Member for South West Coast Roma Britnell has called out the Andrews Government’s complete lack of understanding of rural and regional Victoria.
In parliament this week Mrs Britnell called out the government’s claims it was a strong supporter of the state agriculture sector.
“I will not sit here and listen to the Labor government tell me how they are champions for regional Victoria, because it is not true,” Mrs Britnell said.
“In the eyes of those opposite, regional Victoria is Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo. They have zero understanding or respect for the enormous economic contribution our agriculture sector makes to the state’s economy, but they are more than happy to take the proceeds and spend them on projects to make life in the city easier.”
Speaking on the State Taxation Amendment Bill, Mrs Britnell said the schemes the government were implementing were small steps towards supporting agriculture and regional growth.
“There is so much more that can be done to unlock billions of dollars of untapped productivity for existing and well-established farmers,” she said.
Mrs Britnell said improving access to underground water in the south-west as one real way to unlock millions of dollars’ worth of economic benefit.
“If we unlock even 10 per cent of water we would get a $55 million boost to the regional economy. Just being, able to pull that water out of the ground that is already allowed to be pulled out.
“The only thing standing in the way is the bureaucracy. The legislation even allows it; it is the department that is really just not playing ball.”
Mrs Britnell said the Great South Coast Food and Fibre Council has met with Water Minister Lisa Neville several times but have been led up the garden path.
She also called on the money for the Great South Coast Food and Fibre Plan allocated in in last year’s state budget to be delivered.
“They have got $500,000 they cannot get access to and they are not able to do the work they need to do, because the promised money has not been delivered – yet the opportunity abounds,” Mrs Britnell said.
“Remember this is a government that says it is a strong supporter of the agriculture industry, yet when push comes to shove it does nothing that will actually support farmers and help drive economic activity.”