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Food and Fibre Export Performance Report

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.”

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Labor in denial on botched eID rollout

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.”

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Labor still failing to consult regional industry

Friday 20 October 2017

Background

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.

 

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Young people call bull on Mikakos’ excuses

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’.

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Liberal Nationals Onshore Gas Policy

Monday 9 October 2017

Today, Matthew Guy and Peter Walsh announced the Liberal Nationals policy on onshore gas. Matthew Guy's statement is below.

Statement from Opposition Leader Matthew Guy

Today, Peter Walsh and I announce an onshore gas policy that will give Victorians a clear choice at the next election. This policy will help put the brakes on soaring gas prices that are currently hurting Victorian households and businesses. Our policy will provide cheaper gas and create more jobs while protecting our environment and farmland. Our policy keeps Victoria’s fracking ban while securing the gas resources we need. A

This policy will help put the brakes on soaring gas prices that are currently hurting Victorian households and businesses. Our policy will provide cheaper gas and create more jobs while protecting our environment and farmland. Our policy keeps Victoria’s fracking ban while securing the gas resources we need. A

Our policy keeps Victoria’s fracking ban while securing the gas resources we need. A

A Liberal Nationals Government will legislate to allow onshore conventional gas exploration and production in Victoria on a case-by-case basis. Our policy will create a new royalty sharing scheme that will allow local landowners to benefit from gas produced from beneath their land. Landowners will receive a 10% share of the royalty paid to

Our policy will create a new royalty sharing scheme that will allow local landowners to benefit from gas produced from beneath their land. Landowners will receive a 10% share of the royalty paid to government of the net post-wellhead sales value of recovered gas.

The rights of landowners will be protected with a right of veto over conventional gas exploration and production on their land.

The Liberal Nationals continue to support the ban on fracking and coal seam gas exploration and production in Victoria to protect our farmland and our water supplies.

The Liberal Nationals will also introduce a domestic gas policy that ensures new gas discoveries are for the benefit of Victorians. Our onshore gas policy complements our position on renewable energy and provides a clear alternative to Daniel Andrews’ reckless, go-it-alone VRET of 40% by 2025.

A combination of decisions by Daniel Andrews has contributed to the sky-rocketing costs of electricity and gas.

The Andrews Labor Government’s ideological decision to triple the taxes on Victorian brown coal and pursue a go-it-alone 40% Victorian Renewable Energy Target, as well as banning all new sources of conventional onshore gas, has set off a chain reaction that led to the sudden closure of the Hazelwood power station, massive increases in energy prices and a dependence on Tasmania and New South Wales for reliable electricity. 

The conventional gas industry has successfully existed in Victoria for decades and together with Victoria’s world-class brown coal reserves, has previously been responsible for our state’s position as Australia’s lowcost energy power house. Allowing the private sector to locate new sources of gas will help to bring more supply into the Victorian energy market and reduce cost pressures. Victorians will have a clear choice on energy policy at the next election. It will be a choice between Daniel Andrews’ energy policies that

Allowing the private sector to locate new sources of gas will help to bring more supply into the Victorian energy market and reduce cost pressures. Victorians will have a clear choice on energy policy at the next election. It will be a choice between Daniel Andrews’ energy policies that

Victorians will have a clear choice on energy policy at the next election. It will be a choice between Daniel Andrews’ energy policies that

It will be a choice between Daniel Andrews’ energy policies that puts Greens voters first or the Liberal Nationals’ policies that will put Victorians first. 

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New portfolio elevates country Victoria

Monday 25 September 2017

Country Victoria is at the heart of the Liberal Nationals plan to better manage our population and grow our whole state – not just Melbourne.

The Liberal Nationals strongly believe a whole-of-government approach is integral to delivering the best outcome for rural and regional Victoria and our new Shadow Minister for Decentralisation portfolio is key to delivering for those communities

As Shadow Minister for Decentralisation, I will work closely with Liberal Party Leader Matthew Guy, in his role of Shadow Minister for Population, to develop a population policy for Victoria which includes maximum benefit and opportunity for regional communities.

More than 90 per cent of the people who move to our state each year move to Melbourne, but the Andrews Labor Government has no plan to manage this growth and regional Victoria is missing out as a direct result of Labor’s incompetence.

Under Labor, country roads have been left to crumble, and skyrocketing energy costs and other cost of living pressures are making it harder to do business and causing job losses across regional Victoria.

Victorians will have a clear choice at the next election.  A choice between the Liberal Nationals team that is focused and united on the issues that matter like jobs, cost of living and regional connectivity, or a Labor administration preoccupied with factional fights and rorting the taxpayer. 

Media releases Agriculture Environment

Labor’s goat nothing to say on eID

Thursday 21 September 2017

Victorian producers still don’t know if the Andrews Labor Government will subsidise electronic identification tags for sheep and goats in 2018.

In Parliament today, Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford refused to confirm if the Andrews Government would subsidise tags in 2018.

Ms Pulford’s admission confirms the process is severely delayed, months behind the Minister’s initial promise to announce a tag price “in the first half” of 2017.

Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh urged Victorian sheep and goat producers to hold off buying tags for next year until the Andrews Government was able to confirm a price.

“Farmers have completed their budgets for next year but they’ve got no idea how much the Andrews Labor Government will charge them to comply with its eID scheme in 2018,” Mr Walsh said.

“There’s a huge discrepancy in cost – a subsidised rate of 37 cents or the full rate of 74 cents.

“Producers should hold off buying tags until the Andrews Government provides them with certainty.”

Under Labor’s plan, information should have started being uploaded to the National Livestock Identification Scheme (NLIS) from 1 July 2017.

But in practice, none of the information is being uploaded to the NLIS because the software doesn’t exist to do it.

“Industry is on board with the implementation of EID but saleyard operators and agents are concerned that things are moving too slowly, the money is drying up too quickly and deadlines to begin scanning are approaching too quickly,” Mr Walsh said.

“It’s time the Minister seriously considered the appropriateness of some of her deadlines.

“We know there are issues with software compatibility, scanning at saleyards and possible cost blowouts when Labor’s meek $2.8 million fund for saleyards dries up.

“The Andrews Government thought industry could just apply the systems used for cattle to sheep and goats. It’s now apparent that just won’t work.”

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Labor still not prepared to put East Gippsland jobs first

Wednesday 20 September 2017

The Heyfield mill might be open, but the Andrews Labor Government continues to refuse to guarantee 250 jobs will remain at the mill.

Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh and The Nationals Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull have called on Daniel Andrews to urgently reassure mill workers and the Heyfield community that all remaining jobs are safe.

Mr Walsh said the mill also needed certainty past the current three-year contract offer.

“While it is a relief for the Heyfield community that the mill won’t close, it is cold comfort when Daniel Andrews’ decisions brought the mill to its knees in the first place,” Mr Walsh said.

“Labor must guarantee mill workers and the community there will be no job losses and that the mill has a future beyond the current three-year contract.

“The Premier for Melbourne still hasn’t set foot in Heyfield, most likely too ashamed because locals know he’s put Greens preferences and his own job ahead of mill workers’ jobs and this community.”

Asked in Parliament about the cost to taxpayers, Special Minister for State Gavin Jennings, who led the transition process, refused to admit the price of the deal.

He would only say the Government had a “controlling share” of the mill.

Mr Bull said the community wanted to know what stake the Government had in the mill and if all remaining jobs would still be retained after one shift of more than 20 had already been lost.

“Rather than do more press conferences from the steps of Spring Street, the Government should travel down to Heyfield and address our concerns,” Mr Bull said.

“It was absolutely galling to hear a senior Labor Minister claim today it was a ‘unilateral decision of the owners to walk away from the mill’.

“The Heyfield mill was forced towards closure by the Andrews Labor Government’s refusal to guarantee timber supply because they are scared of losing inner-city seats to the Greens at next year’s election.

“The mill didn’t need new owners, it needed a government prepared to put East Gippsland jobs first.”

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Labor trading insults, not answers, on rising energy costs

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Comments attributable to Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh

The Andrews Labor Government’s trivial response to questions in Parliament today on rising energy costs in regional Victoria is an utter insult to country business owners.

Minister for Energy Lily D’Ambrosio would rather blame others than make sure families and businesses can afford to pay their energy bills.

Agricultural businesses are the lifeblood of our country communities, but when extra money has to be spent keeping the lights on it means there’s less to spend on wages, in local small businesses and on supporting our country sporting clubs.

Closing Hazelwood with no plan to replace the loss of 22 per cent of our state’s baseload power supply and attempting to shift the blame to the Federal Government does nothing to support our rural and regional businesses.

The Premier for Melbourne must stop putting his own job and the jobs of his inner-city MPs who rely on Greens preferences before those in country Victoria.

Unlike Labor, a Liberal-Nationals government would prioritise energy security, affordability and reliability.

Background

Member for Gippsland South Danny O’Brien took the story of the Peddles, a Gippsland dairy farming family, to State Parliament today.

The Peddles face a 400 per cent increase in energy costs, with a 150 per cent jump in the price of electricity. They already spend about $150,000 a year on energy.

Minister for Energy Lily D’Ambrosio could not answer Mr O’Brien’s question on how the Peddle family, who employ eleven people in their dairy operation, could afford to pay for this year’s electricity increase.

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All Heyfield jobs must be saved

Friday 15 September 2017

Background

The glaring omission in the Andrews Government’s confirmation of the Heyfield mill sale is a promise that all 250 jobs will be saved.

Labor MP Harriet Shing promised in March the mill would “not lose jobs overall” if the Government became a buyer of last resort, but Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford recently said “less timber for the mill does mean that there will need to be some change”. 

Today’s announcement details nothing of what that change might mean for the 250 people employed at the mill and for the Heyfield community.

Up to 20 jobs have already been lost at the green mill when one shift was cut in August.

The Andrews Labor Government must urgently guarantee there will be no further job losses at the Heyfield mill.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh

Daniel Andrews’ decision to refuse timber supply to the Heyfield mill left the local community in limbo for nearly a year.

Labor is desperate to paint this deal as a win for the community to cover up the fact jobs have already been lost at the mill and that they have not guaranteed there won’t be further losses to come.

Daniel Andrews promised he would fight for every job, but it seems jobs in country Victoria just don’t make the cut.

Comments attributable to Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull

Each and every one of these mill jobs are vital to the Heyfield community.

These jobs wouldn’t have needed saving if Labor hadn’t refused to guarantee a viable timber supply.

Daniel Andrews is so desperate to secure Greens preferences and the seats of his inner-city MPs that he is willing to sacrifice those in our East Gippsland communities.