Monday 18 April, 2016
Victorians who have shown leadership in sustainability and a commitment to improving the environment are encouraged to enter the 2016 Premier's Sustainability Awards and share their stories.
“Delivering these awards each year means we continue to discover the passion and talent Victorians have for protecting their natural environment and thinking creatively about new sustainable practices.”
“The awards encourage innovation across all sectors, with a focus on delivering a triple bottom line – environmental, economic, and social benefits for Victoria.
“It has been inspiring to see the awards continue to grow and strengthen throughout their 14-year history,” Mr Krpan said.
The Premier's Sustainability Awards continues to promote leadership and innovation in sustainability, and encourage a broader adoption of these practices by all Victorians.
There are 10 award categories this year:
· Built Environment
· Environmental Justice
· Environmental Protection
· Innovative Products or Services
· Large Business
· Small and Medium Enterprises
In addition to these awards, the Premier will personally select two overall winners for the Premier's Regional Recognition Award and the Premier's Recognition Award.
Entries close Monday 27 June, 5pm.
For more information on how to enter, key dates and to register to attend an information session, visit www.sustainabilityawards.vic.gov.au
Media contact: Cath Newell 0423 587 478
MDC chief executive officer Jenny Garonne said the project was one of the single most important investments that could be made in the future of horticulture and industry in the Mildura region.
“It truly unlocks our region’s export potential through a timelier and cost-efficient freight services,” she said.
“The Murray Basin Rail Project has the potential to boost the Mildura region and result in not only increased freight productivity, but also growth in industry, jobs and exports.
“It’s a landmark announcement that is really important recognition and reward for the tireless grass-roots advocacy we and other groups and individuals from the Mildura region have continued over many years.”
Ms Garonne said the Murray Basin was one of Australia’s key food production regions and exported more than $3 billion worth of food and mining products each year, but was being hampered by inadequate rail freight linkages.
“This project will be a major driver for moving freight off road and onto rail, which has an enormous range of productive and social benefits,” she said.
“It also paves the way for the extension line in the future to Broken Hill that would create a ‘transcontinental link’ connecting into the Sydney to Perth rail line.
“It’s an exciting announcement for Mildura and for our horticultural, dryland and mining industries and we welcome the confidence the Federal Government is showing in our region for the future,” she said.
A delegation to Canberra and an urgent letter to the Federal Government are among initiatives from Mildura’s business, industry and horticultural leaders at a meeting on Friday to frame a regional response to the planned tax hike for backpackers.
Representatives of more than 20 industries, companies and agencies came together with Member for Mallee Andrew Broad MLA and Member for Mildura Peter Crisp MP at a meeting brokered by Mildura Development Corporation.
The group agreed to write to the Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison about the implications of changes that will tax working holiday visa recipients at a rate of 32.5 per cent from July 1, 2016. An urgent delegation is also being planned to meet with MPs and Treasury officials in Canberra.
Mildura Development Corporation CEO Jenny Garonne said industry leaders were confident a more acceptable solution could be reached once decision-makers understood the dramatic implications of the changes.
“We agreed it was critical for policymakers to fully appreciate the value of our regional production and what this tax change puts at risk,” Ms Garonne said.
“The extended Mildura, Wentworth and Robinvale region produces nearly 20 per cent of Australia’s 10 billion dollars’ worth of horticulture, and a very high percentage of that is exported.
“We’re poised to continue to be a powerhouse of horticultural production well into the future because of growth from established producers and new investment that’s coming from within Australia and internationally.
“We expect new almond developments alone to grow more than 50 per cent over the next three years with the potential to be worth one and half billion dollars in ten years – so we are not talking about small dollars here.”
Foreign workers currently pay from 19 cents in the dollar on taxable income above the tax-free threshold of $18,500. Under new Federal Government legislation, workers will be taxed at 32.5 cents from the first dollar they earn after July 1.
Ms Garonne said delegates to Friday’s meeting were aware and concerned at what she said were the “inevitable impacts” of ramping up tax rates.
“The changes mean that someone earning up to $37,000 on a working holiday will pay around $12,000 in tax instead of $3,500,” she said.
“The meeting was unanimous that the effect will have a significant impact, and is actually already being felt in anticipation of the changes, in that backpackers will simply find other alternatives for their working holiday,” she said.
Voice of Horticulture chair Tania Chapman told the meeting the tax changes would feed into a number of negatives already hindering horticulture.
“There’s obviously a potential for an increase in the cash economy which feeds our existing concerns about unscrupulous labor hire operators,” Ms Chapman said.
“This has already given Australia a perceived negative reputation in the eyes of potential overseas working holiday visa holders, and the tax changes will create another reason for backpackers to avoid Australia.
“We know already from talk on our farms and at hostels that we already have a situation where backpackers are starting to talk about New Zealand as an alternative to Australia, and they are telling others not to come.”
Ms Garonne said there were substantial implications for north-west Victoria of a loss of a key workforce at critical times of the year.
“Our local farmers bear the immediate brunt of not being able to access a workforce at important times of the year such as harvest, but the accommodation industry and wider regional economy will also take a major hit,” she said.
“There are an estimated 10 to 15,000 backpackers who come here each year, spending approximately $10,000 each – that alone is $100 million a year in value to our region without the actual value of the horticulture crops they ensure are being picked and packed and delivered to market.
Ms Garonne said with the tax changes now only four months away, the need for action was urgent.
“Our meeting on Friday was highly constructive and we know we are already building a much better understanding among the policymakers and decision makers about the implications of these changes,” she said.
“The letter to the Treasurer and the delegation we are now planning to Canberra will continue to push the message in the hope that the Government will work with us to reach a sensible and workable solution.”