MPs ask state to cough up share of MID money

GIPPSLAND Nationals MP’s want the state government to stump up its share of the final stage of the Macalister Irrigation District modernisation project.

Gippsland East MLA Tim Bull and Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien believe the project is a critical one for the local economy, and with federal funding on the table the state should have funded the project in the state budget.

Speaking in parliament last week, Mr O’Brien said the MID 2030 Phase two project, worth $62 million, would modernise the remaining sections of the MID , saving about 10 gigalitres of water, improving on farm productivity and reducing nutrient run-off into the Gippsland lakes.

“This is a no-brainer of a project and has been supported by both sides of politics for some time,” Mr O’Brien said.

“When in government, the Nationals delivered on phase 1A and it was pleasing that the Labor government contributed to phase 1B, which is now almost completed.”

“It was great that Darren Chester and the federal Nationals have put $31 million on the table which is half the cost – well in excess of their previous contribution to this project – but we saw nothing from Labor in the state budget.

Gippsland East MLA Tim Bull said the MID was a critical economic asset for Gippsland, and production was growing through the expansion of horticulture (particularly in areas around Newry and Boisdale), and dairy.

“The MID is one of Australia’s safest irrigation areas and can be relied on to deliver year after year, but modernising our channels and supply systems will save water and produce enormous efficiencies for our farmers,” Mr Bull said.

“It’s also an important environmental project, reducing wastage and nutrient run-off into our local rivers and lakes.

“I’m disappointed Labor didn’t fund its share in the budget and call on the Andrews government to now get behind this project.”

The office of Labor Eastern Victoria MLC Harriet Shing was approached for comment.