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.
Friday 15 September 2017
The glaring omission in the Andrews Government’s confirmation of the Heyfield mill sale is a promise that all 250 jobs will be saved.
Labor MP Harriet Shing promised in March the mill would “not lose jobs overall” if the Government became a buyer of last resort, but Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford recently said “less timber for the mill does mean that there will need to be some change”.
Today’s announcement details nothing of what that change might mean for the 250 people employed at the mill and for the Heyfield community.
Up to 20 jobs have already been lost at the green mill when one shift was cut in August.
The Andrews Labor Government must urgently guarantee there will be no further job losses at the Heyfield mill.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh
Daniel Andrews’ decision to refuse timber supply to the Heyfield mill left the local community in limbo for nearly a year.
Labor is desperate to paint this deal as a win for the community to cover up the fact jobs have already been lost at the mill and that they have not guaranteed there won’t be further losses to come.
Daniel Andrews promised he would fight for every job, but it seems jobs in country Victoria just don’t make the cut.
Comments attributable to Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull
Each and every one of these mill jobs are vital to the Heyfield community.
These jobs wouldn’t have needed saving if Labor hadn’t refused to guarantee a viable timber supply.
Daniel Andrews is so desperate to secure Greens preferences and the seats of his inner-city MPs that he is willing to sacrifice those in our East Gippsland communities.
Thursday 14 September 2017
Statement from Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh
The closure of Hazelwood Power Station this year saw the loss of 750 jobs and Victoria’s baseload energy capacity drop by 22 per cent.
Increases to average annual power bills for homes and businesses have been far worse than the Andrews Labor Government predicted.
There are new warnings every week of further power bill pain and blackouts in the summer ahead.
Victoria is a state rich in brown coal and with an envied track record in energy production and innovation, so it is staggering we find ourselves in this position in 2017.
Victorian jobs will continue to be at risk if we do not have a reliable, affordable and sustainable supply of baseload power for our state. Renewable energy plays a role in that future, but the move must be strategically managed to protect Victorian jobs.
The Latrobe Valley’s existing power stations are ageing assets and unless action is taken to replace generation capacity the current energy crisis will only get worse.
In order to secure Victoria’s energy future and drive down household and business energy bills, immediate action is needed.
The Victorian Nationals believe the development of a new generation High Efficiency Low Emissions (HELE) power station is essential for Victoria, before another of the current Latrobe Valley generators close.
The Victorian Nationals are committed to working with the Federal Government, industry and the Latrobe Valley to ensure the right policy settings and investment certainty are put in place to investigate such a plant.
The Latrobe Valley has powered Victoria for generations and will for generations to come if the right policy settings are put in place to build such a plant. With the development of new generation HELE technology, this can be achieved, while also meeting realistic carbon reduction targets.
Daniel Andrews may not believe Victorian jobs are worth fighting for, but the Victorian Nationals do.
Motion No. 20, proposed by the Federal Young Nationals, carried at the Federal Nationals Conference:
That this Federal Conference call for the Federal Government to look into the possibilities of reutilising the Hazelwood site as a new, efficient coal power station to stabilise and secure Victoria and Australia’s energy future.