Press Releases

Coalition Government delivers $316 million surplus for 2012-13

* * - Monday, October 14, 2013

 

The Victorian Coalition Government has delivered a healthy budget surplus of $316 million for the 2012-13 financial year.

Releasing the 2012-13 Annual Financial Report for the State of Victoria today, Premier Denis Napthine and Treasurer Michael O’Brien said the final outcome demonstrated the Coalition Government’s fiscal strategy to build stronger state finances and a stronger economy was on track.

“The Coalition Government’s strong surplus of $316 million is considerably higher than the $177 million estimate at the time of the 2013-14 budget,” Dr Napthine said.

“Our surplus, combined with substantial investment in infrastructure, confirms the Coalition Government has the right strategies in place to manage the Victorian economy.”

Dr Napthine said constraining expenses growth for 2012-13 to 2.1 per cent was central to delivering a surplus higher than the revised budget estimate.

“Expenditure growth of 2.1 per cent is significantly lower than the average growth rate of 8 per cent over the decade to 2009-10 under the former State Labor Government,” Dr Napthine said.

“The Coalition Government has been able to achieve this responsible economic outcome at the same time as delivering successive record infrastructure programs, a record health budget, increased funding for schools and better services for people with disabilities.”

Mr O’Brien said the result confirmed that only a Coalition Government has the discipline to make the responsible decisions required to manage the Budget and deliver the infrastructure and services all Victorians need.

“This is the lowest expenditure growth since 1998-1999 and underlines the Coalition Government’s commitment to careful financial management while enhancing frontline services and running a record infrastructure program,” Mr O’Brien said.

“A productivity focus and ensuring value for money in enterprise bargaining is critical to ensuring that our state’s finances can withstand continuing revenue pressures from a soft national economy.”

Net debt in the general government sector as a proportion of gross state product was in line with the revised Budget forecast at 5.8 per cent.

The Annual Financial Report confirms that Victoria’s finances are the strongest of any state in Australia and will provide a solid foundation for future investment in critical infrastructure and service delivery.

“Sound financial management has maintained Victoria as the only state in Australia to hold a AAA stable credit rating from both major rating agencies,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Over $5.2 billion was invested in infrastructure over the 2012-13 financial year to support Victorian communities and population growth.”

Major projects that commenced in 2012-13 include the Monash Children's Hospital, the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital upgrade, the Geelong Hospital upgrade, increased prison capacity and removal of level crossings.

“The Coalition Government is continuing to build more capacity in Victoria’s finances to fund future infrastructure and prioritise investment in frontline services to improve safety, health services, education and community services,” Mr O’Brien said.

Improving business sustainability in Leongatha

* * - Thursday, August 08, 2013
Business owners wanting to reduce electricity costs and discover ways to operate a more sustainable enterprise can attend the Sustainability: It's Just Good Business seminar in Leongatha this month.

Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan encouraged owners and managers to attend the seminar that will assist them to implement energy efficiency and sustainability opportunities to gain measurable benefits.

Mr Ryan said the seminar, which is being supported by the Victorian Coalition Government, will be held at Community College Gippsland’s Leongatha Campus (38 – 40 Horn Street) from 7.30am on Wednesday, 21 August.

“Participants will have access to relevant, reliable and affordable information on how to make their business more sustainable thanks to this forthcoming seminar,” Mr Ryan said.

“Research indicates 70 per cent of consumers are more likely to buy their products or services from sustainable local businesses.”

Mr Ryan said more than 3,000 businesses throughout the state participated in Small Business Victoria’s workshops and seminars last year.

“I encourage local businesses to take advantage of this high-quality course. Undertaking local learning rather than having staff travel to Melbourne for training saves businesses time and money,” Mr Ryan said.

“All of Small Business Victoria’s workshops and seminars are delivered by private sector business specialists who are well-qualified and experienced in small business.”

Innovation, Services and Small Business Minister Louise Asher said the Coalition Government recognised the vital role Victoria’s 533,000 small businesses played in the economy of the state.

Ms Asher said the Coalition Government was committed to encouraging small business and individual initiative.

“An environment that rewards those who work hard, save, invest and create employment is essential to the future of small businesses across the state,” Ms Asher said.

For more information about other workshops and seminars that are available, please go to: www.business.vic.gov.au/workshops or contact Mr Ryan’s office in Sale on 5144 1987.

Media contact: Stephanie Nicholls 0437 108 870
stephanie.nicholls@parliament.vic.gov.au.  
 

Budget builds growth in Gippsland South

* * - Thursday, May 09, 2013
Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said the Victorian Coalition Government’s 2013-14 Budget investments builds for growth in Gippsland and right across regional Victoria.

Mr Ryan said the 2013-14 Victorian Budget had invested hundreds of millions of dollars into Gippsland and other regional cities and rural communities.

“Across our great state, the Coalition Government is delivering major infrastructure funding to transform our regional transport, health, safety and agriculture industries to maintain and enhance liveability for future generations of regional Victorians,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said residents in the Gippsland South electorate would benefit from the following Budget initiatives:

• $32 million for Macalister Irrigation District 2030 project, which aims to increase on-farm productivity, greater regional economic production and improved waterway and estuarine health;
• $15.3 million for a new police station at Sale;
• Funding for land acquisition and to begin planning for the Sale Special School as part of the $203 million school capital program;
• $8.3 million for Clean Coal Victoria;
• $5 million to develop and install electronic learning technology at existing training providers, including Gippsland TAFE; and
• $19.2 million to reinvigorate Victoria’s mining industry by driving a new wave of exploration and reducing barriers to investment;

“Families and householders in Gippsland will also benefit from the Coalition’s reforms to the Fire Services Levy,” Mr Ryan said.

“The property levy replaces the old levy on insurance premiums, leading to a fairer system – with all property owners making a contribution to the fire services, rather than just those who take out insurance.”

Mr Ryan said other regional and state-wide initiatives in the 2013-14 Victorian Budget to benefit Gippsland South include:

• $170 million over three years for a road maintenance including $90 million towards renewing deteriorated roads and $80 million for resurfacing works;
• A record $14.34 billion in health funding statewide to treat more patients and manage the increasing pressure on the system;
• $11.6 billion in education funding statewide to improve student outcomes;
• $33.7 million to expand the Coalition’s planned burning program;
• $8 million tourism campaign to drive regional tourism;
• $61 million for upgrades and replacements of rural fire stations;
• $4.7 million to help better protect the livestock industry from serious disease, with a focus on foot-and-mouth disease;
• $16 million for grants to landholders and organisations to support native vegetation and threatened species;
• $2.3 million for Rural Financial Counselling Service providing assistance to primary producers, fishers and small rural businesses suffering financial hardship;
• $91 million extra for out-of-home care, to continue improving the lives of vulnerable children;
• $42.4 million for continued support for mental health beds across Victoria;
• $46.2 million extra to support children in the vital years before school, including $7 million to build and upgrade children’s centres and kindergartens;
• $8.5 million for a new independent authority to improve game species management, enforce relevant laws and promote responsible hunting; and
• boosting the First Home Owner Grant to $10,000 for newly constructed properties and reducing stamp duty from 1 July 2013.

Announcing the Victorian Budget on Tuesday with Treasurer Michael O’Brien, Premier Napthine said the Coalition would fund a number of nation-building projects in this year’s Budget, including stage 1 of the East West Link at a total capital cost of $6-8 billion.

“As a nation-building piece of major infrastructure, a funding contribution of $1.5 billion from the Commonwealth Government will be required to ensure its timely delivery,” Dr Napthine said.

“The East West Link will provide a bypass of Melbourne and transform the way people move around Victoria linking the Eastern Freeway to CityLink, alleviating congestion and ensuring travel-time reliability.”

Dr Napthine said enabling regional freight to bypass Melbourne would reduce costs for regional exporters.

“The East West Link will also improve access to Melbourne Airport. In addition to funding the East West Link, the Coalition Government will invest more than $2 billion in other new infrastructure projects,” Dr Napthine said.

Mr O’Brien said responsible economic management had delivered an operating surplus in challenging times while ensuring that borrowings were kept at prudent levels.

“This Budget will not only benefit regional Victoria, but the prosperity of the whole state,” Mr O’Brien said.

Mr Ryan said funding announced in the 2013-14 Victorian Budget was in addition to the Coalition’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund – a record eight-year investment in the regions.

“Across Victoria, the Regional Growth Fund has so far invested a total of more than $250 million into 900 projects worth more than $900 million and is expected to create 3,700 direct jobs and a further 3,800 indirect jobs,” Mr Ryan said.

Media contact: Stephanie Nicholls 0437 108 870 stephanie.nicholls@parliament.vic.gov.au.  

Construction to begin on a new 24-hour police station for Sale

* * - Thursday, May 02, 2013
The former prison site on the corner of Foster and Reeve Streets will be home to Sale’s new 24-hour police station, with the Victorian Coalition Government today announcing it will provide $15.3 million to complete the project through this year’s Budget.

Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan announced the funding for the project on behalf of Minister for Police and Emergency Services Kim Wells, saying it would allow for the construction of the new station to be completed.

“I am pleased to announce the Coalition Government is delivering on its commitment to address concerns raised by the community about the old, out-dated and overcrowded police station,” Mr Ryan said.

“Sale’s existing 24-hour police station, which was built in 1976, is the oldest 24-hour police station in operation east of Dandenong, is run down and no longer meets police requirements.

“This $15.3 million allocation, which is being funded through the 2013/14 State Budget, completes the funding needed for this important project, following a $2.9 million allocation in the 2011/12 State Budget, to purchase land and begin planning.”

Mr Ryan said the new station would provide accommodation for a uniform branch, criminal investigation unit, highway patrol, police prosecutors, as well as a sexual offences and child abuse investigation team, and the Police Service Area Commander.

“The new station will initially accommodate 63 police personnel, but the design includes substantial growth capacity to allow for an expansion in police numbers,” Mr Ryan said.

“This new station is underpinned by our commitment to deliver an additional 1,700 police to Victorian streets in our first term of government.

“By June this year, 1200 additional police will be allocated to their communities as part of this commitment and Victoria Police is on track to deliver the remainder by November 2014.

“As part of this, an additional 25 police officers will be deployed to Division Six of Eastern Region by June, which includes both the Wellington and East Gippsland Police Service Areas.”

Mr Ryan said in order to support the local police officers to carry out their duties, the new building would feature:
• public consultation and interview rooms;
• mess room and other staff amenities including change rooms and a gymnasium;
• conference and training room facilities that can be adopted for emergency situation management purposes;
• short term custodial holding rooms; and,
• custodial area and administration work areas.

Mr Ryan said the remaining portion of the former prison wall would be incorporated into the design of the new building, providing a fitting reminder of the history of the site, which housed inmates for 110 years after being completed in 1887.

“It is anticipated that up to 500 jobs will be created during construction of the new station, with 55 additional full-time positions created within the industry as a result of this project,” Mr Ryan

Mr Ryan said plans for the new station would be available for public comment before construction work was due to commence.

Media contact: Stephanie Nicholls 0437 108 870 stephanie.nicholls@parliament.vic.gov.au.  

New kitchen and dining hall for Sacred Heart Mission

* * - Tuesday, January 08, 2013

A $1.2 million renovation of the Sacred Heart Mission dining hall and kitchen in St Kilda will ensure more than 180,000 meals continue to be served each year to people who are homeless and disadvantaged. 

Acting Premier Peter Ryan visited the historic and much-loved community organisation today to announce the Victorian Coalition Government would contribute $400,000 towards the project.

“For more than three decades the Sacred Heart Mission has provided more than 500 meals a day, 365 days a year, in a space that was not originally designed or built for this purpose,” Mr Ryan said.

“As well as providing meals, it’s here in the dining hall that Sacred Heart Mission’s care and support workers actively engage with people who are doing it tough, helping them to get back on their feet.

“The Victorian Coalition Government is pleased to partner with several private philanthropic interests and the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne to secure the future of the Sacred Heart Mission’s cornerstone meals program for homeless and disadvantaged Victorians.” 

Mr Ryan said the new facilities would include a full industrial kitchen, the replacement of 100-year-old degraded and leaking plumbing and sewerage pipes, and essential amenities for volunteers and staff including extra toilets, change rooms and showers, a meeting room, chef’s office, and storage space. 

“This $1.2 million renovation will provide a greatly improved environment for clients, staff and volunteers, allowing Sacred Heart Mission workers to more effectively connect with those who use their services,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan thanked the Sacred Heart Mission for its tremendous work to tackle homelessness, social exclusion and poverty and said the Coalition Government was proud to support organisations that carried out such important work within their local communities.

“Homelessness and disadvantage remain problems in our community,” Mr Ryan said.

“Through programs such as the Community Support Grants scheme, the Victorian Coalition Government is helping organisations such as Sacred Heart Mission to continue their valued work for those in our community who are doing it tough.”

Media contact:  Les White 0409 805 122

Coalition to introduce fairer system to fund Victoria’s fire services

* * - Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New property-based levy to take effect from July 2013 Reform to reduce costs for households and businesses

The Victorian Coalition Government has today unveiled the details of a new model to fund Victoria‟s fire services as part of the most significant state-based tax reform in decades.

Under the changes, the inequitable insurance-based fire services levy will be abolished from 1 July 2013 and Victoria will move to a fairer, more transparent property-based levy.

Premier Ted Baillieu said the Coalition Government‟s reform would save households and businesses across the state more than $100 million a year.

“We have listened and acted on the concerns of the many Victorians who said the fire services levy was unfair and inequitable,” Mr Baillieu said.

“These changes will ensure everyone contributes a fair share to the fire services, not just those who adequately insure their properties.

“The reform will abolish the unfair „tax-on-tax‟ which sees GST and stamp duty charged on the current fire services levy. The reform also introduces a $20 million concession scheme for pensioners and veterans,” Mr Baillieu said.

Deputy Premier Peter Ryan said it had taken a Coalition Government to abolish the fire services levy in line with recommendation 64 from the Bushfires Royal Commission.

“The Coalition made a promise to Victorians before the last election that we would abolish the flawed insurance-based fire services levy,” Mr Ryan said.

“We have worked hard to get the model right and today we are proud to deliver on that promise.

“Under the current system only those who insure their properties make a contribution to funding the state‟s fire services.

“The insurance-based model increases the cost of insurance and acts as a disincentive to insure, leaving people vulnerable in the event of natural disasters like Black Saturday.

“Primary producers disadvantaged by the insurance-based fire services levy will also be better off as a result of this reform,” Mr Ryan said.

Treasurer Kim Wells said the move to a property-based levy was the most significant state-based tax reform in decades.

Design of the new property-based levy

Under the new model, the property-based levy will be applied to all land and buildings including non-rateable property and property owned by local councils.

The levy will consist of: a fixed component - $100 for residential properties and $200 for commercial, industrial, farming and vacant properties; and a variable component - calculated as a percentage of the capital improved value of a property. A different percentage, set at Budget time, will apply to the Country Fire Authority (CFA) and Metropolitan Fire District (MFD) areas according to the budgetary needs of each service.

Under the new model there will be no cross-subsidy between metropolitan and country fire services.

The levy collected within the MFD area will be used to fund the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) while the levy collected outside of the metropolitan area will be used to fund the CFA.

The State Government will continue to make its existing statutory contribution to funding the state‟s fire services.

The levy will be collected through council rates notices and overseen by the State Revenue Office.

Mr Wells said the Coalition Government would continue to consult with the community in the lead up to the implementation of the new levy.

“An expert panel will be formed to focus on key implementation issues. The panel will consult with businesses, local government and other community stakeholders ahead of the transition and provide advice to government,” Mr Wells said.

Coalition to abolish unfair tax-on-tax

Mr Wells said households and businesses were big winners from today‟s landmark reform.

“By abolishing the unfair tax-on-tax in the current system, we will lower the cost of insurance considerably and save households and businesses across the state more than $100 million a year,” Mr Wells said.

“Households will pay about $60 million less under the new scheme, while businesses will see savings of about $45 million.”

Following the introduction of the property-based levy, the average contribution of a household in a CFA area to fire services is expected to reduce from an estimated average of $260 in 2011-12 (the last full year of the old system) to $140 in 2013-14.

Similarly, a household in the MFB area will reduce from an estimated average of $195 in 2011-12 to $145 in 2013-14.

Concession scheme

In line with the Bushfires Royal Commission‟s recommendations, the Coalition Government will also invest $20 million in a concession scheme for pensioners and veterans.

“Property owners who receive a rates concession will be eligible for a $50 concession on the property levy,” Mr Wells said.

“This is a big win for pensioners who currently receive no concession under the insurance-based levy.

“Councils will also list the levy on rates notices so property owners can pay the new levy in the same manner as their rates, including through quarterly instalment payments.”

New consumer protection powers

Mr Wells said the Coalition Government would establish an independent Fire Services Levy Monitor to oversee the transition to a new property-based levy.

“I am pleased to announce that Professor Allan Fels will be appointed as the state‟s Fire Services Levy Monitor to ensure insurers genuinely pass on savings to their customers,” Mr Wells said.

“Legislation will be introduced in coming weeks to establish the monitor as an independent statutory appointment with the resources and powers to protect consumers.

“New, stronger consumer protection laws will be passed during the transition to protect consumers against price exploitation and misleading and deceptive conduct,” Mr Wells said.

As well as directly enforcing the new legislation and monitoring prices set by the insurance industry during the transition period, the Monitor will have the power to refer complaints to other bodies such as the Financial Services Ombudsman.

The Monitor will be appointed for a term of two years.

For more information about this announcement, visit www.dtf.vic.gov.au/firelevy.

Government collaboration with philanthropy takes a step forward

* * - Wednesday, July 04, 2012
Acting Premier Peter Ryan joined representatives of Victoria’s philanthropic community in Melbourne this week for the launch of a new publication that highlights the key attributes of successful philanthropic collaborations.

Mr Ryan said the Guiding Principles for Collaboration Between Government and Philanthropy brochure would support even more effective partnerships between philanthropic grant-makers and the Victorian Coalition Government.

“The guiding principles have been developed in consultation with key philanthropic organisations to promote stronger partnerships and better support for the not-for-profit community sector,” Mr Ryan said.

“Some of the key areas highlighted in the document include the importance of setting specific goals for each collaboration, understanding the roles of participants, the importance of frank communication and the need to establish an evaluation framework.

“Using these guiding principles, the Coalition Government and philanthropy can look forward to better ways of working together, to create resilient, liveable and prosperous communities across Victoria.”

Mr Ryan said the guiding principles document was developed following extensive consultation and feedback from philanthropic grant-makers.

“We are fortunate to have a very generous philanthropic sector in Victoria that contributes significantly to many of the things that make our state great, like the arts for instance,” Mr Ryan said.

“Philanthropy Australia estimates that philanthropic trusts and foundations provide up to $1 billion annually to not-for-profit community sector organisations across the nation.”

For more information about Guiding Principles for Collaboration between Government and Philanthropy or to download a copy, visit http://www.dpcd.vic.gov.au/communitydevelopment/community-sector/resources-for-nfps/fundraising-and-philanthropy.

Media contact: Clare Siddins 0429 507 541

Coalition Budget delivers benefits for residents of Gippsland South

* * - Tuesday, May 01, 2012
Residents living in Gippsland South would benefit from the Victorian Coalition Government’s 2012-13 Budget, with a focus on health care, transport improvements and school upgrades to secure Victoria’s future and drive economic activity, productivity and create jobs, Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said today.

Treasurer Kim Wells today announced the Victorian Coalition Government’s 2012-13 Budget which sets out a clear plan to meet Victoria’s challenges and position the state to take full advantage of current and future economic opportunities.

“This Budget focuses on securing the future and rebuilding the state’s finances,” Mr Wells said.

“It is about investing in a record state infrastructure spend, enhancing front line services and taking new measures to protect the most vulnerable Victorians.”

Mr Ryan said residents in Gippsland South would benefit from significant Budget projects including:

· $7.5 million for construction of new specialist teaching facilities at Mirboo North Secondary College; and
· $7.1 million for rural overtaking lanes across the state, including on the Strzelecki Highway and Hyland Highway.

And statewide investment of:

· $10.58 million to accelerate innovation to boost productivity and profitability in Victoria’s grains industry;
· $14.3 million to boost the productivity and profitability of the Victorian dairy industry;
· $8.94 million to boost productivity and profitability in Victoria’s red meat (lamb and beef) industry;
· $8.11 million to secure a long-term future for Victorian horticulture; and
· $19.5 million for a biosecurity program.

Mr Ryan also announced that the Country Fire Authority (CFA) stations at Meeniyan and Rosedale would receive funding as part of a $22 million 2012-13 Budget investment in upgrading or building new CFA stations across Victoria.

“This important funding will ensure local CFA volunteers have the best facilities to help them do their great work in protecting local communities,” Mr Ryan said.

“A further $12.3 million has been allocated to fleet infrastructure upgrades across the state to help the CFA best deliver on a range of services it provides such as road rescue, hazardous materials response and structural collapse.

“The funding will mean the CFA will be better resourced to enable a more effective and efficient firefighting service, whilst providing enhanced safety for crews.”

Mr Wells said the 2012-13 Budget was shaped by the challenges of the present and in the short-term, Victoria faces global and national economic factors which have resulted in a softer economy and significant reductions in government revenue.

“This Budget takes a responsible and necessary approach to these forces which are placing real pressure on Victorian employment, small business and industry,” Mr Wells said.

“We cannot ignore those realities, nor can we afford to simply accept them.

“As a state and as a community, we will be defined not by the challenges we face, but by the collective actions we take to address them,” Mr Wells said.

Media contact: Ben Bulmer 0437 108 870

LABOR LACKS VISION: RYAN

Stephanie Ryan - Monday, May 10, 2010
The Brumby Government lacks the vision required to lead Victoria, according to Shadow Minister for Regional and Rural Development and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan.

Responding to the State Budget in Parliament, Mr Ryan said the 2010–11 Budget was the product of a tired and lazy government that had run out of steam.

“The word ‘vision’ does not appear in the Treasurer’s speech and is it any wonder because this Budget has no vision, nor has this government,” Mr Ryan said.

“Labor cannot manage money. It has never been able to manage money and nothing has changed. Labor has wasted more than $10 billion on major project cost blowouts over its time in government and we now have debt levels rising to $31 billion by 2014.

“In the past 11 years violent crime has risen by 40 per cent and assaults have increased by 70 per cent.

“At the same time Victoria has the lowest number of operational frontline police per person of all Australian states and spends the least per person on police resourcing of all Australian states.”

Mr Ryan said the Coalition had responded to community concern and led the way in policing by committing to 2,640 additional Victoria Police officers and Victoria Police Protective Service Officers in its first term if elected in November.

“After denying for years that there was a problem with police shortages, Labor has cynically responded with a police policy that is more about bending to political pressure than listening to the community,” Mr Ryan said.

“The State Budget reveals Labor’s complete lack of understanding of the needs of all Victorians and shows an unashamed grab for metropolitan votes.

“The agricultural sector has been snubbed with the Department of Sustainability and Environment and the Department of Primary Industries suffering budgetary cuts. There’s also a drop in education spending and nearly $200 million less funding for TAFE training next financial year.”

Mr Ryan said there was little to cheer about in the Budget for much of country Victoria, with virtually no new funding for roads, rail or infrastructure.

“Furthermore, in bushfire-prone communities, Neighbourhood Safer Places have been drastically under-funded and there’s no funding or even a target for fuel reduction burns,” Mr Ryan said.

“Victorians will be left feeling underwhelmed by this cynical election Budget.”

FUEL REDUCTION TARGETS ABANDONED IN STATE BUDGET

Stephanie Ryan - Wednesday, May 05, 2010
The State Budget confirms the Brumby Government continues to ignore the urgent need for increased fuel reduction burns in Victoria, Shadow Minister for Bushfire Response and Leader of the Nationals Peter Ryan said today.

“This government has repeatedly disregarded overwhelming advice for additional fuel reduction burning and has failed to act to reduce bushfire risk,” Mr Ryan said.

“Now, not only has John Brumby failed to increase the current 130,000 hectare target, but he has refused to even set a target in this year’s budget.”

Mr Ryan said there was a desperate need for additional fuel reduction burning across bushfire-prone areas throughout Victoria.

“In 2008 the Parliamentary Environment and Natural Resources Committee echoed previous recommendations when it called for the annual prescribed burning target to be increased from 130,000 hectares to 385,000 hectares,” Mr Ryan said.

“The United Firefighters Union, Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria, the Victorian Association of Forest Industries and countless other groups agree with this proposition.

“At the Bushfires Royal Commission senior Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) personnel conceded the current target falls short of what is needed.

“Lawyers for the Commission have also strongly recommended DSE achieve a minimum annual rate of at least 385,000 hectares or 5 per cent of public land.

“Despite this, the government has stated on numerous occasions it intends to move away from setting targets for fuel reduction and today’s budget unfortunately shows just that.”

Mr Ryan said the Brumby Government’s failure to fund additional resources and personnel to boost fuel reduction burning would be the final straw for many.

“When it comes to the need to increase fuel reduction burning, the time to act was yesterday. We need to train additional firefighters now so we can immediately begin to tackle the risk to Victorian communities that dangerous fuel loads pose,” Mr Ryan said.

“Setting an increased prescribed burning target and funding additional firefighters to fulfil it in yesterday’s budget would have given Victorians at least some hope that the Brumby Government understands this is a critical issue.

“Instead we’ve been given confirmation the Brumby Government intends to gamble on the next fire season being as benign as the last, and Labor will again leave Victoria dangerously unprepared.”

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