Victorians with disabilities and their families will receive funding to cover the cost of the AFL parade holiday, thanks to pressure from the Liberal-Nationals Coalition.
People with disabilities and their families were going to have to pay up to hundreds of extra dollars for carers on AFL parade day, because their Individual Support Packages did not include money for the penalty rates.
In some cases people with disabilities were planning to cancel part or all of their care on AFL parade day to lower the cost, leaving them bed-ridden or their families taking on the carer role for the day.
Shadow Minister for Disability Tim Bull said the Andrews Labor Government last night gave in to pressure from the Coalition, disability sector and Herald Sun, and would now make funding available.
“It’s disappointing the Andrews Labor Government has only provided this support under pressure at the 11th hour, but I’m pleased common sense has prevailed,” Mr Bull said.
“In Daniel Andrews’ rush to introduce this parade holiday he forgot all about those in the disability and aged care sectors, who are some of the most vulnerable in our community.
“I’m sure people with disabilities and their families will breathe a sigh of relief today, and now the government needs to show the same support to the aged care sector, which is facing a similar situation of increased costs because of AFL parade day.”
The 2014/15 Food and Fibre Export Performance Report shows Victorian food and fibre exports increased by $282 million.
That is compared to a $1.2 billion increase last year under the Liberal-Nationals Coalition.
Over the past four years under the Coalition, food and fibre exports grew from $8.8 billion to $11.4 billion.
Comments from Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh:
“These figures reinforce the importance of the food and fibre sector to Victoria’s economy and the jobs it creates in our regional communities.
“It is concerning Labor has cut the agriculture output budget by 12 per cent, the trade output budget by 61.5 per cent and refuses to fully support the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement.
“If our food and fibre sector is to continue to prosper, it needs a real budget commitment from the Labor Government – not just words.”
Media contact: Sarah O’Connor 0432 074 888 email@example.com
The Nationals candidate for Polwarth David O’Brien attended last night’s China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) forum in Colac.
The forum was hosted by the Victorian Farmers Federation and was part of a regional roadshow highlighting the importance of the ChAFTA, which is yet to be ratified.
Mr O’Brien said it was a valuable opportunity to learn more about the ChAFTA and how it will benefit farmers and local jobs, particularly in the dairy industry.
“The Victorian Nationals fully support the ChAFTA and the jobs, opportunity and investment that it will bring,” Mr O’Brien said.
“Polwarth is renowned for its quality dairy industry and we are home to some major dairy businesses including Camperdown Dairy International, which has recently signed a 15-year deal to export baby formula to China.
“The dairy industry, and the jobs it creates, will benefit from the elimination of tariffs across a range of dairy export products through the ChAFTA.”
Mr O’Brien said Western Victoria produced about 2.1 billion litres of milk a year,accounting for approximately 23% of national milk output.
China is Victoria’s largest export destination and in 2013/14 Victoria exported $369 million worth of dairy products to the country.
“I just hope the Andrews Labor Government and its union friends get on board and start supporting this historic agreement,” Mr O’Brien said.
“Failing to ratify the ChAFTA would cost rural Australia $300 million in lost opportunity next year alone.”
Nationals candidate for Polwarth David O'Brien has congratulated the Federal Nationals on forcing many significant wins for rural and regional areas into the new Coalition agreement with PM Malcolm Turnbull.
Mr O'Brien said the Nationals had a history of extracting good gains for country areas out of Coalition agreements with the Liberals - the most obvious recent example being the Victorian $1 billion Regional Growth Fund, which invested in more than 1000 projects across Victoria.
"The Nationals will always seize the moment to force the city parties to do better for the bush," Mr O'Brien said.
"The Victorian Nationals did it in 2010 by forcing a $1 billion Regional Growth Fund. This week, the Federal Nationals have done it again."
The highlights of the new Federal Coalition agreement are:
* Country people who are sick of bad mobile phone coverage can nominate their area for a new tower as mobile phone black spot funding will continue;
* More rural students will be able to access higher education through a plan which will help them overcome the financial obstacles;
* Unemployed people in areas where jobs are hard to find will benefit from a new jobs programme;
* Stay at home parent families with a child below the age of one will receive more Family Tax Benefit B rebate.
"I'm proud to be part of a party which stands only for the country - for rural, regional and remote Victoria," Mr O'Brien said.
"No other party looks out for country Victoria like the Nationals do.
"If I'm given the honour of representing the people of Polwarth, this is exactly what I'll seek to do. I'll take any opportunity to extract a fairer deal from the city parties. We all know the city parties are too focussed on their base - city seats. Candidates for the major parties later get too distracted by pleasing their city colleagues.
"I will fight for the people of Polwarth and for country Victoria and my colleagues in the Nationals will back me all the way."
The Nationals candidate for South-West Coast, Michael Neoh, has called on the Andrews Labor Government to make its position clear on unconventional onshore gas ahead of the by-election.
Labor have a terrible track record on onshore gas exploration. When last in government they issued 73 exploration licences and 23 fracking permits without undertaking any scientific or hydrological studies.
Mr Neoh said he had discussed unconventional onshore gas with the The Nationals MP Emma Kealy, whose neighbouring electorate Lowan faces the same issues.
“Today in Parliament, Emma Kealy asked Labor’s Minister for Energy and Resources to disclose her intentions regarding the future of onshore gas mining activities in Western Victoria,” Mr Neoh said.
“I am sure the local communities in South-West Coast will be keen to hear how the Minister responds.
“As I travel around the electorate – including Portland and the rural areas of Heywood, Condah, Macarthur, Woolsthorpe and Port Fairy – I will be speaking to local residents about their views on onshore unconventional gas mining.
“The Nationals will never support any mining activity that risks harm to our prime agricultural land, water resources or the environment.
“The South-West Coast has some of the best dairy farmland in the world and we need to make sure it is not negatively impacted by gas mining activity.
“The people of South-West Coast deserve to know what the Government is intending for our region prior to the by-election.”
Warrnambool Mayor Michael Neoh has been endorsed as The Nationals candidate for the South West Coast by-election.
Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh said Mr Neoh was a proven local leader who listens and delivers for his community.
“Michael is a high-calibre candidate who has a track record of action and results,” Mr Walsh said.
“South-West Coast communities will get an outstanding, hardworking local champion if they elect Michael Neoh.”
Mr Neoh said the people of South-West Coast needed a strong local voice in Parliament.
“I'm Warrnambool born and bred, I'm an active part of our community, and I understand the local issues that matter to us,” Mr Neoh said.
“We want safer roads, better health and hospital services, investment in our schools and training programs that will lead to good jobs for our young people.
“We want more support for local families who are doing it tough and we want State Government investments that deliver jobs, business opportunity and better community services.
"As Mayor and Councillor I have been dedicated to listening to my community and delivering practical benefits for our region.”
Mr Neoh has been a Councillor since 2005 and Mayor of Warnambool City for 5 terms (2008, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014 to current). He lives in Warrnambool with his wife Robyn and son Dujon.
Mr Neoh is also CEO of the South West Sports Assembly, a former secondary teacher at Warrnambool College, and currently serves as the Chairman of the consumer reference group of St John of God Hospital Warrnambool.
Mr Walsh said The Nationals had a proud 100-year history of standing up for regional communities.
"While the other major parties are busy focusing on Melbourne, The Nationals are dedicated to representing people who live in regional and rural Victoria," Mr Walsh said.
"A key focus for The Nationals during both the South West Coast and Polwarth by-elections will be the issue of onshore gas, which is a big community concern.
"The Nationals will never support any mining activity that jeopardises our agricultural land, water supplies or the environment."
The Nationals will stand candidates in both the Polwarth and South-West Coast by-elections.
Former Member for Western Victoria Region David O’Brien has been endorsed as the candidate for Polwarth, while nominations for South-West Coast are open.
Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh said Mr O’Brien was a true local champion with a track record of standing up for the community.
“With his background in farming, law and small business, as well as a strong knowledge of the local issues, David is an outstanding candidate for Polwarth,” Mr Walsh said.
“We have already seen from his time as Member for Western Victoria Region that David is a strong advocate of the region and is willing to fight for the community's fair share.”
Mr O’Brien said he would waste no time getting around the region to listen to locals’ views and concerns.
“I am passionate about this region and I would be honoured to represent the community again in Parliament,” Mr O’Brien said.
Mr Walsh said The Nationals had a proud 100-year history of standing up for regional communities.
“While the other major parties are busy focusing on Melbourne, The Nationals are dedicated to representing people who live in rural and regional Victoria,” Mr Walsh said.
“A key focus for The Nationals during these two by-elections will be the issue of onshore gas, which is a big community concern.
“We will never support any mining activity that jeopardises our agricultural land, water supplies or the environment.”
Nominations for South-West Coast close at 5pm, Friday 11 September. For more information contact 9654 6588.
The Nationals Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie welcomed today’s decision to ensure licensed firearms users and industry representatives have meaningful input into the review of the technical aspects of the National Firearms Agreement (NFA).
“This is a common sense decision which is long overdue,” Senator McKenzie said.
“Establishing the Industry Reference Group and providing further stakeholder consultation is critical to ensuring we get the NFA review right.
“Our licenced and law-abiding shooters are the people who are most affected by the NFA review yet they have not had the opportunity to formally engage with the overly bureaucratic Firearms and Weapons Policy Working Group.
“Shooters and industry representatives right across the country have been telling me they are angry at being locked out of the decision making process, a process which directly impacts on their ability to earn a living or participate in lawful recreational pursuits.
“The decision to suspend the importation of the Adler A110 was made without consulting firearms owners or industry representatives and was further proof that the system is broken.
“The Nationals have fought hard to ensure there is genuine and meaningful consultation with shooters and industry and we are grateful that the Minister for Justice, Michael Keenan, has listened and acted.
“Australia’s more than 800,000 licenced firearms users are not terrorists or criminals, they are responsible law-abiding members of our community and part of a broader industry that contributes in excess of $1 billion a year to Australia’s economy.
“The Nationals accept that the use of firearms must be regulated and that owners need to be responsible citizens, but licenced shooters do not need more red tape, they must be treated with respect and their very real concerns must be heard – the Minister’s decision ensures this will now happen.
“This newly established Industry Reference Group will be made up of highly experienced individuals and organisations who will add a great deal of knowledge and expertise to the review of the NFA, including issues of the lack of harmonisation between states and gaps in data collection.”
State Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said he was pleased the Australian Adventure Festival to be held later this year – which he says could put East Gippsland on the international stage and bring millions to the local economy – will receive State Government funding.
“Having raised the matter at each of the April, May and June sittings of Parliament this year, explaining the event and seeking support, I was pleased to receive a letter from the Minister on Friday stating $75,000 has been allocated for this year’s event.
“Pre-election the Coalition committed $350,000 over the next four years in recognition of what this event can potentially do for this region and while this commitment is not to that level it will nevertheless be important in the developing years of the festival. I will pursue funding in future years also.
“There has been a lot of work go into the planning by East Gippsland Marketing Inc (EGMI) and its Adventure Festival Sub-committee, all hard working East Gippslanders who want to see the region promoted.
“The proposal was developed by EGMI, which received State Coalition and Local Government funds to develop a signature event for the region.”
Mr Bull said there would be several events as part of the Festival that included activities such as trail running, kayaking and mountain biking and the various skill levels will be catered for from elite to the “weekend warrior”.
“In addition, it is planned to have family friendly activities across the weekend providing sporting challenges for kids that mirror the adventure series; and shopping and food experiences including a nightly market.
“Lakes Entrance will be the focal point and base destination of the event, however the sporting challenges will take place throughout the East Gippsland region.
“The Australian Adventure Festival will bring together the world of adventure sports to compete in ultimate adventure challenges, all held in one of the most picturesque and diverse nature based destinations in Victoria.
“Based on estimated participation from the report that has been done, the event is expected to return an economic benefit of over $2 million in year one, growing exponentially as the competitor pool increases, but funds are required to get it off the ground,” Mr Bull said.
Caption: Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, pictured with East Gippsland Marketing Inc members Richard Rijs, Karly McCaskill and John Morton. Mr Bull said funding has been secured for the event to be held later this year.
Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region Melina Bath is calling on the Labor Government to fund an administration officer for the Gippsland Carers Association so it can continue its valuable work.
Speaking in parliament recently Ms Bath said the Coalition had provided $25,000 a year over four years for a part-time administration officer for the association however the funding ran out at the end of last financial year and the Labor government has not renewed it.
“This funding paid for an administration officer to work 19 hours a week, which allowed the association’s carer mentor to be out on the road helping our carers,” Ms Bath said.
“Without an administration officer the carer mentor needs to divide her time between being out in the community where she is needed and being back in the office doing administration.”
Ms Bath said the carer mentor helped looked after the carer in their own home and offered a range of support to them.
“This results in huge savings for the government because it reduces the amount of time that people needing care spend in nursing homes and respite centres, as well as reducing the drain on the public hospital system,” she told the parliament.
“Without the funds to support the administration officer the Gippsland Carers Association is left facing a difficult decision: either to cut back on direct face-to-face support for carers or to cut back on other initiatives to help fund the part-time administration officer.”
Gippsland Carers Association president Jean Tops said the funding was critical to the volunteer committee of management’s ability to open its centre three days a week and provide necessary support for unpaid carers across Gippsland.
“Without an administration support officer we will be forced to reduce our opening hours to just two days a week and that means carers across Gippsland will miss out on vital support,” Ms Tops said.
Ms Bath said she hoped the Labor Government would value the work of the Gippsland Carers Association and provide the funding needed for an administration officer.
She said often the work provided by carers went unnoticed and it was important Gippsland carer’s contributions were recognised.
“The perfect opportunity to recognise these wonderful people is by nominating a local carer for the National Carer Awards,” Ms Bath said.
Now in its second year the National Carer Awards is a partnership between Carers Australia and Life Without Barriers and celebrates the unpaid carers and foster/kinship carers.
“These awards are a fantastic opportunity to recognise community members in Gippsland for the outstanding contribution they provide to the people they support,” Ms Bath said.
Ms Bath said there were many carers in Gippsland doing extraordinary work which was often not recognised.
“Unpaid family carers provide a significant and irreplaceable contribution to the welfare and well-being of their family members, children and adults with dependent disabilities,” she said.
Nominations are open now under four categories: Young Carer (aged 26 and under); Foster and Kinship Carer; Family Carers (general unpaid carer of a family member or friend); Caring in the Country (unpaid carer located within rural and remote locations).
Nominations close on Sunday 6 September. To nominate a carer visit www.carerawards.com.au