The Nationals Michael O'Brien Latrobe River Latrobe River Irrigators Irrigation Water mines Covino Covino Farms The Nationals Michael O'Brien Latrobe River Irrigation Water mines The Nationals Michael O'Brien Latrobe River Irrigation Water mines

Opposition Leader backs Gippsland irrigation plans

State Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien has backed new jobs in Gippsland, supporting calls for more water availability to expand irrigation in the region.

Mr O’Brien visited Gippsland this week meeting with a number of farmers, small business people and other local groups.

Mr O’Brien and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien met with Latrobe River Irrigators who are concerned about water security in the Latrobe system.

The Leader of the Liberal Party backed the view that no water should be taken from irrigators or the environment as plans are finalised to rehabilitate Latrobe Valley coal mines as pit lakes.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien, said it was important to have the backing of the alternative Premier of the state.

“Michael O’Brien understands the need for jobs in our region, especially as we recover from the coronavirus pandemic, and it was great to be able to show him what some of our Latrobe irrigators are doing to develop their farms utilising irrigation water and creating more jobs in the region.

“While the rehabilitation and stability of Latrobe Valley coal mines is a very difficult problem, it is important the Government doesn’t rely on the Latrobe River entirely to fill the mines as they are retired and rehabilitated.

“There is also a significant volume of water in Blue Rock Lake that is unused, and the Latrobe Valley irrigators and I have been advocating for that to be allocated to develop further irrigation, economic activity and jobs in Central Gippsland. 

“It’s a great opportunity to help the Latrobe Valley and Central Gippsland transition away from coal mining to long term sustainable jobs in the agriculture and horticulture sectors.”

During the visit Michael O’Brien also visited large scale Longford vegetable producer Covino Farms where he heard of significant difficulties for local producers in attracting harvest labour.

He also met with a number of local businesses about their experiences through the pandemic and as the local economy now recovers.

Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien with The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien, at Covino Farms.

15 January 2021

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