Liberals response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Liberal Nationals have listened to Victorians affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Victorians need sensible and practical solutions to support them through the massive disruption caused by this event. This is what the Liberal Nationals have called for to help Victorians.

STABILITY NEEDED WITHIN VICTORIAN HOSPITAL BOARDS (25 March 2020)

The Liberal Nationals have called for the temporary extension of the appointments of hospital board members approaching the end of their terms to ensure board continuity and stability during the unfolding COVID-19 crisis.
A large number of hospital board member terms will expire on 30 June 2020. In some cases, board members tenures will come to an end and in other cases, there is a limit of three terms a member can serve on a board.
The Liberal Nationals are calling on this date to be extended for all current board members by one year.
The Victorian Government must act quickly to temporarily extend these appointments during this crisis to provide stability to our stretched hospitals. Hospitals and health boards around Victoria cannot afford to lose leadership teams during this crisis.

ADVOCATING LAND TAX RELIEF TO SUPPORT TENANTS AND PROPERTY OWNERS (25 March 2020)

The Liberal Nationals have called on the Victorian Government to deliver land tax credits for residential and commercial property owners who do the right thing and provide rent relief to tenants affected by COVID-19.
Many businesses have been forced to close because of necessary decisions by the National Cabinet. Similarly, thousands of workers have lost their jobs and income across the state, and these households are now struggling to pay the rent on their residential tenancies.
Landlords should be encouraged to do the right thing by all of these tenants, commercial and residential, and provide rent relief.
Such rent relief would apply to those currently on the list of businesses forced to close by the National Cabinet in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, or those residential tenants who are without a job because of closures and undergoing financial hardship.
The land tax relief would be provided in the form of credits against a property owner’s land tax bill and apply on a dollar credit for every dollar of rent relief provided.

FOOD SUPPLY CHAIN MUST GET CLEAR WAY FORWARD IN COVID-19 CRISIS (25 March 2020)

The Liberal Nationals sought urgent clarification from the Victorian Government to ensure that the agriculture sector was classified as an essential service.
The Federal Government confirmed agriculture is an essential service early on, but that it was up to each State Government to deliver the detail of what this looks like. The lack of clarification from the Victorian Government spread confusion through the sector.
In this time of crisis, farmers and businesses in the food supply chain must have the confidence to continue their critical work putting food on Victorian tables.
The Victorian Government belatedly confirmed that the agriculture sector was an essential service on 1 April.

PARKS VICTORIA – FEE REFUNDS FOR CAMPING AND CARAVAN SITES (25 March 2020)

The Victorian Liberal Nationals have called on the Victorian Government to proactively refund all Parks Victoria site bookings in Crown Land parks and National Parks until the restrictions on travel and social isolation are lifted.
While full refunds are being provided to people who had bookings at the Wilsons Promontory National Park, this refund policy should be extended to all Crown Land parks and National Parks in Victoria.
Whilst these booking fees may be small, a refund measure will go a long way to encourage Victorians to comply with the Government’s directive to avoid non-essential travel, and assist the many Victorian families who are doing it tough and facing an uncertain future.
CHANGES NEEDED AROUND COUNCIL MEETING LAWS (27 March 2020)
The Liberal Nationals have called on the Victorian Government to recall Parliament to provide legislation to enable Victorian councils to continue to meet and make decisions throughout the unfolding COVID-19 crisis.
Current legislation does not allow for any local government meetings to take place electronically – decisions can only be made at formal in-person meetings.
The New South Wales Parliament met this week and made emergency changes to a number of Acts of Parliament, including its Local Government Act, that will enable councils to hold formal meetings remotely via electronic means.
There is an important role for councils during these uncertain times and they should be able to meet and make the necessary decisions for their communities.

DESALINATION PLANT KEEPING WATER BILLS UP WHEN VICTORIANS CAN LEAST AFFORD IT (27 March 2020)

The Liberal Nationals have called on the Victorian Government to reconsider its decision to order 125GL of water from the Wonthaggi desalination plant this year.
The decision to order 125GL of desalination plant water means Victorians will miss out on a reduction in water bills at a time when they need it most.
As we take extreme action to combat the spread of COVID-19, every dollar we can keep in Victorians’ pocket will make a difference.
The Andrews Government should be doing everything it can to reduce the pressure on Victorian households.
INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS DURING COVID-19 (30 March 2020)
The Liberal Nationals have called on the Victorian Government to work with industry and union leaders to develop protocols to help prevent industrial disputation during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Reports are emerging that some Victorian businesses are being threatened with legal action by union officials during this crisis.
At a time when businesses are grappling with reducing staff in a volatile environment, businesses don’t also need to face the prospect of industrial action at their workplace.

SUPPORTING VULNERABLE VICTORIANS BY SUPPORTING LOCAL RESTAURANTS AND CAFES (30 March 2020)

The Liberal Nationals have called on the Victorian Government to engage local food businesses to provide meals to vulnerable or isolated members of the community during the COVID-19 crisis.
With increasing restrictions of movement, especially for senior citizens, there will be a greater need for meals to be provided. It makes sense that those meals should be prepared by local cafes and restaurants wherever possible – supporting vulnerable Victorians and at the same time protecting local jobs.
The current COVID-19 pandemic is placing huge pressure on many Victorian restaurants and cafes that are struggling to survive. Restricting food operations to takeaway or delivery only has caused financial pain to many local businesses.
The $500 million Working for Victoria Fund is designed to support businesses that may not benefit from other measures, such as payroll tax relief. Engaging local cafes and restaurants to meet the needs of vulnerable people in their own local communities will deliver a benefit to all.

LOCAL COUNCIL RATE RELIEF AND RATE FREEZE (1 April 2020)

The Liberal Nationals have called for local councils to offer immediate rate relief to distressed households impacted by COVID-19.
The Victorian Government must also help councils with any loss of revenue so that the important role of councils can continue uninterrupted during this unprecedented time. Many smaller councils, as well as those in rural and growth areas, may not be able to afford the cost of rate relief.
Local councils have an integral and vital role in assisting their communities in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic through emergency management provision and the delivery of services throughout municipalities to those requiring assistance and support.
The Liberal Nationals have also called for consideration of a complete rate freeze by local councils for this financial year.
With many Victorians facing a period of employment instability, rate relief and a freeze on rates would help ease the financial burden and help to ensure they can stay in their own homes.

ADVOCATING FAIRNESS IN RESCHEDULING DRIVING LICENCE TESTS (1 April 2020)

The Liberal Nationals have called on the Victorian Government to prioritise those who have had their driving licence tests cancelled because of the COVID-19 crisis when testing recommences.
VicRoads cancelled driving testing last week, with many young drivers finding out about the changes as they were lining up at a VicRoads office to begin their P Plate driving test.
While VicRoads indicating that it is working on arrangements to have testing carried out for situations that have exceptional circumstances, no decision has been made on the process for rescheduling other tests.

INTERVENTION NEEDED WITH UNION REFUSING TO UNLOAD CRITICAL EMERGENCY SUPPLIES (1 April 2020)

The Liberal Nationals have called on the Victorian Government to intervene after a union refused to unload critical emergency supplies including hand sanitisers and face masks on a Melbourne wharf.
The government must step in and ensure that access to critical supplies aren’t further delayed because a union is trying to stamp its authority during this time of crisis.

PRIORITY TESTING FOR FOOD SUPPLY CHAIN BUSINESSES (1 April 2020)

The Liberal Nationals have called on the Victorian Government to deliver priority access to testing for the agriculture workforce, similar to the provisions made for health workers.
Our food supply chain businesses are prepared to do their part to comply with restrictions, but we can’t afford to have their employees in a 14 day lockdown if it can be avoided.
Strict measures must be put in place to ensure our farmers and farm businesses are not exposed to unnecessary, lengthy shutdowns.
Farms and farm businesses must be able to quickly, and safely, resume operations as we continue to fight the spread of COVID-19.

HOTELS FOR HEALTH WORKERS (1 April 2020)

The Liberal Nationals have called on the Victorian Government to make Victoria’s hotel rooms available for doctors, nurses and healthcare workers facing eviction due to COVID-19.

Our doctors, nurses and healthcare workers are doing an amazing life-saving job all around Victoria, but they also have family and friends they want to protect.

The Liberal Nationals stand ready to work with the Victorian Government to look at all options, including our vacant hotel rooms, to assist healthcare workers who are needing housing assistance.

Victoria’s doctors, nurses and healthcare workers don’t need the stress of having nowhere to go when providing frontline care during this crisis.

EXPLANATION REQUIRED ON TOTAL RECREATIONAL FISHING BAN (2 April 2020)

The Liberal Nationals have called on the Victorian Government to urgently explain its decision to ban all recreational fishing under stage 3 restrictions, and to review the total ban to see if public safety can be protected with a more targeted restriction.
While exercise is a legitimate reason for people to leave their homes under stage 3, the Minister for Fishing and Boating declared yesterday that all recreational fishing was banned in Victoria.
This is inconsistent with New South Wales which confirmed that recreational fishing can continue, so long as social distancing and public gathering rules are observed, recognising fishing as a form of passive exercise.

FEE REDUCTION FOR TAXI AND PASSENGER VEHICLE OPERATORS (2 April 2020)

The Liberal Nationals have called on the Victorian Government to waive a number of fees tied to commercial passenger vehicle operators, including taxis, to assist in the economic fallout of COVID-19.
With the current restrictions in place and anticipated to remain for some months, taxi owners are yet another group of Victorians struggling with limited business and financial constraints.
At minimum the Victorian Government should suspend registration application and annual fees ($55.10) as well as providing additional support to these sole operators and small businesses under the Victorian government’s $500 million Business Support Fund.

PAY FREEZE FOR MPs (1 April 2020)

The Liberal Nationals have called on the Victorian Government to freeze the salaries of all members of Victorian Parliament ahead of the scheduled pay rise for politicians on 1 July 2020.

The Independent Remuneration Tribunal made its decision on pay increase for politicians many months ago. What may have been appropriate 12-18 months ago is not appropriate today – the world has turned upside down since then.
Ordinary Victorians right across the state are feeling the pain of COVID-19, with workers losing their jobs, households losing their income, and small businesses falling over in the face of closures and restrictions.
There’s probably no good time for an MP to get a pay rise. But there is a wrong time and that wrong time is now. Members of Parliament cannot possibly take a pay rise at a time when so many people are feeling financial pain.

TRANSPARENCY NEEDED ON COVID-19 RESPONSE (2 April 2020)

The Liberal Nationals have called for a Joint House Committee of the Victorian Parliament to be established to ensure oversight on Victoria’s response to COVID-19 while parliamentary sittings are on indefinite hold.
To save lives we will need to continue to take unprecedented action to combat the spread of COVID-19. But, like all government initiatives, these decisions should not be taken without scrutiny.
The Committee should allow for cross-party representation to ensure the Andrews Government remains accountable to the Parliament and the Victorian public.
Like to the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC), the Joint House Committee will have the power to question Ministers and request documents.
The Committee should use technology available to hold meetings and hearings remotely.
Establishing such a Joint House Committee must be on the agenda when the Victorian Parliament next sits to pass crucial legislation.

FREEZE ON CITYLINK TOLLS (3 April 2020)

The Liberal Nationals have called on the Victorian Government and Transurban to cancel the increase in CityLink tolls set for April 1 to alleviate unnecessary cost burdens during the COVID-19 crisis.

Many of the people using our roads are essential workers. They’re feeding us, they’re health workers, they’re delivering essential supplies, and so they shouldn’t be slugged with extra tolls at this already difficult time.

This is already a terribly difficult time and Transurban shouldn’t be making it even harder by increasing tolls.

TEMPORARY REDEPLOYMENT OF PROTECTIVE SERVICES OFFICERS (PSOs) (4 April 2020)

The Victorian Liberal Nationals have called on the Victorian Government to enable the temporary redeployment of PSOs throughout Victoria in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since being introduced under the former Liberal Nationals Government, PSOs have made an outstanding contribution to the safety of Victorians and have proven themselves as a critical community safety asset.

Following the outbreak of COVID-19, a number of concerning incidents have occurred at supermarkets and shopping precincts whilst police prepare for spikes in offences such as burglary of commercial properties. 

These changing community safety challenges come as reports indicate a 90 per cent fall in public transport usage – meaning more than 1400 PSOs are currently left protecting empty train stations while police resources are stretched across the state.

The COVID-19 crisis presents an opportunity to temporarily expand the role of PSOs to a range of community settings. Given the essential role PSOs play in keeping commuters safe, this change must be implemented with a clear commitment from the Victorian Government to fully return all PSOs to Victoria’s public transport network once the health crisis has passed.

Following this call by the Liberal Nationals, Labor announced on 6 April 2020 that it would adopt the Liberal Nationals policy to redeploy PSOs.

PAYROLL TAX EXEMPTION FOR JOBKEEPER PAYMENTS (5 April 2020)

The Liberal Nationals have called on the Victorian Government to exempt the Federal Government’s $1,500-a-fortnight JobKeeper payments from Victoria’s payroll tax. The JobKeeper payment is designed to keep businesses connected to their workforce and to keep workers afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, under existing Victorian law, these payments will attract payroll tax. In some cases, where the businesses employ mainly juniors or those on lower wages, the JobKeeper payment will be higher than pre-existing wages. It is unfair that employers in that situation should now face a Victorian payroll tax bill for receiving Federal Government support.

When the Parliament next sits, the Government needs to include a payroll tax exemption for these payments.

SCRAP BIN TAX INCREASE ON VICTORIAN HOUSEHOLDS (6 April 2020)

The Liberal Nationals have called on the Victorian Government to provide immediate relief to Victorian families by scrapping its Bin Tax increase.

On 1 July, the landfill levy is set to increase by 30 per cent. This means families will be paying more to dispose of household waste.

This tax increase is 17 times more than inflation. More financial stress is the last thing Victorian families need when faced with the extraordinary pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic.

GOVERNMENT MUST SUPPORT THREE-YEAR-OLD KINDER (7 April 2020)

The Liberal Nationals have called on the Victoria Government to fund Term 2 fees for kinder programs across Victoria to help ease the burden on both parents and kinders at this difficult time.

Many Victorian kinders are at financial risk due to the Victoria Government’s lack of funding support for most 3-year-old kinder programs across the state.

The only three-year-old kinder programs that are currently eligible for the Victorian Government’s proposed support package are those in a small number of regional areas where state funded kindergarten has already been introduced.