Media Release – Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews Tue, 26 Jul 2016 03:52:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Making A Splash In Kangaroo Flat Tue, 26 Jul 2016 03:52:22 +0000 Work has begun on the state-of-the-art Greater Bendigo Indoor Aquatic Leisure and Wellbeing Centre.

Minister for Sport John Eren today joined Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards at the site of the sports hub, turning the first sod to mark the beginning of construction.

The Leisure and Wellbeing Centre will include an Olympic-sized, eight-lane pool, complete with a moveable boom that can transform it into two separate 25-metre pools.

An indoor splash pool will let kids’ imaginations run wild, and will be a place to learn valuable water safety skills too. A hypnotherapy pool will give locals with chronic health conditions and injuries a place to recover and exercise.

The facility will include a wellness centre, spa and sauna, a gymnasium, multipurpose rooms and a café.

The project is being funded in partnership with the City of Greater Bendigo and the Federal Government. It will be completed by the end of 2017.

Our $5 million upgrade of Bendigo Stadium and our $2.4 million development of the Bendigo Tennis Centre will ensure all Central Victorians have access to the safe, modern sports facilities they deserve.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Sport, John Eren

“This is a game changer for sport and recreation in Kangaroo Flat. It’s going to be a state-of-the-art venue offering something for everyone in Bendigo.”

“Pools are a great place for local communities to get together and enjoy the benefits of a healthy and active lifestyle.”

Quotes attributable to Member for Bendigo West, Maree Edwards

“The Kangaroo Flat community has fought hard for this pool, and we’re thrilled to be able to deliver it. This will be a world-class venue local residents deserve.”

“Pools aren’t just a great place to socialise and keep fit, they’re where kids learn the vital water safety skills they need to swim safely.”


Victorian Grain Growers Dominate The World Stage Tue, 26 Jul 2016 02:30:44 +0000 Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford today addressed the Australian Grains Industry Conference (AGIC) in Melbourne, congratulating industry leaders on their continued export success, generating  in excess of $1.4 billion in 2014-15.

The Victorian grains industry is today one of our big export success stories, with $141 million worth of wheat, barley and canola sent to China in 2015, and $87 million in wheat to Vietnam.

The Andrews Labor Government recently announced a $200 million Agriculture Infrastructure and Jobs Fund,  a key initiative that will help ensure the industry’s future growth.

The Fund provides $175 million for major capital works and $25 million for market access, traceability, business management and network capability building.

It builds on other key infrastructure initiatives such as the Murray Basin Rail freight project funded with a $220 million boost from the Labor Government to improve freight transport efficiency.

This year, the Government also committed $8.5 million to improve government-owned VicTrack rail sidings as part of GrainCorp’s historic $85 million Project Regeneration, upgrading train loading infrastructure at 16 primary grain sites in Victoria and three in southern NSW.

The Labor Government continues to support a comprehensive suite of research and development opportunities  to build the industry’s resilience in partnership with the Grains Research and Development Corporation.

Our researchers are now developing grains optimised for climate change and building farming systems that can adapt to variable seasons and extreme weather.

These initiatives and others developed in consultation with the industry are ensuring grain production has a bright future and will continue to underpin the wellbeing of rural communities, strengthen Victoria’s exports and create jobs across the supply chain.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford

“Victorian grain growers are resilient and innovative and the Andrews Labor Government is keen to work with them from paddock to port – ensuring we continue to boost our export potential.”

“Dry conditions, droughts, floods and unpredictable weather are all guaranteed to be part of our grain growers future, which is why we are undertaking research to safeguard grain production over coming decades”

“Grain growers also rely on vital infrastructure to get the edge they need to compete globally: our Agriculture Infrastructure and Jobs Fund will help provide that edge.”

Visitor Economy Strategy To Keep Victoria Number One Tue, 26 Jul 2016 02:14:59 +0000 The Andrews Labor Government has launched a strategy to drive its bold plans to grow Victoria’s visitor economy.

Minister for Tourism and Major Events John Eren today spoke at the Victorian Tourism Conference in Bendigo, where he outlined plans to increase visitor spending to $36.5 billion by 2025 and increase employment in the sector to 320,700 jobs.

Victoria’s visitor economy is a key pillar of our prosperity, and the Victorian Visitor Economy Strategy will ensure the sector grows.

It maps out a clear direction for Visit Victoria, the state’s new world-leading entity responsible for ensuring we remain the national leader for tourism and major events, focusing on nine key areas:

  • More private sector investment
  • Building on the potential of regional and rural campaigns
  • Maximising the benefits of events
  • Improved branding and marketing
  • Improved experiences for visitors from Asia
  • Better tourism infrastructure
  • Improved access into and around Victoria
  • A skilled and capable sector
  • More effective coordination

We want more visitors to Victoria – and we want them staying longer. It’s valuable opportunities for businesses big and small.

We’ll focus on facilitating investment and Brand Victoria, which is unifying our message to sell Victoria’s economic strengths, cultural diversity and world class events.

The Labor Government has already provided $38 million for Visit Victoria campaigns, including Wander Victoria, which highlights the magic of regional Victoria to Melburnians. We’ve added $80 million to continue to grow our major events calendar, and established a $20 million Regional Events Fund.

The Strategy is available at

Quotes attributable to Minister for Tourism and Major Events John Eren

“The visitor economy is one of Victoria’s great strengths. We do it so well, but we want to get better because it means jobs and economic growth.”

“The Victorian Visitor Economy Strategy is our blueprint to grow the sector over the next decade. We’ve got ambitious goals, and this is how we achieve them.”

“The experience we offer our visitors is the reason we’ve continued to thrive in a challenging economic environment, but we’ll never be complacent.”

Small Business Festival Kicks Off In The North East Tue, 26 Jul 2016 00:30:25 +0000 Australia’s largest small business festival is coming to North East Victoria, providing the region’s small business operators with a range of free and low-cost events to network and support the growth of their businesses.

Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade Philip Dalidakis joined representatives from the North East’s six regional councils today to officially launch the North East Victoria Small Business Festival.

The festival is part of the state-wide Small Business Festival Victoria, which runs annually throughout August and this year has a strong regional focus with half of the program to run across eight regional sites in a festival-first.

Victoria has cemented its role as the small business state, leading the country in small business growth at a rate nearly double the national average. Last year 9,000 new small businesses were set up in Victoria.

Victoria is home to 542,000 small businesses and nearly a third of them are based in regional and rural areas.

Now in its 11th year, Small Business Festival Victoria is an annual highlight on the small business calendar and an important platform for supporting and driving business performance in Victoria.

The 2016 program is the biggest yet and features more than 450 events across a range of topics including business development, online business and marketing, social media, business management and hiring staff.

For more information on 2016 Small Business Festival Victoria events, visit

Quotes attributable to Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade Philip Dalidakis

“It’s fantastic that the North East Festival is now in its fourth year as part of the biggest small business festival in the country.”

”This festival provides Victorian businesses with access to the latest ideas, designs and technological developments to keep them competitive, growing and sustainable.”

“More than a quarter of Victoria’s small businesses are in regional and rural Victoria, with many local economies depending on their success in providing local jobs and growth in the regions.”

Quotes attributable to Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes

“The North East is full of fantastic and innovative small business owners and the Victoria Small Business Festival is a great opportunity for them to connect with each other and acquire the latest industry tools to grow their business and provide more jobs for the local community.”

Victorians Cast A Vote For Our Best Apprentice Mon, 25 Jul 2016 04:54:49 +0000 Victorians are being encouraged to show their support for hardworking apprentices by casting a vote for the Community Choice Award at this year’s Victorian Training Awards.

Now in its second year, the award is a public vote and Victorians are being asked to get behind their favourite apprentice. The four apprentices who are shortlisted for this year’s Community Choice Award are:

  • Apprentice electrician Elliott Grayling, who trained at Sunraysia Institute of TAFE
  • Apprentice carpenter Steven Jeffery, who trained at Swinburne University of Technology
  • Apprentice shop-fitter Danielle Kazi-Shedden, who trained at Chisholm Institute
  • Apprentice carpenter Paul Saynor, who trained at Holmesglen Institute

The apprentice with the highest number of votes will win $2000, a MacBook and a software package. A random voter will also have the chance to win an iPad Air 2.

Apprentices are the backbone of Victoria’s training system and the Andrews Labor Government has introduced a number of initiatives to support them, including:

  • Half-price car registration for apprentices in the construction trades
  • The Major Projects Skills Guarantee, where at least 10 per cent of the work carried out on Victoria’s major projects is undertaken by apprentices, trainees and engineering cadets
  • $9.3 million for Group Training Organisations and $3.7 million to extend the Apprenticeship Support Officer program and work with TAFEs and employers to identify ways to help apprentices complete their training

You can cast a vote at

Voting closes on Friday, 26 August, at 7.45pm.

Quotes attributable to Acting Minister for Training and Skills Fiona Richardson

“These four finalists are all outstanding apprentices and I commend them for their dedication to their training.”

“I encourage Victorians to get online and show their support for these hardworking apprentices.”

“Apprentices are at the heart of the training system and we are working hard to support them. I am thrilled that apprentice commencements in Victoria are on the up.”

Review Of Aboriginal Lands Act Underway Mon, 25 Jul 2016 04:27:46 +0000 A review of the Aboriginal Lands Act 1970 is underway to improve governance and enable greater self-determination for Lake Tyers and Framlingham communities.

Originally established to accommodate Aboriginal Victorians forcibly removed from their homelands, the two trusts achieved a degree of self-management through the 1970 Act which established the Lake Tyers and Framlingham Aboriginal Trusts.

At the time of drafting, the current Act was landmark legislation, preceded in Australia only by the South Australian Aboriginal Lands Trust Act 1966 in returning land ownership to Aboriginal communities.

However, the legislation is now outdated and does not give appropriate power to Aboriginal people. It is time to review the 1970’s Act to ensure more culturally appropriate arrangements for self-management of the Trusts and partnerships with the Andrews Labor Government.

A discussion paper will be prepared for community feedback and consultation with members of the Trusts, Aboriginal organisations and government agencies.

An Advisory Committee comprising members from both Trusts and community will be established to provide advice.

Once consultation is complete, a final report including recommendations will be produced for the Minister’s consideration ahead of legislative amendments.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Natalie Hutchins

“The review aims to improve self-determination for Lake Tyers and Framlingham Aboriginal Trusts.”

“The Aboriginal Lands Act reflects the outdated government policy that was in place at the time of drafting and is overdue for significant reform.”

Helping Veterans Honour The Anniversary Of The Battle Of Long Tan Mon, 25 Jul 2016 02:07:45 +0000 The Andrews Labor Government will provide free public transport to help veterans mark the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan.

Minister for Veterans John Eren announced today veterans and war widows will travel for free on regional public transport between August 17-19, and on metropolitan services on August 18.

The free travel arrangements will help members of the veteran community, particularly those from regional areas, attend the Vietnam Veterans Day March and Service at the Shrine of Remembrance.

On Vietnam Veterans Day, free travel will be extended to members of the Australian Defence Force, as well as school students between 9.30am and 2.30pm.

The Labor Government is also helping Victorian schools send students to the special commemorations activities by offering subsidies to help with the costs of travel.

Schools in metropolitan areas can apply for subsidies of up to $500, while regional schools can apply for subsidies of up to $1000.

To be eligible for free travel, veterans and war widows must carry their Department of Veteran’s Affairs Gold or White Card, or Category V Victorian Public Transport Concession Card.

Veterans and war widows can also wear their uniform – including any service medals or ex-service association or returned from active service or war widows badge – to demonstrate their eligibility for free travel.

For school subsidy registrations visit For more information about Vietnam Veterans Day visit

For information about free public transport visit

Quotes attributable to Minister for Veterans John Eren

“Vietnam Veterans Day is a special occasion for so many Victorians. Free public transport is a small gesture of our thanks to those that gave us a great gift.”

“Free public transport will make it easier for people to attend services around Victoria. Subsidies for schools will mean more students will be able to pay their respects and learn about a decisive moment in Australia’s history.”

“Our veterans protected us. It’s our duty to give them the recognition they deserve.”

Statement On The Passing Of Matt Zema Mon, 25 Jul 2016 01:50:59 +0000 I would like to extend my sympathies to the family, friends and colleagues of Matt Zema, CEO of the Australian Energy Market Operator following his passing on Saturday (23 July).

Mr Zema will be remembered for his leading contribution to both the development and creation of the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) as its founding CEO since 2008.

Through this role, Matt led the establishment of a market institution with leading expertise in the energy market, system operation and planning.

Matt also played a significant role in the development of Victoria’s energy institutions as CEO of VENCorp, Victoria’s first independent electricity and gas system operator and planner.

He will be remembered for his strategic leadership across the energy sector, providing robust and invaluable advice to the Victorian Government on matters including energy security, planning and emergency management.

He was also an important contributor to the COAG Energy Council through his clear strategic guidance on complex energy market issues.

On behalf of the Andrews Labor Government, I would like to pass on our sincere condolences to all who knew Matt at this extremely difficult time.

Preparing Victorian Students For The Asian Century Mon, 25 Jul 2016 00:45:40 +0000 Victorian students will be taught to be ‘Asia capable’ thanks to a new training program for school principals.

Minister for Education James Merlino today launched the first Leading Asia Capable Schools course.

The program involves training sessions to help principals make links with Australian and Chinese businesses, and develop work ready ‘Asia capabilities’ in their students.

It also looks at different aspects of Asian culture, language and history and how principals can help students learn about them, as well as a 10-day immersion experience in China at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics.

The program is run by the Bastow Institute, the Department of Education and Training’s leadership organisation.

China is one of Victoria’s most important relationships and our largest trading partner, with two-way trade between Victoria and China valued at over $20.4 billion and exports reaching $6.5 billion in 2014-15.

The Andrews Labor Government’s China Strategy – Partnerships and Prosperity – will strengthen economic and cultural ties with China, helping create more business opportunities and more jobs for Victorians.

The Leading Asia Capable Schools course supports the China Strategy by developing Asia insights and capabilities across schools and equipping our students with the skills they need to be work ready and succeed in their future careers.

Victoria has a strong education partnership with China, with 172 sister school relationships between Chinese and Victorian schools to support the curriculum, language learning and intercultural understanding

There are 52,000 Victorian students studying a Chinese language and around 1,500 Year 9 students will study in China for six weeks over the next five years as part of the Victorian Young Leaders to China program.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Education James Merlino

“We know that our economy is linked to Asia and this program will help make sure students are not strangers to a continent that will be a key part of their lives.”

“By learning about Asia and visiting it for themselves, the principals will be better placed to instil these lessons in their schools and make sure young people are prepared to engage with an exciting and dynamic part of the world.”

Victoria Shines As State Of The States Sun, 24 Jul 2016 21:10:52 +0000 Victoria has the fastest annual economic growth rate in the nation, according to the CommSec State of States report released today.

Victoria’s economy has grown by 3.6 per cent over the last year, faster than any other state, while also leading the way in population growth, and performing strongly in retail trade, business investment, construction work and housing finance.

Retail spending in Victoria is also 14.5 per cent above decade-average levels, which was supported by home building and robust employment.

Victorian construction work is 6.1 per cent higher than a year ago while dwellings under construction are 36.2 per cent above the decade average.

The CommSec State of the States report has further reiterated recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics Labour Force and the NAB Business Survey which show Victoria is leading the way nationally.

The NAB Business Survey showed Victoria’s business conditions rose strongly in the June quarter, growing +7 index points to +18 index points, 10 points higher than a year ago.

Meanwhile, the ABS figures showed strong employment growth in regional areas during the past three months.

Across Victoria, there are 147,000 more people in work than in November 2014, with more than 112,000 of those jobs full time.

Quotes attributable to Treasurer Tim Pallas

“The trend is clear Victoria is fast emerging as the nations leading economic powerhouse with jobs, construction, retail trade and business conditions all on the rise.”

“The resilience and strength being displayed by the Victorian economy is providing opportunities and jobs across the state, and positioning us well for the challenges that lay ahead.”