Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester says the signing of a construction milestone funding agreement for phase two of the Macalister Irrigation District modernisation project will create welcome jobs.
Mr Chester said the project would transform the MID’s ageing assets into a highly automated, efficient, modern water delivery system, while supporting local jobs and boosting the environment.
“This will become one of the most important infrastructure projects underway in Gippsland,” Mr Chester said. “It will support hundreds of local jobs during construction for contractors and their suppliers and afterwards for farm businesses and their supply chains.
“It is a welcome investment in this world-class agricultural region and its sustainability into the future, while also helping to protect the environment by making significant water savings.”
Mr Chester secured $31 million from the Federal Government for the $62 million project in February last year. Southern Rural Water will provide $20.9 million. The State Government announced its $10.4 million contribution in May this year.
“The State Government has dragged its feet in announcing its support for this project,” Mr Chester said.
“I don’t understand why Victoria would delay announcing its funding when not doing so creates further uncertainty and stress for farmers already enduring a prolonged period of low rainfall.”
Southern Rural Water is leading the MID2030 modernisation project.
Phase two is centred on some of the oldest and least efficient zones in the MID. This phase is forecast to save more than 12 gigalitres of water and increase water availability and security, while improving delivery efficiency to support increased agricultural output.
This phase of the project will reconfigure the Newry River irrigation supply, replacing channels with pipelines and automating outlets. The Nuntin and Stratford irrigation supply networks will also be upgraded and reconfigured.
Some work has already begun as part of phase two, including installation of four new gates and the desilting of almost 10 kilometres of channels on the Stratford supply.
The federal and state governments this week announced the start of work on phase two of the project following the signing of the funding agreement. Construction milestone funding agreements set the payment to contractors based on when specified project milestones are reached, rather than making payments on particular dates.