AN icy wind sent council leaders and a Liberal senator heading home to the office for tea and cakes — but the Coalition expects young people across Wannon to brave the elements and join a “green army” charged with plans to deliver thousands of extra trees.
Liberal MP Dan Tehan and South Australian Senator Simon Birmingham went on a whirlwind tour of the south-west to talk up the party’s environmental credentials.
The party promoted the policy at Murray Goulburn’s water treatment plant just north of Koroit yesterday.
The dairy giant wants its 500 regional suppliers to plant more trees across farmland in a bid to generate more milk from livestock — the extra trees leading to better soil quality.
The Coalition says that could be done under a green army which would be formed mainly by unemployed people, students and young people on a gap year before tertiary studies.
“The green army are volunteers,” Mr Tehan said yesterday.
‘‘We will get the labour force together for this project.
“I was talking with Warrnambool College students the other week and they were saying they were very keen to do things to help the environment.
‘‘These are wonderful projects for students who are leaving school looking to do their bit.”
If the Coalition wins the September 7 poll it wants to use local landcare groups to pick and manage projects.
“We’ll work through local community organisations to deliver on the projects,” Mr Tehan said.
“This is very meaningful.
‘‘It is on-the-ground action and we will see real results from it.”
It’s unclear how much the garden glove soldiers will be paid in the army, however, they will receive “a training allowance”.
The Coalition originally committed $400 million to the scheme in 2010, which has now been rolled back to $300 million.
The policy, which has been targeted at smaller communities, promises to benefit farms and restore popular recreation spots and parks.
Mr Tehan promised dozens of sites across Moyne shire and Corangamite shire would be first in the line for the program.