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Media Releases

Labor savages funds for fox and wild dog bounty

Tuesday, October 21, 2014
A re-elected Victorian Coalition Government will retain the successful fox and wild dog bounties as well as provide a $4 million boost for targeted aerial baiting to control wild dogs in Gippsland and North East Victoria.
Agriculture and Food Security Minister Peter Walsh confirmed the additional funding for aerial baiting as Labor was caught out by its own candidate ripping funds out of the successful and effective Fox and Wild Dog Bounty.
“There is no silver bullet for wild dog control. We need to use every available tool and that includes targeted aerial and ground baiting, wild dog controllers skilled in trapping and shooting, community participation programs, and bounties which encourage and reward landowners’ and hunters’ efforts,” Mr Walsh said.
“Under a Coalition Government, communities don’t have to choose one over the other, they will get the full arsenal in an integrated, coordinated program.
“Under a re-elected Coalition government, there will be $4 million for the Fox and Wild Dog Bounty to continue and there will also be an additional $4 million available for targeted aerial baiting activities over four years.
“Labor do not understand what is important in rural and regional Victoria. They don’t even appear to know how the current Victorian wild dog and fox control programs operate, or the level of funding required.
“If Labor want to redirect wild dog bounty funds to boost aerial baiting, as the Labor candidate for Benambra said Labor HQ confirmed to her, that won’t even come close to the cost of the aerial baiting activity undertaken by the Coalition Government this year.
“In the last three years the total amount paid out for the bounty was $131,290, while the cost of this year’s two aerial baiting campaigns was around $500,000, so yet again Labor confirm that they cannot manage money and they cannot balance budgets.”
Minister Walsh said the Coalition Government had done more to improve fox and wild dog control in less than four years than Labor even attempted in more than a decade.
“Under the Fox and Wild Dog Bounty, 339,459 fox scalps and 1557 wild dog pelts have been handed in, and we also now have a coordinated and effective wild dog control program that is recognised as the nation’s best,” Mr Walsh said.
Since 2011, the Coalition Government’s actions to improve wild dog control include:
· Building a flexible and responsive team of wild dog controllers that respond to incident reports quickly and efficiently with maximum effect, including surge capacity for times of high activity;
· Aerial baiting;
· Large scale ground baiting programs, including remote areas of Crown Land
Reintroducing Lanes traps, and maintaining the 72 hour check rule for traps which Labor had intended to reduce to 24 hours;
· Introducing a wild dog pelt bounty, and doubling the bounty to $100 in January 2013 – total of 1557 skins handed in so far;
· Establishing the Wild Dog Control Advisory Committee to provide strategic advice;
· Launching a five-year Victorian Wild Dog Action Plan;
· Establishing community baiting programs on both private and public land;
· Cut red tape to improve access to fresh meat baits from NSW;
· Introducing legislation to allow mobile fresh meat bait manufacture in Victoria in 2015;
· Cut red tape to remove the 3km buffer;
· Provided wild dog controllers with iPads so they can work in the field, and spend less
time in the office.
· Training an additional 25 DEPI Field Service Officers in 1080 bait deployment to assist
in peak activity periods.

Coalition commits 3.25 million dollars for Mordialloc Pier

Sunday, October 19, 2014
$3.25 million to upgrade and extend Mordialloc Pier if re-elected Includes replacement of wave baffles to protect boats from damage Napthine Coalition Government building better fishing opportunities
The Victorian Coalition Government will invest $3.25 million to upgrade and extend Mordialloc Pier, including the replacement of wave baffles, if re-elected on November 29.
Premier Denis Napthine and Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh today visited Mordialloc Creek with Member for Mordialloc Lorraine Wreford to make the election commitment.
“The community and recreational fishers have been calling for Mordialloc Pier to be upgraded and I am proud to say the Liberal-National Coalition Government will deliver if re-elected,” Dr Napthine said.
“Mordialloc Pier is a very popular fishing spot but this means it can become over-crowded at times, particularly in summer.
“The Coalition Government is committing $3.25 million to extend and upgrade the pier to allow more room for fishers and families, and to provide safer and more user-friendly facilities.
“This is on top of $1 million we have provided for urgent maintenance works to the pier, which are due to begin next week.”
Ms Wreford said the Coalition Government had recently investigated wave behaviour which was causing damage to boats moored on Mordialloc Creek, and the $3.25 million election commitment would help implement the investigation’s recommendation for new wave baffles.
“I have strongly lobbied my ministerial colleagues on behalf of local recreational fishers and the Mordialloc community for these wave baffles to be replaced, and I am pleased to say this will be delivered by a re-elected Coalition Government,” Ms Wreford said.
Mr Walsh said by supporting recreational fishing and improving tourist spots like Mordialloc Pier, the Coalition Government was building stronger communities and a better Victoria.
“This Government recognises the significant social and economic contribution that recreational fishing makes to our State and we are committed to ensuring Mordialloc Pier remains a top destination for locals and visitors,” Mr Walsh said.
“The Coalition Government has done more to improve recreational fishing opportunities in Victoria in four years than the former Labor government achieved in over a decade.”

Letter to the Editor - Recreational Fishing

Thursday, October 16, 2014
The Victorian Liberal-National Government is a strong supporter of recreational fishing. The
2014/15 round of the Recreational Fishing Grants Program is now open and I encourage any
local angling clubs or community organisations that would like to improve fishing in their area to
apply for funding.
Through this program, the Victorian Government invests revenue from the sale of recreational
fishing licence fees straight back into worthwhile projects that improve fishing opportunities.
The Victorian Coalition recognises the significant contribution that recreational fishing makes to
our state’s economy and regional communities, and we want to ensure that Victoria remains a top
fishing destination for locals and visitors. Fishing is also a great family activity.
We are supporting angling groups and local government agencies to deliver better fishing
opportunities and more sustainable fisheries – whether it’s inland, along the coast or in our bays
and inlets. Locals know what needs to be done to improve fishing in their area and we are helping
them to get it done.
Large grants between $5,000 and $100,000 are open to fisheries projects in the areas of
sustainability and habitat improvement; access and facilities; education, information and training;
and research. Applications close on 27 February 2015, while small grants below $5,000 are
available year-round.
The grants program is on top of the Coalition Government’s $16 million Recreational Fishing
Initiative, which is also funding important projects to improve recreational fishing in our state.
The Victorian Coalition has done more to improve recreational fishing in four years than the Labor
Party attempted in a decade. Recreational fishing will continue to have a strong future under a
Liberal-National Government.
To apply for a grant under the Recreational Fishing Grants Program, or for more information, visit
www.depi.vic.gov.au/fishinggrants

Thai Fruit Industry Marketers Visit Swan Hill

Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Major fruit industry importers and retailers from Thailand have toured Swan Hill this week in search of new opportunities to meet the south east Asian nation’s growing demand for premium fruit.
Nationals candidate for Murray Plains and current Member for Swan Hill Peter Walsh said the Victorian Government-led delegation of buyers today visited Mammone Orchards, Cutri Fruit and VF Siciliano and Sons.
The delegation also visited the Yarra Valley and Goulburn Valley this week.
“Represented in this delegation of buyers are major retailers Tesco and Tops as well as 3 major Thai importers which supply wholesale markets and other retailers,” Mr Walsh said.
“These customers already buy Victorian fruit but are seeking additional supply of table grapes, pears, stone fruit and cherries and a bigger range of our high quality produce.
“This is an excellent opportunity to both build relationships and showcase Swan Hill and Victoria’s capacity to supply premium produce to a growing market.”
Mr Walsh today also announced that the Victorian Coalition, if re-elected, will establish a new in-country food and beverage trade specialist role in Thailand as well as in Japan and the Middle East.
“These in-country agriculture trade specialists will play an important role in connecting businesses with buyers, and positioning Victoria as a producer of high-value, high-reliability produce,” he said.
“The Victorian Coalition is strongly committed to helping our state’s food and fibre businesses, including Swan Hill horticulture, to find new profitable opportunities in export markets.”
Thailand was Victoria’s fourth largest summer fruit market before Thailand changed its quarantine requirements in 2011.
The Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Summerfruit Australia Limited and the Federal Department of Agriculture have since developed new export protocols to ensure Australia regained access to this valuable and growing market.
“Through our Food to Asia Action Plan and Super Trade Mission program, the Victorian Government is working hard to recapture the presence of Victorian fruit in this market,” Mr Walsh said.
“Earlier this year I led a Victorian Government delegation of food and beverage businesses to South East Asia where I joined Tops Supermarket representatives for an in-store Victorian pear promotion.
“These trade missions, combined with inbound visits like todays, will help to ensure we can get more Victorian food and beverages on Asian dinner tables.”

Coalition commits to new food & beverage trade roles

Wednesday, October 15, 2014
The Victorian Coalition Government will establish three new in-country food and beverage trade specialist roles if re-elected in November, Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh announced today.
Outlining the Victorian Coalition’s vision for agriculture at the Rural Press Club of Victoria breakfast in Melbourne this morning, Mr Walsh said a re-elected Coalition Government would deploy food and beverage trade specialists to the Middle East, Japan and Thailand.
“The Victorian Coalition Government is strongly committed to helping our food and fibre businesses find new profitable opportunities in export markets,” Mr Walsh said.
“These in-country agriculture trade specialists, similar to the positions announced earlier this year for China, Malaysia and Indonesia, will play an important role in connecting businesses with buyers, and positioning Victoria as a producer of high-value, high-reliability produce.”
The new food and beverage trade specialists for the Middle East, Japan and Thailand will:
· Develop relationships with key food importers, manufacturers and retailers;
· Develop relationships with in-market government departments to influence government policy in a way that benefits Victoria's trade, market access and investment priorities;
· Deliver targeted business matching activities, including meetings with business networks and prospective partners, distributors and joint venturers;
· Provide advice, market insights, analysis and intelligence to Victorian companies and government and deliver in-market trade programs, promotions and events; and
· Identify and facilitate new inward and outward investment opportunities.
“The Victorian Coalition Government also recognises that we can’t increase our food and beverage exports without a productive agricultural industry, which is why we are focused on strategic partnerships with industry to deliver targeted research, development and extension,” Mr Walsh said.
“The Victorian Coalition has already confirmed that, if re-elected, we will invest a further $60 million to continue Growing Food and Fibre, our targeted research, development and extension initiative.”

Livestock report shows farm profits on the rise

Tuesday, October 07, 2014
Victorian livestock farm profits have increased thanks to favourable seasonal conditions and improved meat prices, according to a new Victorian Government report.
At the Elmore Field Days today, Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said data collected from 76 livestock farms participating in the 2013-14 Livestock Farm Monitor report showed a marked improvement in profitability.
“The latest report shows profitability improved across all regions, with the average farm income increasing from $484/ha to $569/ha,” Mr Walsh said.
“Earnings before interest and tax increased from $9/ha to $42/ha while returns on assets also increased in 2013-14.
“Much of this increase can be attributed to favourable seasonal conditions, which have helped farmers to increase stocking rates, allowing more beef, lamb and wool to be produced, with less expenditure on supplementary feeding and agistment.
“This is a good outcome for Victorian livestock producers and our state’s economy.”
The Livestock Farm Monitor project is a joint initiative between the Department of Environment and Primary Industries and Rural Finance and includes data from farms in Gippsland, Northern Victoria and South West Victoria.
Mr Walsh said the Napthine Coalition Government was committed to working with Victorian farmers to boost productivity and profitabiity.
“This report enables livestock farmers to make objective comparisons against similar farms in their area and to identify where they can potentially make improvements,” Mr Walsh said.
“It also helps the Government to make informed management decisions to ensure we can help farmers to achieve the goal of doubling the state’s food and fibre production by 2030.”
Rural Finance General Manager of Agribusiness Victoria Andrew Smith said the partnership with the Victorian Government provided key market insights and access to first-class data.
“Rural Finance is proud to partner with DEPI to provide the livestock industry with insights

Foxes Targeted To Protect Native Wildlife

Tuesday, October 07, 2014
The Victorian Government has joined forces with licensed hunters from Field and Game Australia to help protect native wildlife from foxes in the Gunbower Forest.
Member for Swan Hill and Nationals Candidate for Murray Plains Peter Walsh said FGA members would this weekend be targeting foxes as part of a broader program to protect wildlife in the forest.
“More than 30 hunters from FGA’s Shepparton and Bendigo branches will be participating in the fox drive and shoot in the Spences Bridge area of Gunbower Forest,” Mr Walsh said.
“FGA members are to be commended for volunteering for this important initiative, which will reduce fox predation on native turtles and ground-nesting birds along the Gunbower River.”
The fox drive and shoot is a joint initiative between the North Central Catchment Management Authority, FGA and the Department of Environment and Primary Industries.
“A lot of effort has gone in to planning this event and we’re thankful for the volunteer efforts of the highly experienced members of FGA,” Mr Walsh said.
“This is one of range of measures from the Victorian Government aiming to reduce the impact of foxes on the state’s livestock producers and native fauna.
“This includes the highly successful $10 bounty on foxes and bounty of $100 on wild dogs, which has so far seen more than 330,000 fox scalps handed in.
The Liberal-National Coalition has committed to extending the scheme for four more years if re-elected on November 29.”
Mr Walsh said the success of environmental watering underway in the Gunbower Forest had meant native species were thriving, increasing the need for effective fox control.
North Central CMA Project Manager Adrian Martins said Murray River and Eastern Long-necked turtles would commence nesting soon and were particularly at risk from foxes.
"Nesting female turtles are very vulnerable and, even when they do successfully nest, one fox can potentially raid eggs along an entire nesting beach in a single night,” Mr Martins said.
Members of the public will be able to access the forest over the weekend, but are asked to abide by all directions from safety officials and observe all advisory signage.

New 3.8 million dollar DEPI hub opens in Beaufort

Friday, October 03, 2014
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh today officially opened the Department of Environment and Primary Industries’ new firefighting and forest management base in Beaufort.
The $3.8 million purpose-built complex will house 10 permanent DEPI staff, with capacity to double staff numbers and operate 24 hours a day during periods of emergency response.
Mr Walsh said the investment demonstrated the Victorian Coalition Government’s commitment to building stronger and more resilient regional communities.
“While the major focus of this base will be on responding to fire and flood emergencies, it is also well-placed to deal with the recovery of agriculture following such events and to respond to animal and plant disease,” Mr Walsh.
“A range of non-emergency operations will also be carried out by staff at the new location, including planned burning, state forest management and maintenance of recreation areas.
“This includes the delivery of the Good Neighbour Program, which targets weed and pest animal control on public land.”
Nationals Candidate for Ripon Scott Turner said the new site brought together staff from the previously separate DEPI office and depot.
“Not only will a centralised unit provide a better work environment and more effective use of resources for staff, it will benefit emergency response and recovery, as well as routine DEPI operations,” Mr Turner said.
Liberals Candidate for Ripon Louise Staley said DEPI worked in partnership with the Pyrenees Council and the Beaufort community was consulted about the choice of location and preferred site.
“It is important to involve the local community when undertaking these kinds of projects and it is pleasing to see this great result today,” Ms Staley said.
“The new DEPI complex has been delivered on schedule, well ahead of the fire season.”
Local company AW Nicholson Construction managed the construction project.

Fund plants seeds of future horticulture prosperity

Thursday, October 02, 2014
A $400,000 seed fund for research co-ordinated by Tatura’s Horticulture Centre of Excellence, which was officially opened today, will lead to a more productive and profitable horticulture industry while fostering the next generation of agricultural researchers.
At today’s opening of the Centre of Excellence, Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said the Innovation Seed Fund was a joint initiative between the Victorian Coalition Government and the University of Melbourne, who had contributed $200,000 each.
“Grants of between $5,000 and $25,000 will be available for three years from 1 January 2015 for research projects in the theme of productivity, competitiveness, improved management, disease detection and response, export marketing or industry transition,” Mr Walsh said.
“This will bring Department of Environment and Primary Industries and University of Melbourne researchers together to work on important research projects, taking advantage of each research partner’s strengths. Most of the work will be undertaken at the new Centre of Excellence.
“Examples of projects include research into improving productivity and competitiveness though supply chain innovation, or through better industry information management systems, or research into increasing horticultural exports through improved marketing.
“The Coalition Government is committed to partnering with industry to achieve the best outcomes for Victorian agriculture and this joint research fund will help to create a more productive, profitable and a sustainable horticulture industry.”
Mr Walsh said the Victorian Government’s share of the $400,000 partnership had been funded through the Coalition’s Food to Asia Action Plan, which was helping Victorian producers to capitalise on export opportunities in Asia.
“Through this seed fund we will help to ensure Victorian horticulture producers are more competitive and productive, and able to meet this increase in export demand,” Mr Walsh said.
Nationals Candidate for Shepparton Greg Barr said the Innovation Seed Fund was a positive initiative that would bring exciting new research projects to Tatura’s Centre of Excellence.
“The new Horticulture Centre of Excellence, combined with this seed fund for innovative research projects, places the Goulburn Valley at the forefront of horticultural research and professional development,” Mr Barr said.

New Horticulture Centre now open at Tatura

Thursday, October 02, 2014
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh today officially opened the new Horticulture Centre of Excellence at Tatura, an industry hub that will help growers to become more productive and access new export markets.
Mr Walsh said the Centre was a key element of the Victorian Coalition Government’s $22 million Goulburn Valley Fruit Growing Industry Roadmap, which was released in March following SPC Ardmona’s decision to reduce its intake of fruit.
“The new Horticulture Centre of Excellence features specialised laboratories and state-of-the-art equipment for targeted research into improved fruit quality, more efficient production systems, and pest and disease control,” Mr Walsh said.
“This research will not only help growers to double production by 2030, it will also focus on meeting the preferences of Asian consumers so growers can capitalise on the significant growth of Asia’s consumer class, which is expected to reach 3.5 billion people by 2030.
“The Centre will also deliver professional development events and industry forums, while staff will engage with industry associations, value chain partners and government agencies.”
Features of the Horticulture Centre of Excellence include:
· a four-hectare pear field laboratory to investigate improved management systems for new pear varieties;
· a four-hectare stone fruit field laboratory to investigate fruit quality improvements;
· state-of-the-art soil laboratories;
· glasshouses and controlled environment rooms;
· insect rearing facilities; and
· a new sensor-equipped grading facility to measure fruit maturity, quality and composition.
An Interim Director, Business Development Manager and Industry Development Manager have been appointed, while there are 11 Department of Environment and Primary Industries scientists based at the Centre.
Mr Walsh said the work of the Centre would benefit the entire Victorian horticulture industry.
“Victorian horticultural exports increased 48 per cent during 2013/14 to be worth $894 million and the Centre, combined with the Coalition Government’s $100 million Food to Asia Action Plan and $62.2 International Engagement Strategy, will help to ensure this continues to rise,” Mr Walsh said.
“The Centre has already been strongly supported by industry groups, with Apple and Pear Australia, Summerfruit Australia and the Australian Tablegrapes Association all committing to be involved with the Centre and use its facilities for industry events.”
Nationals Candidate for Shepparton Greg Barr welcomed the opening of the new Centre, saying it placed the Goulburn Valley at the forefront of horticultural research and professional development.
“This is an exciting day for the Goulburn Valley horticulture industry and wider community,” Mr
Barr said.
“The Napthine Coalition Government is strongly committed to supporting Victorian agriculture and has responded swiftly to the challenges faced by the Goulburn Valley fruit industry.
“This new Horticulture Centre of Excellence is another step in our ongoing commitment to building stronger Victorian agricultural industries after 11 years of neglect by the former Labor government.”
Media contact: Deborah Cole 0419 962 644 deborah.cole@minstaff.vic.gov.au


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