Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan has added to the misery of regional Victorians by admitting in Parliament that the V/Line crisis is costing taxpayers $300,000 a day in replacement buses.
At the same time, it was revealed through a Parliamentary inquiry today that the cause of the wheel-wear problems plaguing V/Line won’t be known until the end of March, while timetables won’t be back to normal until mid-year at the earliest.
Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh said the revelations would rub salt in the wounds of regional commuters.
“After everything they have gone through – train cancellations, overcrowding, replacement buses, signalling faults, wheel wear – to find out it’s costing taxpayers $300,000 per day is a slap in the face for regional Victorians,” Mr Walsh said.
“That’s $300,000 every day that could be better spent providing a better train service, or fixing up our ageing schools, repairing dangerous potholes on our roads, or improving our hospitals.
“Just like the $1.1 billion wasted on not building the East West Link, we are seeing more money going down the drain under Daniel Andrews and Jacinta Allan’s watch.”
Mr Walsh said rural and regional Victorians needed some real answers on the V/Line crisis.
“Regional Victorians are sick and tired of excuses. If Jacinta Allan can’t fix the train mess, then Daniel Andrews should step in and take over,” Mr Walsh said.
Bendigo residents will have lost all confidence in Jacinta Allan.
Just two weeks ago, she promised that “Bendigo will have better train and bus services, making it easier get to get to work or to school, and home again at the end of the day.”
But now Bendigo’s train network is collapsing under her watch, all Jacinta Allan has to offer are excuses – and no solutions.
‘Conversations’ and ‘consultation’ will not solve the countless issues plaguing VLine.
If Jacinta Allan continues to refuse taking responsibility for Bendigo’s train problems, Premier Daniel Andrews must urgently step in and take control.
The Andrews Labor Government should stop stalling and decide whether it will hold a full duck hunting season this year.
The season usually opens in March. Hunters, their families and business owners – such as supply stores and accommodation providers – should be given ample time to plan their travel or arrange additional staff.
There is no reason why there should not be a full duck season this year.
Where conditions are dry, ducks will have moved on to another location – including NSW, which has experienced flooding conditions recently.
Comments from Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Peter Walsh:
“It is obvious Labor is more concerned about upsetting inner-city voters than announcing a 2016 duck season.
“Duck hunting is a legitimate recreational activity in Victoria and the Andrews Labor Government should stop stalling on the 2016 season.
“Hunters, families and businesses deserve to know whether a full season will go ahead now, so they have time to make arrangements before the opening weekend.”
Daniel Andrews’ Labor Government has been caught out trying to claw Commonwealth funds away from upgrades to mobile phone black spots in Victoria’s high fire-risk areas.
The Age has reported that the Andrews Labor Government lobbied the Commonwealth to change the funding criteria for its black spot program, so money meant for fire-prone areas could instead help to pay for Daniel Andrews’ commitment to improve phone coverage on trains.
The Commonwealth has said it will not be changing the funding guidelines.
It comes after Daniel Andrews axed a $40 million program set up by the former Victorian Coalition Government to upgrade mobile coverage along rail lines and provide Wi-Fi on V/Locity trains.
Comments from Shadow Minister for Regional Development Damian Drum:
“Daniel Andrews and Labor should be ashamed by their attempts to short-change communities at risk of bushfires.
“The only reason Daniel Andrews wants this extra funding is because he cut the existing $40 million program from this year’s Budget.
“This is another appalling snub for regional Victoria from the Andrews Labor Government.”
Daniel Andrews has dealt yet another blow to regional Victoria, and this one on the eve of Christmas.
Under Daniel Andrews’ city-centric government, we’ve lost the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund and the highly popular Country Roads and Bridges Program, the regional development budget has been slashed by 24 per cent, and there have been paltry investments in regional major projects and regional hospitals.
It’s outrageous that Daniel Andrews happily spent $1.1 billion of taxpayers’ money not building a road in Melbourne but he won’t invest even a fraction of this into our Regional Living programs.
Jaala Pulford was asked about the future of the Regional Living Expo in Parliament just five days ago and said “no decision has been made”.
Why didn’t the Minister come clean when questioned in Parliament last week, instead of fudging the answer and rolling out a press release five days later? It looks like Labor has been embarrassed into making a decision.
What Minister Pulford used to say – media release, 1 May 2015
“The Expo is a chance for rural and regional councils to showcase the outstanding benefits of their local areas, helping to attract potential residents, skilled workers, business and investment.”
What Regional Development Victoria says – annual report 2014/15
“The fourth edition of the Regional Victoria Living Expo was a success, attracting a record 10,156 patrons.”
“Once again, the Expo proved particularly popular with young families and working professionals, and councils continue to receive positive enquiries from attendees keen to move to their regions.”
The Andrews Government has again failed to properly fund the protection of Victorian riverbanks.
Before the last election, the Coalition committed to a $45 million program for fencing Crown Land river frontages.
Today Lisa Neville has re-announced $10 million already listed in the 2015/16 Budget (BP3, p56). There is no funding for riparian land care in the forward estimates.
The Budget also confirms (p5) there is still $105 million unspent in the government’s Environmental Contribution Levy (ECL) Fund.
Comments from Shadow Minister for Water Peter Walsh:
“The launch of this Action Plan was the ideal time for Daniel Andrews to make a serious funding commitment from the ECL Fund to help protect our riparian reserves.”
“Farmers will also want Daniel Andrews to guarantee that the Crown Land fencing program will remain voluntary.”
Thank you to everyone that supported our Major Raffle.
Congratulations to the 7 winners, we hope you enjoy your prize
First Prize: Judy Sims
Second Prize: Dianne Sanders
Third Prize: Harvey O'Donnell
Fourth Prize: Judith Bysouth
Fifth Prize: Rosanne Kava
Sixth Prize: Vic & Deb Madex
Seventh Prize: Nola Buzza
More young people are without a job under the Andrews Labor Government.
ABS data released today show there are 9,453 fewer young people in full time work than when Daniel Andrews came to office 12 months ago.
Statewide, there are 74,959 young people without a job.
Victoria’s youth unemployment rate is at 14.6 per cent, despite Daniel Andrews’ promise to create 100,000 new full-time jobs as part of the Back to Work scheme.
Shadow Minister for Young Victorians Steph Ryan:
“Daniel Andrews’ Back to Work scheme continues to fail young people in Victoria.
“Daniel Andrews used to say that every job is worth fighting for but now Victoria's young people are getting nothing but excuses.
“The Andrews Labor Government doesn’t have an economic and jobs plan for Victoria’s youth. Daniel Andrews has a media plan, but he doesn’t have a jobs plan.”
The Andrews Labor Government’s plan to reverse the north-south pipeline and turn on the desal plant is more than a thought bubble, with a business case underway.
Premier Daniel Andrews and Water Minister Lisa Neville have both recently talked-up the potential of reversing of the north-south pipeline to send water from Melbourne to the north of the state.
Under Labor’s plan, water taken from the Melbourne system would be replaced with desalinated water, which costs around $5000 per megalitre to produce.
When questioned in Parliament this week, Lisa Neville refused to say how much reversing the pipeline would cost or who would pay for the water if it did go ahead, but said a business case was being undertaken.
Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Water Minister Peter Walsh said the plan was nothing more than a cruel hoax on northern Victorian irrigators who were already struggling to afford up to $300 per megalitre on the temporary water market.
“It would be ridiculous to ask irrigators to pay $5000 per megalitre for water when they are already struggling with the current price,” Mr Walsh said.
“The average dairy farm would be paying around $4.5 million a year for water at that pricetag.
“Labor’s plan is nothing more than a cruel hoax and a desperate attempt to justify turning on the desal plant.”
The cost of desal water:
· The standby cost of the desal plant in 2015/16 is $620 million, with no water produced.
· To produce 150GL of water, the capacity of the plant, would cost an additional $117 million.
· The total cost of $737 million divided by 150GL (150,000ML) is $4913 per ML.
Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh:
“Today’s announcement is underwhelming for regional Victoria to say the least.
“If Daniel Andrews is putting the government ‘back to work’ for regional Victoria, where have they been for the past 12 months?
“Regional Victoria has lost 10,100 full-time jobs since Daniel Andrews came to office and this brochure does nothing to reverse that trend.”
Shadow Regional Development Minister Damian Drum:
“We’ve waited a year for the Labor Government to come up with nine committees and a glossy booklet with no new money.”