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Ripon farmers to be hit with more red tape over manure

News this week that the Andrews Labor Government is proceeding with plans to classify animal manure as industrial waste is another blow for farmers says Member for Ripon Louise Staley.

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has decided that from 1 July, animal manure will be classified as industrial waste. This will impose significant restrictions on how farmers can store, transport and use animal manure.

Ms Staley said this was extremely disappointing.

“This is a massive blow to farmers right across Ripon. This move will whack farmers with another lot of red tape they don’t need, at a time when the burden of red tape needs to ease on farmers,” Ms Staley said.

“Animal manure clearly is not industrial waste. The EPA has been told this time and again by farmers, but from their offices in the middle of Melbourne, the EPA has completely ignored them.”

“The re-use of animal manure has been part of farming for centuries and has been done without risk to farmers, communities and consumers. This over-reach by Melbourne-based public servants has to be stopped.”

“For organic and biodynamic farmers, animal manure is their main source of fertiliser so to classify it as industrial waste has particular negative consequences for these farming systems.”

Ms Staley called on the Minister for Agriculture, Mary-Anne Thomas, to intervene and fix this mess.

“Mary-Anne Thomas has been Minister for Agriculture for a very short time, but she can make her mark and represent farmers and the agricultural industry by stopping this change. She needs to work for farmers by reducing red tape and looking for ways to support the industry, rather than dropping more forms and more costs on farmers when they don’t have the time or the money to deal with them.”


Labor fails to rule out dingoes in the Grampians

The Andrews Labor Government has failed to rule out reintroducing dingoes into the Grampians National Park.

In response to a question asked in parliament by Member for Ripon, Louise Staley, the Environment Minister, Lily D’Ambrosio, did not rule out reintroducing dingoes. Dingoes present a real threat to sheep and other livestock in farming areas such as those near the Grampians.

“This response is disappointing for the many sheep farmers in and around the Grampians”, Ms Staley said.

“We already have a large amount of data which demonstrates how dangerous dingoes can be to sheep. At a time when farmers are dealing with many challenges to their livelihoods, the re-introduction of dingoes to this area would be another blow.”

Ms Staley also said that the re-introduction of dingoes also fails to address concerns about biodiversity.

“The draft management plan that the government is using as the basis for this move also calls for the re-introduction of quolls, bandicoots and wallabies. These three animals are also prey for dingoes, so this would render the plan completely useless.”

“Lily D’Ambrosio and the Andrews Labor Government should reject this flawed recommendation and ensure that these apex predators are not reintroduced back into the Grampians National Park.”


A long list for Ripon as parliament resumes

Projects and services in Ripon will be the focus for Louise Staley as she prepares for the first parliamentary sitting week of 2021.

Drivers education in Charlton and improved aged care facilities in St Arnaud will be just a couple of the critical issues Ms Staley will be raising in parliament when sitting resumes for the new year on 2 February.

“It has been a busy summer, and I am eager to get back to parliament so I can advocate strongly for the many communities in Ripon,” Ms Staley said.

“Many parents across the Wimmera have contacted me to let me know that greater access to drivers’ education is needed. With being able to drive, and to do so safely, being such a huge part of living in regional Victoria, the Andrews Labor Government must fund the much-needed capital works at Charlton to enable this important service to continue.”

“Also, aged care facilities in St Arnaud are inadequate and need to be extended with substantial funding to make up for decades of neglect by Labor.”

“I intend to raise these issues in parliament next week on behalf of these Ripon communities.”

Ms Staley said she would, in her role as Shadow Treasurer, continue to call on the Andrews Government to lift their game on managing the economy and the state budget.

“Daniel Andrews and Labor have wasted too much money on budget blowouts in metropolitan Melbourne. As we look to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, people in Ripon need a government who will ensure that government spending goes to where it is needed,” Ms Staley said.

“People in Ripon, and right across Victoria, need a plan for jobs and economic recovery. I will keep holding Daniel Andrews and Labor to account during the coming weeks in parliament.”


New funding responds to health needs in Ripon

Three local organisations in Ripon will share in $16,000 in VicHealth funding to support residents hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic to improve their health and wellbeing.

Asteria Services, the Maryborough Toy Library, and the Mount Prospect & District Tennis Association are among the organisations to receive a VicHealth Reimagining Health Grant to construct a productive community garden, remove barriers to participating in sport, and purchase new toys.

Member for Ripon, Louise Staley, said the funding will support those in the community who need it most.

“This much-needed funding from VicHealth will ensure local organisations can continue supporting our community to build back better from the impact of coronavirus,” Ms Staley said.

“Grass-roots organisations are the heart and soul of Ripon and their efforts are key to helping us recover from this pandemic.”

VicHealth CEO Dr Sandro Demaio said community organisations play a vital role, now more than ever, in helping people connect and take care of their wellbeing.

“As we embrace the new COVID-normal, we’re committed to supporting Victorians to be more physically active, access healthy, affordable food and to socially connect,” Dr Demaio said.

“These grants will help more Victorians enjoy better health and wellbeing through the direct support of their local clubs, organisations and community groups.”

Grant recipients in Ripon include:

  • Asteria Services, Maryborough - $10,000
  • Maryborough Toy Library - $3,000
  • Mt Prospect & District Tennis Association, Creswick - $3,000

For further information, visit www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/funding/reimagining-health-grants.


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.”