In the weeks leading in to the 2018 state election, the Victorian Farmers Federation has been active across the state, bailing up candidates and making sure our demands that they deliver for agriculture are heard. It is pleasing to note this campaign is bearing fruit, particularly in relation to farmers’ repeated calls that “enough is enough” in relation to Victoria’s broken and unfair rating system.
A key aspect of our campaign has been VFF candidate forums which have provided opportunities to those seeking election in key rural and regional electorates to explain their vision for agriculture. Events have been held in Polwarth, Bass, Ripon, Mildura, Shepparton and Ovens Valley, with Morwell and Euroa to follow next week.
While important local concerns have been canvassed, it is undeniable that there are universal issues that farmers are demanding be addressed state-wide. The woeful state of Victoria’s rural and regional road network, and our broken and unfair rural rating system are key among these.
Clearly this on the ground campaign is starting to hit a chord back at party HQs.
In a significant breakthrough last week, the Coalition announced, if elected, it would prioritise an independent review of farm rates, with caps to apply while any inquiry is under way. The VFF welcomed the announcement and called on other parties match it at a bare minimum.
After this, it was welcome to receive written confirmation from the Premier last week, that a re-elected ALP government would also support a rates review.
To win bi-partisan support for an inquiry is a credit to the success of the VFF campaign so far, but it’s not over yet. We are still seeking further details, as well as a commitment that any review will be completed and recommendations implemented within six months of the new government term.
Most importantly, the end result must be a fairer deal for farmers. Anything less is unacceptable.