Libs and Nats say they’ll kick in $13.4 million

THE Liberal Nationals say they will provide $13.4 million to kick start the final stage of Macalister Irrigation District modernisation works, if elected in November.

Shadow minister for water Steph Ryan, Gippsland East MLA Tim Bull and Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien were in Newry on Thursday morning to announce funding to continue work to achieve the MID2030 vision set out by the former Victorian Liberal Nationals government.

“Ageing and inefficient water infrastructure contributes to water losses and higher water bills,” Ms Ryan said.

“If elected, we’ll complete our vision to modernise the MID by providing Victoria’s share of the funds needed to upgrade infrastructure and make it a more efficient system for irrigators.”

The MID delivers water to 700 irrigators around the Maffra district, and Phase 2 works will continue staged upgrades into the Newry region.

It is the largest irrigation district in southern Victoria, contributing more than $500 million to the Victorian economy each year.

Mr Bull said the upgrades would improve system efficiency, lift farm productivity and enable best practice water use.

“Phase 2 works will allow for water savings for irrigation while increasing resource availability, boosting agricultural production, placing downward pressure on water prices and increasing the total delivery pool,” he said.

“I’m proud to be here announcing today we’ll finish what we started and deliver our vision for a more efficient MID.”

Mr O’Brien said the MID modernisation would ensure increased water security in the region when it was most needed.

“This project will deliver water savings that will allow our local irrigators to reinvest and grow,” he said.

“Modernisation work must continue to improve the long-term security and sustainability of our region’s water resources.”

Phase 1A has been completed, while Phase 1B is scheduled for completion in 2020.

The federal Coalition government announced in June 2016 it would fund a feasibility study to determine the full cost of Phase 2 works.

Similar to earlier stages, irrigators will contribute a third of the funding required, with the remaining third to be sought from the federal government.