State defends pipeline tactics
The State Government is adamant it has followed state and federal funding protocols surrounding an East Grampians Water Supply Project, set to provide greater water security for Ararat district communities.
The office of Water Minister Lisa Neville reported that claims from political opponents at federal and state level that the State Government had yet to gain formal approval for a joint funding arrangement were ‘untrue’.
The State Government announced last week that it would provide $32-million for the $85-million piping project as part of its 2018-19 state budget in what represented a major win for the region’s farming community.
But Federal Member for Wannon Dan Tehan claimed after hearing the news that the Commonwealth was still awaiting a formal funding application for the project.
Ms Neville’s office responded, providing details that stated the State Government had provided a business case for the project to the Commonwealth in February.
It also provided details about a Mitiamo Reticulated Water Supply Project.
The statement showed: “The Labor Government has applied for funding under stage two of National Water Infrastructure Development Fund for the Mitiamo Reticulated Water Supply Project.
“In February, the business case was provided to the Commonwealth for the East Grampians Water Supply Project and Victorian Government officials have had discussions with federal officials about the positive benefits of the project for the region.
“Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water has also made representations about the project to Commonwealth MPS.
“The Mitiamo business case was completed in time for stage-two submission under the NWIDF whereas the East Grampians business case was done later.”
But Mr Tehan’s office stood firm when presented the state response, saying presenting a business case to the Commonwealth fell well short of a formal funding application.
Victorian Opposition water representative Steph Ryan and Coalition colleagues Louise Staley, Ripon, and Emma Kealy, Lowan, were also critical of circumstances surrounding the announcement.
Ms Neville said the Federal Government needed to ‘step up and match our funding’.
“Rather than playing politics, Steph Ryan should focus on lobbying her federal colleagues to match Victoria’s funding,” she said.