Na­tion­als pre­pared to fight for Gipp­s­land farm­ers

Farm World News - - Farm World 2016 -

No­body un­der­stands the im­por­tance of agri­cul­ture to our state and coun­try like the Na­tion­als.

With strong Na­tion­als rep­re­sen­ta­tion through­out Gipp­s­land lo­cal mem­bers are pas­sion­ate about en­sur­ing the views, wants and needs of coun­try peo­ple are heard in par­lia­ment.

Fed­eral Mem­ber for Gipp­s­land and Min­is­ter for In­fra­struc­ture and Trans­port, Dar­ren Ch­ester said the Na­tion­als as part of the Fed­eral Coali­tion Govern­ment had been able to de­liver for Gipp­s­land farm­ers.

“Our Deputy Prime Min­is­ter, Barn­aby Joyce, re­tains the port­fo­lio, sig­ni­fy­ing its im­por­tance on a na­tional scale,” he said.

“At the top of our achieve­ments sit the re­cently con­cluded Free Trade Agree­ments (FTAs) with China, Ja­pan, Korea and the Trans- Pa­cific Part­ner­ships Coun­tries. The four FTAs will re­duce bar­ri­ers to trade and in­vest­ment for Aus­tralia’s agri­cul­tural sec­tor.”

Gipp­s­land’s dairy sec­tor is the high­est value agribusi­ness in­dus­try and one of Aus­tralia's lead­ing dairy re­gions, pro­duc­ing around 30 per cent of Vic­to­ria's milk and 20 per cent of Aus­tralia's dairy pro­duc­tion.

“The China-Aus­tralia Free Trade Agree­ment will un­der­pin the fu­ture of our lo­cal dairy in­dus­try, which has been com­pet­ing with New Zealand at a sig­nif­i­cant dis­ad­van­tage,” Mr Ch­ester said.

“The China-Aus­tralia FTA paves the way for Aus­tralian milk prod­ucts to se­cure a foothold in the world’s largest and fastest grow­ing dairy mar­ket.”

Mr Ch­ester said ex­port earn­ings from farm com­modi­ties reached an es­ti­mated $ 43.6 bil­lion in 2014–15. He said the price of young cat­tle, lamb and wool had all in­creased sig­nif­i­cantly since 2013.

Re­cently the govern­ment opened Ex­pres­sions of In­ter­est for its new $500 mil­lion Na­tional Wa­ter In­fra­struc­ture De­vel­op­ment Fund.

“I have hosted the Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture in Gipp­s­land sev­eral times and he is well aware of the im­por­tance of the Ma­cal­is­ter Ir­ri­ga­tion District, which will be bid­ding for fund­ing un­der this new pro­gram,” Mr Ch­ester said.

“On a broader scale, our Govern­ment recog­nises that agri­cul­ture is an eco­nomic pil­lar and we have pro­vided more than $685 mil­lion in as­sis­tance and sup­port for Aus­tralian farm­ers ex­pe­ri­enc­ing drought.”

Mem­ber for East­ern Vic­to­ria Re­gion, Melina Bath, said ac­cess to wa­ter was crit­i­cal for Gipp­s­land’s agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

“Next to peo­ple and land, wa­ter is the most im­por­tant com­mod­ity in our state,” Ms Bath said.

“In terms of the dairy in­dus­try in my elec­torate of East­ern Vic­to­ria Re­gion, we are hav­ing what could be called a green drought where the land in some cases looks good but there is no wa­ter con­tent left in the ground and no ma­jor grass re­growth com­ing through for milk pro­duc­tion.

“Many farm­ers are strug­gling with stock and do­mes­tic sup­plies as dam re­serves di­min­ish. It is quite a se­ri­ous sit­u­a­tion.”

Ms Bath said it was vi­tal the An­drews Govern­ment sup­ported the Ma­cal­is­ter Ir­ri­ga­tion District ( MID) up­grade without any con­di­tions to en­sure wa­ter se­cu­rity.

The for­mer Lib­er­alNa­tional Coali­tion Govern­ment and the ir­ri­ga­tors them­selves de­vel­oped phase 1A of the MID 2030 project with the Coali­tion de­liv­er­ing $16 mil­lion for its com­ple­tion. Phase 1B re­quires $60 mil­lion over five years, with the Fed­eral Govern­ment be­ing asked for $20 mil­lion, ir­ri­ga­tors an­other $20 mil­lion and the State $20 mil­lion for this phase.

The Na­tion­als Mem­ber for Gipp­s­land South, Danny O’Brien said this project just needs to keep rolling along.

“The next phase of the MID 2030 will en­able in­creased wa­ter ef­fi­ciency and there­fore in­creased pro­duc­tion and it is im­por­tant that the La­bor Govern­ment sup­ports this as soon as pos­si­ble.

“I’m also work­ing with the govern­ment and farm­ers on longer term so­lu­tions to wa­ter short­ages in places such as Yanakie which have been very dry. There’s been a lot of stress placed on farm­ers this year, but most dairy farm­ers have been well-pre­pared, while high beef prices have buffered that in­dus­try from the worst of the sea­son.

“We’ll con­tinue to fight to en­sure our agri­cul­tural in­dus­tries are well-placed for a strong fu­ture,” Mr O’Brien said.

Mem­ber for Gipp­s­land East, Tim Bull, said he was lob­by­ing for a num­ber of re­gional projects ahead of the May Bud­get.

“One of the key projects I am hop­ing are funded is the next stage of the Ma­cal­is­ter Ir­ri­ga­tion District (MID) up­grade,” he said.

“It’s im­per­a­tive the cur­rent govern­ment funds the MID up­grade, re­gard­less of the Port of Mel­bourne lease sale,” Mr Bull said.

Mem­ber for Mor­well Rus­sell Northe said Farm World was a fan­tas­tic op­por­tu­nity for the Na­tional MPs to meet with Gipp­s­lan­ders and hear first-hand mat­ters that are most im­por­tant to them.

“Now more than ever re­gional Vic­to­ri­ans need peo­ple who un­der­stand coun­try is­sues to stand up and fight for a bet­ter deal on their be­half,’’ Mr Northe said.

“The agri­cul­ture in­dus­try is one of Gipp­s­land’s big­gest em­ploy­ers and it’s im­por­tant that we con­tinue to pro­tect and grow jobs in our re­gion.”

Mr Northe said em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties in the La­trobe Val­ley had been neg­a­tively im­pacted by La­bor’s de­ci­sion to axe the $15 mil­lion La­trobe Val­ley In­dus­try and In­fra­struc­ture Fund which sup­ported more than 40 lo­cal projects, cre­ated 1100 jobs and lever­aged close to $100 mil­lion.

“This was a fund that while in govern­ment the Coali­tion im­ple­mented to sup­port coun­try busi­nesses and work­ers and we will con­tinue to hold this Govern­ment ac­count­able to en­sure our lo­cal in­dus­try re­ceives its fair share of Govern­ment sup­port,” he said.

Leader of the Na­tion­als and Shadow Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture, Peter Walsh, en­cour­aged Farm World pa­trons to visit the Na­tion­als stand.

“The Na­tion­als will al­ways cham­pion Vic­to­ria’s food and fi­bre in­dus­tries – they are the back­bone of our econ­omy and at the heart of our com­mu­ni­ties,” he said.

“Come down to the Na­tion­als’ stand at Farm World and have a chat to our team, we’d love to hear about your farm busi­ness and the is­sues that mat­ter to you.”

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