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July 13, 2017

We’re missing out on population gains

VICTORIA is the fastest growing state in Australia.

In 2016, our state grew by 146,000 people – the highest growth rate of any state in living memory.

In the past month alone, an additional 10,500 people have become residents – that’s equivalent to the population of my home town of Swan Hill moving to Victoria every month.

But our country communities take in less than 10 per cent of this growth and in some regions the population is in decline.

Despite this, the Labor Premier for Melbourne has no vision and no plan for regional Victoria.

The Liberal-Nationals have taken a completely different approach.

We established the Population Policy Taskforce to plan to decentralise Melbourne’s population and develop job opportunities, infrastructure and services in regional Victoria.

It’s the first holistic approach to planning for Victoria’s burgeoning population growth.

Chaired by Kew MP Tim Smith and deputy chair Danny O’Brien, The Nationals’ Member for Gippsland South, the Taskforce has travelled across Victoria, including to Shepparton, Mildura, the Latrobe Valley, Geelong and Ballarat to consult with our communities.

The feedback was overwhelming.

Country people are frustrated by the lack of population, a poor transport network and unreliable energy, while a deteriorating rail network and country roads make it hard to get from A to B.

For some businesses, energy costs have increased so much it’s impacting their ability to retain and hire staff, while the rapidly changing policy and regulatory environment is affecting business’s ability to invest.

It comes at a time when job losses are at the front of people’s minds.

Jobs are seen as the key piece of the puzzle in attracting and retaining people in regional Victoria. We’ve heard many suggestions on creating opportunities for businesses to move to the regions, including around state taxes and special economic zones.

Our agricultural communities are the backbone of our state’s economy, and we want to make sure they are recognised in plans for our future population.

Victorians can still be part of the Liberal-Nationals’ policy process, as we work towards the 2018 election.

With the interim report now out, we welcome submissions from anyone who wants to help shape the future of our state.

Member for Murray Plains Peter Walsh

Why is Australia the smart country?

FORTY five years ago I travelled on the bullet train in Japan at 280km/h. Driverless, silky smooth and never late. Why do we call Australia the smart country?

Laurie Wintle, Kyabram

Leads are necessary

I HAVE a very big dog that I walk on a lead.

He is a gentle giant.

When I go to Edis Park the small yappy dogs run up and jump at him and keep teasing him by biting him.

I don’t go any more as I wouldn’t know what to do if he stood up for himself and I would be the one in trouble.

I think all dogs of all sizes should be on a lead as we all like Edis Park.

Shirley Casey, Kyabram

Eyeing the big picture

WE ARE just a small, transitory link in a long human chain.

The time that we are given to live is relatively short.

We are mortal, but our genes go on living in our children.

If we make any noteworthy contributions, they may become recorded in the annals of history.

As a rule we have little time to worry about the distant future, we are too busy coping with the present life.

We keep going along with the main stream, not knowing where it is heading.

To make sure that human race does not become extinct, nature has provided us with a strong instinct to reproduce.

We have learned how to control it to some extent, but are not able to master it completely.

Jiri Kolenaty, Rushworth

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