Ag Minister in Gippsland

AUSTRALIA’S new federal Agriculture Minister visited Gippsland on Monday, meeting with leaders in the fishing, horticulture, agriculture and timber sectors.

Gippsland MHR Darren Chester accompanied Senator Bridget McKenzie as she travelled through the electorate.

Senator McKenzie visited the Macalister Irrigation District to learn more about the multimillion dollar modernisation project, with $31 million from the federal government committed in February for phase two of the project.

Mr Chester said this phase would save and reinvest up to 10 gigalitres of water back into the rural economy, secure the Newry and Stratford supply networks, boost Gippsland’s output of milk and food, and reduce nutrient discharges to local waterways.

Senator McKenzie also attended a round table meeting with farmer and local government representatives to discuss challenges, issues and opportunities facing agriculture in Gippsland.

She also met with management at Australian Sustainable Hardwoods (ASH) in Heyfield, hearing first-hand about key issues of concern affecting the local business and the timber industry more broadly.

Mr Chester said ASH employed about 150 permanent staff, and received $1.2 million from the federal government’s Regional Jobs Investment Package to invest in new technologies and cater for new markets.

More on Senator McKenzie’s visit in Friday’s issue.