Nationals Candidate for Polwarth David O’Brien will fight for a $4 million Farmer’s Defender’s Office to defend the right to farm.
When in government, Mr O’Brien was instrumental in pushing for a Farmer’s Defenders Office, which became Coalition policy.
“My Farmers Defenders Office would give farmers free legal assistance when dealing with issues around the right to farm,” Mr O’Brien said.
"It is intended to assist farmers in Polwarth in fights against non farming uses such as CSG.
“The FDO would also set up partnerships with rural and regional law firms, and will be a first point-of-contact for farmers.
“Farmers don’t always have the money or the legal know how to defend their interests. Further, farmers are often involved in cases which have widespread implications across the nation - cases against competing uses including CSG; or against activists or property developers who move into farming land.
“Farming is the backbone of our rural economies and we need to protect it to protect the jobs of the future.
“To ensure viable farms and food security, we must stop farms being threatened by urban encroachment, unlawful conduct by activists and competing commercial interests including CSG,” Mr O’Brien said.
Rokewood farmer Kylie Walton said farmers had been crying out for a service like this for years.
"Farmers don't have the money and resources that big mining companies and big property developers do to fight legal battles – we don't have in-house lawyers," Ms Walton said.
"Finally, this is an idea which may even the playing field a little."
"We need to protect our right to farm, our land and our water for our children."
The Nationals candidate for South West Coast Michael Neoh has today called for a new age energy centre of excellence to be established at Portland.
Speaking ahead of the candidates' forum at Portland on Wednesday, Mr Neoh said that new age, or renewable, energy industry was a perfect fit for Portland.
“Victoria’s south west coast has many natural advantages for renewable energy such as an abundance of wind, the ocean coastline and sunlight.
“There are a number of wind turbines installed around the district, and components for wind turbine towers are already manufactured at Portland by Keppel Prince so it makes sense to continue to build on this natural advantage.
“In addition, the relevant renewable energy department and staff should be located in Portland to ensure critical work at the centre of excellence is done locally.
“The locating of the department in Portland would create a welcomes boost to the local economy as well as bring new jobs and families to the area.
“The locating of the centre of excellence in Portland would no doubt see hundreds of new jobs created for our whole region in the future.”
The Victoria Liberal-Nationals Coalition has urged the Andrews Labor Government to finalise a concessional loans package and consider offering municipal rates rebates and other practical support to Victoria’s drought affected farm communities.
Comments from Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh:
“On behalf of our struggling farmers, we strongly urge the Andrews Government to finalise negotiations and accept the Commonwealth’s latest offer of concessional loans funding.
“We also urge the Andrews Government to offer practical relief to households, such as municipal rates rebates. This measure helped struggling farm families during the last drought and would be welcomed by those who are already facing cash flow pressure.
“The hardship is spreading, and we aren’t even into summer yet. Farmers know this is going to get worse before it gets better.
“Droughts take an awful emotional toll, but our regional communities can be reassured and ready for the tough months ahead if they know there is a comprehensive package of support ready to go.
“Farm businesses are the backbone of our country communities, so when drought strikes it reaches far beyond the farm gate. By supporting farmers, we are supporting everyone who lives and works in regional Victoria.
“Federal Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce will be here in the next couple weeks and I am keen for the Minister to see first-hand the severity of conditions in Victoria.”
Bannockburn residents are concerned that someone will suffer dearly from ambulance delays, according to The Nationals candidate for Polwarth, David O’Brien.
Mr O’Brien recently doorknocked Bannockburn with The Nationals Leader, Peter Walsh, and said that a number of residents raised concerns about the delays in ambulance response times.
“One particular resident was a young mother, particularly concerned for the health and safety of children who may through incident, accident or illness required the service of an ambulance,” said Mr O’Brien.
“Some of the elderly folk we spoke with shared the concern. It is worrying to elderly people that the emergency services they rely on might not be there for them.
I call upon Jill Hennessey, Labor’s Minister for Health, to address the long delays as a matter of urgency,” said Mr O’Brien.
“The Minister should get down here herself and talk to the people of Bannockburn about their concerns with ambulance delays,” said Mr O’Brien.
The Labor Party has chosen not to field a candidate in the October 31, By-election for former Liberal Transport Minister Terry Mulder’s seat of Polwarth.
The Nationals Candidate for South West Coast Michael Neoh has welcomed today's pledge from the Liberal-National Coalition to invest $100 million for Stage 2 of the Warrnambool Base Hospital upgrade.
"Our hospital is a critical piece of infrastructure, and everyone who lives in this community understands we need Stage 2 of the upgrade project to keep up with growing service demands,” Mr Neoh said.
"The Andrew's Government has been in charge for nearly a year now but the Health Minister has focused on Melbourne issues and ignored the needs of Warrnambool.
"Now the people of South West Coast have an iron-clad guarantee that the next Liberal-National Coalition government will deliver the hospital that our region deserves."
The state of Foxhow and Ayresford roads, is a major concern to the local community and must be addressed as a matter of urgency according to the Nationals candidate for Polwarth, David O’Brien.
Mr O’Brien, who made a strong declaration to make roads his number one priority at his campaign launch in Camperdown two weeks ago, is calling on the local community to attend a roads forum in Simpson on Thursday evening.
“I am in no doubt that roads is the number one issue for people in Polwarth at the moment and I am calling on the Andrews government to take action right now to get this road fixed,” said Mr O’Brien.
Mr O’Brien also responded to Corangamite Mayor Chris O’Connor’s, recent comments on the lack lustre of election campaign and stating the was disappointed with the Mayor’s comments.
“I have been calling for the planning for the necessary upgrades and duplication of the Princes Highway including the consideration of Mr O’Connor’s 2:1 option to commence, since I announced my candidacy for Polwarth.
“In fact I discussed the matter with him in person on the day of my campaign launch. The first step is to have the road recognised as an Auslink status road,” Mr O’Brien commented.
“I listen to the local community and I act. That is why I am inviting Mayor O’Connor and all interested members of the community to attend my Roads Forum in Simpson on Thursday evening.
We need to stand together on this, and if elected I will make personal representations to the State Minister and work with my Nationals colleague in Canberra, Deputy Prime and Minister for Infrastructure, Warren Truss, to see that the Princes Highway duplication to Warrnambool is everyone’s number one priority,” Mr O’Brien declared.
“Right now though the Andrews government should be pushing Vic Roads to fix Foxhow Road, and address the state of Ayresford Road. These roads are hazardous and they need to be fixed immediately,“ stated Mr O’Brien.
The Roads Forum will be held at the Simpson Hotel on Thursday 15 October 2015 at 7:00pm.
Former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer a renowned train book author, is backing David O’Brien’s call for trials of increased shuttle trains from Geelong to Warrnambool.
Mr O’Brien, the Nationals candidate for Polwarth has called for further investigations of a trial sprinter train service between Warrnambool and Geelong using Velocity trains to further increase train services for residents of Colac, Camperdown, Terang and Winchelsea.
A passionate user of train services and a musician, Mr O’Brien believes an extended train service will bring economic benefit to the region.
“With events like Colac Kana Festival, the Warrnambool Music Festival and the Colac and Warrnambool Cup we can bring city folks out to our region to enjoy the events and at the same time trial a train service with genuine potential for the future.” said Mr O’Brien.
Former Deputy Prime Minister, Tim Fischer, known all over the country for his interest in and love of trains and rail services said the idea had meriit.
"Shuttle velocity operations make a great deal of sense and are practicable and viable," said Mr Fischer.
Mr O’Brien said that the Coalition announcement made last week that they would deliver a fourth train if returned to government was a terrific announcement and a great start for improved train services.
“My vision for this region is a vibrant one and I can see long term opportunities for additional services that connect with Geelong’s services to Melbourne. There is work to be done in bringing about greater service.
Obviously there will need to be co-ordination with freight train pathways as well as community consultation
to get the balance right between through trains and additional shuttle services,” said Mr O’Brien.
“I am calling on the Andrew’s government to make a genuine investment in regional Victoria, and trial a shuttle train to Colac and Warrnambool for these significant local events.
In the long term, an investment in a shuttle service to Geelong a number of times a day that connects to the frequent Geelong to Melbourne service will open significant potential for regional development in Polwarth and the South West,” said Mr O’Brien.
Victoria’s Shadow Minister for Mental Health, Tim Bull, is calling on all Victorians to get involved in Mental Health Week which finishes on World Mental Health Day, Saturday October 10th.
Mr Bull said Mental Health Week is a great opportunity to educate and raise awareness among all Victorians about the effects of mental health on our society.
“With one if five people experiencing a mental health disorder it is very likely that you or someone you know will be affected during your lifetime.
“Mental Health Week is about helping to remove the stigma associated with mental health disorders so it can be treated like any other illness such as diabetes.
“I would encourage all Victorians to visit the mental health week website and get involved in one of the many events that are running right around the state,” Mr Bull said.
For more information about Mental Health Week and how you can get involved visit: http://mentalhealthvic.org.au/
Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford has failed to answer questions on the appointment of two union members to the board of Primesafe, Victoria’s industry-funded meat regulator.
Belinda Jacobi, Lead Organiser of the National Union of Workers, was announced as a new member of the Primesafe board on June 2 2015 in a ministerial media release issued by Minister Pulford.
The Minister has a declared membership of the NUW, an organisation which paid $175,117 to the Victorian Labor Party last year.
Today in Question Time Minister Pulford refused to say whether she exempted herself from the process and decision surrounding Ms Jacobi’s appointment.
Just days after Ms Jacobi’s appointment a second union organiser, Australian Meat Industry Employees Union secretary Paul Conway was appointed without public announcement.
There are now 2 union representatives on the 8 member Primesafe board.
Primesafe is funded entirely through levies paid by the red meat, poultry meat and seafood industry.
Comments from Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh:
“The Minister failed to answer a very simple question put to her in Question Time – did she excuse herself from a conflict of interest situation when Ms Jacobi was appointed?”
“Primesafe is the regulator of Victoria’s multi-billion meat industry, not an arena for Labor to repay favours to union allies.”