” Mr Walsh said.

“I recently met with stock agents, vendors and transport operators in Hamilton who echoed serious concerns with the slow progress – a 12 month extension is needed to make sure eID is rolled out properly.

“Saleyard operators have been begging to meet with the Minister and discuss their concerns, but they’ve struggled to get a look in.

“Until the software to scan and upload data to the NLIS has been properly tested in a sale environment, saleyards can’t start to plan for its installation.

“Daniel Andrews must extend the deadline and make sure the rollout is done right the first time, rather than risk it turning into another Labor rush job.”

The Andrews Labor Government has also failed to announce a tag price for 2018, despite promising to announce a price ‘in the first half’ of 2017.

“Industry is committed to the implementation of eID, but Labor is botching the process,” Mr Walsh said.

“The Andrews Government thought industry could just apply the systems used for cattle to sheep and goats but, as usual, Labor got it wrong.”

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Liberal Nationals Onshore Gas Policy

Monday 9 October 2017

Today, Matthew Guy and Peter Walsh announced the Liberal Nationals policy on onshore gas. Matthew Guy's statement is below.

Statement from Opposition Leader Matthew Guy

Today, Peter Walsh and I announce an onshore gas policy that will give Victorians a clear choice at the next election. This policy will help put the brakes on soaring gas prices that are currently hurting Victorian households and businesses. Our policy will provide cheaper gas and create more jobs while protecting our environment and farmland. Our policy keeps Victoria’s fracking ban while securing the gas resources we need. A

This policy will help put the brakes on soaring gas prices that are currently hurting Victorian households and businesses. Our policy will provide cheaper gas and create more jobs while protecting our environment and farmland. Our policy keeps Victoria’s fracking ban while securing the gas resources we need. A

Our policy keeps Victoria’s fracking ban while securing the gas resources we need. A

A Liberal Nationals Government will legislate to allow onshore conventional gas exploration and production in Victoria on a case-by-case basis. Our policy will create a new royalty sharing scheme that will allow local landowners to benefit from gas produced from beneath their land. Landowners will receive a 10% share of the royalty paid to

Our policy will create a new royalty sharing scheme that will allow local landowners to benefit from gas produced from beneath their land. Landowners will receive a 10% share of the royalty paid to government of the net post-wellhead sales value of recovered gas.

The rights of landowners will be protected with a right of veto over conventional gas exploration and production on their land.

The Liberal Nationals continue to support the ban on fracking and coal seam gas exploration and production in Victoria to protect our farmland and our water supplies.

The Liberal Nationals will also introduce a domestic gas policy that ensures new gas discoveries are for the benefit of Victorians. Our onshore gas policy complements our position on renewable energy and provides a clear alternative to Daniel Andrews’ reckless, go-it-alone VRET of 40% by 2025.

A combination of decisions by Daniel Andrews has contributed to the sky-rocketing costs of electricity and gas.

The Andrews Labor Government’s ideological decision to triple the taxes on Victorian brown coal and pursue a go-it-alone 40% Victorian Renewable Energy Target, as well as banning all new sources of conventional onshore gas, has set off a chain reaction that led to the sudden closure of the Hazelwood power station, massive increases in energy prices and a dependence on Tasmania and New South Wales for reliable electricity. 

The conventional gas industry has successfully existed in Victoria for decades and together with Victoria’s world-class brown coal reserves, has previously been responsible for our state’s position as Australia’s lowcost energy power house. Allowing the private sector to locate new sources of gas will help to bring more supply into the Victorian energy market and reduce cost pressures. Victorians will have a clear choice on energy policy at the next election. It will be a choice between Daniel Andrews’ energy policies that

Allowing the private sector to locate new sources of gas will help to bring more supply into the Victorian energy market and reduce cost pressures. Victorians will have a clear choice on energy policy at the next election. It will be a choice between Daniel Andrews’ energy policies that

Victorians will have a clear choice on energy policy at the next election. It will be a choice between Daniel Andrews’ energy policies that

It will be a choice between Daniel Andrews’ energy policies that puts Greens voters first or the Liberal Nationals’ policies that will put Victorians first. 

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New portfolio elevates country Victoria

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. 

Media releases Agriculture Environment

Labor’s goat nothing to say on eID

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.”

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Labor still not prepared to put East Gippsland jobs first

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.”

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Keeping the lights on in Victoria

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.

 

BACKGROUND

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.