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Labor’s Heyfield deception

Monday 3 July 2017

Hundreds of jobs at Heyfield’s timber mill remain in jeopardy despite the Andrews Government’s claims today.

The Government’s media statement this morning says “…there will be no job losses while contractual negotiations are finalised,” but offers zero commitment beyond that period.

Minister Pulford also told ABC 774 today that the timber offer to the mill “has not changed” which confirms that future job losses at the mill are inevitable.

Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh

Daniel Andrews and Jaala Pulford have yet again failed to give Heyfield mill workers long term certainty for their jobs.

The only way to save these jobs is to increase timber supply and the Andrews Government confirmed again today that they aren’t prepared to put jobs first.

Labor starved the mill of a timber supply and caused a fire-sale and then the government bought it at bargain basement price.

Instead of seeking accolades, Daniel Andrews should get down to Heyfield, come clean and admit he has failed to save all 260 jobs.

Comments attributable to The Nationals Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull

Saying there will be “no jobs lost in transition” gives no comfort for the workers as it provides no long term security and, in fact, workers have already been told there will be job losses and redundancies due to the reduced timber supply.

It’s a disgrace for Labor to claim this is a “great day for Heyfield” and a “great relief” for workers when the Andrews Government has led from the start a process that will result in significant job losses in the town.

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Have your say on Liberal Nationals population

Thursday 29 June 2017

Victoria is the fastest growing state in Australia.

In 2016, our state grew by 146,000 people – the highest growth rate of any state in living memory.

In the past month alone, an additional 10,500 people have become residents – that’s equivalent to the population of my home town of Swan Hill moving to Victoria every month.

But our country communities take in less than 10 per cent of this growth and in some regions the population is in decline.

Despite this, the Labor Premier for Melbourne has no vision and no plan for regional Victoria.

The Liberal-Nationals have taken a completely different approach.

We established the Population Policy Taskforce to plan to decentralise Melbourne’s population and develop job opportunities, infrastructure and services in regional Victoria.

It’s the first holistic approach to planning for Victoria’s burgeoning population growth.

Chaired by Kew MP Tim Smith and deputy chair Danny O’Brien, The Nationals’ Member for Gippsland South, the Taskforce has travelled across Victoria, including to Shepparton, Mildura, the Latrobe Valley, Geelong and Ballarat to consult with our communities.

The feedback was overwhelming.

Country people are frustrated by the lack of population, a poor transport network and unreliable energy, while a deteriorating regional rail network and country roads make it hard to get from A to B.

For some businesses, energy costs have increased so much it’s impacting their ability to retain and hire staff, while the rapidly changing policy and regulatory environment is affecting business’ ability to invest.

It comes at a time when job losses are at the front of people’s minds.

Jobs are seen as the key piece of the puzzle in attracting and retaining people in regional Victoria. We’ve heard many suggestions on creating opportunities for businesses to move to the regions, including around state taxes and special economic zones.

Our agricultural communities are the backbone of our state’s economy, and we want to make sure they are recognised in plans for our future population.

Victorians can still be part of the Liberal-Nationals’ policy process, as we continue our work ahead of the 2018 election.

With the interim report now out, we welcome submissions from anyone who wants to have their say and help shape the future of our state.

 

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Labor's failed Federation Training 'rescue'

Tuesday 27 June 2017

Daniel Andrews’ TAFE ‘rescue’ has been a total sham.

A third of Federation Training's workforce was sacked with 182 full time equivalent staff losing their jobs at the TAFE in Labor's first year in office.  

Under Daniel Andrews the number of students undertaking training at Federation Training has reduced drastically, with 700,000 fewer student contact hours being offered.

The figures were revealed in Federation Training's 2015 annual report, which was tabled in Parliament more than a year late. 

For months, Training and Skills Minister Gayle Tierney has refused to answer basic questions about Federation Training’s staff numbers, student enrolments and its finances, suddenly claiming the information is “commercially sensitive”.

Seven out of the state’s 12 TAFE Institutes, including Federation Training, are relying on government bailouts to stay afloat.

Gayle Tierney has supported the closure of student services, the sacking of teachers and presided over a huge reduction in student numbers at Federation Training.

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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.

 

Media releases Agriculture Environment

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.

Media releases SPORTS AND RECREATION Community Services

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Media releases Agriculture Environment

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.