The VFF has regularly reinforced to our members the importance of bailing up candidates to ensure they are clear on the demands of Victoria’s farmers as the state election approaches.
With just five weeks to go until election day, we are stepping up our campaign to ensure the needs of Victoria’s farmers are front of mind.
A strong example of this occurred last week as the VFF held the first of its 2018 VFF state election candidate debates, kicking off in the seat of Bellarine.
During the event Lisa Neville from the ALP (current Member and Minister for Water and Police), Brian McKiterick (Liberal candidate) and Rachel Semmens (Greens candidate) were all present to make their pitches to their region’s farmers and agricultural sector.
Thanks to the candidates for participating and congratulations to the VFF members who attended, as well as our Bellarine branch for facilitating the successful event.
Further candidate debates will take place soon, including in Bass (October 30), Ripon (October 31) and Shepparton (November 7).
The willingness of candidates to engage is welcome. But the fact remains that VFF members, the state’s farmers, are still disappointed by the lack of long-term and genuine vision expressed by the major parties and candidates across the board.
We need funding to fix the terrible state of our country road network and address the shocking infrastructure deficit between regional and city Victoria. We need a long-term energy plan, and reliable telecommunications infrastructure to provide farmers with certainty to run their businesses. And we need relief from the growing rates burden as excessive and unfair bills continue threatening to rate farmers out of existence.
The VFF has already called for a moratorium on future rates rises until the parties and candidates commit to demolishing the current system and rebuilding it to ensure a fairer deal for farmers.
Action on rates is all the more urgent in the context of the drought and difficult spring conditions many are facing around the state. We know that farmers’ incomes take a big hit during a drought, but at the same time their fixed costs such as rates remain unacceptably high.
Heading up to polling day parties and candidates need to show some vision and leadership. They need to start delivering for agriculture.
- VFF president David Jochinke