Storm-affected farmers hoping for practical, on-the-ground aid have been let down by today’s long overdue response from Labor’s Agriculture Minister Mary-Anne Thomas.
It’s nearly two weeks since storms savaged parts of Victoria, with Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley worst hit, leaving a path of destruction, floods and power outages in its wake.
The Victorian Agriculture Minister has finally travelled to storm-affected communities today, but failed to announce support measures that will genuinely make a difference.
Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh said when he visited the Latrobe Valley and Gippsland last Monday, farmers had asked for practical assistance to replace fencing and to aid in the clean-up of thousands of fallen trees.
“These storms made an absolute mess of the landscape and our farms. The damage to homes, businesses and our community facilities is going to take a long time to repair,” Mr Walsh said.
“But instead of practical assistance, Labor’s just added to its ballooning bureaucracy.
“They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks and that’s certainly the case for this Labor Government that’s out of touch and out of ideas.”
Agriculture Victoria is already tasked with following up with farmers after natural disasters.
Mr Walsh said Labor’s new bureaucrat was a disappointing response for farmers at a time when we were already paying more in increased taxes, but getting less – and poorer – services.
“This Labor Government struggles to understand the realities of living in regional Victoria,” Mr Walsh said.
“We need common sense solutions, like support to replace damaged fencing or changes to firewood collection rules to allow Victorians to cut up storm hit trees on our roadsides to heat their homes.
“Farmers just want to get on with it, they want immediate assistance that will make a practical difference right now – which is exactly what another layer in Labor’s ballooning bureaucracy won’t deliver.”