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
Member for Morwell Russell Northe is encouraging Latrobe City Council and community organisations in the Morwell electorate to consider applying for funding through The Community Sports Infrastructure Fund.
Mr Northe said the program aimed to provide high-quality, accessible community sport and recreation facilities across Victoria.
“A range of grants is on offer including funding for planning, building new, and improving existing facilities where communities conduct, organise and participate in sport and recreation.
“Sport plays such an important role in regional communities and I encourage local councils and community organisations to consider making an application,” Mr Northe said.
Grants available include:
- Better Pools - Grants of up to $3 million to build new or upgrade existing aquatic centres;
- Major Facilities - Grants of up to $650,000 to develop or upgrade major sport and recreation facilities;
- Small Aquatic Project - Grants of up to $200,000 to upgrade pools and aquatic leisure facilities;
- Minor Facilities - Grants of up to $100,000 to develop or upgrade local sport and recreation facilities;
- Female Friendly Facilities - Grants of up to $100,000 to build new or upgrade existing change rooms to prioritise female participation;
- Cricket Facilities - Grants of up to $100,000 to develop or upgrade cricket facilities;
- Planning - Grants of up to $30,000 to fund initiatives that assess the future sport and recreation needs of local communities, and up to $50,000 for regional planning initiatives.
For more information and eligibility criteria you can visit: http://www.sport.vic.gov.au/community-sports-infrastructure-fund
Labor’s bungling of the transition of fruit and vegetable growers to the new Melbourne Market has already caused job losses in the Euroa electorate.
Member for Euroa and Deputy Leader of The Nationals Steph Ryan said Anderson’s Fruit & Veg in Stanhope had closed its doors on Saturday after providing fresh, seasonal produce to the Campaspe Shire for about 50 years.
“Labor bungled the relocation of the Melbourne Market from day dot. When it announced the project in 2004, it was grossly underfunded and poorly designed.
“Now not only are taxpayers footing the bill for the cost blowouts, but Labor has bungled the transition, impacting local growers and retailers.”
Ms Ryan said the opening hours initially planned would have limited access times and made it impossible for many country retailers to get produce back in time to deliver to their buyers.
“Daniel Andrews’ eleventh hour reprieve was too late for some. The owners of Anderson’s Fruit & Veg had to lay off seven staff and notify their customers that they could no longer supply them,” Ms Ryan said.
Benalla’s Fruits N Fare owners Rick and Di Aumann also considered their future after they were initially denied adequate parking at the new site.
Mr Aumann said the problems with the new market space were not limited to opening times or teething problems but were inherent in the flawed design of the space.
“The market is a logistical nightmare. There are limited parking spaces, including a lack of undercover areas, waiting areas and spaces for drivers to sleep,” Mr Aumann said.
“Retailers’ access to the market has been restricted due to the lack of parking which has meant retailers who have previously had five days of access, now only have access for one day of the week.
“Inadequate backing space leaves no room for smooth flowing traffic and does not take into account the needs of B-doubles, refrigerated transport and rear loading and unloading.
“Restricted forklift access will mean retailers cannot pick up produce directly from the supplier and will have to wait for it to be delivered to their truck. If you’re a smaller retailer you will not be priority under this system.
“The whole situation is completely unworkable and will mean many retailers across Victoria will be forced to close their doors,” Mr Aumann said.
The National Party of Australia - Victoria has lodged an application with the Victorian Electoral Commission to change the formal registered name of our party to The National Country Party - Victoria.
I believe we are the one party that truly represents the interests of country Victorians, now as much as ever.
Whether it’s jobs, education, agriculture or health – The Nationals are fighting to make sure country Victorians get their fair share.
With such a Melbourne-centric Labor Government, our state needs a party that is dedicated to standing up for the interests of rural and regional Victoria more than ever.
I believe the title of The National Country Party would best reflect that goal, and reflect our proud 100-year history in Victoria.
The Victorian Electoral Commission will now consider our application and a result is expected in coming months.
The Andrews Labor Government must explain to the aged care sector how it will help providers cope with the cost of the new AFL grand final public holiday.
Shadow Minister for Senior Victorians Tim Bull said aged care providers were facing a massive wages bill for that day, but the government was offering no help.
A Regulatory Impact Statement into the new grand final holiday, and the new Easter Sunday holiday, put the economic cost to Victoria at up to $898 million each year and wage payments of up to $286 million each year.
“It is time the government how it explained how it is going to remove the impact on a sector that cares for some of the most vulnerable in our community,” Mr Bull said
“Leading Age Services Australia has expressed major concerns over the severe cost impost the new holiday will place on aged care providers.
“In comparison with other states, Victoria how has more public holidays than New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory and the ACT.
“This was a populist commitment with it appears no real thought given to how it will impact on a range of industries.”