Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford has refused to explain her decision to establish Animal Welfare Victoria without any consultation with livestock and intensive industries, says Shadow Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh.
Questioned today in Parliament, Ms Pulford could not name any stakeholders that were consulted before AWV was established.
Industry and regional stakeholders, including the Victorian Farmers Federation and the Livestock Industry Consultative Committee, learned about the new ‘public sector body’ in a late-night media release from the Agriculture Minister in October.
Mr Walsh said it was concerning to read recent newspaper reports AWV was established to win Labor votes in the Northcote by-election.
The announcement was made at the same time as preference negotiations were being made for the Northcote by-election.
“It’s always politics first, regional Victoria second with the Andrews Labor Government,” Mr Walsh said.
“Our farmers’ livelihood depends on them being experts in animal welfare, but Daniel Andrews and Jaala Pulford have made no effort to hear their views.
“The Agriculture Minister owes regional Victoria an explanation on why she failed to consult on Animal Welfare Victoria and the $500,000 in grants announced at the same time.”
Reports in The Age quoted Animal Justice Party candidate for the Northcote by-election, Nina Lenk, as confirming:
“We’re preferencing Labor because they were offering us a Victorian welfare group for animals, they were also offering us about $500,000 for animal organisations and community organisations.”
Mr Walsh said Animal Welfare Victoria appeared to be nothing more than a preference grabbing tool for a Labor Government desperate to hold onto inner-city seats.
“Our farmers and regional communities are sick of the Premier for Melbourne always putting politics and inner-city votes ahead of our regional industries,” Mr Walsh said.
Please download this press release as a PDF