Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has called on the State Government to fully fund its share of the phase two of the Macalister Irrigation District (MID) modernisation project and help cash-strapped farmers.
Mr Chester secured $31 million from the Federal Government last year for the $62 million project. Funding for the most recent stage of the modernisation project was split equally between the federal and state governments and irrigators in the MID.
“With Gippsland producers emerging from the drought, the State Government should match the federal contribution to this project,” Mr Chester said.
“It’s no secret our irrigators and dairy farmers have been enduring difficult times over the past few years.
“Many are under financial stress as a result of the drought and it will take time to get back to where they once were.
“The State Government can ease the financial pressure on our farmers and provide real and meaningful support by matching the federal grant.”
Phase 2 of the MID modernisation project focuses on the Newry area and is estimated to cost up to $62 million. When finished, the MID’s ageing assets will be transformed into a highly automated, efficient, modern water delivery system.
“This project has enjoyed bipartisan support for years: its economic and environmental benefits are clear,” Mr Chester said.
“The MID contributes an estimated $500 million to the Victorian economy. Upgrading the remainder of the irrigation network will save up to ten gigalitres of water, help boost the production of milk and food in Gippsland, and reduce the amount of nutrient discharges that reach local waterways and the Gippsland Lakes.
“Completion of phase two will allow for more efficient irrigation practices and secure a strong future for the agricultural sector in Gippsland.”