Premier of Victoria » Media ReleasePremier of Victoria Daniel Andrews Sat, 30 Apr 2016 02:00:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Fine Food And Wine At The Grampians Grape Escape Sat, 30 Apr 2016 02:00:20 +0000 Visitors from all over Victoria, Australia and the world are preparing to flock to the Grampians National Park for one of Victoria’s longest running food and wine festivals.

Minister for Regional Development Jaala Pulford today attended the opening of the Grampians Grape Escape, which is celebrating its 25th year.

Set at the foot of the picturesque Mount William Ranges, the Grampians Grape Escape celebrates more than 125 food and wine artisans, as guests enjoy cooking demonstrations, live music and family fun. The 2016 program is being headlined by renowned Spanish chef, Miguel Maestre.

Events like the Grampians Grape Escape boost the local economy and create jobs for locals. That’s why the Andrews Labor Government is providing a $35,000 grant to help with marketing and advertising, so the event can attract more visitors than ever before.

The Grampians Grape Escape attracts thousands of visitors to the region each year. They provide added opportunities for local cafes, bars and motels – and jobs for locals.

Victoria is the events capital of Australia, and we want it to stay that way. The Labor Government’s Victorian Budget 2016/17 – provides $20 million for a Regional Events Fund, to help our regions attract and stage the events that bring visitors in their thousands.

The Labor Government recently unveiled Wander Victoria, the new regional marketing campaign highlighting regional Victoria’s treasures and showcasing our regions.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Regional Development  Jaala Pulford

“The Grampians Grape Escape is one of Victoria’s oldest and best known food and wine festivals. It has something for everyone and the best of everything, and it’s set in the picturesque surrounds of the Grampians National Park.”

“These events aren’t just great spectacles, they’re big boosts to the local economy too. They keep small businesses strong, and provide jobs for locals.”

“We are working hard to grow our calendar of events, because we know it means a stronger regional Victoria.”

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Ambulance Blitz To Further Improve Response Times Fri, 29 Apr 2016 03:48:34 +0000 The Andrews Labor Government is investing an additional $144 million to fix the ambulance system after four years of crisis so Victorians can have confidence that in an emergency they will get the care they need, quickly.

The funding boost, provided in the Victorian Budget 2016/17, includes the $60 million Response Rescue Fund to provide better, faster responses and make sure our ambulances are responding to the right patient, at the right time, with the right care.

This investment comes as the latest ambulance and hospital performance data, released today, shows ambulance response times have continued to improve across the state.

The data for the March 2016 quarter shows average ambulance response times for Code One emergencies improved by 5 seconds, compared to the same period last year.

This improvement is despite an increase in the number of ambulance call outs compared to this time last year.

The data also shows more patients were treated in our hospitals, emergency departments and in our operating theatres compared to this time last year.

Despite ever increasing demand on our doctors, nurses and paramedics, emergency department performance has remained stable.

Only 30 patients waited in emergency departments for more than 24 hours – the lowest number ever. Under the former Liberal Government, the number of patients waiting for more than 24 hours blew out to more than 1,150.

We know we still have more to do to get this number to zero, and to meet community expectations and targets.

That’s why the Budget includes the largest ever increase in health funding to rebuild our health system after four years of cuts and neglect under the former Liberal Government, and to protect our hospitals against sustained cuts from the Federal Liberal Government.

Last year we invested $2.1 billion in our health system, and the Victorian Budget 2016/17 continues to build on this with a record $2.45 billion extra funding to make sure patients receive the care, treatment and surgeries they need sooner.

This sustained investment is beginning to deliver results, with a reduction in the number of people waiting for elective surgery.

The number of patients waiting for elective surgery has reduced by more than 1,000 compared to the previous quarter.

With nearly 200,000 Victorians set to receive their surgery this year thanks to the largest ever one-off boost for elective surgery in the Budget, this number should reduce even further.

Those patients waiting the longest, with the most complex surgeries, will be prioritised.

As part of this package, hospitals across Victoria are also sharing in a funding boost to build new theatres, open more beds and buy more equipment so they can treat more patients, more quickly.

The Victorian Health Services Performance Report is available at

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Jill Hennessy

“Our $144 million investment in our ambulance system will drive further improvements in response times, and give Victorians the confidence that in an emergency they will get the care they need, when they need it.”

“The latest performance data confirms that our hospitals are working hard and treating more patients despite funding being ripped away from them by the Federal Liberal Government.”

“We know we have more to do to improve emergency department performance, and reduce elective surgery waiting lists after they blew out under the former Government – that’s why this year’s Budget includes the largest ever increase in health funding.”

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Helping Farmers Get Grain From Paddock To Port Quicker Fri, 29 Apr 2016 03:00:46 +0000 The Andrews Labor Government is helping farmers get grain from paddock to port faster with an $8.5 million infrastructure investment in VicTrack sidings.

The funding upgrade, part of the Labor Government’s Agriculture Infrastructure and Jobs Fund (AJIF),  will result in an additional 500,000 tonnes of grain per year being transported by rail – reducing annual road maintenance and accident costs by about $2.2 million.

This is a significant contribution to GrainCorp’s $85 million Project Regeneration, involving the upgrade of train loading infrastructure and sidings at 16 primary grain sites in Victoria and three in southern New South Wales.

The Government is upgrading the state’s infrastructure, diversifying our grain export performance and ensuring grain and cereal crops in northern Victoria get to port more efficiently.

Victoria exported $1.36 billion in grains in 2014-15 and this new initiative will significantly boost our grain export potential in the years ahead.

Through construction of the track sidings and greater export efficiencies this project will create jobs for regional Victorians and ease the burden on our rural roads.

Currently, rail carries only about 50 per cent of our grain to the Port of Geelong, and 20 per cent to the Port of Portland.

This $8.5 million investment by the Government will address lost time and poor train utilisation caused by slow train loading facilities at country sites, and inefficient track layouts at most sites that require excessive shunting.

Through the Government’s investment in Project Regeneration sites will see upgrades at Warracknabeal, Beulah, Ouyen, Manangatang, Yarrawonga, Donald, Yelta, Wycheproof, Quambatook, Rainbow, Dunolly, Murrayville, Boort, Piangil, Oaklands,  Murtoa and Nhill.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford

“The Andrews Labor Government is determined to get Victorian grain moving to our ports quicker, make our country roads safer and growing the export potential of our farmers.”

“Project Regen will complement investments we have made in regional infrastructure to ensure our primary produce can reap transport driven productivity growth, including $220 million for the Murray Basin Rail Project.” 

Quotes attributable to Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan

“This investment will create 240 jobs and has supported significant private sector investment in our freight network.”

“The Andrews Labor Government is investing in Northern Victoria to get product to port more efficiently, supporting farmers, their families and our regional economy.”

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Echuca Courthouse Set For Major Upgrades Fri, 29 Apr 2016 00:30:14 +0000 The Andrews Labor Government will upgrade the Echuca Magistrates’ Court, improving community safety and delivering on key recommendations from the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

The $1.1 million project is part of the Andrews Labor Government’s $58.1 million in funding for the state’s justice system delivered in this week’s Victorian Budget 2016/17.

Attorney-General Martin Pakula and Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes today visited the Court to announce the plans for a major redesign.

The upgrade will provide separate court access and waiting rooms and safe interview rooms to support applicants in family violence matters, ensuring they are able to safely access court facilities and services.

New court security officers will also provide roving patrols and escort services for vulnerable people when required, including for women and children who have been victims of family violence.

Security officers will also operate a new walk-through metal detector and hand-held wands to improve safety and reduce the risk of prohibited items being brought into the court building.

Quotes attributable to Attorney General Martin Pakula

“The refurbishment planned for the Echuca Courthouse will deliver on key recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.”

Quotes attributable to the Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes

“It is crucial that when vulnerable people, especially those caught up in family violence, attend court they can do so in a safe manner, free from threat or intimidation.”

“The Andrews Labor Government is keeping Victorians safe, and ensuring that our justice system supports those in our community who are most in need.”

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Irrigation Upgrades For Werribee And Bacchus Marsh Thu, 28 Apr 2016 06:40:16 +0000 Werribee and Bacchus Marsh irrigators, Victoria’s biggest producers of fresh vegetables, will have their ageing irrigation infrastructure upgraded to increase water security and boost agricultural production.

The Andrews Labor Government will provide $11.4 million for Werribee $5 million for Bacchus Marsh as part of Victorian Budget 2016/17 to ensure the on-going viability of farm businesses in both districts.

These projects will underpin existing jobs in agriculture and related industries, as well as helping to create new on-farm positions through boosting farm production.

The Werribee Irrigation District upgrade will see 39km of open channels replaced with pipelines, saving five billion litres of water a year. This will underpin 660 existing jobs as well as help to create 18 new on-farm positions.

The Werribee Irrigation District covers an area of 3000ha of which 2350ha is used for intensive horticulture, chiefly broccoli, lettuce and cauliflowers, with a farm gate value of more than $187 million a year.

The Bacchus Marsh upgrade will modernise 43km of irrigation infrastructure, mainly through replacing open channels with pipelines, generating 1.1 billion litres of water savings annually. This will underpin 430 jobs in agriculture and related industries and lead to 42 new positions through boosting farm production.

The Bacchus Irrigation District covers an area of about 1000ha and produces lettuces, tree fruit, turf for commercial home use and other produce generating about $50 million a year.

Two thirds of the water saved from these projects will be returned to irrigators to boost agricultural production and irrigation system reliability while the remaining third will be provided to the environment.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water Lisa Neville

“Werribee and Bacchus Marsh irrigators have been doing it tough with on-going dry conditions and ageing irrigation infrastructure.”

“These projects will give Victoria’s biggest producers of vegetables a secure water supply for the future.”

Quotes attributable to Member for Werribee Tim Pallas

“This Budget delivers water security for irrigators in Werribee, underpinning hundreds of jobs and boosting farm production.”

Quotes attributable to Member for Melton Don Nardella

“This project is a major win for irrigators in Bacchus Marsh not only giving them security around existing jobs, but certainty to boost farm production in the future.”  

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Planning Work To Begin At Valkstone Primary School Thu, 28 Apr 2016 06:22:04 +0000 Planning will now get underway at Valkstone Primary School following the announcement that it is one of 35 schools to share in a $12 million school planning fund.

Acting Premier and Minister for Education James Merlino and Member for Bentleigh Nick Staikos today visited Valkstone Primary School in Bentleigh East to meet students and staff, and discuss plans for upgrading the school’s buildings.

Altogether, the Victorian Budget 2016/17 invests a record $1.1 billion in school infrastructure.

$287.4 million of this is to plan, acquire land for and build 23 new schools.

$375 million will go to upgrading 147 schools across the state, including 20 specialist schools. It also includes $200 million to maintain schools.

Quotes attributable to Education Minister James Merlino

“I know the community has grand plans for Valkstone Primary School, this is the first step towards an exciting future.”

“I look forward to seeing the outcomes of the planning work, and working with the school and families to ensure Valkstone Primary School goes from strength to strength.”

Quotes attributable to Member for Bentleigh Nick Staikos

“It has been a pleasure working with the Valkstone community to get planning for Stage Two of the school rebuild underway.” “Valkstone is a growing school and its students deserve the best possible learning environment

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Celebrating Sister Acts At The Premier’s VCE Awards Thu, 28 Apr 2016 06:20:29 +0000 The Premier’s VCE Awards were a sister act this year, with hearing-impaired sisters and guitar-strumming identical twins recognised for their outstanding achievements.

A total of 289 Victorian students received 312 awards across 83 subjects today, including 283 Study Awards, 26 Top All-Round VCE High Achiever Awards and three Top International Student Awards.

Acting Premier and Minister for Education James Merlino presented the awards to the high-achieving students at a special ceremony today.

The winners included sisters Olivia and Anabelle who are being recognised for perfect scores in Auslan, and twins Yasmin and Yolanda who are being recognised for perfect scores in music.

Olivia and Anabelle, aged 17 and 18, are hearing-impaired students who studied Auslan at night school at the Victorian College for the Deaf with ambitions to become an occupational therapist and graphic designer.

Yasmin and Yolanda are identical 18-year-old twins who completed music studies at Wallan Secondary College, and have been performing together since the age of 5 including being contestants on X Factor, Australia’s Got Talent and Young Talent Time.

The Top All-Round VCE High Achiever awards recognise those students who achieved study scores of 46 or higher (out of a possible 50) in five or more VCE subjects, while Study Awards recognise the very best performers in individual VCE subjects.

The top three international students were also recognised.

The Andrews Labor Government is building the Education State so that every Victorian has the opportunity for a great education.

This means ensuring every community has access to great schools, teachers and principals are supported to be their best, and every student experiences the chance to succeed in both learning and in life.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino

“We are building the Education State so that every Victorian gets the opportunity to thrive – like those recognised today.”

“These students deserve to be immensely proud of their achievement, I would also like to acknowledge the invaluable support provided by their parents, teachers and friends.”

“The 26 All-Round Award recipients exemplify the importance of a balanced approach to life and study – many have pursued a range of interests together with their studies including music, sport and fundraising.”

“These well-rounded students are terrific role models and show what Victorian students can achieve.”

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More Support For Early School Leavers In The South West Thu, 28 Apr 2016 06:00:43 +0000 The Andrews Labor Government is supporting South West locals to access training, with a funding boost of more than $550,000 for South West Victorian SEAL and South West TAFE from the Reconnect Program.

The Victorian Budget 2016/17 included $20 million for the Reconnect Program to support young people who left school early or who are long-term unemployed prepare for training and work.

Minister for Training and Skills Steve Herbert this afternoon visited SEAL to announce the funding. SEAL will receive $239,000 to engage with early school leavers to build their foundation skills and boost their chances of employment. It will also build their confidence to help them stay in training and education.

The program will run for two mornings a week, for 20 weeks, and will be split between pre-accredited training, VET tasters and work placement. Students will also get a Learning and Achievement Plan.

South West TAFE will receive $325,000 from the Reconnect Program to help early school leavers move from doing pre-accredited training by providing a mentor throughout their course, to ensure they can complete their Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning.

South West will partner with Brophy Family and Youth Services and Winda-Mara Aboriginal Corporation to support youth in Warrnambool, Hamilton, Heywood and Portland.

The Labor Government is addressing disadvantage and promoting equity, helping those who have left school early or are long term unemployed to reconnect with training.

The percentage of Warrnambool early school leavers not in the labour force, employment or training went from 3.2 per cent in 2011 to 5.9 per cent in 2013. Last year the rate was 6.1 per cent.

Industry involvement in training is vital for growing Victoria’s skilled workforce and for making sure the training people get meets industry needs.

The Victorian Budget 2016/17 also includes $14 million to boost industry involvement with the training sector. This Government is focused on linking jobs with industry and workforce needs and this funding will allow that to happen.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Training and Skills Steve Herbert

“Too many young Victorians are dropping out of school and not going into the workforce or into training. This $20 million injection of funds will help address that alarming situation.”

“We’re helping early school leavers take a step forward to get back into training, education and into a job.” 

Quotes attributable to Member for Western Victoria Gayle Tierney

“This is a big win for our community and I look forward to seeing how the two organisation will build on the good work they’ve already doing.”

“We’re making sure South West TAFE and South West Victorian SEAL have the resources it needs to engage with early school leavers.”

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A Boost To Learning Support For South West Tafe Thu, 28 Apr 2016 05:15:53 +0000 The Andrews Labor Government is restoring South West TAFE’s Community Service funding, with a multi-million boost to support students.

Minister for Training and Skills Steve Herbert today announced $2.9 million in Community Service funding, part of the Labor Government’s $320 million TAFE Rescue Fund.

With this extra funding, South West TAFE expects 10 vital programs to be expanded to help disadvantaged locals in the south west region access training and support.

The institute will strengthen its Learning Support Unit meaning more students will be able to access language, literacy and numeracy assistance at the Warrnambool, Sherwood Park, Portland and Hamilton campuses.

Students will receive in-class tutoring, drop-in study support and have access to small, intensive group meetings.

The institute will also strengthen student services through Education Pathways Officers who will provide advice and support to students who need extra help.

Coalition funding cuts devastated TAFEs across the state, ripping away funding needed to provide vital student services and support for disadvantaged and vulnerable students.

Since restoring of Government support to South West, the institute has been able to boost staff numbers by 12.5 per cent thanks to the Labor Government’s investment in the 2015/16 budget.

Mr Herbert also officially opened Warrnambool’s Skills and Jobs Centre which will be the first point-of-call for employers looking to take on an apprentice, students looking to start training, workers needing to re-skill and unemployed workers needing support to re-enter the workforce.

The Centre is one of 20 around the state, funded from $16 million from the Labor Government.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Training and Skills Steve Herbert

“Often young people lack the confidence to get into training, this extra funding will make sure there is support in place so they get the confidence they need to improve their life.”

“TAFEs across Victoria help disadvantaged students to access training and job opportunities and this funding will help improve support for them.”

Quotes attributable to Member for Western Victoria Gayle Tierney

“We’re making sure South West TAFE has the ability to support vulnerable members of the Warrnambool community.”

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Labor Government Delivers Upgrade That Ballarat Line Needs Thu, 28 Apr 2016 04:12:08 +0000 The Andrews Labor Government is investing more than half-a-billion-dollars to fix the Ballarat line and run extra services it needs as it grows.

Minister for Public Transport, Jacinta Allan, travelled to Ballarat today to discuss the comprehensive upgrade of the Ballarat line unveiled yesterday as part of the Victorian Budget 2016/17.

The $518 million upgrade will duplicate the Ballarat line from Deer Park to Melton and build additional passing loops, to make the corridor more reliable and increase the number of services to and from Ballarat.

The project includes the duplication of a 17-kilometre section of single track between Deer Park West and Melton, paving the way for the future electrification of the line to Melton.

Three kilometres of track west of Warrenheip will also be duplicated, and three additional crossing loops will be built at Bacchus Marsh, Ballan and near Bungaree.

These loops will provide more ways for trains to pass each other, which will help services recover from unexpected delays more quickly, boosting reliability and punctuality.

This package of works will enable two extra services in the morning and afternoon peak, and a train every 40 minutes off-peak. New stabling facilities will be built at Melton and Rowsley to house the extra carriages needed.

These services will be bolstered by the Labor Government’s $280 million investment in 27 new V/Locity carriages, which will create space for 2000 extra passengers across the regional network.

Second platforms will be built at Bacchus Marsh and Ballan stations, the existing platforms at Rockbank Station will be extended and sealed car park will be built on the south-side of Rockbank Station.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan

“The Andrews Labor Government is investing in better services for Ballarat, so passengers spend less time on platforms and more time with loved ones.”

“Ballarat is growing and the quality and capacity of its train network needs to grow with it. That’s why we’re investing $518 million in better tracks, and more than $280 million in regional trains.”

Quotes attributable to Member for Wendouree Sharon Knight

“This investment by the Andrews Labor Government will deliver more services on the Ballarat line and improve punctuality for people travelling to and from Ballarat.”

Quotes attributable to Member for Buninyong Geoff Howard

“This is the major upgrade of the Ballarat line that previous Governments have talked about but never delivered. The excuses stop now – we’re getting it done.”

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