Victorian farmers face less service delivery after the Agriculture Minister refused to guarantee today the Labor Government won’t make more job cuts at Agriculture Victoria.
Agriculture Minister Mary-Anne Thomas raised red flags this morning at Parliament’s Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) by confirming the government was still on the warpath for “savings” with staffing “negotiations … still taking place”.
As Labor slices more than 100 jobs from agriculture research and development, the Premier’s personal office has increased from 370 staff in 2013-14 to 966 in June last year.
Shadow Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh said Labor’s cuts to agriculture came as it also ripped funds from trade and global engagement, and regional development.
“A Labor budget that cuts $47.8 million from agriculture, $46.3 million out of trade and global engagement and $87.1 million from regional development shows this government is no friend to regional Victoria,” Mr Walsh said.
“We know Labor’s on the warpath for budget ‘savings’ to plug $28.1 billion in wasteful cost blowouts and Victorian farmers are the unwilling casualties.
“Axing research and development jobs threatens to put a handbrake on advancements that will make our Victorian farmers more productive, sustainable and profitable.
“The loss of 109 jobs – and more to come – means less people to deliver services to our farmers and less people working on research that is critical for a more efficient, smarter agriculture sector.”
Questions still remain on Victoria’s biosecurity efforts against Queensland fruit fly, with the 2022-23 State Budget silent on future funding.
Instead, the Minister arrogantly verballed farmers and industry at PAEC today, declaring ‘the days of thinking that government can do it alone’ were over as she flagged a new ‘collective biosecurity’ measure.
Mr Walsh said while the government will shirk its responsibility on biosecurity, it’s demanding farmers and industry pay more.
“More Labor budget cuts from agriculture and regional development shows they’re no champion for Victorian farmers or country communities,” Mr Walsh said.
“We’re all paying for the $28.1 billion in budget blowouts on Labor’s mismanaged major projects.
“Only a change in government in November will deliver regional Victoria our fair share.”