The Victorian Farmers Federation’s major election candidate forums are gaining momentum across the state, with Polwarth (Colac) held yesterday and Bass (Grantville Oct 30), Ripon (Ararat Oct 31), Mildura (Ouyen Nov 1), Shepparton Nov 7) and Morwell (Nov 13) to follow. We are pleased that all major parties, independents and minor parties have agreed to participate in these events, and we thank candidates for giving their time in a busy election campaign.
Agriculture in Victoria contributes $13 billion to the economy. We may not be based in the CBD, but we certainly contribute to it, through the produce we provide for all Victorians.
Agriculture sits in our regional landscape. We contribute significantly to local communities and the vibrancy of these communities is often intrinsically linked to the success of the agriculture sector – farmers, rural suppliers, the supermarket, newsagency and school just to name a few.
To date we’ve heard election promises about fast train sets, replacement crossings, sport for children, an airport train line, a suburban rail loop, racing track improvements, funding for improved numeracy and literacy standards, and the potential comeback of “Life be in It”. These all sound interesting and some may reach our rural and regional communities but where is the vision and who will deliver for agriculture?
We launched our election campaign in July and we are asking for a handful of basic needs:
- Roads that support inputs getting into our farms and produce getting to market.
- Telephones and internet reception that is reliable and allows our farmers to run a business and keep in contact with workers and family in case of an emergency.
- A long-term energy plan that allows our members, particularly those with high-energy operations, to invest in their farm business with certainty knowing that a reliable, efficient and affordable energy source is available.
- Rates! Our rates system is broken. Our members have received rates bills with increases between 20 and 50 per cent. No business can sustain such bill shock. We want candidates to acknowledge that the system is out of control and commit to the implementation of a new system which will be equitable for all local citizens – townsfolk and farmers.
- A science-based animal welfare plan. Members of the VFF want to see a plan which ensures a science or evidence based approach is implemented, noting that a ‘one size fits all approach’ is not workable.
We encourage all members to attend our election candidate forums – and we look forward to welcoming candidates to what we hope will be a series of informative evenings across the state, particularly in our marginal electorates.