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St Arnaud Secondary College upgrade a win for community

The upgrade for St Arnaud Secondary College is a win for the local community, says Member for Ripon, Louise Staley.

The school this week secured more than $300,000 in funding to undertake badly needed maintenance works.

Ms Staley said she was pleased to see calls from the school and the community had been heeded.

“This is a good result for the teachers, students and families of St Arnaud Secondary College,” Ms Staley said.

“Last year, I raised the ongoing issues with the toilets and change rooms at St Arnaud Secondary College with the Minister for Education. The current facilities are just unacceptable, and this was preventing students from participating in sport, in particular girls.”

“The school had been seeking funding for many years to upgrade these facilities, which are the worst I’ve seen in Ripon. This upgrade has been long overdue, and I have joined the school community in pressuring the State Government to provide this funding.”

“This upgrade will make a real difference for the students of St Arnaud Secondary College, and I congratulate the school community on their hard work and advocacy.”


Maryborough Hospital new build abandoned in State Budget

The Andrews Labor Government has abandoned the people of Maryborough by failing to deliver the long-promised and desperately needed redevelopment of Maryborough Hospital.

Today’s Victorian Budget has exposed the Premier for Melbourne’s lack of concern for the health and wellbeing of Maryborough residents.

Member for Ripon, Louise Staley MP, has called on the Premier to fund the Maryborough Hospital redevelopment in full immediately.

“The 2020/2021 Victorian Budget fails to fund any construction of the hospital, raising serious questions about their intention to deliver the project at all,” Ms Staley said.

During the 2018 election campaign, Daniel Andrews promised Maryborough locals that he would provide $100 million to rebuild Maryborough Hospital in this term of government.

Today’s 2020/2021 State Budget only includes a small parcel of funding for planning and purchasing land. Meaning no actual work will start on the redevelopment in the foreseeable future.

“Halfway through their term in Government, Daniel Andrews and Tim Pallas have shown that they don’t care about keeping their promises to the Maryborough community,” Ms Staley said.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the absolute necessity of well resourced, state of the art, medical facilities in regional Victoria. The Andrews Government is willing to go into $155 billion of debt in this budget, but they could not find the money they promised to redevelop the Maryborough Hospital.”

“It’s not good enough, and I will continue to fight for this essential project to be delivered.” 

“Daniel Andrews needs to see past the tram tracks and get serious about delivering for regional Victorians.”


Time to allow indoor services in regional churches

Churches and places of worship in Ripon and across regional Victoria must be allowed to recommence indoor services with COVID-safe plans, says Member for Ripon Louise Staley.

Religious organisations have been prohibited from holding indoor ceremonies with worshippers for most of the period since the COVID-19 pandemic started in March. Now with case numbers at zero for nearly all of regional Victoria, it is time to allow indoor religious services for worshippers to recommence.

“Right across Ripon, religion is a hugely important aspect of many people’s lives,” Ms Staley said.

“As most of regional Victoria has been COVID-19 free for many weeks now, it is time to allow people of faith to attend indoor services at their local church.”

“I’ve been contacted by both individuals and leaders of faith communities. They are all asking when they will be able to come together indoors to worship and celebrate their beliefs,” Ms Staley said.

Ms Staley said it made little sense for hospitality venues to accommodate customers indoors with density limits but not allow the same for religious gatherings.

“Church leaders have assured me they are ready to hold ceremonies with their communities in attendance again, in a COVID-safe way.”

“If we can support local pubs, cafes, and restaurants by allowing them to have people indoors with density limits of 1 person per 4 square metres, why can’t we allow religious gatherings to do the same under the same rules?”

“This is a time when many people are starting to lose hope. Reconnecting with their faith communities will allow people to support each other and rekindle that hope. It’s time to let faith communities welcome people into their churches safely.”


Andrews and Allan send train work to banned Chinese company instead of keeping jobs here

Revelations in today’s newspapers that the Chinese company, which was awarded a $2.3 billion contract to build Melbourne’s new trains by the Andrews Labor Government, has been blacklisted by the US government over security and human rights concerns is salt in the wounds of Victorian train builders badly in need of work.

According to today’s Age, Changchun Railway Vehicles, which won the contract to build 65 new high-capacity trains for Melbourne, is a subsidiary of a state-owned Chinese company and has been identified as benefitting from forced labour.

This news will come as another blow for struggling Victorian train building firms like Alstom, based in Ballarat, according to Member for Ripon Louise Staley.

“The story in today’s Age just shows the lengths Daniel Andrews and his Transport Infrastructure Minister, Jacinta Allan, will go to keep the Chinese Communist Party happy, even if it means selling train builders in Victoria down the river,” Ms Staley said.

A report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute listed Changchun Railway Vehicles’ parent company as benefitting from the use of forced labour from Uighur workers.

Ms Staley said that Daniel Andrews and Jacinta Allan needed to come clean about the awarding of this contract to Changchun Railway Vehicles.

“Jacinta Allan, who claims to represent regional Victorians, now must tell us why she supported these trains being built in China instead of locally with a company such as Alstom located in Ballarat.”


New VicHealth Funding to support Ripon in local health recovery

Local community groups in Ripon can now apply for funding to assist in their local health recovery from the
COVID-19 pandemic, says Member for Ripon Louise Staley.

VicHealth has announced $2.5 million in new funding to support local organisations to address the
immediate health and wellbeing concerns of Victorians hardest hit by the impact coronavirus pandemic.

Applications for VicHealth’s Reimagining Health grants open today, with funding amounts of $3K, $10K or
$50K available for local organisations whose ideas can support their communities to create meaningful
social connections, get active and access healthy, affordable food.

Ms Staley said “the call is going out to a diverse range of organisations, such as sporting clubs and leagues,
community gardens, arts organisations, local groups, and youth services, to act fast and apply for
$2.5million in grants.

“We know there are hardworking organisations in Ripon that could use this funding to make a significant
impact on the health of people living in our community in the next 12 months and beyond”, Ms Staley said.

“I encourage local organisations in Ripon, such as sporting clubs, community gardens, arts organisations,
community groups, and youth services to apply for funding so our communities can recover.”

VicHealth CEO Dr Sandro Demaio said in the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic, it’s vital that we
work quickly to protect the health and wellbeing of Victorians.

“Victorians spoke, and we listened. Many communities were already fighting an uphill battle before the
pandemic hit and are now facing greater challenges when it comes to putting healthy food on the table,
keeping active and staying connected to others in their community,” Dr Demaio said.

“We want successful organisations to get the support they need to do what they do so well – make a
difference in their communities, as soon as possible. We’ve made it easier to apply, with quicker
turnarounds to a notification.

“Our grants will support new or existing ideas and help amplify projects already in place, to reach more
members of the Victorian community and help them improve their health and wellbeing on our path to
recovery.”


Win for Ripon as Environmental Assessment for transmission project required

The Victorian Government has heeded calls from affected communities and the Member for Ripon, Louise Staley, to undertake an Environmental Assessment for the Western Victoria Transmission Network Project.

On Thursday, the Planning Minister, Richard Wynne, announced that an Environment Effects Statement would be required for the project, which proposes to construct 200 kilometres of high-voltage powerlines. A large section of which will go through parts of Ripon, starting in Bulgana in the west near Stawell to the very eastern edge of the electorate near Dean and Blampied.

“I am pleased that the Planning Minister has finally acted on my call to him from 7 July to require an EES for the Western Victoria Transmission Network project. I am only sorry the communities were left in limbo for so long while he made up his mind,” Ms Staley said.

“It was clear from the beginning that this assessment was necessary. The Western Victoria Transmission Network Project proposes to construct high voltage powerlines across large areas of Ripon. The community deserves a proper and full assessment of the environmental and cultural impacts of this project.

“This is a win for these communities. I will continue to advocate for communities in Ripon throughout this process.”


Creswick sporting clubs get grants to kickstart women’s sport

The Creswick Soccer Club will be able to start a women’s team, and the Mount Prospect and District Tennis Association will launch new sessions for women in part thanks to an Active Club Grant says Member for Ripon Louise Staley.

The grants, each around $3,000, are part of VicHealth’s latest round of Active Club Grants, which support community sporting clubs provide a wide range of opportunities for women and girls to become active through sport.

“I am very pleased to see these grants going to sporting clubs in Creswick who want to get more women and girls involved in sport,” Ms Staley said.

“The Creswick Soccer Club will be able to field a women’s team, with the grant going towards covering many of the associated costs, such as equipment, uniforms and affiliation costs, and promoting the new team to attract new players.”

“Opportunities for women and girls to play senior soccer in this area are limited, so it is vitally important that clubs that try to get women and girls involved are supported and encouraged.

For the Mount Prospect and District Tennis Association, the grant will go to enable them to run sessions under Tennis Australia’s Open Court program, which is a modified program for women aged between 15 and 25 aimed at building skills and confidence in tennis.

“These grants provide vital support to sporting clubs, so I congratulate the Creswick Soccer Club and the Mount Prospect and District Tennis Association for being awarded these grants.”

VicHealth Active Club Grants are awarded twice a year and provide sports clubs with two tiers of funding (up to $3,000 or up to $10,000) to support more people to be physically active.


Miners Rest Primary School upgrade finally funded

The news that the long-called-for upgrade of Miners Rest Primary School is now funded is a great win for the community who have fought for this outcome for many years.

However, Ms Staley said the circumstances under which the funding has finally been forthcoming are disappointing.

“I am happy to finally see the badly-needed upgrade at Miners Rest Primary School has received the funding it needed. It was a fully-funded election promise of mine at the last state election. However, the manner in which it has been funded and the timing leaves a lot to be desired,” Ms Staley said.

“On 18 March of this year I asked the Education Minister, James Merlino, in Parliament about this funding and he confirmed that the upgrade had not been funded. Yet today, in a Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) hearing, he has announced it is now funded.”

Under questioning, Minister Merlino admitted that the funding for the upgrade at Miners Rest, along with other school upgrades across the state would come out of the $24.5 billion the State Government will borrow in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“This is a prime example of the Andrews Government and its economic management. Having already put the budget in deficit before the COVID-19 outbreak, now they are using the unprecedented borrowing in response to that outbreak to fund their election promises,” Ms Staley said.

“It is pleasing to see this vital project finally funded. However, it should have already been funded in the last budget, work should have already commenced, and been nearing completion. That the students, parents and teachers of Miners Rest Primary School have had to wait until this health and economic crisis to get this project funding is less than satisfactory.”


Liberal Party proposes $1 billion fund to bring manufacturing home to Victoria

The Liberal Party is today proposing a $1 billion Bringing Manufacturing Home Fund to encourage businesses to bring facilities and jobs back to Victoria.

Over the past 20 years, more than 50,000 Victorian manufacturing jobs have been lost. A COVID-19 response is urgently needed to create jobs and boost the economy.

With COVID-19 restrictions easing, now is the time for the Andrews Government to urgently act to get Victorians back to work and back in business.

“Victoria has a real opportunity to create thousands of new jobs, attract millions-of-dollars of investment while regenerating our capability to produce critical supplies that we’ve otherwise lost to overseas – and communities like those in Ripon would benefit from this,” said the Member for Ripon, Louise Staley.

“Rebuilding local economies is a vital piece of Victoria’s recovery, and a boost to manufacturing in a region like ours could be a real boost for local jobs. Victorians now need a government focused on delivering a jobs-led and business-led recovery.”

This pandemic has exposed holes in the national supply chain with an overreliance on too few countries to provide essential supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPE).

The Bringing Manufacturing Home Fund would prioritise support for industries of national importance such as PPE manufacture, defence procurement and rare earths processing.

The proposed Fund would provide support for businesses seeking to relocate manufacturing facilities and jobs back to Victoria. It would also support existing Victorian manufacturers to expand, as well as supporting innovation, research and development.

“With Victoria losing more jobs than any other state due to the pandemic, we need an urgent and bold plan to turn this around,” said Ms Staley.

“We need to back local businesses to deliver the jobs and investment that Victoria so desperately needs.”

The Bringing Manufacturing Home Fund adds to a number of polices announced by the Liberal Party to get Victoria back to work and back in business after the economic fallout of COVID-19.


Maryborough Hospital not a funding priority for Labor

It has been almost two years since Labor Premier Daniel Andrews made an election promise that he would provide $100 million to rebuild Maryborough Hospital in this term of government.

Almost two years since Premier Daniel Andrews claimed his government cared about regional Victoria, that they understood the priorities of rural and regional health and that they were delivering for regional Victorians.

Almost two years and what do we see? Nothing. In the middle of the biggest health crisis our State has seen for a century, there is no money for Maryborough Hospital.

Ripon MP Louise Staley has repeatedly called on the Premier and Minister for Health, Hon. Jenny Mikakos MP to explain why the much-needed Maryborough Hospital redevelopment hasn’t been funded and hasn’t commenced.

On 27th May last year, Minister Mikakos claimed that the $100 million redevelopment of Maryborough Hospital is on track.

In February this year, Ms Staley raised funding for Maryborough Hospital again in the Parliament. Ms Staley asked the Minister for Health to ensure that the full $100 million promised by Labor for a new Maryborough hospital will be allocated in the upcoming Budget.

In Parliament, Ms Staley said, “in last year’s budget the hospital was not funded, and so it must be funded in this year’s budget in full if the government is to fulfil its promise to deliver the $100 million hospital to the people of Maryborough in this term of government.”

“Last week I finally received a response from the Minister, a response that simply said that planning had been done, but did not commit to constructing the hospital,” Ms Staley said.

“Yet again the Minister is refusing to promise that the hospital will be funded. Hospitals are not built overnight, and unless construction money is made available, this project will not be finished by the next election and the Premier’s promise will be broken,” Ms Staley said.