Gippsland South The Nationals Irrigation Danny O'Brien farms Riverside Camping Latrobe River system

O’Brien seeks to put Leongatha bypass fix on agenda

The Andrews Labor Government has been called upon to reallocate unused water in the Latrobe River system to create jobs in new irrigation developments in Central Gippsland.

In State Parliament this week, The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien, called on the Government to relinquish water set aside years ago for a new power station and reallocate it to irrigated farming which will help create new jobs in the region.

“There’s 25,000ML of water that sits in Blue Rock Dam on the Latrobe system every year and goes unused.

“It was set aside for a new Loy Yang 3/4 power station many years ago but clearly that has not eventuated and the water is effectively being wasted sitting behind a dam wall.

“I am pleased that the Andrews Government has heeded our calls for further development of irrigation in the region and is currently undertaking a second feasibility study on how this can be achieved. However, the reality is that there can be no significant irrigation expansion and new jobs and industry in the region without water.

“Currently that water is held by the Department of Treasury and Finance, which controls the former SEC assets and it sits there as a lazy asst being completely unused.

“I’ve called on the Assistant Treasurer this week to work with the Water Minister and the Gippsland community to reallocate that water, so that it can be sold on the open market and allow farmers to develop new irrigated agricultural and horticultural industries.”

The Assistant Treasurer has 30 days to reply.

Mr O’Brien said there were challenging times ahead for the Latrobe Valley and Central Gippsland as power stations closed, but taking the water used by the energy sector and handing it over to new irrigation development would help ease transition for the region.

“Irrigation delivers far more productive bang for your buck and many more jobs than dry-land agriculture.

“We have the right soils, the right water supply and the right climate to become a powerhouse for food and fibre production in the 21st Century and the first step is to get this unused water allocated to those who can use it.

“Given this water doesn’t currently run down the river it will have minimal effect, if any, on environmental flows and the lower Latrobe wetlands that run into the Gippsland Lakes.”

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien, is calling on the Government to reallocate water to create new jobs in the Latrobe River area

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