Victoria must get states on board in lower Murray
The Andrews Labor Government’s decision to intervene in the rapid growth of new permanent plantings in the lower Murray region is long overdue, but will have no impact if the Minister fails to convince South Australia and New South Wales to do the same.
The Andrews Government announced today all applications for water extraction licences in the lower Murray region will be referred to the Minister for the next 12 months.
But Shadow Minister for Water Steph Ryan said Victoria’s efforts would amount to zip without similar moves from SA and NSW.
“We’ve been calling for action on this for months, but it’s essential that South Australia and New South Wales also participate,” Ms Ryan said.
“Despite years of warnings from industry and communities, the Andrews Labor Government has been unwilling to intervene to control the explosion of irrigation development in the lower Murray.
“The gap between the water available in dry years and what the horticulture industry demands is shrinking, putting the pressure on other industries at times when resources are scarce. These impacts will only be compounded by the effects of climate change.
“It’s now up to the Andrews Labor Government to step up and convince South Australia and New South Wales to also take control of irrigation development in the lower Murray.
“Without agreement, the Minister’s efforts will be nothing more than a token gesture and the situation will only worsen for Victorian irrigators.”
Evidence to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System has confirmed what multiple reports have been telling us – Victoria’s mental health system is buckling under the pressure of high demand and no action to address the growing need.
It’s clear the system is in crisis when services are forced to prioritise clients based on if they are deemed “sick enough or suicidal enough”, as the Royal Commission heard yesterday.
Victoria’s mental health system is broken and the Andrews Labor Government shouldn’t use the Royal Commission as an excuse to fail to take action now that could save the lives of countless Victorians.
Despite numerous plans and reports, including two from the Victorian Auditor-General this year, that identify changes that can be implemented immediately to improve Victorians mental health outcomes, the Andrews Labor Government hasn’t lifted a finger to improve the system in the last five years.
The Auditor-General also found in March that current State funding only provides mental health services to less than half of Victorians who suffer a severe mental illness, while Victoria has the lowest per capita recurrent spend on specialised mental health services in the nation.
While we do need to see the cohesive, systemic change that will come from the Royal Commission, we can’t afford to wait for the final report in late 2020 to make the changes that can – and should – be made now.
But instead, in recent years Labor has cut funding to community mental health.
Labor must immediately provide crisis funding into Victoria’s broken mental health system, because waiting another year for the Royal Commission report will be too late for some Victorians, and that is simply not good enough.
Royal Commission into Mental Health
Regional communities won’t be afforded equal access to give evidence in the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, with just one hearing to be held outside of Melbourne.
We know there are significant gaps in access to support for rural and regional Victorians, with many people stuck on waitlists for months or forced to travel hundreds of kilometres to the next available service.
But just one day out of nineteen days of hearings, which begin today, will be held for regional Victorians. This is despite one third of the Victorians seeking support from mental health services living in rural and regional areas.
The Andrews Labor Government is denying regional communities our opportunity to give evidence and provide a complete picture to a Royal Commission which will determine important change in Victoria’s mental health system.
Mental illness does not discriminate by postcode and it certainly doesn’t stop at the tram tracks.
Regional Victorians must have a fair opportunity to give evidence and have their say.
Why won’t Daniel Andrews call out Setka?
Over a month ago John Setka told the court he would plead guilty to charges of harassing a woman using a carriage service and breaching a court order.
But since then, Premier Daniel Andrews has dragged his feet on sacking Setka from a paid Government Board responsible for developing a Women in Construction strategy and has refused to call out Setka’s vile treatment of a woman.
Now that the court has delivered its judgement and penalty, Daniel Andrews must do what he urges other Victorians to do and immediately call out violence against women.
If Daniel Andrews is serious about putting an end to violence against women he must immediately show the leadership Victorians have been wanting to see for months; finally call for John Setka’s resignation as Secretary of the CFMMEU, and vocalise his convictions for Setka’s membership of the Labor Party to be revoked.
Daniel Andrews can no longer hide behind a court case. It is time for him to man up, call out John Setka, and stare down union threats to cut Labor Party donations.
Community views ignored in Labor’s ‘lock and leave’ VEAC report
The Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC) has released its final Central West Investigation report into public land use at Victoria’s Wombat, Wellsford, Mount Cole and Pyrenees Range forests and it raises more questions than answers.
The Liberal Nationals support a broad and diverse system of national, state and regional parks and reserves throughout Victoria and it is critical that all public land is given the resources required to ensure it is not left to become weed infested and inaccessible.
However, the report’s recommendations, if implemented, will significantly limit the activities of long-term bush users such as fire wood gatherers, recreational miners and prospectors, horse riders, four wheel driving enthusiasts, hunters and bush walkers, particularly in Central West Victoria.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Environment, David Morris:
“It is crucial that we get the balance right about using public land, and that the Andrews Labor Government listens to the community and doesn’t just dictate to them.”
“Public land management must balance accessibility and environmental outcomes; they do not need to be mutually exclusive.”
Comments attributable to Shadow Assistant Minister for Public Land Use, Melina Bath:
“The Andrews Labor Government has lost sight of the concept that public land is exactly that – for the public.”
“The overwhelming majority of submissions were in favour of greater access to public land and Daniel Andrews must listen to these views.”
Thursday 20 June 2019
Labor’s dud Ice Action Plan failing to put a lid on drug crimes
Drug crime continues to skyrocket under the Andrews Labor Government, as Daniel Andrews puts a freeze on Labor’s failed Ice Action Plan and axes essential support programs, like Community Ice Action grants.
Figures from the Crime Statistics Agency today show methamphetamine possession has more than doubled since Daniel Andrews was elected in 2014 – up 138.7 per cent – and drug offences are up 24.83 per cent.
It’s a worrying trend that will only get worse while people struggling with addiction can’t get the urgent support they need, when they need it most.
Daniel Andrews’ only plan to tackle Ice use in Victoria is to build an injecting room in suburban Richmond. But it’s simply not hitting the mark to reduce the harms of Ice use across the state, particularly in Regional Victoria.
A crisis in availability and resourcing of rehabilitation options means Victorians genuinely seeking help to get clean are being told they’ll have to wait months to access rehabilitation.
We can’t afford to be turning people away at a critically vulnerable time in the lives of addicts and their families. But this is exactly what’s happening under Daniel Andrews.
The Andrews Labor Government likes to say it’s doubling the number of rehabilitation beds in Victoria, but while it drags its heels getting these beds operational it’s leaving the lives of Victorians at risk.
Media contact: Emma Manser 0437 225 386 firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday 18 June 2019
Labor’s legacy on the botched, stalled Murray Basin Rail Project
Out-of-money and indefinitely on hold: this is the Andrews Labor Government’s legacy for the stalled Murray Basin Rail Project.
Under questioning in Parliament today, Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan again arrogantly denied responsibility for botching the major upgrade works instead of committing to finish the project in full.
Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Regional Victoria and Decentralisation Peter Walsh said Labor’s repeated refusals will leave farmers and transport stakeholders fearing the worst.
“The Minister has completely botched delivery of this Project, creating a wasteful trail of cost blowouts, missed deadlines and appalling contract management,” Mr Walsh said.
“Instead of trying to rewrite history, the Minister should be making full commitments to farmers and freight stakeholders that the remaining stages will be funded and finished as a priority.
“The Basin Rail standardisation is once-in-a-generation opportunity to upgrade north-West Victoria’s rail system, to make it faster for farmers to get produce to the ports and to get more freight off trucks and on to trains.
“The Andrews Labor Government cannot walk away now and leave this project half done.
“It’s an absolute insult that while refusing to fix the mess they’ve made of the Basin Rail project, at the same time Daniel Andrews and his Labor Government are happy to pour billions of extra dollars into Melbourne level crossing removal projects where costs have also over run.
“If they can find the money for Melbourne, then Jacinta Allan and the Andrews Government must cough up the extra funds required to finish the Basin Rail project.”