Friday 3 November 2017
Shadow Water Minister Steph Ryan is encouraging landholders to make their views known on the Andrews Labor Government’s draft Rural Drainage Strategy.
Ms Ryan said she was concerned the strategy failed to provide greater clarity around the management of rural drainage schemes.
Labor’s strategy proposes that rural drainage schemes will be managed in four ways:
· By individual landholders;
· Collectively through amicable agreements;
· Collectively through written agreements; and
· Collectively through written agreements with support from government agencies and with councils offering administrative support where landholders are prepared to pay for that service.
“By putting forward every option, the government is actually putting forward no option at all,” Ms Ryan said.
“Water Minister Lisa Neville clearly has no interest in fixing the uncertainty surrounding the management of rural drainage schemes,” Ms Ryan said.
The former Liberal Nationals Government tasked a Parliamentary committee to investigate rural drainage schemes which reported in 2013.
The committee found that the responsibilities of local government and catchment management authorities had been confused, with both groups being reluctant to take on unfunded activities.
It recommended the Victorian Government develop a rural drainage strategy which outlined the role of State Government, CMAs, councils and community committees.
The strategy was also supposed to outline the process for identifying the lead drainage body in a given areas, cost sharing principles, how to strike a tariff, the nominating agency to raise and disburse the tariff, management structure options to be adopted by the responsible authority, a policy for regulating new drainage works and systems and the standards to apply.
“Labor have had almost three years to develop this strategy, yet the result is a dog’s breakfast that provides no clear direction for landholders,” Ms Ryan said.
Landholders who wish to provide feedback on the strategy can attend a regional forum or make a submission online atwww.engage.vic.gov.au/ruraldrainage
Thursday 2 November 2017
Water Minister Lisa Neville must insist Labor’s senators stand up for the interests of Victoria’s Basin communities.
Labor’s Victorian senators Kim Carr, Jacinta Collins, Gavin Marshall and Kimberley Kitching have been completely silent about where they stand on the recovery of the 450GL of up water from the Southern Basin.
In 2013 The Nationals moved amendments in the Senate which would have prevented the 450 GL of up water from being recovered through water buybacks and to amend the target from a concrete 450 GL of water to ‘up to’ 450 GL.
Victoria’s Labor senators voted against the interests of Victoria’s Basin communities by voting the amendments down.
Minister Neville seems unable or unwilling to garner even an ounce of support from her federal colleagues when it comes to defending Victoria’s interests.
These Victorian Senators will have a chance to redeem themselves as Victoria looks for support to prevent more water leaving our irrigation districts towards the 450 GL.
Comments attributable to Shadow Water Minister Steph Ryan
“Labor’s Victorian senators have a history of putting party politics ahead of the interests of Victoria’s Basin communities when it comes to the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
“If Labor had supported The Nationals’ amendments in 2013, Victorian irrigators would have the certainty of knowing the 450 gigalitres of up water could not be recovered through buybacks.
“Lisa Neville needs to reassure northern Victorian irrigators that her Federal colleagues will not sell them down the river yet again.”
Wednesday 1 November 2017
Rail Freight Advisory Council
If Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan is genuinely committed to making Victoria’s freight rail network as ‘efficient and safe as possible’ Labor should fund upgrades at level crossings on the Maryborough to Mildura line.
The Andrews Labor Government today announced the appointment of a Rail Freight Advisory Council to advise on rail industry issues.
Freight rail is the vital link between Victoria’s producers and ports that send our high quality produce across the world.
But Labor’s slow progress to start work on the $440 million Murray Basin Rail Project and last year’s ridiculous heat restrictions are making it harder for farmers to run their business.
The city-centric Andrews Labor Government is obsessed with looking inwards to Melbourne and regional Victoria is missing out.
Wednesday 1 November 2017
The Andrews Labor Government has cut funding for Australian sign language (AUSLAN) courses.
From January 1 next year, Melbourne Polytechnic, as the sole provider of accredited AUSLAN qualifications in Victoria, will no longer be subsidised by the Victorian Government to deliver a Certificate II, III and IV or Diploma in Auslan.
The decision to cut funding for Auslan was revealed in changes to the Andrews Government’s 2018 funded course list.
The course was first accredited in 2011 by the Victorian Registrations and Qualifications Authority (VRQA) to enable the acquisition of skills by members of the deaf community.
In 2012 as Labor’s spokesperson for Skills and Training, Steve Herbert stated: “Clearly there’s a need for this training, and the government should simply fund at TAFE to provide it from the start of next year”.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Training, Skills and Apprenticeships Steph Ryan
Victoria’s deaf community deserve better than Daniel Andrews’ callous funding cuts.
From the start of next year, Victorians will have to pay more than $5000 to gain these important skills.
Daniel Andrews should immediately reinstate this qualification to ensure it can continue to be delivered as an accredited qualification next year.
Friday 27 October 2017
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Water Steph Ryan
The Minister for Water must come clean on what has prompted another review into Goulburn Murray Water.
The advisory panel announced today is the third body created in two years to advise on GMW projects and strategic direction, and suggests the Government lacks confidence in the organisation.
The Minister must explain to customers and key stakeholders exactly what the issues are, and provide an opportunity for the community to contribute to the review process.
She must also explain why her dime-a-dozen reviews have so far failed to achieve any results.
The Minister has had three years to address the concerns of GMW and northern Victoria and it’s time we start seeing action and results, not just more reviews.
Thursday 26 October 2017
Alarm bells are ringing for Victorian dog breeders as the Andrews Labor Government dithers on its proposed Domestic Animals Amendment (Puppy Farms And Pet Shops) Bill 2016.
Breeders and stakeholder groups continue to highlight an ongoing lack of consultation and secrecy on changes to the original Bill.
Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford was forced into an embarrassing backdown in June, after admitting the Bill was “unlikely to pass the Parliament in its current form”.
It followed a highly critical Legislative Council report handed down in December 2016 that found “consultation with relevant stakeholders in regard to this Bill was inadequate” and recommended the Bill be withdrawn.
The Parliamentary Report also recommended the Government “abandon limiting breeders to 10 fertile females” as evidence from multiple witnesses confirmed there was no scientific basis to the number that had been selected by Labor for its election promise of 2014.
The Government indicated it planned to debate the Bill in the Legislative Assembly in September, but that never happened and no explanation was given.
Comments from Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh
Dog breeders and stakeholders are rightly frustrated, suspicious and angry with the ongoing secrecy from the Andrews Labor Government.
If Jaala Pulford has nothing to hide, she should immediately release the house amendments in draft form so that dog breeders and other stakeholders know exactly what is going on.
Wednesday 25 October 2017
Cuts to Victoria’s agriculture budget and little action to reduce red tape for farmers are taking a toll on Victoria’s booming agriculture sector.
The Victorian Food and Fibre Export Performance Report 2016-17 was released today and showed Victoria’s agriculture sector continues to lead the nation in exports, but that growth in exports has slowed.
Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh said our state’s agricultural export boom had hit the brakes under Daniel Andrews.
“It’s a credit to the hard work and innovation of farmers and industry that our food and fibre exports continue to top the board nationally,” Mr Walsh said.
“It’s disappointing that such an important sector has faced cuts from the Andrews Labor Government, most recently a $32 million cut to agriculture in this year’s State budget.
“Jaala Pulford is good at making promises and conducting reviews that fail to follow up in action to cut red tape or make it easier to do business in Victoria.
“Labor’s city-centric focus is stopping our agriculture industry growing even more.”
Good seasonal conditions that led to a bumper grain harvest for Victorian farmers saw grain exports increase by $839 million in 2016-17, while meat exports dropped $311 million.
“Our farmers and agricultural businesses are the backbone of our state’s economy and support tens of thousands of jobs in our regional communities,” Mr Walsh said.
“Rather than more cuts, the Premier for Melbourne must make a real investment in making sure these industries have a strong future.”
Wednesday 25 October 2017
Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford has embarrassingly admitted she has no idea of serious concerns with the implementation of electronic identification (eID) of sheep and goats.
Victorian saleyard operators say they won’t be ready to scan eID tags by March 2018 because the software they need to share data with the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) is still being trialled.
Asked about industry concerns, Ms Pulford was in denial, telling State Parliament ‘I’m certainly satisfied with how it is progressing’.
Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh called on the Andrews Government to commit to a 12 month extension on the rollout of eID at Victorian saleyards.
“The Agriculture Minister is burying her head in the sand and hoping eID will implement itself,” Mr Walsh said.
“I recently met with stock agents, vendors and transport operators in Hamilton who echoed serious concerns with the slow progress – a 12 month extension is needed to make sure eID is rolled out properly.
“Saleyard operators have been begging to meet with the Minister and discuss their concerns, but they’ve struggled to get a look in.
“Until the software to scan and upload data to the NLIS has been properly tested in a sale environment, saleyards can’t start to plan for its installation.
“Daniel Andrews must extend the deadline and make sure the rollout is done right the first time, rather than risk it turning into another Labor rush job.”
The Andrews Labor Government has also failed to announce a tag price for 2018, despite promising to announce a price ‘in the first half’ of 2017.
“Industry is committed to the implementation of eID, but Labor is botching the process,” Mr Walsh said.
“The Andrews Government thought industry could just apply the systems used for cattle to sheep and goats but, as usual, Labor got it wrong.”
Friday 20 October 2017
Daniel Andrews has snubbed the views of Victorian farmers by failing to consult with Victoria’s livestock and intensive industries before establishing Animal Welfare Victoria.
Animal Welfare Victoria was announced under the cover of darkness, without consultation with Victoria’s peak farmer group, the Victorian Farmers Federation or the Livestock Industry Consultative Committee (LICC).
LICC was established to provide advice to government on livestock industry issues and even though they met days before the announcement, were not consulted.
The VFF described the move as “bowing to an activist agenda”.
The Andrews Government provided little information on how the new body would operate.
Comments from Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh
Daniel Andrews is taking desperate steps to win over greens voters in Northcote, at the expense of our regional industries.
It’s incredibly sloppy of the Government to be surprising major stakeholders like the VFF with announcements like this.
Our farmers and regional communities have had a gutful of Melbourne-centric Labor putting city votes ahead of our regional industries.
Comments from Member for Northern Victoria Luke O’Sullivan
Labor’s trying to out-green The Greens in Northcote, putting our farmers and country communities last in the process.
Our farmers are experts in animal welfare – their livelihoods depend on it.
Animal Welfare Victoria appears to be nothing more than another barnacle clinging to Labor’s bloated public sector with no real benefit to farmers.
Wednesday 18 October 2017
Young people encouraged to apply for Labor’s Youth Congress are still waiting to hear if their applications were successful, four months after the Congress was due to begin.
Asked about the delay in Parliament on Tuesday, Youth Affairs Minister Jenny Mikakos blamed Australia Post, despite applicants confirming that all correspondence with them to date has been via phone and email.
Ms Mikakos said the letters were signed, but ‘must still be making their way through Australia Post’s unreliable and slow service’.
Shadow Minister for Young Victorians Steph Ryan said the bizarre claim didn’t explain the four-month delay.
“The Andrews Government touted the Youth Congress as a flagship project designed so young people could get a genuine say in the development of policy, yet four months after it was due to begin people don’t even know if their applications have been accepted or rejected,” Ms Ryan said.
“Jenny Mikakos is so distracted by the crisis in the youth justice system that she has little time for young Victorians who want to make a positive contribution to our state.
“I have spoken with three young people from different parts of Victoria who applied to be on Youth Congress and not one has been advised on the outcome of their application.
“When they were interviewed in June they were told they would be contacted in the next four weeks, advising them of the outcome.
“These applications have been gathering dust on the Minister’s desk for months, awaiting her signature.
“Jenny Mikakos has done nothing but pay lip service to the participation of young people in shaping policy.”
When they were asked to apply, young people were required to fill out an application form which stated they would be required for a ‘12 month commitment from late June 2017 to 30 June 2018’.