2014 VICTORIAN STATE ELECTION PRIORITIES
The VFF continues to fight for better outcomes for our members, Victorian agriculture and the farming community.
The VFF is developing 2014 State Election priorities that will be publicly released later this year.
The VFF has already made this statement outlining some of the key priorities for the 2014 Election, including:
- $250 million upgrade and standardisation of Victoria’s regional rail freight lines
Increased funding for front-line DEPI agricultural services
Fairer Rural rating, staring with a Parliamentary inquiry into rural rating
$500,000 to fund the National Centre for Farmer Health
Further support for the Goulburn Valley fruit growers and SPC Ardmona
Aerial baiting of wild dogs
Simplified native vegetation clearance laws
Granting farmers greater rights in the face of Coal Seam Gas developments
Continued support for young farmers and encourage more young people into agriculture, by:
Reinstating the First farm Grant of up to $10,000 for business planning and development
Increasing the young farm loan scheme to a pool of $30m (Currently at $22.5m)
Greater protection of the Right to Farm.
Our 2013 policy priorities were as follows;
1. Maximising Farm Profitability
- Protecting primary producer vehicle registrations in Victoria – the national harmonisation of heavy vehicle regulation will propose a threat to the continuation of PPRs, which provide a benefit of over $40m/yr to Victorian farmers.
- Commit to a staged standardisation of the Victorian freight network on an industry needs basis.
- Invest in new roads to market program – to facilitate the transport of goods in and out of rural areas.
- Ensure chemical regulation harmonisation does not impact unfairly on Victorian farmers.
- Support for young farmers – to reduce the barrier to entry into farming through low interest loans, stamp duty exemption, and educational opportunities in up-to-date research and technology. The VFF have also requested a Government funded Rural Industry Careers Advisor.
2. Protecting your Water Rights
- On-farm water use efficiency - Lobby government for access for all water users for improving on farm water use efficiency to boost productivity and profitability.
- Salinity – with the threat of increased salinity following a period of high water availability, ensure that salinity monitoring and mitigation projects are appropriately resourced and funded.
- Murray Darling Basin Plan - The VFF have been successful in ensuring that water savings generated from environmental infrastructure projects and better management of environmental water is counted as a Basin Plan saving. This has reduced the Commonwealth governments target on irrigators water by up to 650,000 megalitres.
- Drainage – Hold the responsible authority accountable for the maintenance of drainage systems and seek funding for additional investment into regional drainage projects.
3. Supporting the Social network of Farming Communities
- Increase the awareness of the agriculture industry – the VFF is urging the Victorian Government to commit to promoting a greater public awareness of the Victorian agriculture industry and its role in food and fibre production.
- Increase training and for rural police on how to deal with and identify agriculture based crime, including livestock theft.
- Improve public services in regional areas – the VFF is lobbying for the Victorian Government to commit to providing rural and regional areas with access to a level of public services comparable to those found in metropolitan areas.
- Generation F Project – the VFF YAPs group has initiated a policy project to secure the next generation of food production in Victoria. Events are held all over Victoria to hear young people’s views on solutions to tomorrow’s challenges.
4. Reducing Tax Burden
- Fire Service Levy – The State Government have removed the tax on insurance that funded the fire services in the past. Now we need to continue working with the government to ensure the new model (to be in place by July 1, 2013) is fair for farmers.
- Municipal Rates – the VFF is pushing to reduce the rates burden on farmers.
- The VFF has been working with Local Government to get farm differentials in place. We currently have a petition (available on our website) calling on the State Government to conduct a Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the fairness and equity of the rating system throughout Victoria.
- Removal of stamp duty on asset transfers between businesses – the VFF has already been successful in getting stamp duty exemptions for some young farmers, but the Policy implementation is not satisfactory for the VFF. It is a high priority for the VFF to fix the stamp duty exemption policy for young farmers.
- Removal of the automatic indexation of Government fees and charges by CPI – automatic indexation of fees in charges does not promote efficiency in Government operations and the VFF wants this removed.
- Reduction in Payroll Tax – The VFF would like there to be an increase in the payroll tax threshold for businesses in regional Victoria. An increase in the threshold for regional businesses will increase the incentive for regional employment and support regional businesses.
5. Protecting Right to Farm
- Native vegetation – ensure the proposed reforms to native vegetation regulations increase flexibility and provide benefits to farmers.
- VFF analysis has shown that isolated paddock trees can cost grain producers $350/tree/yr. Mining – the VFF will continue to ensure landholder rights are protected during minerals exploration and development.
- The VFF provides advice and resources to members regarding exploration and mining. This includes fact sheets on your rights under minerals legislation, information on what to do when someone wants to access your land, and proforma access agreements.
- Pests and weeds – the VFF helped secure $7.9 million for the control of roadside weeds and pests.
- The VFF will continue to push for improved wild dog control and aerial baiting.
- Land use planning – high value agricultural land should be preserved for productive agricultural use.
- Remove permit requirements – the VFF advocates for the removal of permit requirements for standard agricultural practices and farm related buildings.
- Protection for food producers from activists - there have been recent cases where extreme activists have severely disrupted farm processes through their activities on farms. The VFF feels there needs to be improved protection for food producers from extreme activists.