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Labor fails farmers as produce rots on dock

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Background

Daniel Andrews continues to stand by while his union mates stop our hardworking farmers from exporting their goods.

In Parliament today, Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford failed to acknowledge the economic and reputational damage a union blockade at the Port of Melbourne has forced on Victorian businesses.

Ms Pulford failed to explain why she had refused requests for assistance from Victorian businesses with produce stranded at Webb Dock.

Ms Pulford didn’t acknowledge the businesses, instead washing her hands of the issue.

There are 1000 shipping containers of goods, including agricultural product, stranded at the Port of Melbourne after the three-week union blockade.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh

Daniel Andrews has made it clear he isn’t willing to lift a finger against his union mates, even if they are damaging farmers’ bottom line and threatening Victoria’s agricultural exports.

Our farmers slog their guts out from dawn to dusk and turn out the best produce in the world but this union picket is wrecking their livelihoods and Victoria’s international reputation as a reliable exporter.

Daniel Andrews and his Agriculture Minister should be right in the thick of getting this resolved but yet again the people and industries of country Victoria are being sacrificed for Labor’s union mates.

Comments attributable to Member for Northern Victoria Luke O’Sullivan

It’s disgraceful that when hard-working businesses like Kyvalley Dairy at Kyabram go directly to Labor’s Agriculture Minister appealing for help, the Minister’s minders tell them the Andrews Government doesn’t want to get involved.

This union action is costing our farm export businesses dollars and their trading reputations and yet Daniel Andrews refuses to act.

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A website won’t fix country roads

Tuesday 5 December 2017

Today, Labor’s Roads Minister Luke Donnellan detailed his ‘bold plan’ to fix country Victoria’s deteriorating road network – a new website.

Country Victorians don’t need a website to tell us regional and rural roads have been seriously neglected by the Andrews Labor Government.

What’s worse is that Luke Donnellan’s ‘bold plan’ doesn’t include a cent of new investment to fix country roads.

Despite the potholes and dangerously uneven surfaces littering our country road network, the Andrews Labor Government refuses to reverse its decision to axe the Liberal Nationals’ successful $160 million Country Roads and Bridges Program.

The only ‘bold’ part of Labor’s plan is its absolute determination to ignore the needs of country Victorians.

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Lots of questions, but no answers on Northcote by-election preference deal

Thursday 30 November 2017

Background

The Premier and Agriculture Minister today continued to refuse to answer questions in Parliament on Labor’s reported Northcote by-election preference deal with the Animal Justice Party.

AJP Northcote candidate Nina Lenk has said AJP preferenced Labor ahead of the Greens in Northcote “because they were offering us a Victorian welfare group for animals” and “$500,000 for animal organisations and community organisations”.

AJP’s policies include ending livestock farming for a “long-term, total transition to plant-based agriculture” and urge the withdrawal of Government support for animal product industries.

Jaala Pulford continues to evade questions on her decision to announce a new public sector group, Animal Welfare Victoria, and $500,000 of grants on the same day early voting opened for the Northcote by-election.

The Liberal Nationals’ questions have gone unanswered in Parliament this week, including:

  • What stakeholders did she consult with before making the decision to form Animal Welfare Victoria?
  • Why didn’t she consult the Victorian Farmers Federation, the Australian Veterinary Association or even the RSPCA?
  • Was the Minister aware that her decision to form Animal Welfare Victoria and commit $500,000 worth of grants would result in the Animal Justice Party preferencing Labor ahead of The Greens at the Northcote by-election?
  • Why didn’t the Minister inform the Livestock Industry Consultative Committee of her decision to form Animal Welfare Victoria, which met with Chief Veterinary Officer Charles Milne four days before AWV was announced?

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh

Daniel Andrews and Jaala Pulford have serious questions to answer on this alleged cash for votes deal with the AJP ahead of the Northcote by-election.

Daniel Andrews is proving time and time again he is the Premier for Melbourne and will sell out regional Victorians at any cost.

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Rural drainage strategy goes down the gurgler

Friday 3 November 2017

Shadow Water Minister Steph Ryan is encouraging landholders to make their views known on the Andrews Labor Government’s draft Rural Drainage Strategy.

Ms Ryan said she was concerned the strategy failed to provide greater clarity around the management of rural drainage schemes.

Labor’s strategy proposes that rural drainage schemes will be managed in four ways:

· By individual landholders;

· Collectively through amicable agreements;

· Collectively through written agreements; and

· Collectively through written agreements with support from government agencies and with councils offering administrative support where landholders are prepared to pay for that service.

“By putting forward every option, the government is actually putting forward no option at all,” Ms Ryan said.

“Water Minister Lisa Neville clearly has no interest in fixing the uncertainty surrounding the management of rural drainage schemes,” Ms Ryan said.

The former Liberal Nationals Government tasked a Parliamentary committee to investigate rural drainage schemes which reported in 2013.

The committee found that the responsibilities of local government and catchment management authorities had been confused, with both groups being reluctant to take on unfunded activities.

It recommended the Victorian Government develop a rural drainage strategy which outlined the role of State Government, CMAs, councils and community committees.

The strategy was also supposed to outline the process for identifying the lead drainage body in a given areas, cost sharing principles, how to strike a tariff, the nominating agency to raise and disburse the tariff, management structure options to be adopted by the responsible authority, a policy for regulating new drainage works and systems and the standards to apply.

“Labor have had almost three years to develop this strategy, yet the result is a dog’s breakfast that provides no clear direction for landholders,” Ms Ryan said.

Landholders who wish to provide feedback on the strategy can attend a regional forum or make a submission online atwww.engage.vic.gov.au/ruraldrainage

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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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Rail Freight Advisory Council

Wednesday 1 November 2017

Rail Freight Advisory Council

If Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan is genuinely committed to making Victoria’s freight rail network as ‘efficient and safe as possible’ Labor should fund upgrades at level crossings on the Maryborough to Mildura line.

The Andrews Labor Government today announced the appointment of a Rail Freight Advisory Council to advise on rail industry issues.

Freight rail is the vital link between Victoria’s producers and ports that send our high quality produce across the world.

But Labor’s slow progress to start work on the $440 million Murray Basin Rail Project and last year’s ridiculous heat restrictions are making it harder for farmers to run their business.

The city-centric Andrews Labor Government is obsessed with looking inwards to Melbourne and regional Victoria is missing out.

 

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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.

Media releases Agriculture Infrastructure Environment Regional Development

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.”

Media releases Agriculture Infrastructure environmnet

Labor still failing to consult regional industry

Friday 20 October 2017

Background

Daniel Andrews has snubbed the views of Victorian farmers by failing to consult with Victoria’s livestock and intensive industries before establishing Animal Welfare Victoria.

Animal Welfare Victoria was announced under the cover of darkness, without consultation with Victoria’s peak farmer group, the Victorian Farmers Federation or the Livestock Industry Consultative Committee (LICC).

LICC was established to provide advice to government on livestock industry issues and even though they met days before the announcement, were not consulted.

The VFF described the move as “bowing to an activist agenda”.

The Andrews Government provided little information on how the new body would operate.

Comments from Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh

Daniel Andrews is taking desperate steps to win over greens voters in Northcote, at the expense of our regional industries.

It’s incredibly sloppy of the Government to be surprising major stakeholders like the VFF with announcements like this.

Our farmers and regional communities have had a gutful of Melbourne-centric Labor putting city votes ahead of our regional industries.

Comments from Member for Northern Victoria Luke O’Sullivan

Labor’s trying to out-green The Greens in Northcote, putting our farmers and country communities last in the process.

Our farmers are experts in animal welfare – their livelihoods depend on it.

Animal Welfare Victoria appears to be nothing more than another barnacle clinging to Labor’s bloated public sector with no real benefit to farmers.