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Joyce, Shorten take jobs message to Vic

AAP logoAAP 14/11/2016 Paul Osborne, AAP Senior Political Writer

Labor and the Nationals are homing in on disgruntled regional voters, as Barnaby Joyce acknowledged the federal government needs a better listening ear.

Both the Nationals leader and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten were in regional Victoria on Monday, where the community is reeling from a recent drop in dairy prices and the imminent closure of the Hazelwood coal-fired power station.

Attending media events 75km apart, the leaders zeroed in on concerns about the future of farmers, small business owners and blue-collar workers.

Speaking at a farm in Riverslea, Mr Joyce boasted the Nationals represent "things you can touch, things you can understand".

There was "no systemic problem" with the dairy industry, but improved water infrastructure, cheaper inputs such as grain and improved milk prices would help farmers and deliver flow-on effects to the wider community.

"Once the money gets into the district it starts to spin around," he said.

Mr Joyce said dairy, food processing and horticulture had a big future as industry made the most of free trade agreements.

Asked whether US president-elect Donald Trump, who has advocated higher tariffs, would make it harder for Australia the deputy prime minister said he would travel overseas next year to open doors to new markets.

The Nationals took a hit in the Orange by-election in regional NSW at the weekend, where the primary vote was down 34 percentage points.

Mr Joyce said it was important "you don't sook and you don't sulk".

"We take our medicine, we understand it, we respect the voters and we go back and work harder again," he said.

Visiting a manufacturing plant in Moe, Mr Shorten said the government needed to focus more on prioritising Australian-made products and employing Australians.

"Haven't they learned anything from the American election results? Where you abandon hard working, working-class communities and provide no support for them, that is when people get angry at mainstream politics," Mr Shorten said.

"We are here and Malcolm Turnbull should take a day out of his busy diary, leave the Sydney harbourside and come and visit Latrobe Valley and other communities."

Mr Shorten said he was not a "rampant greenie" who saw no future for coal, but the government should better manage the transition to renewable energy.

"What we need to see here is a genuine effort to find Australian jobs for people dislocated by change."

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