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Waste to energy project for Latrobe Valley

Thursday 7 July 2017

Today’s announcement that Australian Paper will proceed with planning and pre-construction works for a waste to energy project delivers some long overdue good news for the Latrobe Valley after months of jobs losses and industry downturn.

Quotes attributable to Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh

Australian Paper is hugely important in the Latrobe Valley, not only as a direct job provider and manufacturer but also as a key player in Victoria’s forest industries and a company which generates significant flow-on economic effects throughout the Latrobe Valley.

This is an exciting development for Latrobe Valley in terms of energy supply and local job creation, and it is also has terrific potential for future waste management in our State, so it has never been more important to ensure Australian Paper continues to have a reliable and long term supply of timber resource.

As well as Australian Paper’s commitment, I also recognise the dedicated work local Nationals MPs Russell Northe and Darren Chester have been doing over many months leading up to today’s exciting announcement.

Quotes attributable to Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath

At a time when the Valley’s industries have been doing it tough, it is really encouraging to see Australian Paper making this commitment to grow its operation and remain in our region.

Cutting edge innovation and confident investors are vital to ensuring there is a strong economic future for the Latrobe Valley, and it is terrific to have the Valley’s largest employer sending such positive signals for their future in our region.

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Labor’s Heyfield deception

Monday 3 July 2017

Hundreds of jobs at Heyfield’s timber mill remain in jeopardy despite the Andrews Government’s claims today.

The Government’s media statement this morning says “…there will be no job losses while contractual negotiations are finalised,” but offers zero commitment beyond that period.

Minister Pulford also told ABC 774 today that the timber offer to the mill “has not changed” which confirms that future job losses at the mill are inevitable.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh

Daniel Andrews and Jaala Pulford have yet again failed to give Heyfield mill workers long term certainty for their jobs.

The only way to save these jobs is to increase timber supply and the Andrews Government confirmed again today that they aren’t prepared to put jobs first.

Labor starved the mill of a timber supply and caused a fire-sale and then the government bought it at bargain basement price.

Instead of seeking accolades, Daniel Andrews should get down to Heyfield, come clean and admit he has failed to save all 260 jobs.

Comments attributable to The Nationals Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull

Saying there will be “no jobs lost in transition” gives no comfort for the workers as it provides no long term security and, in fact, workers have already been told there will be job losses and redundancies due to the reduced timber supply.

It’s a disgrace for Labor to claim this is a “great day for Heyfield” and a “great relief” for workers when the Andrews Government has led from the start a process that will result in significant job losses in the town.

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Have your say on Liberal Nationals population

Thursday 29 June 2017

Victoria is the fastest growing state in Australia.

In 2016, our state grew by 146,000 people – the highest growth rate of any state in living memory.

In the past month alone, an additional 10,500 people have become residents – that’s equivalent to the population of my home town of Swan Hill moving to Victoria every month.

But our country communities take in less than 10 per cent of this growth and in some regions the population is in decline.

Despite this, the Labor Premier for Melbourne has no vision and no plan for regional Victoria.

The Liberal-Nationals have taken a completely different approach.

We established the Population Policy Taskforce to plan to decentralise Melbourne’s population and develop job opportunities, infrastructure and services in regional Victoria.

It’s the first holistic approach to planning for Victoria’s burgeoning population growth.

Chaired by Kew MP Tim Smith and deputy chair Danny O’Brien, The Nationals’ Member for Gippsland South, the Taskforce has travelled across Victoria, including to Shepparton, Mildura, the Latrobe Valley, Geelong and Ballarat to consult with our communities.

The feedback was overwhelming.

Country people are frustrated by the lack of population, a poor transport network and unreliable energy, while a deteriorating regional rail network and country roads make it hard to get from A to B.

For some businesses, energy costs have increased so much it’s impacting their ability to retain and hire staff, while the rapidly changing policy and regulatory environment is affecting business’ ability to invest.

It comes at a time when job losses are at the front of people’s minds.

Jobs are seen as the key piece of the puzzle in attracting and retaining people in regional Victoria. We’ve heard many suggestions on creating opportunities for businesses to move to the regions, including around state taxes and special economic zones.

Our agricultural communities are the backbone of our state’s economy, and we want to make sure they are recognised in plans for our future population.

Victorians can still be part of the Liberal-Nationals’ policy process, as we continue our work ahead of the 2018 election.

With the interim report now out, we welcome submissions from anyone who wants to have their say and help shape the future of our state.

 

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Federal Liberal Nationals’ $1.42bn regional rail boost

Tuesday 27 June 2017

The Liberal-Nationals in Federal Government have delivered for regional Victoria where Daniel Andrews and his city-centric Labor Government failed.

Infrastructure and Transport Minister Darren Chester, The Nationals Member for Gippsland, has put our country communities on the right track with the Commonwealth Government's $1.42 billion investment in country rail.

Daniel Andrews disgracefully left regional communities in limbo after he announced a ‘rail revival’ plan and then refused to invest a cent of state money.

Labor has failed to maintain Victoria’s country rail network and now expects others to fix the problems.

The Premier for Melbourne would rather waste $1.2 billion not building a road in Melbourne than investing state money on these desperately needed upgrades to public transport in regional Victoria.

The Victorian Liberals and Nationals believe that as our state's population grows, upgrades to public transport will be vital to decentralise our state and encourage more people to live in regional communities.

But despite Victoria’s exploding population, the Labor Premier for Melbourne still has no vision and no plan for regional Victoria.

 

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Labor sparks Heyfield mill fire sale

Tuesday 20 June 2017

Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford still refuses to admit the Labor Government’s offer to buy the Heyfield mill is just smoke and mirrors.

In Parliament today, Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Melina Bath asked the Minister why the Andrews Labor Government failed to make a commercially realistic offer to the mill that would secure the 260 local jobs.

But Ms Pulford failed to provide an answer, even refusing to answer simple questions about why she has been removed from the negotiations.

Australian Sustainable Hardwoods has confirmed the mill would wind down its operations from August due to “expected short supply of logs to the mill again this year” meaning 50 jobs would be lost a month earlier than initially thought.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh

Daniel Andrews and Jaala Pulford continually fail to provide Heyfield mill workers with any confidence Labor will fight for their jobs.

The Premier seems to be forcing a fire sale of the Heyfield mill after Labor’s changed timber policy undermined the business’ viability.

The Premier is putting possums before the jobs of 260 people and the wider Heyfield community.

Labor’s desperate attempt to secure greens preferences and create the Great Forest National Park by stealth has left the future of the Heyfield mill and Victoria’s forestry industry in jeopardy.

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Heyfield mill closure to begin early

Wednesday 14 June 2017

Australian Sustainable Hardwoods has announced today it will close its Heyfield mill earlier than planned.

ASH confirmed today the mill will wind down from August due to “VicForests expected short supply of logs to the mill again this year”.

At a recent hearing for the parliamentary inquiry into VicForests, VicForests Acting CEO Nathan Trushell confirmed the amount of timber available to industry has dropped by nearly 60,000m3 due to confirmed possum sightings and projected future sightings.

Mr Trushell also said the possum was being discovered at a rate “much higher than ever anticipated”.

There are 260 people employed at the Heyfield mill, while the mill’s operations support 7000 jobs down the line.

Leader of the Opposition Matthew Guy and Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull visited the Heyfield mill again today to speak with ASH.

Comments attributable to Leader of the Opposition Matthew Guy

The Liberal-Nationals understand the importance of this business to the Heyfield community and committed in February that an elected Liberal-Nationals government would keep the mill open and save these jobs.

Daniel Andrews' promise to fight for every Victorian job was clearly a lie. The Andrews government has presided over thousands of lost Gippsland jobs with no remorse for their failure to step in and save them.

Comments attributable to Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh

The Heyfield community and Victoria’s forestry industry have endured increasingly difficult conditions under a Labor Government more concerned with protecting possums than Victorian jobs.

The Premier for Melbourne is so desperate to keep his own job and the greens preferences that got him there that he is condemning 260 jobs in the Heyfield community.

Comments attributable to Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull

The closure of the Heyfield mill is devastating news for the workers, their families and the Heyfield community.

Daniel Andrews promised to visit Heyfield in February, but more than three months later he still refuses to show any support for our community.

The Premier for Melbourne fails to understand the mill doesn’t need a new owner to save these jobs, it needs a change in government policy.

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Labor refuses to save forestry jobs

Thursday 1 June 2017

Background

The Andrews Labor Government could save thousands of forestry jobs in Victoria by reducing the size of ‘highly precautionary’ timber harvest exclusion zones.

At a parliamentary inquiry into VicForests, VicForests Acting CEO Nathan Trushell confirmed the Leadbeater’s Possum was being detected at a rate “much higher than ever anticipated”.

Mr Trushell also described the current 200m buffer zones as “highly precautionary and having a significant impact on industry”.

At May 18 this year, 617 Leadbeater’s Possum colonies had been recorded and an estimated 1851 individual possums found.

Mr Trushell also confirmed the amount of timber available to industry had dropped by nearly 60,000m3 because of possum sightings and projected sightings in the future.

The Andrews Labor Government is months overdue with a required review of the exclusion zones.

At a Parliamentary Accounts and Estimates Committee hearing today, Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford showed an embarrassing lack of understanding of her portfolio and had to refer to Department staff when questioned if she had seen the exclusion zone review.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh

Daniel Andrews has created this crisis in our forestry industry and is trying to force a fire sale of Heyfield’s mill instead of saving jobs and reducing the size of the exclusion zones.

Demand has never been higher for Victoria’s high-quality timber products but Daniel Andrews has put the industry in peril.

The 200m buffer zones were put in place at a time when Leadbeater’s possum numbers were unknown and they were supposed to be reviewed once 200 colonies were found but Daniel Andrews looks hell bent on creating the Great Forest National Park by stealth instead.

Daniel Andrews is sacrificing timber workers and their livelihoods because he is desperate to cling to power and needs city greens preferences next election.

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Liberal Nationals commit to securing jobs in the Valley

Wednesday 17 May 2017

An elected Liberal Nationals government would be committed to keeping jobs in the Latrobe Valley.

Unemployment was up 50 per cent in the past two years in the Valley, even before 750 people lost their job at Hazelwood Power Station in March.

Wood processor Carter Holt Harvey yesterday flagged closure of its Morwell sawmill which would mean a further 160 people would lose their jobs.

The Treasurer claimed just two weeks ago Labor is ‘creating jobs, but we’re also focused on protecting jobs’.

Instead, Labor’s destructive policies and ideology has led the Latrobe Valley into a jobs crisis.

Comments attributable to Opposition Leader Matthew Guy

The Morwell community has been hit hard by Daniel Andrews’ tax on coal that shutdown Hazelwood and forced 750 people out of work.

A government I lead would make sure Victoria has a secure and affordable electricity supply into the future by keeping the Loy Yang and Yallourn power stations open.

Comments attributable to Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh

Daniel Andrews’ desperation for greens preferences in the city has created turmoil in our forestry industry.

A Liberal Nationals government would work with industry to return confidence to our forestry businesses, and that includes a commitment to work with Australia Paper to ensure this major employer has a strong future in the Valley and a secure supply of timber.

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Federal Govt delivers what Andrews Labor Govt refuses to

Wednesday 10 May 2017

Country Victorians will get the vital investments they need after the Federal Liberal Nationals Government delivered for the projects that Daniel Andrews refuses to fund.

Investments in rail and road infrastructure projects in regional Victoria and new agriculture initiatives for our primary producers were welcome commitments in Tuesday’s Federal Budget.

The $8bn inland freight rail line from Melbourne to Brisbane will take trucks off our roads and cut the cost for farmers to transport their product to port.

While Daniel Andrews refuses to spend a cent of State Government money on his $1.45bn wish list for regional rail, the Federal Liberal Nationals Government has invested $1bn in regional rail and other infrastructure projects.

This includes a $100 million investment in the north east rail line – five times more than was allocated in Labor’s unfunded wish list – and $290m for track duplications and upgrades on the Gippsland line.

These projects are fully funded and will deliver real benefits for country rail passengers who are sick of the Andrews Labor Government’s announce first, fund later approach.

I welcome the more than $4.1 billion investment in agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors and the $4bn Regional Investment Corporation which will support growth in our rural and regional communities.

The Federal Liberal Nationals have delivered where the Andrews Labor Government refuses to.

Regional Victorians deserve better than Labor’s offer of scraps off the table after the $9.7 billion sale of the Port of Melbourne lease.

The Federal Budget delivers funding and vision for infrastructure and rail for country Victorians who have been abandoned by the Labor Premier for Melbourne.

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Country Victorians duped on regional rail announcement

Monday 1 May 2017

Daniel Andrews and Jacinta Allan announced a $1.45 billion regional rail package on Sunday, but have refused to spend a cent of state government money.

The media stunt, which has no plan, no business case and no funding, was badged as a ‘huge investment’.

Just two years ago, Daniel Andrews claimed a business case was essential for every project, but now expects the Federal Government to hand over $1.45bn for a project with no plan and no business case.

Comments attributable to Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh

This was a cynical media stunt from Daniel Andrews and Jacinta Allan, designed to mislead regional Victorians.

There’s no plan, there’s no business case, there’s no state government funding – this is just another empty promise from a Premier who loves to tax regional Victoria but refuses to invest in our communities.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Public Transport David Hodgett

Daniel Andrews has ignored country Victorians for two years and now he’s ignored his own advice, making huge promises and then failing to provide a business case or invest a cent of state government money. 

The Andrews Government has left the regional rail network to deteriorate and now expects the Federal Government to foot the bill to fix it.