Daniel Andrews has dealt yet another blow to regional Victoria, and this one on the eve of Christmas.
Under Daniel Andrews’ city-centric government, we’ve lost the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund and the highly popular Country Roads and Bridges Program, the regional development budget has been slashed by 24 per cent, and there have been paltry investments in regional major projects and regional hospitals.
It’s outrageous that Daniel Andrews happily spent $1.1 billion of taxpayers’ money not building a road in Melbourne but he won’t invest even a fraction of this into our Regional Living programs.
Jaala Pulford was asked about the future of the Regional Living Expo in Parliament just five days ago and said “no decision has been made”.
Why didn’t the Minister come clean when questioned in Parliament last week, instead of fudging the answer and rolling out a press release five days later? It looks like Labor has been embarrassed into making a decision.
What Minister Pulford used to say – media release, 1 May 2015
“The Expo is a chance for rural and regional councils to showcase the outstanding benefits of their local areas, helping to attract potential residents, skilled workers, business and investment.”
What Regional Development Victoria says – annual report 2014/15
“The fourth edition of the Regional Victoria Living Expo was a success, attracting a record 10,156 patrons.”
“Once again, the Expo proved particularly popular with young families and working professionals, and councils continue to receive positive enquiries from attendees keen to move to their regions.”
The Andrews Government has again failed to properly fund the protection of Victorian riverbanks.
Before the last election, the Coalition committed to a $45 million program for fencing Crown Land river frontages.
Today Lisa Neville has re-announced $10 million already listed in the 2015/16 Budget (BP3, p56). There is no funding for riparian land care in the forward estimates.
The Budget also confirms (p5) there is still $105 million unspent in the government’s Environmental Contribution Levy (ECL) Fund.
Comments from Shadow Minister for Water Peter Walsh:
“The launch of this Action Plan was the ideal time for Daniel Andrews to make a serious funding commitment from the ECL Fund to help protect our riparian reserves.”
“Farmers will also want Daniel Andrews to guarantee that the Crown Land fencing program will remain voluntary.”
Thank you to everyone that supported our Major Raffle.
Congratulations to the 7 winners, we hope you enjoy your prize
First Prize: Judy Sims
Second Prize: Dianne Sanders
Third Prize: Harvey O'Donnell
Fourth Prize: Judith Bysouth
Fifth Prize: Rosanne Kava
Sixth Prize: Vic & Deb Madex
Seventh Prize: Nola Buzza
More young people are without a job under the Andrews Labor Government.
ABS data released today show there are 9,453 fewer young people in full time work than when Daniel Andrews came to office 12 months ago.
Statewide, there are 74,959 young people without a job.
Victoria’s youth unemployment rate is at 14.6 per cent, despite Daniel Andrews’ promise to create 100,000 new full-time jobs as part of the Back to Work scheme.
Shadow Minister for Young Victorians Steph Ryan:
“Daniel Andrews’ Back to Work scheme continues to fail young people in Victoria.
“Daniel Andrews used to say that every job is worth fighting for but now Victoria's young people are getting nothing but excuses.
“The Andrews Labor Government doesn’t have an economic and jobs plan for Victoria’s youth. Daniel Andrews has a media plan, but he doesn’t have a jobs plan.”
The Andrews Labor Government’s plan to reverse the north-south pipeline and turn on the desal plant is more than a thought bubble, with a business case underway.
Premier Daniel Andrews and Water Minister Lisa Neville have both recently talked-up the potential of reversing of the north-south pipeline to send water from Melbourne to the north of the state.
Under Labor’s plan, water taken from the Melbourne system would be replaced with desalinated water, which costs around $5000 per megalitre to produce.
When questioned in Parliament this week, Lisa Neville refused to say how much reversing the pipeline would cost or who would pay for the water if it did go ahead, but said a business case was being undertaken.
Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Water Minister Peter Walsh said the plan was nothing more than a cruel hoax on northern Victorian irrigators who were already struggling to afford up to $300 per megalitre on the temporary water market.
“It would be ridiculous to ask irrigators to pay $5000 per megalitre for water when they are already struggling with the current price,” Mr Walsh said.
“The average dairy farm would be paying around $4.5 million a year for water at that pricetag.
“Labor’s plan is nothing more than a cruel hoax and a desperate attempt to justify turning on the desal plant.”
The cost of desal water:
· The standby cost of the desal plant in 2015/16 is $620 million, with no water produced.
· To produce 150GL of water, the capacity of the plant, would cost an additional $117 million.
· The total cost of $737 million divided by 150GL (150,000ML) is $4913 per ML.
Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh:
“Today’s announcement is underwhelming for regional Victoria to say the least.
“If Daniel Andrews is putting the government ‘back to work’ for regional Victoria, where have they been for the past 12 months?
“Regional Victoria has lost 10,100 full-time jobs since Daniel Andrews came to office and this brochure does nothing to reverse that trend.”
Shadow Regional Development Minister Damian Drum:
“We’ve waited a year for the Labor Government to come up with nine committees and a glossy booklet with no new money.”
The Andrews Labor Government’s drought support package is a starting point, but should go further to support farmers and small businesses that are under severe financial strain.
Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Peter Walsh, said for many farmers in the southern Mallee and Wimmera this was the second or third year of failed crops.
Mr Walsh said the Andrews Labor Government should provide greater support to businesses, including discounts to municipal rates and fixed water charges.
“The government’s package is a first step, but it does not include any business support for farms and small businesses affected by drought, and some of the programs are re-announcements,” Mr Walsh said.
“It is not just farmers who struggle in a drought, local businesses are also impacted by the lack of spending in the town.
“In the last drought, farmers were offered discounts on their municipal rates and fixed water charges and it would be beneficial if Daniel Andrews included similar rate relief programs in this support package.”
Mr Walsh said there was around $20 million left from the Wimmera-Mallee Pipeline, which was completed under budget, which could be used to fund water projects in drought-affected areas.
“These water projects need to get started immediately so they benefit drought-affected farmers as soon as possible,” Mr Walsh said.
Country-based Liberal-Nationals MPs were unable to make it back in time for the start of Parliament today, after travelling to Remembrance Day services in their local electorates.
Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh said the Andrews Labor Government had scheduled a sitting day of Parliament on Remembrance Day, with a delayed start time of 2pm.
That only allowed enough time for city MPs to attend Remembrance Day services in their electorates, while country MPs were left unable to get back to Parliament on time.
“Remembrance Day is such an important opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices made to keep our country safe and it’s a day all MPs rightly want to spend with their communities,” Mr Walsh said.
“Postponing the start of Parliament has been of no help to country MPs who live three or four hours away from Melbourne and have been unable to get back to Parliament on time.
“Yet again we have seen the Andrews Labor Government make a decision that is solely focused on the city while forgetting all about country Victorians.
“Parliament should not sit on Remembrance Day at all, as a mark of respect.
“The former Coalition Government made a deliberate decision not to schedule Parliament on Remembrance Day and I urge Daniel Andrews to show more respect and do the same in future.
“Country MPs should not be forced to choose between spending this important day with their communities and attending Parliament on time.”
David O’Brien, The Nationals candidate for Polwarth, is calling for a significant upgrade to the status and condition of the Twelve Apostle route from the Princes Highway across to the Great Ocean Road.
“The Twelve Apostles and Lochard Gorge are Australian icons drawing visitors from all over Australia and the world, yet we have a substandard road to get there,” Mr O’Brien said.
“It is not a great road, in fact it is a very poor road that takes us to these magnificent natural wonders. What we should have is the “Great Otway Link” and a new name and a new road worthy of such a name,” said Mr O’Brien.
“I am calling on infrastructure Australia to recognise the economic and cultural significant of this road and I believe it worthy of a project application for the development of an integrated rail and roadway service from Melbourne to the Twelve Apostles
If I am elected on Saturday one of my first calls will be to my Federal Colleague, Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, to ask for his support and assistance with this project,” stated Mr O’Brien
The Liberal-Nationals Coalition continues to support a buy-back of commercial netting licences for Port Phillip Bay, including Corio Bay.
The Coalition committed to the policy during the lead up to the November 2014 election.
The Coalition’s initiative was then adopted by the Victorian Labor Party.
Today the Andrews Labor Government introduced the Fisheries Amendment Bill 2015 which will legislate the buy-back of commercial licences and phase out netting in Port Phillip Bay by 2022.
Comments from Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh:
“Both myself and Matthew Guy have met with recreational fishing and commercial fishing representatives and stakeholders in recent weeks and we’ve made it clear that we remain committed to the policy we took to the last election.
“In the coming weeks we will examine the legislation presented by the Government to ensure that it provides fair compensation to the licences holders and that the phase-out mechanisms are appropriate.
“Our pre-election policy aspired to make Port Phillip Bay and Corio Bay recreational fishing meccas for locals and visitors alike, and ending commercial netting was a key part of the plan.”