Politi­cians pay lo­cals a visit

Alpine Observer - - Front Page - BY TATE SPI­TERI tspi­teri@ne­me­dia.com.au

DEPUTY Op­po­si­tion leader Peter Walsh and Tim McCurdy (MLA, Ovens Val­ley) got a first­hand look at some of the re­gions agri­cul­tural needs and other en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns dur­ing a trip to the Alpine Shire last week.

Mr Walsh, the Vic­to­rian leader of the Na­tion­als, joined his party col­league Tim McCurdy in Bright and Myrtle­ford last Mon­day and Tues­day after at­tend­ing the shadow cab­i­net meet­ing in Shep­par­ton.

“Tim sug­gested we do a trip up the val­ley to meet with lo­cals to get a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of their main con­cerns,” Mr Walsh said.

The pair met with the TAFCO board, ch­est­nut farm­ers as well as ap­ple grow­ers at Nightin­gale Bros dur­ing their two day stay.

Both were par­tic­u­larly im­pressed with the new state-ofthe-art sort­ing and pack­ag­ing plant at Nightin­gale Bros in Wandiligong.

Al­though, not far up the road the lo­cal ch­est­nut farm­ers had some con­cerns they wanted to talk with the politi­cians about, mainly around ch­est­nut blight.

The dev­as­tat­ing dis­ease which was dis­cov­ered in 2010 causes a rapid, wide­spread die-off in once plen­ti­ful trees.

Over 100,000 trees are in­spected an­nu­ally and more than 5,000 have been re­moved since the out­break was first re­ported.

“An erad­i­ca­tion pro­gram has been run within the in­dus­try but the state govern­ment’s prob­a­bly not been as sup­port­ive as they could be,” Mr Walsh said.

The in­creas­ing wild deer pop­u­la­tion was an­other is­sue both Mr Walsh and Mr McCurdy were keen to hear more about.

Mr Walsh said a Coali­tion govern­ment would not only make the kan­ga­roo pet food trial a per­ma­nent process they would also in­clude game meat such as deer as an­other source of pet food.

“There is a mar­ket for game meat but it needs con­ti­nu­ity of sup­ply,” Mr Walsh said.

“If there is a com­mer­cial value put on deer that could well solve that prob­lem.”

He said a “closed loop” sup­ply chain us­ing only li­censed shoot­ers to sup­ply reg­is­tered abat­toirs would pre­vent any in­crease in il­le­gal deer hunt­ing.

The Ovens River, in the area near Happy Val­ley was also on the politi­cians’ visit list with ero­sion, fall­ing trees, catch­ment man­age­ment and silt cur­rent prob­lems af­fect­ing lo­cal river sys­tems.

PHOTO: Tate Spi­teri

LO­CAL IN­PUT: Tim McCurdy (MLA, Ovens Val­ley) and Deputy Op­po­si­tion leader Peter Walsh (mid­dle) met with TAFCO chair Al­lan McGuffie (left) and TAFCO man­ager Tony Vac­caro (right) last week.

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