Ir­ri­ga­tion project is fu­elling busi­ness

Campaspe News - - NEWS -

ON ANY given morn­ing around 7am, Justin Cleary can most likely be found be­hind the counter of his ser­vice sta­tion and cafe´ serv­ing a long queue of cus­tomers in high­vis vests.

His busi­ness is Rochester Cal­tex on High St, and the cus­tomers more of­ten than not are con­trac­tors, ma­chine op­er­a­tors and field staff on their way to work.

Mr Cleary and his wife, Rachel have run the fam­ily busi­ness for 16 years – de­vel­op­ing the site from a “run­down old shed with a cou­ple of fuel pumps” to the busy hub it is to­day.

“The busi­ness has been grow­ing,” he said, and at­tributes some of this to flow-on ef­fects of the Con­nec­tions Project, which has heav­ily in­vested in the Goul­burn-Mur­ray Ir­ri­ga­tion District to modernise ir­ri­ga­tion in­fra­struc­ture in north­ern Vic­to­ria.

This year alone, the Con­nec­tions Project is spending $100 mil­lion on Win­ter Works which, in turn, is pro­vid­ing local em­ploy­ment and busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“In­stead of hav­ing a nor­mal win­ter cy­cle, where we might see a slide down, it has lev­elled out. We’ve had in­creased trade through the nor­mal win­ter lull,” Mr Cleary said.

“The peo­ple com­ing through are con­trac­tors, a range of truck driv­ers, con­struc­tion work­ers and busi­ness peo­ple – it’s been any­one in­volved in the Con­nec­tions Project.’’

He said busi­ness had been steady for sev­eral years and the fact that work is car­ried out year­round was also great.

“The project has been very ben­e­fi­cial.”

One of Mr Cleary’s cur­rent staff mem­bers, Re­bekah Charl­ton, re­cently moved to Rochester from the North­ern Ter­ri­tory.

“She came down with her part­ner and he got a job with a local con­struc­tion firm. I’ve em­ployed her here,” he said. “He’s also joined the local footy team.’’

“It’s a prime ex­am­ple of how this in­vest­ment is bring­ing peo­ple to the area and how our com­mu­ni­ties are ben­e­fit­ing.’’

Con­nec­tions Project Direc­tor Frank Fis­seler said it was fan­tas­tic to see flow-on ef­fects of the Con­nec­tions Project hav­ing a tan­gi­ble ef­fect on com­mu­ni­ties and busi­nesses. “Our work this win­ter is see­ing 35km of new pipe­line at seven sites, re­me­di­a­tion of 33km of chan­nel at 17 sites and chan­nel au­to­ma­tion at more than 270 sites,” he said.

Min­is­ter for Wa­ter Lisa Neville said the $2 bil­lion Con­nec­tions Project is not only de­liv­er­ing ben­e­fits to the re­gion’s econ­omy but is also cre­at­ing a sus­tain­able fu­ture for pro­duc­tive agri­cul­ture in north­ern Vic­to­ria.

“The scale of this in­vest­ment is cre­at­ing em­ploy­ment ben­e­fits and nu­mer­ous op­por­tu­ni­ties for farm­ing en­ter­prises, com­mu­ni­ties and busi­nesses in the re­gion,” she said.

Cal­tex own­ers Justin and Rachel Cleary with staff mem­ber Re­bekah Charl­ton.

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