Member for Narracan Gary Blackwood has questioned the Andrews Governments commitment to primary producers in regional Victoria following a statement made by the Minister for Agriculture relating to the funding of the Cattle Underpass Program.
On the 17th September 2015 the Minister for Agriculture in reply to a Question Without Notice in the Legislative Council stated;
“This is a $2 million fund to support the installation of stock underpasses in regional Victoria, which was established under the Regional Growth Fund by the former government. Those arrangements have existed for some time, preceding my time in the role. I am informed, though, that that has been fully allocated.” – Minister for Agriculture Hon. Jaala Pulford MLC, Hansard. 17 September 2015
Mr Blackwood said that the Minister stating that funding for the program had been fully allocated was simply not good enough and Andrews Government had left a hugely successful program unfunded in regional Victoria.
‘The program has been very successful and assisted our farmers to improve safety for local road users and their cattle,’ Mr Blackwood said.
‘Saying that the funds have been fully allocated makes no sense, as the Minister has now been in her position for 11 months and has not allocated any funding to the cattle underpass program.
‘This is no help to my local farmers and primary producers, who have been waiting patiently for an announcement regarding the fund.
Mr Blackwood went on to say the Ministers answer on the 17th of September also showed that regional Victorian funding programs were being left unfunded to pressure the Port of Melbourne lease to be passed by the Victorian Parliament.
‘The Minister also said the lease of the Port of Melbourne was needed to fund the establishment of the Agriculture Infrastructure and Jobs Fund, from where I assume she is suggesting future funding for the underpass program would come.
‘If the lease of the port takes another 12 months, will the minister leave this program unfunded?
‘Does the Minister have any plan at all to support the cattle underpass program beyond saying she is waiting on funds?
‘I ask the Minister to commit to funding the program immediately, as farmers and primary producers in my electorate of Narracan have already waited 11 months too long for news,’ Mr Blackwood said.
In contrast, the former Coalition Government committed to and delivered $2 million for the Cattle Underpass program.