Media releases Environment Agriculture

Funding missing from Labor’s Riparian Action Plan

The Andrews Government has again failed to properly fund the protection of Victorian riverbanks.

Before the last election, the Coalition committed to a $45 million program for fencing Crown Land river frontages.

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Today Lisa Neville has re-announced $10 million already listed in the 2015/16 Budget (BP3, p56). There is no funding for riparian land care in the forward estimates.

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The Budget also confirms (p5) there is still $105 million unspent in the government’s Environmental Contribution Levy (ECL) Fund. 

Comments from Shadow Minister for Water Peter Walsh:

“The launch of this Action Plan was the ideal time for Daniel Andrews to make a serious funding commitment from the ECL Fund to help protect our riparian reserves.”

“Farmers will also want Daniel Andrews to guarantee that the Crown Land fencing program will remain voluntary.”

 

Media releases Regional Development Agriculture Environment

Labor plans to use desal plant and north-south pipeline

The Andrews Labor Government’s plan to reverse the north-south pipeline and turn on the desal plant is more than a thought bubble, with a business case underway.

Premier Daniel Andrews and Water Minister Lisa Neville have both recently talked-up the potential of reversing of the north-south pipeline to send water from Melbourne to the north of the state.

Under Labor’s plan, water taken from the Melbourne system would be replaced with desalinated water, which costs around $5000 per megalitre to produce.

When questioned in Parliament this week, Lisa Neville refused to say how much reversing the pipeline would cost or who would pay for the water if it did go ahead, but said a business case was being undertaken.

Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Water Minister Peter Walsh said the plan was nothing more than a cruel hoax on northern Victorian irrigators who were already struggling to afford up to $300 per megalitre on the temporary water market.

“It would be ridiculous to ask irrigators to pay $5000 per megalitre for water when they are already struggling with the current price,” Mr Walsh said.

“The average dairy farm would be paying around $4.5 million a year for water at that pricetag.

“Labor’s plan is nothing more than a cruel hoax and a desperate attempt to justify turning on the desal plant.”

The cost of desal water:

· The standby cost of the desal plant in 2015/16 is $620 million, with no water produced.

· To produce 150GL of water, the capacity of the plant, would cost an additional $117 million.

· The total cost of $737 million divided by 150GL (150,000ML) is $4913 per ML.

Media releases Agriculture Sport and Recreation Environment

Coalition support for Bay licence buy-back unchanged

The Liberal-Nationals Coalition continues to support a buy-back of commercial netting licences for Port Phillip Bay, including Corio Bay.

The Coalition committed to the policy during the lead up to the November 2014 election.   

The Coalition’s initiative was then adopted by the Victorian Labor Party.

Today the Andrews Labor Government introduced the Fisheries Amendment Bill 2015 which will legislate the buy-back of commercial licences and phase out netting in Port Phillip Bay by 2022.

Comments from Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh:

“Both myself and Matthew Guy have met with recreational fishing and commercial fishing representatives and stakeholders in recent weeks and we’ve made it clear that we remain committed to the policy we took to the last election.

“In the coming weeks we will examine the legislation presented by the Government to ensure that it provides fair compensation to the licences holders and that the phase-out mechanisms are appropriate.

“Our pre-election policy aspired to make Port Phillip Bay and Corio Bay recreational fishing meccas for locals and visitors alike, and ending commercial netting was a key part of the plan.”

Media releases Regional Development Agriculture Environment

O’BRIEN CALLS FOR FARMERS DEFENDERS OFFICE

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."

Media releases Environment Infrastructure Regional Development

Neoh calls for new age energy centre of excellence

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.”

Media releases Agriculture Community Services Environment

Calls for concessional loans and rates relief for farmers

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.”

Media releases Agriculture Regional Development Infrastructure Environment

Food and Fibre Export Performance Report

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.”


Media contact: Sarah O’Connor 0432 074 888 sarah.oconnor@opposition.vic.gov.au

Agriculture Infrastructure Environment Media releases

ChAFTA is good news for Polwarth jobs: O’Brien

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.”

LOCAL ISSUES Environment Media releases

Labor should make its gas position clear: Neoh

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.”

Sport and Recreation Environment Community Services Media releases

Statement from Senator Bridget McKenzie

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.”