Thursday 29 December 2016
It is often said that farming is one of the hardest jobs in the world and over the past year the resilience of Victorian farmers has certainly been tested.
While this time last year grain farmers plagued by dry conditions had packed up the header after a harvest spanning just a couple of weeks many in the Mallee and Wimmera have reaped some of the best crops in recent memory this season.
But the year hasn’t been generous to all.
Dairy farmers endured harsh retrospective cuts to milk prices in the Murray region Gippsland and South West while in the Western District a great start to the growing season was followed by floods.
Farmers are the backbone of the Victorian economy so in hard times like these governments need to ensure they are doing all they can to support this vital industry.
It was disappointing that farmers’ calls for direct relief on council rates and water charges were ignored.
The Liberal-Nationals have stood up for regional Victoria against a city-centric Labor Government agenda that always sees country people come last.
Dairy farmers were forced to wait as Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford refused to approve the release of financial assistance from the Federal Government – just to make a political point.
And country Victorians are still waiting to hear what they might be offered after the windfall sale of the Port of Melbourne lease – about $3 billion more than predicted.
Sustained pressure from the Liberal-Nationals secured 10 per cent of the lease funds for regional transport infrastructure – a far cry from the original proposal of the Andrews Labor Government.
Country Victoria was initially offered scraps off the table just $200 million of a predicted $6 billion to $7 billion sale price while the rest would go to Labor’s Melbourne level crossing removals.
This says a lot about Labor’s priorities.
Industries in country Victoria have been a vital part of building the Port into the busiest container and cargo facility in Australia so country people deserve a fair share.
The work of the Liberal-Nationals secured $970 million for regional transport infrastructure with an additional $200 million earmarked for an Agricultural Jobs and Infrastructure Fund
With the sale exceeding expectations there is no reason more money shouldn’t be put into improving country roads and the passenger and freight rail network.
The only barrier is the city-centric attitude of the Andrews Labor Government.
After two years of Daniel Andrews it is clear his promise to “govern for all Victorians” was just misleading rhetoric.
Country Victorians see it every day in crumbling roads that are putting lives at risk and making it harder to do business in regional Victoria.
Add to this recent temperature restrictions on the VLine freight rail network that bring trains to a stop at just 33 degrees – as a bumper harvest is being sent to port – and it is clear Daniel Andrews is only interested in supporting his friends in Melbourne at the expense of the regions.
There is no project on the scale of the metro rail tunnel or the North East link in country Victoria under Daniel Andrews.
We are now two years out from the next election and the Liberal-Nationals are already consulting with the community on how we can ensure our state will grow and prosper into the future.
Our state is adding more than 100 000 people every year but 92 per cent of this growth is in Melbourne.
It is putting pressure on services and infrastructure meaning people are spending more time in traffic and less time with their family and has left law and order resources stretched thin.
Over the next two years the Liberal-Nationals Population Taskforce will look at ways to manage this population growth to ensure our regional communities are not left behind while Melbourne grows out of control.
Country Victoria is vital contributor to our state’s economy but under Daniel Andrews it doesn’t matter how much hard work is put in regional Victoria will always come last.