Nationals continue MID funding fight
Labor must commit funding for phase 1B of the Macalister Irrigation District upgrade to inject an additional $45 million into the local economy, Member for Gippsland South Danny O’Brien has told Parliament.
Mr O’Brien said the former Coalition Government provided $16 million for phase 1A which, once complete in 2017, would connect 75 per cent of customers to a modernised system while saving more than 12,000 megalitres of water to go back into food production.
“This is water that is effectively liquid gold in our region,” Mr O’Brien said.
“It represents economic growth. It contributes to more water being used on farms and therefore greater productivity. It creates jobs and boosts the economy in our local region.”
In the Parliament, Mr O’Brien again invited Water Minister Lisa Neville to visit the region to see first-hand the merits of improvements to the Macalister Irrigation District (MID).
“This is an important project and one that I believe she should come and see soon, particularly given the failure of the government to commit any funding to the MID 2030 project in this week’s budget,” Mr O’Brien said.
“It is important that the Minister come and see this project soon and indeed that the Government fund it soon, because I believe there are prospects to also attract funding from the Commonwealth Government.
“While the opportunity to attract Commonwealth funding in the Federal Budget coming up next week has been lost in the short term because Labor has not made a contribution, I encourage the Minister to visit the area and bring with her a cheque to support this project.”
The Nationals Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull echoed Mr O’Brien’s comments saying the next stage of the modernisation was critical to ensuring the region continued to thrive.
“Melbourne Labor must provide funding for phase 1B to ensure Gippsland farms continue to become more productive and more profitable,” Mr Bull said.
“The district’s farmers already inject about $500 million a year into the state’s economy – imagine how much that will grow with this modernised irrigation infrastructure.”
Mr Bull said part of phase 1B included replacing about 85 kilometres of ageing, open channel with 38km of pressurised pipes and 26km of modernised automated channel.
Mr Bull said he had also raised this issue in Parliament twice this year.
In addition to the $16 million investment for phase 1A, the Coalition Government made an election commitment to provide $10 million to kickstart the $60 million phase 1B project.