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Giant Murray Cod

Media Releases

New guardians of Victoria’s fisheries hit the decks

Sunday, July 31, 2011
The Victorian Coalition Government has moved to address long-term concerns about the resourcing of Victoria’s fisheries, deploying 10 new fisheries officers across the state.
Agriculture and Food Security Minister Peter Walsh said the new recruits would enforce fishing laws and regulations around Victoria’s rivers, lakes, bays and coastline.
“The previous Labor Government created 13 new marine parks and then left them vulnerable to illegal fishing by failing to increase the number of officers and investigators on patrol,” Mr Walsh said.
“If anything, since the parks were created in 2005, the number of fisheries officers has decreased.
“These 10 new fisheries officers will help address resourcing concerns, bringing the total number of fisheries officers and investigators operating across the state to 77.
“They will be vital in controlling poaching in the state’s marine parks and will substantially boost our capacity to protect the sustainability of our valuable fisheries.”
Mr Walsh said the recruits were chosen from more than 700 applicants and now had the power to enforce fisheries legislation either through on-the-spot fines or in serious cases, through the courts.
“The officers will be responsible for protecting Victoria’s inshore reefs, inter-tidal zones and marine national parks, including marine species such as rock lobster, abalone and southern bluefin tuna,” Mr Walsh said.
“They will also be active in inland parts of the state with a particular focus on protecting any illegal fishing of Murray cod.
“The 10 new fisheries officers completed their training this month and have been deployed to Mallacoota, Traralgon, Melbourne, Apollo Bay, Horsham and Tatura.
“They will need to educate the public on fisheries rules and the reasons behind these, as well as enforcing the law,” Mr Walsh said.
During their 10-week training course, the recruits learnt everything from identifying illegal fishing gear, collecting evidence for court and handling small boats, to four-wheel driving.

Restrictions likely to ease as dams near 60 per cent

Saturday, July 30, 2011
Melbourne’s dams are tipped to reach 60 per cent early next week for the first time since November 2005.
Visiting Cardinia Reservoir today, Water Minister Peter Walsh said if it stopped raining today with the dams at 59.7 per cent, Melbourne had at least two years worth of water in storage.
“Rainfall and the efforts Melburnians continue to make to reduce their water use makes a strong case for easing restrictions in November,” Mr Walsh said.
“The dams are now almost 60 per cent full in comparison with 35.9 per cent at the same time last year, and only two years later than the record low of 25.6 per cent in mid-2009.
“Melbourne homes and industry have shown their fantastic efforts have become ingrained and, rightly, they should be rewarded with more flexibility in how they use water.”
Mr Walsh said a decision on restrictions would be made when the filling season had ended.
“We are heading into what are typically our wettest months but with the Thomson Dam still recovering the decision won’t be taken lightly,” Mr Walsh said.
“As a government we are conscious that almost 500 billion litres of stormwater and 300 billion litres of recycled water is wasted in Melbourne each year.
“In this year’s Budget we put aside $50 million to increase the future use of stormwater and recycled water to help meet Melbourne’s non-potable water needs.
“We are also spending $40 million over the next four years on water rebates to give incentives for households and small businesses to keep up their water saving ways.”
Mr Walsh said that even if water restrictions were eased, a permanent water saving regime would be put in place to ensure water was not wasted.
“We are reviewing the framework for water restrictions and permanent water saving rules and we want to hear from the community about what worked and what didn’t,” Mr Walsh said.
“The community’s views will play a big part in how we shape the new restrictions and permanent water saving rules. For more information about the restrictions review or to participate in an online forum, visit

Govt welcomes Bushfire Implementation Monitor interim report

Friday, July 29, 2011
An interim report by Bushfire Implementation Monitor Neil Comrie AO APM outlining progress in implementing the recommendations of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission has been tabled in State Parliament today.
Acting Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Walsh today said the government welcomed the tabling of the report and would review its contents in detail.
“The Victorian Coalition Government is committed to implementing all 67 recommendations of the Bushfires Royal Commission and this report provides valuable feedback as we deliver on our commitment,” Mr Walsh said.
“Earlier this year, the Coalition Government gave Mr Comrie full independence in his role as Implementation Monitor so he and the community could have faith in the implementation process.
“This is the first time the Implementation Monitor has reported directly to the Victorian public, delivering on the Coalition’s promise to be more open and transparent in implementing the Commission’s recommendations.”
Mr Walsh said the comprehensive 173 page document included specific information on each of the Commission’s recommendations.
“I thank Mr Comrie for providing this crucial progress report. Like all Victorians we are steadfast in our resolve to do everything we can to protect the state against tragedies like the 2009 bushfires in the future,” Mr Walsh said.
“Ultimately people’s lives, homes and properties are at stake, so nothing could require greater care, consideration and transparency.”
Mr Walsh said the Government would comment further on report in due course once it had an opportunity to review it in detail.
Mr Comrie will provide his final report to the Parliament on the implementation of the Bushfires Royal Commission recommendations by 31 July 2012.
The report is available on the Department of Justice website:

$20 million grains investment has finger on pulses

Thursday, July 28, 2011
The Victorian Coalition Government hopes a new $20 million investment in grains research will put more dollars in the bank for Victoria’s grain growers.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh announced the funding commitment from the Victorian Coalition Government and the Grains Research and Development Corporation in Horsham today.
“Over the next five years, $20 million will be spent in an effort to expand southern Australia’s pulse growing region and breed new pulse varieties including peas, lentils, chickpeas and faba beans,” Mr Walsh said.
“In coming seasons five new lentil varieties and two new types of peas are expected to be released.
“The investment will help food producers grow pulses into high and low rainfall zones and increase the pulse rate to 30-40 per cent of the rotation in medium rainfall cropping regions.”
Mr Walsh said the research would be led by Department of Primary Industries (DPI) scientists in Horsham.
“DPI leads the national grains breeding program for field peas and lentils co-ordinating experiments at 20 sites across Australia.
“Our scientists carry out extensive research to identify new traits for use in breeding programs that will help to combat diseases, respond to climate variability and soil constraints,” Mr Walsh said.
“Research is also being conducted on traits to achieve agronomic improvements such as herbicide tolerance and better harvestability.
“A new herbicide-tolerant lentil will be available to farmers in 2012 but this is only the start.”
Mr Walsh said about $3 million would be used to assess new varieties so that when they were released for commercial use growers had information about how to best to grow them.
“The work identifies maximum production traits in modern no-till or minimum-till systems,” Mr Walsh said.
“This investment will give Victoria’s grain growers an international advantage and place them at the cutting edge of scientific research.”

Young farmers urged to apply for cash grants

Wednesday, July 27, 2011
 Young farmers committed to a career in agriculture can now apply for Victorian Coalition Government grants of up to $10,000 to enhance the productivity and sustainability of their businesses.
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said the Victorian Coalition Government had allocated $1.2 million to the First Farm Grant Program which would continue for one year or until the funds were allocated.
“The First Farm grants are part of the Victorian Coalition Government’s comprehensive assistance package designed to support young people pursuing a career in food and fibre production,” Mr Walsh said.
“The program was due to expire under the Labor Government, but the Coalition Government allocated additional funds to reinstate the grants.
“Food and fibre production underpins the well-being of rural communities and is crucial in ensuring Victoria’s economy grows strongly and is competitive in the future.
“In this year’s budget we announced a range of initiatives to encourage more young people to take up a career in agriculture.
“Farmers who were under 35 on July 1 are eligible to apply for the grants, and I would encourage them to do so.”
Mr Walsh said grants include up to $3,000 for business planning and an additional grant for development activities, totalling a combined value of up to $10,000,” Mr Walsh said.
“This will allow young farmers to improve their management skills as well as prepare for future challenges, while also providing capital investment for their enterprise,” Mr Walsh said.
Young farmers who were on the waiting list for the First Farm grant last year will need to apply again as some of the eligibility criteria have changed to provide greater consistency across the government’s range of initiatives for young farmers.
The First Farm Grant Program will be delivered through DPI and administered by the Rural Finance Corporation. The program began on 1 July 2011 and will conclude on 30 June 2012. Selection criteria and other information can be viewed on the DPI and Rural Finance websites.

Small towns invited to apply for water project funds

Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Funding is now available for improved water supply and sewerage management projects in small towns across Victoria.
Minister for Water Peter Walsh today announced the fourth round of the Small Towns Water Quality Fund with a commitment of $3.9 million.
“The Victorian Coalition Government is making a vital investment in rural communities,” Mr Walsh said.
“This funding will help drive projects which identify solutions to provide improved water supply services and sewerage management for our small towns.
“Funding is available for water corporations and local government to develop wastewater management solutions and improve water quality such as new water supply services, septic tank upgrades and waste water treatment and management solutions for small towns.”
Mr Walsh recently announced successful towns from round three of the fund including Quambatook, Wycheproof, Alberton, Baddaginnie, Pimpino and Moyhu.
“The projects will give these communities an improved water supply or sewerage systems and may well be forerunners to similar projects in other communities throughout the region,” Mr Walsh said.
Water corporations and local government are encouraged to register their interest for projects on behalf of their community to the Department of Sustainability and Environment by 1 September 2011.
Projects should align with local government domestic wastewater management plan priorities or demonstrate they will address water supply quality and security concerns.
Selected projects will be invited to submit a business case by 1 December 2011 and a maximum of up to $1 million will be provided for projects which can supply at least 1:1 matched funding.
For more information and guidelines on the Small Towns Water Quality Fund visit

Fire Awareness Awards Now Open

Friday, July 22, 2011
Member for Swan Hill, Peter Walsh, is encouraging residents to enter the 2011 Fire Awareness Awards.
The awards recognise the hard work of individuals, groups and organisations in fire projects across Victoria and provide an important opportunity for people to share their contribution, expertise and experience.
Mr Walsh said the awards were open to anyone involved in projects that aimed to reduce the frequency, severity or impact of fires anywhere in Victoria.
Projects can cover any fire type, including home and building fires as well as bushfires.
“Eight of the 15 award categories are community-based awards including categories such as Recovery, Community Preparedness, Aged/Disability and Volunteer,” he said.
“In addition to the awards, there are financial grants available to further develop fire safety projects or ideas including a $10,000 RACV Insurance Fire Innovation grant and $2,000 Special Incentive grants.”
To be eligible, projects should focus on fire safety, awareness, prevention, response or recovery.
Entries close at 4pm on Friday September 30 with winners of the Fire Awareness Awards and the grants being announced at the awards ceremony on December 1 at the RACV Club in Melbourne.
To enter or find out more, visit: or phone 9412 4465.

Basin communities urged to have their say online

Thursday, July 21, 2011
Water Minister Peter Walsh has launched the Victorian Coalition Government’s online engagement forum to encourage more people to have their say on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
The forum gives people an immediate opportunity to be involved in the development of the plan, not just its implementation.
In Bendigo today to address Goulburn-Murray Water’s customer committees, Mr Walsh said it was vital people had their say on the draft plan when it was released next month.
“A YouTube channel has been established to share any thoughts and ideas from the works of Victoria’s Basin Plan Advisory Group,” Mr Walsh said.
“People can also log in, comment and upload their own videos to tell the decision makers what they think of the Basin plan and how it will impact on their lives, businesses and futures.
“This is an avenue for people from right across Victoria’s Basin communities – from Corryong to Meringur – to share their stories.
“By taking the discussion online we’re giving not just the members of the advisory group an opportunity to participate in the debate, but people from every community.”
Mr Walsh said the Victorian Coalition Government was plugging the gap left by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.
“To date, the community engagement process undertaken by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority has been disappointing,” Mr Walsh said.
“Despite promising to be open and inclusive, its online forums are closed to comment and its YouTube site has not been updated in seven months.
“It has also ignored our calls to publicise the consultation process for the draft plan.”
Victoria’s Basin Plan Advisory Group online forum is at

Coalition extends water rebates to small businesses

Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Small businesses will be eligible for new rebates on water efficient products for the first time under a Victorian Coalition Government plan to help reduce potable water usage, Minister for Water Peter Walsh said today.
Mr Walsh said the Coalition Government was delivering on its election commitment to invest $40 million in rebates on water efficient products for homes, gardens and now small businesses.
“Water bills are soaring thanks to the Brumby Labor Government’s waste and incompetence, but these rebates will help small businesses and households make savings,” Mr Walsh said.
“Victoria’s water storages are filling after recent rains but people need to continue their efforts to be water efficient and this is one way that we can make the most of every drop.
“For the first time small businesses with 20 or less employees are eligible to receive rebates of up to $2000 on a range of water-efficient products.
“Rebates are now available for items such as commercial glass washers, dishwashers and washing machines, high pressure cleaners and dual flush toilets,” Mr Walsh said.
“The range of products available will encourage more small businesses, including restaurants, laundromats and car washes, to become water efficient.
“Over the next year, the program is expected to provide up to 5000 rebates for small businesses and up to 30,000 home and garden rebates.”
A rebate can be claimed for 50 per cent of the cost up to a maximum rebate amount of $2000 on eligible products purchased.
Today’s announcement follows an extension of the rebate program for households including those not connected to mains water on products including water efficient washing machines and pool covers.
For more information about the program and products eligible for a rebate visit

Heritage Grants Now Open

Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Member for Swan Hill, Peter Walsh, advises that grants of up to $200,000 are now available under the Heritage Grants for Places and Objects 2011-12 program.
The Heritage Grants for Places and Objects program supports community groups and individuals in their efforts to conserve and manage significant heritage places and objects.
“Our region has a rich historical heritage and it is important to preserve this for the benefit of local communities,” Mr Walsh said.
The program has $1 million available for the two grants:
1. $20,000 to $200,000 for the repair of heritage places
2. $5,000 to $10,000 for the repair of heritage objects
Local councils, not-for-profit organisations, committees of management, the National Trust and religious organisations are eligible to apply.
All projects must involve places that have statutory heritage protection, that is, they must be listed on either the Victorian Heritage Register, or the Heritage Overlay of the local planning scheme.
Projects to conserve objects will only be considered where an object/s importance is demonstrated by its listing on the Victorian Heritage Register, or a strong, evidenced historical association with a place on the Victorian Heritage Register.
Applications close on 31 August. Guidelines and application forms are available from ph. 1300 366 356 or Peter Walsh’s office on 5032 3154.

Contact: Electorate Office: 274 Campbell Street SWAN HILL Vic 3585 Phone: (03) 5032 3154 Fax: (03) 5032 9483