Regional Development Media releases Infrastructure

Federal Liberal Nationals’ $1.42bn regional rail boost

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.

 

Agriculture Environment Media releases

Native vegetation laws

Wednesday 21 June 2017

The Andrews Labor Government is on notice that it must get on with native vegetation law reforms.

The Victorian Farmers Federation has warned the number of trees on Victorian farmland will continue to decline unless the system is made more workable for farmers.

A review of Victoria’s native vegetation laws was released for public comment in December last year, but this was at the same time as many farmers were busy harvesting record grain crops.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh

Farmers are sending a clear and sensible message, but the Andrews Government is preparing to put even more hurdles in their way.

Hardworking farmers are being bogged down in red tape and bureaucracy while the Premier for Melbourne panders to inner-city Greens voters.

The Liberal Nationals are very happy to work with the VFF and landholders in order to get the best outcome for our farmers and our productive rural environments.

Community Services Media releases SPORTS AND RECREATION

Situation normal: Andrews Labor Government confused over its policies

Wednesday 21 June 2017

The Liberal Nationals support greyhound racing in Victoria and we believe this code of practice looks like overreach by the Andrews Labor Government and a banning by stealth.

If the Andrews Labor Government wants to ban greyhound racing they should just say so instead of this mealy-mouthed attempt.

Today in Question Time, Minister Jaala Pulford was asked basic questions about compliance and associated costs of their proposed code of conduct but she wouldn’t or couldn’t provide any detail.

Most Victorians want an industry that cares for greyhounds while providing employment opportunities and a popular recreational activity for so many.

Those in the industry caught doing the wrong thing should not only be banned from the industry but also receive a punitive punishment that makes an example of them to others who ever contemplate doing the wrong thing.

Environment Regional Development Education and Skills Community Services Media releases Infrastructure Energy

Labor sparks Heyfield mill fire sale

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.

Community Services Media releases health and ages care

Rising drug offences in Victorian schools

Monday 19 June 2017

Police are investigating an increasing number of drug offences on school grounds.

Reports today show that 166 drug offences were investigated in 2016, an increase from 139 in 2014. Since January 2014, more than 450 drug offences on school grounds have been investigated.

Drug addiction is destroying lives and families, but under the Andrews Labor Government anyone wanting to beat addiction will wait up to a year for rehabilitation support.

Daniel Andrews has not opened a single additional public rehabilitation bed since he was elected in 2014.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Mental Health Emma Kealy

It’s clear Daniel Andrews has lost control when hundreds of school kids have been charged with serious drug offences.

It’s shocking that as lives and families are being ruined by drug addiction, we’ve still got Daniel Andrews’ own Labor MPs arguing for drug injecting rooms in our suburbs.

Environment Regional Development Education and Skills Community Services Media releases Infrastructure Energy

Heyfield mill closure to begin early

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.

Agriculture Environment Media releases

Questions over Labor’s late wild dog committee

Wednesday 14 June 2017

Serious questions are being asked after the Andrews Labor Government appointed a critic of wild dog control programs to the long awaited Wild Dog Management Advisory Committee.

The advisory committee has finally been announced today, nearly two years since Labor sacked a very effective committee which included experienced landholders, and nearly six months after applications closed.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh:

Wild dog numbers have increased since 2015 after the Andrews Government missed aerial baiting opportunities, axed the Wild Dog Bounty for 12 months, and sacked the previous advisory committee without warning.

It beggars belief that Minister Pulford left high country communities that fight the scourge of wild dogs daily without an avenue to give advice on the control program for nearly two years.

While Minister Pulford has given in to pressure from farmers and finally replaced the committee, it’s disappointing that there are less landholder representatives, there are no women, and one of the members has previously criticised wild dog control measures and reportedly described farmers “extremists”.

Wild dogs are a massive daily challenge for farmers and communities in the North East and far East Gippsland but city-centric Labor are doing nothing to restore landholders’ confidence in Victoria’s wild dog control program.

Health and Aged Care Community Services Media releases

Drug crime rising under Labor

Friday 9 June 2017

Daniel Andrews’ Ice Action plan is a $184 million dud.  Lots of money is being spent but it’s not making a dent in the numbers of people and their families that are being destroyed by this insidious drug.

It’s not just the lives that are being ruined, it’s the side effects like violent crime and aggravated burglaries which is impacting on tens of thousands of Victorians. 

Despite these problems we still have members of the Andrews Labor Government arguing for drug injecting rooms in our suburbs.

We need to provide better help for those who want to beat their addiction. 

At the moment those wanting to beat their addictions face waits of up to a year for rehabilitation support because Daniel Andrews is spending the money from the Ice Action Plan on glossy brochures and bureaucratic talkfests.      

The Liberal Nationals believe that we need tougher sentences for drug traffickers, a more effective rehabilitation system and better awareness campaigns for young people and the community.

Education and Skills Community Services Media releases

Labor can’t rescue its failed TAFE ‘rescue’

Wednesday 7 June 2017

Background

The Andrews Labor Government is scrambling to cover up its failed TAFE ‘rescue’, spending almost half a billion dollars to keep Victoria’s TAFEs afloat.

A Victorian Auditor-General’s annual Audit Snapshot, released today, shows Victoria’s training system is shrinking and becoming more reliant on State Government grants.

It found:

“The improvement in revenue in 2015 and 2016 has been driven by additional government grant funding, rather than growth in revenue. Student numbers continued to fall, and all other sources of revenue such as student fees and contestable funding declined in 2015 and 2016” (VAGO report, p17).

The report revealed Labor has handed out $490 million in grants to TAFEs in the past two years, but student numbers and training quality have worsened.

The Auditor-General flagged concerns that TAFEs had reduced “financial flexibility” with falling student numbers and income revenue.

The report also found the course funding provided by the Andrews Government was not sufficient to meet staff costs of most TAFEs.

Comments from Shadow Minister for Training, Skills and Apprenticeships Steph Ryan

Student numbers are plummeting, but Daniel Andrews and Gayle Tierney are still trying to tell Victorians their TAFE ‘rescue’ has been a success.

TAFE is weaker, not stronger, under Labor, to a point where they now rely more on State Government bailouts, than their own revenue, to stay afloat.

It’s clear Daniel Andrews’ TAFE ‘rescue’ has been a complete failure.

Environment Regional Development Education and Skills Community Services Media releases Infrastructure Energy

Labor refuses to save forestry jobs

Thursday 1 June 2017

Background

The Andrews Labor Government could save thousands of forestry jobs in Victoria by reducing the size of ‘highly precautionary’ timber harvest exclusion zones.

At a parliamentary inquiry into VicForests, VicForests Acting CEO Nathan Trushell confirmed the Leadbeater’s Possum was being detected at a rate “much higher than ever anticipated”.

Mr Trushell also described the current 200m buffer zones as “highly precautionary and having a significant impact on industry”.

At May 18 this year, 617 Leadbeater’s Possum colonies had been recorded and an estimated 1851 individual possums found.

Mr Trushell also confirmed the amount of timber available to industry had dropped by nearly 60,000m3 because of possum sightings and projected sightings in the future.

The Andrews Labor Government is months overdue with a required review of the exclusion zones.

At a Parliamentary Accounts and Estimates Committee hearing today, Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford showed an embarrassing lack of understanding of her portfolio and had to refer to Department staff when questioned if she had seen the exclusion zone review.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh

Daniel Andrews has created this crisis in our forestry industry and is trying to force a fire sale of Heyfield’s mill instead of saving jobs and reducing the size of the exclusion zones.

Demand has never been higher for Victoria’s high-quality timber products but Daniel Andrews has put the industry in peril.

The 200m buffer zones were put in place at a time when Leadbeater’s possum numbers were unknown and they were supposed to be reviewed once 200 colonies were found but Daniel Andrews looks hell bent on creating the Great Forest National Park by stealth instead.

Daniel Andrews is sacrificing timber workers and their livelihoods because he is desperate to cling to power and needs city greens preferences next election.