Irrigation funding a great win for central Gippsland
State Government funding for the continued upgrade of the Macalister Irrigation District (MID) is a win for local irrigators and the community but should not be dependent of the sale of the Port of Melbourne, according to The Nationals’ Members for Gippsland South Danny O’Brien and Gippsland East Tim Bull.
State Government funding of $20 million has been committed, which will allow phase 1B – the southern Tinamba pipeline – to proceed when current works are completed.
Mr O’Brien and Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Water, Peter Walsh, discussed the issue with local irrigators during a visit by Mr Walsh today.
Mr O'Brien said the MID was a great wealth producer for the region and it was important that government continued to invest in the project.
“This outcome is the result of an outcome of a lot work by the MID customer consultative committee, irrigators, the community and Southern Rural Water and gives us the certainty this project needs going forward,” Mr O’Brien said.
“It is disappointing though that the government is tying the funding to its dud Port of Melbourne lease arrangements, which would lock in a bad deal for our dairy and other agricultural industries for 70 years.
“We want to see this funding delivered, no strings attached, just as the first stage was delivered by Peter Walsh and The Nationals in government.”
Mr Bull said the MID upgrade would help boost jobs and economic activity in the region.
“The MID is one of the great irrigation districts in this state, and is responsible for a huge volume of milk output and a growing vegetable industry,” Mr Bull said.
“Upgrading the irrigation system will save 9,700 megalitres of water and inject an additional $45 million into the local economy in addition to the existing half-billion dollar contribution the MID already makes.”
The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria, Melina Bath agreed.
“We look forward to this funding being committed in next year’s budget irrespective of the outcome on the Port of Melbourne lease and deliver benefits for jobs, farmers, workers and the entire Gippsland community," Ms Bath said.
Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Water and Agriculture Peter Walsh and Member for Gippsland South Danny O’Brien inspect upgrades that have occurred as part of Phase 1A of the MID 2030 modernisation with Ian Stewart, of the MID Customer Consultative Committee.