Home Featured News Emma Kealy hears Yarriambiack concerns

Emma Kealy hears Yarriambiack concerns

LISTENING: Warracknabeal grain farmer Damien Maher speaks to Member for Lowan Emma Kealy about ways to improve sustainability in the agricultural industry.

THE Nationals Member for Lowan joined Warracknabeal Residents at the Warrack Hot Bread Bakery this week to address some the issues across the shire.
The key issues Ms Kealy kept hearing across the Yarriambiack Shire was the shortage of healthcare professionals, the state of roads, the Warracknabeal Education Precinct project and assistance to the farming community.
Emma Kealy said community members working together to voice their issues is the most effective way to achieve progress in rural and regional Victoria.
“We do need to make sure we have investment in our local areas, and regional and rural people count, we need to make sure we get that school finished,” Ms Kealy said.
She said often rural communities get forgotten on the State and Federal levels, however it is important for smaller communities to get their voices out into the public sphere.
“Investment in our community will take the pressure off rate payers by investing in council by keeping the roads maintained and to make sure the community assets are looked after appropriately.
“You don’t miss out just because you choose to live in a great place like Warracknabeal.”
Residents in the southern parts of the shire including Minyip, Murtoa and Rupanyup were concerned about the lack of medical services available in the town after the only doctor in Minyip left Tristar.
This comes after the Member for Mallee Dr Anne Webster met with the Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt last week addressing the skilled workers shortage in the Wimmera.
Dr Webster said there is about one doctor to 900 patients in Melbourne compared to the ratio of one to 7, 487 patients.
This is reflective of the Yarriambiack Shire with a population of 6, 600 people to limited medical professionals.
Ms Kealy said this is putting pressure on the healthcare professionals and creating a ripple effect through the community.
“Another issue is the access to doctors in the region, we all know if you don’t have a doctor you have that initial pressure on the ability and availability for local people to get the services they deserve, it also puts pressure on the pharmacy,” Ms Kealy said.
“It really puts a question mark on the viability of health services.
“The locals are concerned, if they don’t have a doctor then are we going to lose our pharmacy too, what else are we going to lose, what can we do to try and reverse that.”
Ms Kealy said focusing on education could be a solution.
“Structurally there’s some pretty simple changes that can be put in place particularly around how we train doctors, we need more country kids studying medicine, they need to be able to do their post-graduate training in regional areas, they shouldn’t be based just out of Melbourne.”
“My question to the government is looking at trying to fix some of these shortages for people in regional and rural Victoria to access the healthcare they deserve, perhaps they should start looking further into these issues.”
Murtoa residents were also concerned about the public transport availability in the area.
Ms Kealy said they are interested in getting passenger rail running again.
“It’s all connected to what’s happening in the local community Murtoa for example, they’re really focused on bringing back passenger rail to connect to other regions,” she said.
Ms Kealy also heard the concerns of residents regarding sustainable farming practices and property value in the region.
Ms Kealy said it’s a real positive to see the outlook for crop yields in the Wimmera Mallee this year should be above average .
“I think a lot of the issues are seasonal, we’re seeing crops are looking great this year and just a little bit of concern about what the end of the season will look like,” she said.
Warracknabeal grain farmer Damien Maher came to Emma Kealy to voice his concerns with The Nationals approach to environment and sustainability.
Mr Maher said he was concerned with how the government approached the environment, in particular incentives to plant more trees on prime farming land in the Wimmera.
He said planting species like Mallee trees in the area are key to driving down carbon emissions.
“Trees are an integral part of farming,” Mr Maher said.
“It’s the philosophy that I follow, you need to plant at least 13 percent of your area in trees, that is to get the top certification.
“It’s also a passion to plant the trees to improve biodiversity, when you have really wet years you can reduce the salinity levels.
“There’s so many benefits in my mind, like the obvious one, we live in an environment where most people just would be happy to clear everything and just grow.”
Ms Kealy agreed with Mr Maher, saying it’s a positive approach to sustainable farming techniques.
“There’s so many benefits to agriculture and promoting tree planting, I think it’s a really positive and practical approach to managing the environment,” she said.
Warracknabeal resident and farmer Russell Shultz told Ms Kealy he was worried about the condition of the road between Sheep Hills and Bangerang.
He also said he feels there is a lot of pressure on farmers to take on the burden of rates in the area.
Ms Kealy said she believes the council should not have to rely so heavily on rates.
“We shouldn’t have to rely so heavily on rates, we need another solution,” she said.
“It is easy for councils in cities to raise funds through things like parking meters, but unfortunately regional communities don’t have the option.”