PREMIER Daniel Andrews must visit drought-affected Gippsland farmers and offer more support if his promise to govern for all Victorians is to be believed, according to Gippsland South MP Danny O’Brien.
In State Parliament last week, Mr O’Brien said it was seven months since the State Government declared drought in central and east Gippsland, and coming up to two years that the drought had actually been hurting, yet the premier had failed to visit the region.
“I really don’t like bringing politics into drought, but it is appalling that the premier hasn’t made the effort to visit the worst-affected parts of our region.
“It was a great fillip for the spirits of drought-affected farmers in the Wellington Shire last Sunday to have a visit from Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud,” the Nationals MP told Parliament.
“This stands in stark contrast to the efforts of Victoria’s own premier.
“Since the government declared the drought in east and central Gippsland, the premier has visited the Latrobe Valley five times, but has not once made it past Traralgon to the worst drought-hit areas – a fact that has been well and truly noted by the communities of Wellington and East Gippsland Shire.
“Premier, the package of measures announced by your agriculture minister was paltry and was seen as a slap in the face by most farmers in my region, who have been united in their calls for relief on municipal rates.
“You were part of a government that delivered such support in 2008/09 and there is no reason you can’t do it again.
“While money is being wasted on giving a cash handout to every school student in both shires – including families like my own who clearly don’t need it – you are failing to support those who need it most.
“Premier if you are to live by your claim to govern for all Victorians, it’s about time you, as leader of [the] government in this state, visit our parched region and bring some genuine support with you.”
Mr O‘Brien said shire rates relief was the most equitable and straightforward way to support our farmers in the immediate term, but the government would also need to be ready to offer recovery assistance when the drought breaks.