Friday 28th April 2017
The Murray Basin Rail Project – a critical project proudly driven by Victoria’s National Party – passed another milestone this week with official signoff of the Federal Government’s $220 million contribution.
Federal Infrastructure Minister and The Nationals Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester this week approved the Commonwealth’s $220 million contribution which will secure the upgrade of this vital freight rail link between north-west Victoria and the state’s ports.
The Murray Basin Rail Project will standardise and upgrade the Mildura, Manangatang and Sea Lake lines and standardise the Murrayville line.
Leader of The Victorian Nationals Peter Walsh commended the Federal Government for delivering the $220 million needed to complete the project, alongside the $220 million allocated by the former Liberal Nationals state government in 2014.
“State and Federal Nationals are proud to have secured and delivered the $440 million needed to deliver this vital upgrade for north-west Victoria,” Mr Walsh said.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to standardise and repair freight rail in western and northern Victoria, and make it more efficient for farmers to get their product to port.
“It is disappointing that the Andrews Labor Government hasn’t followed through with the same strong support as we’ve seen from the Federal Liberal Nationals Government.
“But now the final $220 million has been officially signed off, there aren’t any more go slow excuses for the State Labor Government.”
The remaining funding was delivered through the Federal Liberal Nationals Government’s $3 billion Victorian Infrastructure Investment Package.
The Nationals Federal Member for Mallee Andrew Broad said the rail upgrade would improve freight efficiency for producers in the Wimmera, Mallee and Mildura regions.
“Approximately $3 billion worth of food, fibre and minerals is exported from the Murray Basin annually,” Mr Broad said.
“These works will provide measured improvement in productivity and connectivity, and significantly enhance international competitiveness of Murray Basin producers.”
The Nationals State Member for Mildura Peter Crisp welcomed the flow of funding and said the Andrews Labor Government must now deliver the project on time and on budget.
“The Nationals at the State and Federal levels have worked hard to secure a project that will transform the way we get our agricultural products and other freight from north-west Victoria to the rest of the world,” Mr Crisp said.
“Importantly, this critical project will also reduce the number of trucks on our highways, making our roads safer for all road users.”
Nationals Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie said these works would make it more economical for farmers to do business in western and northern Victoria.
“These works are firmly aimed at better connecting goods produced in north-west Victoria with the ports of Melbourne, Geelong and Portland,” Senator McKenzie said.
“The Murray Basin Rail Project will open new export opportunities for our producers and businesses in north-west Victoria by providing a reliable and efficient way to get their product to market.”
The project schedule indicates the works should be completed by late 2018.
Photo: Member for Mallee Andrew Broad, Wakefield Transport Group Managing Director Ken Wakefield and Member for Mildura Peter Crisp.
Friday 17 May 2017
The Andrews Government has disgracefully abandoned 260 workers at Australian Sustainable Hardwoods’ Heyfield mill by failing to guarantee a viable timber supply.
Labor’s half-baked offer to purchase the mill at the 11th hour again confirms Daniel Andrews has no problem playing political games with Victorian jobs.
Instead, Daniel Andrews has chosen green preferences over real jobs, sitting on his hands and costing the people of Heyfield their livelihoods.
This is a massive kick in the guts to Heyfield workers, their families and the local community.
The timber supply is there, what is lacking is will from Daniel Andrews to act.
Daniel Andrews has failed the people of Heyfield and his government’s policies are creating a massive jobs crisis for the people of Gippsland.
Wednesday 8 February 2017
The Resources Legislation Amendment (Fracking Ban) Bill 2016 will pass Parliament.
In 2012 the Liberal Nationals Government announced a gas moratorium and in 2015 we committed to an extension of the existing onshore gas moratorium until 30 June 2020.
The Liberal Nationals support the ban on fracking. Indeed, fracking has never occurred under a Liberal Nationals Government. In contrast, the previous Victorian Labor Government issued 73 licences for unconventional gas exploration and approved 23 fracking operations without public consultation.
The Liberal Nationals have always said we will never allow anything to happen that puts at risk the quality or quantity of our groundwater because we know how important it is to our state.
Food and fibre production is one the powerhouses of Victoria’s economy and we must always ensure the land and water resources these vital industries need are protected, now and for the future.
Increasing gas and electricity costs to industry and Victorian households mean work must be done to ensure our state has a secure and competitive supply of energy in the future.
That is why we believe during the period of the moratorium, the energy sector needs to work with rural communities and have a sensible discussion about the use of conventional gas beyond the expiration of the moratorium in 2020. Conventional gas has over 30 years of successful co-existence with Victorian country communities.
Whether it is gas or electricity, Daniel Andrews has a political plan but not a cost of living and cost of business plans.
The policies of the Andrews Labor Government have forced the closure of Hazelwood which has already seen an increase in household electricity prices of around 10% and over 20% for some businesses.
One of Daniel Andrews’ greatest failings as Premier is that he has not even tried to attempt to find a way to curb the dramatic increases in energy costs in Victoria. If energy prices continue to sky rocket at current rates it will result in businesses closing as well as putting enormous cost of living pressures on households.
Tuesday 7 February 2017
Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford has failed to explain why the Andrews Government refuses to stand up for thousands of jobs in Victoria’s forestry industry.
In Parliament’s Upper House today, Nationals members Luke O’Sullivan and Melina Bath directly asked Ms Pulford why Labor’s Forestry Industry Taskforce, which the Premier said would ‘sustain jobs’, had failed to do so.
“Victoria’s timber industry workers are angry that Daniel Andrews bailed out Alcoa workers, but won’t do the same to save their jobs,” Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh said.
“By starving the industry of resource, Daniel Andrews is creating the Great Forest National Park by stealth.
“The Premier is more concerned about saving his own job than the thousands of jobs of people who work in our timber industries.
“The timber is there, what’s missing is the will of Daniel Andrews and Jaala Pulford to keep this industry open. If Jaala Pulford can’t resolve this issue, Daniel Andrews must step in to secure a future for East Gippsland’s forestry industry.”
VicForests has offered Australian Sustainable Hardwoods just 80,000 cubic metres of timber next year, far less than the 130,000 cubic metres required for the mill to be viable. The Andrews Government has also failed to ensure adequate supply to Auswest Timber in Orbost and Bairnsdale, threatening a further 65 jobs.
Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull said the forestry industry was the backbone of many communities in East Gippsland.
“Many of the workers whose jobs are at risk have worked in the forestry industry for years, if not much of their life and everyone has grave concerns for the future of our communities in East Gippsland if the industry is lost,” Mr Bull said.
“Daniel Andrews must immediately stop putting politics and green preferences ahead of East Gippsland jobs.
“A town hall meeting heard there was nothing stopping the minister guaranteeing supply to ASH for at least the next five to seven years.
“It’s time for the Premier and the Minister to act in the best interests of our communities.”
Wednesday 7 December 2016
A motion for a five-year moratorium on establishing national parks in Victoria’s Central Highlands was defeated in the Legislative Council today.
The motion called for no new national parks to be established in the region, including the Great Forest National Park, until further work was done on the availability of resources, impacts on existing stakeholders, fire management and the management of invasive species.
Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh
By voting against this motion, Labor’s let the cat out of the bag – they have no intention of supporting the tens of thousands of Victorians who rely on the timber industry to support their family and pay the bills.
By voting against this motion Labor has abandoned 21,000 Victorian jobs.
The city-centric Labor Government has shown again they have no intention of fighting for the best interests of the people who live and work in regional Victoria.
Wednesday 7 December 2016
Daniel Andrews has cut the delivery of life-saving anaphylaxis training in Victorian schools.
Until late 2015, Victorian teachers were required to undertake face-to-face training in the correct use of adrenaline autoinjector devices, which can also be used to treat severe asthma.
Since 2016, only two teachers per school are required to undertake face-to-face training to administer the life-saving treatment.
There is no requirement that all teachers undertake training and schools that wish to fund teachers to undertake the course face-to-face instead of online must now find the money from their own budgets.
Despite recent fatal Thunderstorm Asthma events, Health Minister Jill Hennessy today refused to commit to reinstating this life-saving training.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Training, Skills and Apprenticeships Steph Ryan
The administration of adrenaline could save kids’ lives and Daniel Andrews must reinstate this life-saving training immediately.
Only offering training to a select few not only puts Victorian students at risk, but could leave a teacher in the distressing position of being underqualified to respond in an emergency.
Labor’s reckless cuts have left Victorian schools exposed if a critical incident was to occur during school hours.
Wednesday 7 December 2016
Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford has refused to rule out reversing the north-south pipeline, a project that would come at significant cost to farmers.
A secret government report last week found reversing the north-south pipeline would cost $277 million, require upgraded pumps and 14km of new pipes, either under or over the Yarra River.
For the project to be economically viable, water prices in the Goulburn system would have to be consistently above $1350/ML – well above historic levels.
Ms Pulford was unable to answer questions about the report when asked in Parliament by The Nationals Member for Northern Victoria Luke O’Sullivan on Tuesday.
In a written response on Wednesday, Ms Pulford would not rule out the project and said “this option remains on the table”.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Water Peter Walsh
It wasn’t enough for Daniel Andrews to waste $27 million on a desal water order we don’t need and he is now targeting farmers’ back-pocket.
The Minister couldn’t say if there was advice from her own Department on the economic viability of Labor’s north-south-north pipe dream - despite the report detailing significant impacts for farmers.
Water prices of $300/ML came close to sending some farmers out of business last year, so $1350/ML isn't only unfeasible, it's deluded.
Victorian families and farmers can’t afford to pay for any more of Daniel Andrews’ water white elephants.
Tuesday 6 December 2016
A report released today by SGS Economic and Planning has shown that regional Victoria’s economy shrank by 1 per cent in 2015-16, making it the only area in all of Australia to have its economy go backwards.
Shadow Minister for Regional Development Tim McCurdy said “regional Victoria is going backwards under Daniel Andrews and his city-centric Labor Government”.
“Under Daniel Andrews, country roads and bridges funding has been spent in the Premier’s own city electorate and regional rail commuters have been stranded for days due to Labor’s failure to maintain the rail lines,” Mr McCurdy said.
“Whether it is taking an axe to the Country Fire Authority or leaving country roads in disrepair, regional Victorians have been the biggest losers under Daniel Andrews’ Government.”
Mr McCurdy said Daniel Andrews has no plan to manage Victoria’s population growth.
“More than 90 per cent of Victoria’s population growth is centred on Melbourne, an unsustainable situation that hurts both the city and the country,” Mr McCurdy said.
“The Liberal Nationals are developing a comprehensive plan to manage the huge growth in Victoria’s population and make sure regional Victoria is a beneficiary of the opportunities population growth provides not a loser from it.”
Tuesday 6 December 2016
The Legislative Council’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee handed down the final report for the Inquiry into the Domestic Animals Amendment (Puppy Farms and Pet Shops) Bill 2016 today.
Among 18 recommendations and one finding were:
- that consultation with relevant stakeholders in regard to this Bill was inadequate and that it should be withdrawn by the Government
- a stakeholder group of industry, municipal and community representatives should be established to draft the new Bill
- the State Government should provide further funding to local government to enforce current legislation
- that the Government abandon limiting breeders to 10 fertile females
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh
This is a damning report that exposes a deeply flawed piece of legislation put up by Daniel Andrews’ Government.
Daniel Andrews must withdraw this flawed bill immediately, consult properly with breeders and local government and come back with proposed laws that are based on evidence and science.
The Andrews Labor Government are hiding the extent of Victoria's training crisis, failing to release the half-yearly update on the state of our TAFE and training sector.
Steve Herbert's time-keeping skills are on par with his dismal record-keeping skills.
We are nearly to the end of the year and have no idea of the state of our training system after the Andrews Labor Government failed to release the half-yearly update for 2016.
It is now months overdue.
Steve Herbert leaves a shameful legacy of plummeting training enrolments and $175 million in cuts to student training at TAFE.
Gayle Tierney has inherited a fragmented and struggling training sector from an incompetent Minister, but she shouldn’t cover for him by continuing to delay the release of the half-year data.