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
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
Friday 20 October 2017
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.
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.
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.”
Wednesday 20 September 2017
Comments attributable to Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh
The Andrews Labor Government’s trivial response to questions in Parliament today on rising energy costs in regional Victoria is an utter insult to country business owners.
Minister for Energy Lily D’Ambrosio would rather blame others than make sure families and businesses can afford to pay their energy bills.
Agricultural businesses are the lifeblood of our country communities, but when extra money has to be spent keeping the lights on it means there’s less to spend on wages, in local small businesses and on supporting our country sporting clubs.
Closing Hazelwood with no plan to replace the loss of 22 per cent of our state’s baseload power supply and attempting to shift the blame to the Federal Government does nothing to support our rural and regional businesses.
The Premier for Melbourne must stop putting his own job and the jobs of his inner-city MPs who rely on Greens preferences before those in country Victoria.
Unlike Labor, a Liberal-Nationals government would prioritise energy security, affordability and reliability.
Member for Gippsland South Danny O’Brien took the story of the Peddles, a Gippsland dairy farming family, to State Parliament today.
The Peddles face a 400 per cent increase in energy costs, with a 150 per cent jump in the price of electricity. They already spend about $150,000 a year on energy.
Minister for Energy Lily D’Ambrosio could not answer Mr O’Brien’s question on how the Peddle family, who employ eleven people in their dairy operation, could afford to pay for this year’s electricity increase.