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Labor’s legacy on the botched, stalled Murray Basin Rail Project

Tuesday 18 June 2019

Labor’s legacy on the botched, stalled Murray Basin Rail Project

Out-of-money and indefinitely on hold: this is the Andrews Labor Government’s legacy for the stalled Murray Basin Rail Project.

Under questioning in Parliament today, Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan again arrogantly denied responsibility for botching the major upgrade works instead of committing to finish the project in full.

Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Regional Victoria and Decentralisation Peter Walsh said Labor’s repeated refusals will leave farmers and transport stakeholders fearing the worst.

“The Minister has completely botched delivery of this Project, creating a wasteful trail of cost blowouts, missed deadlines and appalling contract management,” Mr Walsh said.

“Instead of trying to rewrite history, the Minister should be making full commitments to farmers and freight stakeholders that the remaining stages will be funded and finished as a priority.

“The Basin Rail standardisation is once-in-a-generation opportunity to upgrade north-West Victoria’s rail system, to make it faster for farmers to get produce to the ports and to get more freight off trucks and on to trains.

“The Andrews Labor Government cannot walk away now and leave this project half done.

“It’s an absolute insult that while refusing to fix the mess they’ve made of the Basin Rail project, at the same time Daniel Andrews and his Labor Government are happy to pour billions of extra dollars into Melbourne level crossing removal projects where costs have also over run.

“If they can find the money for Melbourne, then Jacinta Allan and the Andrews Government must cough up the extra funds required to finish the Basin Rail project.”

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Derailed Murray Basin Rail Project still not back on track under Labor

Derailed Murray Basin Rail Project still not back on track under Labor

Labor still hasn’t got the Murray Basin Rail Project back on track.

Transport Minister Jacinta Allan has finally announced the Murrayville to Ouyen freight line is set to reopen – more than six months later than promised.

Work on the Murrayville to Ouyen line was scheduled to begin in August 2017, with the line to shut for five months for standardisation, upgrades and track maintenance.

But the Andrews Labor Government has completely botched delivery of the Murray Basin Rail project, blowing out the budget and the timelines.

Originally scheduled for completion this year, Labor’s poor management has left the project reportedly $100 million over-budget, seen the head contractors sacked, reports that sub-contractors are owed tens of thousands of dollars and pushed the expected completion out to 2020.

This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to upgrade and standardise the rail system of north-west Victoria and make it easier for our producers to get their product to port is at risk under Labor.

Comment attributable to Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh

Jacinta Allan is desperately trying to cover her tracks and convince Regional Victorians Labor hasn’t utterly botched the Murray Basin Rail Project.

Every time the Andrews Labor Government puts out a press release on the Murray Basin Rail Project we find out it’s been delayed even more.

Only the Premier for Melbourne and his Minister for Excuses Jacinta Allan could inherit a fully-funded, once-in-a-generation project and completely botch the delivery.

Comment attributable to Member for Mildura Peter Crisp

Producers and businesses in north-west Victoria have been dealt a dud hand by the Premier for Melbourne.

Freight operators and primary producers in north-west Victoria should be reaping the benefits of standardised track and increased freight volumes this year, but under Daniel Andrews it’s off in the never-never.

The Nationals in government funded the $440 million Basin Rail project and I’ll keep fighting to make sure this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is delivered – in full – so we can get on with the level crossing upgrades that must be done in order to get a passenger service returned for Mildura.

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Liberal Nationals securing water to boost Victoria’s food production

Liberal Nationals securing water to boost Victoria’s food production

A Liberal Nationals Government will investigate ways to better use recycled water to make sure Victoria can feed a growing population.

As Melbourne grows to an expected population of seven to eight million people by 2050, it will need at least 60 per cent more food.

Research shows that if the city’s footprint continues to grow, population growth and urban sprawl will reduce the capacity of Melbourne’s foodbowl to meet the city’s food needs from 41 per cent to around 18 per cent by 2050.

Despite this, Labor still has no plan to better manage or meet the needs of Victoria’s growing population.

If elected in November, the Liberal Nationals will provide $1 million for a business case into establishing a new irrigation district in either Breamlea or Balliang utilising recycled water that would otherwise be sent out to sea.

Working with the communities of Breamlea and Balliang, we’ll investigate opportunities to use recycled water from existing treatment plants at Melbourne or Geelong.

The recycled water plant at Black Rock has the capacity to produce 18GL of recycled water a year, while Western Water’s plant at Melton produces 40GL a year.

The new irrigation district would expand Victoria’s agricultural productivity in the region, complimenting the successful Werribee Irrigation District which also utilises recycled water to grow crops. A lack of available land and rising land prices are holding back growers looking to expand to keep up with population growth and export demand.

Only the Liberal Nationals have a plan to invest in the future of our farmers and food manufacturers, and in turn this is an investment in the people and communities of regional Victoria.

Comment attributable to Shadow Minister for Water Steph Ryan

Under Daniel Andrews, billions of litres of usable recycled water is going to waste.

We want to use more of that water to provide new Victorian jobs, to grow industry and to keep the cost of food affordable.

Developing a new irrigation district will create new jobs and enable local growers to provide more fresh food to Victorians’ tables.

Media releases Regional Development Transport Infrastructure

Massive Boost to Home and Community Care

Massive Boost to Home and Community Care

A Liberal Nationals Government will deliver a massive $175 million expansion of home and community care and support for Victorians with chronic disease and other conditions who can safely be treated outside hospital in the comfort of their own home and in their community.

Many Victorians have to be admitted into a public hospital or have extended stays in hospital due to the limited availability of Hospital in the Home or equivalent care. Hospital in the Home helps patients, who can safely be treated outside hospitals, get back home to their loved ones but with regular visits and support from health care professionals.

Hospital in the Home enjoys bi-partisan support and Victorians are currently receiving a number of treatments in their homes such as dialysis, rehabilitation and palliative care. Our investment will increase the availability of those treatments and expand treatment to other areas for patients who are clinically recommended, such as infection management and complex wound care.

This will require dedicated 24-hour medical and nursing coverage, greater scale, increased priority for patients in home-based care and all reinforced with rigorous quality and outcomes measurement. Treating patients in their homes has been shown to increase patient and carer satisfaction and reduce readmission rates.

Our funding will ramp up Hospital in the Home to support an additional 6,000 patients each year, helping more Victorians to access high quality care in their home for acute and chronic conditions.

Further, there are over a million Victorians living with multiple chronic diseases such as cancer, arthritis, diabetes, heart or lung disease, many of whom are living in pain, are limited in their employment and regularly require medical and hospital care.

A Liberal Nationals Government will provide vastly increased support to help thousands of Victorians with complex health conditions to identify their needs, navigate their care choices and get appropriate treatment. We will help people to manage their pain, their health and their lives – rather than wait until things fall apart and they end up in hospital.

This funding will improve their health with increased access to GPs and community health services and reduced time spent in hospitals and emergency departments.

Successive Governments have trialled a range of chronic disease management initiatives. Labor’s HealthLinks: Chronic Care is a trial at 10 hospitals but with no additional funding.

A Liberal Nationals Government will make a genuine commitment to embed community and home-based chronic disease management as a core element of health and community health services across the State through funding and focus.

In summary, the Liberal Nationals Policy will establish:

[if !supportLists]·         [endif]A ‘Home Hospital’, expanding, by up to the equivalent of 200 acute beds, Hospital in the Home services supporting an additional 6,000 patients each year discharged from emergency departments and wards or referred directly from nursing homes or GPs, who would otherwise be in hospital;

[if !supportLists]·         [endif]Home visiting and community support services for up to 5,000 people per year living with multiple chronic diseases to help manage their diseases and prevent or delay hospital readmission;

[if !supportLists]·         [endif]Enhanced support for young people with chronic disease transitioning from the Royal Children’s Hospital to adult services;

[if !supportLists]·         [endif]New small grants for local chronic disease peer support groups, including online groups; and

[if !supportLists]·         [endif]A state-wide plan for chronic disease management including approaches which prevent people from being admitted to hospital

With increasing demand for hospital services and increasing complexity in patient needs, ensuing high quality, accessible and responsive health services well into the future requires a strong network of acute hospitals as well as community health and home-based services for people who can be appropriately treated locally.

This policy commitment significantly expands the range of treatment options for Victorians with significant health needs and builds on Liberal Nationals commitments to build a new West Gippsland Hospital, new theatres and emergency department at Warrnambool Hospital and to make Australia’s largest investment in community based palliative care.

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Mildura to get a residential rehabilitation centre under Liberal Nationals

Mildura to get a residential rehabilitation centre under Liberal Nationals


The Nationals Member for Mildura Peter Crisp has today announced that an elected Liberal Nationals government will fund

and build a residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre for Mildura.


The 18 to 20-bed centre will address the critical need for residential rehabilitation services in north-west Victoria.


Mr Crisp was joined in Mildura today by Shadow Minister for Mental Health Emma Kealy.


“Mildura has a real need for a residential treatment centre and if a Liberal Nationals government is elected, I will deliver

this vital service for our community,” Mr Crisp said.


“These centres save lives and they change lives, and we need one in Mildura.


“The Nationals believe in backing projects our communities have identified as a priority, and this centre will make a real

difference to the health and wellbeing of Mildura families.


“I’ve worked very closely with community supporters of this project and I am very pleased be here today with Emma Kealy

to tell them a Liberal Nationals government will deliver it.


“We have an excellent non-residential program run by Sunraysia Community Health already, and a residential facility would

complement that and boost our capacity to tackle the scourge of drug and alcohol addiction which sadly affects some

members of our community.


“Only a Liberal Nationals Government will deliver a residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre for Mildura and

north-west Victoria.”


The Liberal Nationals will put $7 million into this commitment for Mildura, as part of a package of new drug and alcohol

rehabilitation services for regional Victoria.


Victoria currently has about the quarter the number of residential rehab beds of New South Wales, which has more than 800.


Ms Kealy said the Andrews Labor Government had failed regional Victorian communities by not keeping up with service

demands for new residential rehabilitation beds.


“Plans to increase the number of residential rehabilitation beds were axed by the Andrews Government when it was

elected in 2014, and that meant communities like Mildura have missed out.


“Waiting lists have blown out and in some places people are being told they have to wait up to a year, and that’s just

not good enough.


“A Liberal Nationals government will make the investments regional communities need so that when people are struggling

and need help for drug and alcohol addition, residential rehabilitation services will be there for them and their families.”

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Daniel Andrews’ secret plan to dismantle V/Line

Thursday 28 June 2018

Daniel Andrews’ secret plan to dismantle V/Line

Daniel Andrews and his failed Public Transport Minister, Jacinta Allan, must come clean on their secret plan to swallow up country rail services into the struggling metropolitan PTV system.

The Andrews Labor Government has appointed Jeroen Weimar, CEO of Public Transport Victoria (PTV) to the role of V/Line Board Chairman from 1 July.

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Regional Victoria and Decentralisation Peter Walsh

Only a Premier for Melbourne would orchestrate the takeover of our country rail services by Melbourne-focused bureaucrats.

Our regional communities want their rail services strengthened, not swallowed up by a city-focused administration that is preoccupied solving Melbourne’s commuter crush.

As Transport Minister, Jacinta Allan recently tried to take over and centralise bus services and only failed because private bus operators fought back against a raw deal that would have disadvantaged country communities.

Now its revealed Daniel Andrews and Jacinta Allan also have a secret plan for centralising our country rail services.

It’s time for Labor to come clean and tell us exactly what they are planning for our rail services because Regional Victoria can’t afford any more dud deals from the Premier for Melbourne.

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Public Transport David Davis

Make no mistake, Daniel Andrews and his Public Transport Minister, Jacinta Allan, are beginning the process of destroying V/Line, Victoria’s country rail operator.

Not content with smashing its performance, they are now putting in an urban Board Chair with clear riding instructions to make V/Line fit the Metro mould.

How will Mr Weimar deal with this clear conflict of interest when the priority of Metro trains conflict with country rail – V/Line – services? Whose side will he take?

The fear is that Metro services will repeatedly override country trains.


Background: Victoria’s Rail Performance

Daniel Andrews’ city-centric government has crushed country rail performance since coming to government on almost every measure. The performance on country rail has collapsed since November 2014.

  • Punctuality has reached the lowest level in over five years and one of the lowest levels on record across the V/Line network.
  • Punctuality is far below that achieved in 2014 (79.3% vs 90.8% Nov 2014).
  • Nearly 10 times as many services were cancelled in May (335) across the V/Line system than in Nov 2014 (36).
  • The 92% target for punctuality has never been achieved over the last 4 years under Labor.

The May performance of V/Line is shocking but the solution is not a take-over of country rail by Daniel Andrews’ city-rail expert. The terrible fact is that city-rail performance has also declined.

Jeroen Weimar’s performance in conjunction with Minister Allan’s has seen:

  • Punctuality well below 2014 – 90% in May 2018 vs 94.3% in November 2014.
  • Punctuality fell to second lowest level in the last four years in May 2018.
  • Punctuality continues to trend down since 2014.
  • Punctuality is below the 92% target on 12 of the 16 metro lines.
  • Labor is running over 3,000 less services on time in May 2018 across the Metro system than the previous Coalition Government did in November 2014.

Media releases Infrastructure Regional Development Community Services

Liberal Nationals will bring back Country Roads and Bridges Program

Wednesday 18 April 2018
Liberal Nationals will bring back Country Roads and Bridges Program
An elected Liberal Nationals government will fix country roads and save country lives.
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy, Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh and Shadow Minister for Roads and Infrastructure David Hodgett announced today if elected, the Liberal Nationals will bring back the $160 million Country Roads and Bridges Program.
By contrast, Daniel Andrews axed the program when he was elected in 2014, leaving councils struggling to meet the cost of maintaining local roads.
Approximately $1 million in grants will be provided to Victoria’s 40 rural shires each year over four years.
The grants will help restore and rehabilitate council-maintained roads and bridges, which have deteriorated under Labor’s neglect.
People in rural Victoria are over-represented in the road toll. In 2017, 156 lives were lost on roads in rural Victoria, compared to 102 on roads in Melbourne.
The Country Roads and Bridges Program will give rural Victorians the safe and reliable infrastructure they deserve.
Comment attributable to Opposition Leader Matthew Guy
The Liberal Nationals will get Victoria moving with the high-quality, safe roads and infrastructure regional and rural Victorians deserve.
Daniel Andrews is the Premier for Melbourne, I’ll be the Premier for all Victorians.
Comment attributable to Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh
While Daniel Andrews is reducing speed limits on country roads, the Liberal Nationals have a plan for the safe, reliable infrastructure rural Victorians deserve.
If you fix country roads, you save country lives – and that’s exactly what this program will do.
Comment attributable to Shadow Minister for Roads and Infrastructure David Hodgett
Daniel Andrews axed the Country Roads and Bridges Program, leaving Victoria’s rural councils struggling to maintain their local roads network.
The Premier for Melbourne prefers to put country infrastructure funding into improvements near his own suburban electorate, only an elected Liberal Nationals government will invest in road safety improvements in rural Victoria.

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Twice as many trains and at faster speeds under the Liberal Nationals

Monday 23 April 2018
Twice as many trains and at faster speeds under the Liberal Nationals
Shepparton will finally get the rail service it has long wanted under a Liberal National plan to revitalise the city’s rail services and help decentralise Victoria’s economic and population growth.
The Liberal Nationals will double the current number of return rail services from Shepparton to Melbourne.
Through a $77 million investment the Liberal Nationals will increase the number of daily services from four to eight and track conditions will be vastly improved to allow maximum train speeds of up to 130 km/h, significantly higher than the current limit of around 95 km/h.
The Liberal Nationals’ plan will also see up to 32 road level crossings fully protected on the Shepparton line, eliminating the need to slow down and enabling maximum speeds to be maintained for as long as possible.
New remotely controlled automatic signalling will be installed on the line along with new sleepers, ballast and drainage.
The announcement is part of the Liberal Nationals’ plan to invest in heavy rail upgrades and to decentralise Victoria’s growth, creating a state of cities, not a city state.
It also follows the Liberal Nationals’ $633 million announcement to replace all diesel hauled country rail services with six carriage long haul VLocity railcars, which would operate all Shepparton services.
Gone will be the days of waiting for emergency repairs on ageing 1980s rolling stock and consistent broken air-conditioners on hot days, Shepparton will finally get a first class rail service.
Comments attributable to Leader of the Opposition, Matthew Guy:
“A government I lead will deliver faster, comfortable and more reliable rail services for Shepparton. As one of the largest cities in Victoria, Shepparton deserves no less.
“One of the most effective ways to decentralise Victoria’s population and economic growth is to upgrade our rail network and this is exactly what a Liberal National government will do.
“While Daniel Andrews is only interested in being the Premier for Melbourne, I will be the Premier for all of Victoria.”
Comments attributable to Leader of The Nationals, Peter Walsh:
“The Labor Premier for Melbourne is putting billions into the Melbourne metro and leaving Shepparton on the slow train.
“This commitment, in addition to the purchase of new long-haul trains, reflects the Liberal Nationals’ vision for Shepparton becoming a major regional centre as part of our plan to grow the whole state, not just Melbourne.”
Comments attributable to Liberal Candidate for Shepparton, Cheryl Hammer:
“The Shepparton community has told us loud and clear that improved connectivity to and from Melbourne is essential for building our future. 
“I am proud to be part of the Liberal Nationals team that will deliver a faster, more reliable train service giving us the opportunity to better showcase our region, and move our travelling public in the manner they deserve."
Comments attributable to The Nationals Candidate for Shepparton, Peter Schwarz:
“Modern, fast, reliable trains and more services on the Shepparton line will be a terrific asset to attract people and new businesses to our community.
“The Shepparton region has a lot to be proud of and the better public transport links that will be delivered by an elected Liberal Nationals government will help our community grow.”

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More Labor lies on wire rope barriers

Thursday 22 February 2018

First, Luke Donnellan denigrated and disrespected country Victorians. Now he is straight out lying to us.

Asked today in Parliament if Labor’s botched placement of wire rope barriers would result in workers mowing kilometres of the Hume Fwy grass verge with push mowers, the Roads Minister responded ‘no’.

But photographs of workers mowing the edges of the Hume Fwy with push mowers suggest otherwise.

Luke Donnellan’s own guidelines on wire rope barriers state that the ongoing maintenance of areas on both sides of the barrier should be taken into account when installing them.

Further they state “the cost, practicality and Occupational Health & Safety implications of the maintenance of these areas need to be considered in accordance with Section 28 of the OH&S Act 2004.”

The use of push mowers on the Hume Fwy clearly does not comply with the Minister’s own guidelines.

Luke Donnellan must explain why the botched rollout of wire rope barriers has breached his own guidelines.

Daniel Andrews and Luke Donnellan must start listening to the legitimate safety concerns of country people.

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Liberal Nationals to make kangaroo pet food trial permanent

Wednesday 14 February 2018

A Liberal Nationals government will give Victoria’s emerging kangaroo pet food industry certainty and make the current trial program permanent.

In Seymour to make the announcement, Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh said the Liberal Nationals will also expand the program to take in other areas where kangaroo numbers are out-of-control.

“The kangaroo pet food industry doesn’t need another extension, it needs certainty,” Mr Walsh said.

“Daniel Andrews and his city-centric Labor Government refuse to support this fledgling industry and the jobs it’s created.

“Unlike Labor, the Liberal Nationals are committed to helping Victorian farmers, making sure processors have confidence to invest in the industry and supporting existing and future jobs.”

The industry has been dogged by uncertainty, with the Andrews Labor Government failing to commit to the program, despite it proving to be an outstanding success.

Since the trial was established by the former Liberal Nationals government in 2014, about 87,000 kangaroo carcasses, that would have otherwise been discarded, have been processed.

Currently, the trial is restricted to 16 regional LGAs, but the Liberal Nationals’ plan would expand it to all rural and regional LGAs.

A permanent program would align with the guidelines of the existing trial and would not change the requirement for Authority to Control Wildlife permits to be issued for any kangaroos used as pet food.

Mr Walsh said the Liberal Nationals would give industry certainty, even if Labor refused to make the trial permanent when it expires at the end of March.

“In plague numbers, kangaroos cause extensive damage to fences, compete with domestic animals for food and water and trample crops,” Mr Walsh said.

“The kangaroo pet food trial has proven this creates jobs in regional Victoria and it makes use of a resource that would otherwise rot in paddocks.

“The Andrews Labor Government isn’t prepared to guarantee this industry’s future, but the Liberal Nationals will.”