No tun­nel = no jobs

Benalla Ensign - - News -

It wasn’t just our roses and street art that brought the Roads Min­is­ter to town last week, but the big­gest an­nounce­ment for my home town of Be­nalla in decades.

Lo­cals re­joiced with the news that a $60 mil­lion con­crete precast fac­tory will be built in Be­nalla, to sup­ply the West Gate Tun­nel project.

This will be the largest precast fa­cil­ity in Vic­to­ria, cre­at­ing 400 new jobs and pro­vid­ing a mas­sive boost to the lo­cal econ­omy

Con­struc­tion of the fa­cil­ity is due to start in March and it is ex­pected to be op­er­a­tional from Oc­to­ber.

Mayor Don Firth said: ‘‘this is a mas­sive in­vest­ment and one Be­nalla has been wait­ing for, for a long time — you could say it is a game changer for Be­nalla,’’ and ‘‘The num­ber of jobs com­ing to Be­nalla is so sig­nif­i­cant it’s the big­gest in­vest­ment Be­nalla has seen at least since Thales.’’

Face­book lit up with pos­i­tive feed­back point­ing to the job op­por­tu­ni­ties, ben­e­fits for busi­nesses and peo­ple look­ing to move to or back to Be­nalla.

So like many peo­ple in town, I am an­gry that the coali­tion is at­tempt­ing to side with the Greens to op­pose the Tun­nel project — the Lib­er­als and Na­tion­als are try­ing to use the Par­lia­ment to re­voke the plan­ning ap­provals for the project and if suc­cess­ful the project will halt, as will the 400-plus jobs for Be­nalla.

Once built, the fa­cil­ity will be ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing up to 1500 tonnes of con­crete prod­uct per day at peak ca­pac­ity and will be well placed to sup­ply fu­ture Vic­to­rian and in­ter­state projects, cre­at­ing en­dur­ing eco­nomic ben­e­fits to North East Vic­to­ria — but with­out the Tun­nel Project it won’t be built any­time soon.

Any­one who says the fac­tory can pro­ceed now with­out the Tun­nel Project is mis­in­formed, mis­guided or ma­li­cious.

The tun­nel project has been awarded to a con­struc­tion con­sor­tium and com­mer­cial dis­cus­sions are cur­rently un­der way with lo­cal sup­pli­ers to de­velop and op­er­ate the fa­cil­ity.

Let me be very clear — No Tun­nel Project = No Be­nalla Precast Fac­tory = No 400 jobs. The West Gate Tun­nel project is needed. It went through the most com­pre­hen­sive and trans­par­ent process in the state’s his­tory — the busi­ness case is public, there are no side deals — it stacks up.

Un­der La­bor we are mak­ing sure that all of Vic­to­ria can share the op­por­tu­ni­ties cre­ated by our mas­sive pro­gram of ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment.’’

This project will add $11 bil­lion to the state’s econ­omy cre­at­ing 6000 jobs with at least 400 of those in our town.

I will stand up for Be­nalla jobs — I will be speak­ing in Par­lia­ment next Wed­nes­day to ve­he­mently op­pose the Lib­eral/Na­tion­als’ plan to knock off this project — I can’t fathom how Steph Ryan won’t be join­ing me.

Ja­clyn Symes

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