Thursday 7 September 2017
The Andrews Labor Government has broken its promise to the Heyfield community that jobs will not be lost at the Heyfield mill.
In Parliament today, Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford failed to stand by a promise from Labor’s Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing in March that the mill would “not lose jobs overall” if it was sold to the Government.
Ms Pulford worked hard to shift the blame for the Andrews Labor Government’s role in putting jobs at the Heyfield mill in jeopardy.
Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh said the process to sell the Heyfield mill had gone on for too long.
“Heyfield mill workers have been forced to put their lives on hold while the Andrews Labor Government drags its heels on the sale negotiations,” Mr Walsh said.
“If Jaala Pulford worked as hard to finalise the mill sale as she did in Parliament to shift the blame for jeopardising country jobs, the sale would already be finalised.
“The only jobs Labor care about are those of their inner-city MPs who will rely on Greens preferences to hold their seats at next year’s election.”
Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull said the Andrews Labor Government’s promises of no job losses were hollow words, after mill management confirmed last month the afternoon shift had been cut from the green mill, costing 20 jobs.
“The Andrews Labor Government is desperately spinning a ‘future for the mill’ as the best outcome, when it is clear our community wants to see a future for the mill and all 250 jobs saved,” Mr Bull said.
“The kick in the guts is that the sale of the Heyfield mill never had to happen in the first place – the timber supply is there.
“Yet again it’s clear that Labor is sacrificing jobs in the country for its own political survival.
“The Andrews Labor Government must urgently confirm none of the 250 jobs will be lost under its ownership.”
Tuesday 22 August 2017
The greatest threat to Victorian families keeping a roof over their head is Daniel Andrews’ eleven new taxes and reckless policies that are pushing up the cost of living.
Daniel Andrews has introduced eleven new taxes, increasing overall tax revenue by more than 20 per cent on Victorians. One of those new taxes forced the closure of Hazelwood Power Station, which has forced up electricity costs that are hurting families and small businesses.
A tenancy agreement that goes beyond five years will not matter if people can't afford to put their children through school, put food on the table, switch on the lights or keep heaters on in winter.
Rather than wasting money on a taxpayer funded website which is effectively mirroring the service provided by realestate.com.au or domain.com.au, Labor should be investing in our deteriorating country roads or better public transport to our regional communities.
If Daniel Andrews was serious about housing issues, he wouldn’t have introduced eleven new taxes or effectively closed Hazelwood.
Tuesday 15 August 2017
Country Victorians are wearing the costs of the Andrews Labor Government’s cuts to country roads funding.
The parliamentary Inquiry into the Sustainability and Operational Challenges of Victoria’s Rural and Regional Councils heard today that country councils are struggling to meet the high costs of maintaining their roads network.
Giving evidence to the parliamentary inquiry today, Local Government Victoria confirmed rural councils have a disproportionately large amount of infrastructure to maintain compared to their city counterparts, but significantly lower income streams.
The inquiry was told rural and regional councils managed an average of 2200km of roads – more than four times that of city-based councils.
One of Daniel Andrews’ first actions as Premier was to axe the Liberal-Nationals’ successful Country Roads and Bridges Program.
The Premier then blatantly spent money earmarked for country bridge upgrades on roads in his own city electorate of Mulgrave.
Our rural road networks are crumbling and urgently need an immediate funding injection to improve safety.
Monday 31 July 2017
The $440m Murray Basin Rail Project is steaming ahead with Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister and The Nationals MP for Gippsland Darren Chester announcing Stage 2 construction works will begin today.
Stage 2 works on the project – which has been proudly driven by Victoria’s National Party MPs – will see upgrades and conversion of track from Dunolly to Yelta, and Ouyen to Murrayville from broad gauge to standard gauge.
Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh welcomed the project’s progress, after the Andrews Labor Government initially stalled works.
Mr Walsh said the Basin Rail Project would deliver critical upgrades to provide better rail access between the Murray Basin and Victoria’s major ports at Portland, Geelong and Melbourne.
“This is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to standardise and repair freight rail in western and northern Victoria, and make it more efficient for farmers to get their product to port,” Mr Walsh said.
“The Nationals’ State and Federal MPs are proud to have secured and delivered the $440 million needed to deliver this vital upgrade for north-west Victoria.”
The former Victorian Liberal Nationals government got the project underway in 2014 with a $220 million allocation, and the Federal Liberal Nationals Government delivered the final $220 million needed in April 2017.
Member for Mildura Peter Crisp said farmers in Victoria’s north-west would benefit from increased maximum freight volumes, which will see more efficient transport of agricultural products to port.
“The Murray Basin Rail Project will take trucks off our country roads and provide a more efficient way to transport our products to port,” Mr Crisp said.
“The Nationals at the State and Federal levels have worked hard to secure this Project and I am pleased to see it take the next step forward in better connecting our agricultural communities in north-west Victoria with the rest of the world.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.