VFF happy with $200m from sale of the port

Mansfield Courier - - PROPERTY -

THE Vic­to­rian Farm­ers Fed­er­a­tion has fought and won a $200 mil­lion ru­ral in­fra­struc­ture com­mit­ment from the An­drews Gov­ern­ment.

The State Gov­ern­ment an­nounced on Sun­day that it would es­tab­lish a $200m Agri­cul­ture In­fra­struc­ture & Jobs Fund us­ing rev­enue from selling a long-term lease on the Port of Mel­bourne.

“The La­bor Gov­ern­ment has lis­tened and de­liv­ered on our call for a fair share of the es­ti­mated $5 bil­lion in rev­enue from leas­ing the port to be re-in­vested in ru­ral in­fra­struc­ture,” said VFF pres­i­dent Peter Tuo­hey.

“We’re also ex­pect­ing the gov­ern­ment to an­nounce a fur­ther com­mit­ment to up­grade and stan­dard­ise the Mil­dura rail freight line and its feed­ers.”

Since May last year the VFF has re­peat­edly ar­gued, that given the port was built on food and fi­bre ex­ports, a fair share of the port rev­enue must go back to boost­ing ru­ral in­fra­struc­ture.

Mr Tuo­hey said Premier Daniel An­drews’ and Trea­surer Tim Pal­las’ com­mit­ment to de­liv­er­ing a share of the port lease rev­enue to ru­ral Vic­to­ria was a ma­jor win for farm­ers.

The VFF has raised con­cerns with the gov­ern­ment on en­sur­ing the sale of the port lease de­liv­ers eq­uity, ac­cess and above all com­pet­i­tive pric­ing for food and fi­bre ex­porters.

“The VFF has given its sup­port to the sale on the con­di­tion the State Gov­ern­ment en­sures the­ses is­sue are ad­dressed and the port re­mains com­pet­i­tive,” Mr Tuo­hey said.

“The agri­cul­tural sec­tor needs a cost com­pet­i­tive port and sup­ply chain that puts Vic­to­rian farm­ers ahead of our in­ter­state and over­seas com­peti­tors.

“A com­pet­i­tive port in com­bi­na­tion with this $200m in­vest­ment in ru­ral in­fra­struc­ture will help de­liver a com­pet­i­tive sup­ply chain that keeps us ahead of the game.”

Vic­to­ria’s Up­per House is due to de­bate the De­liv­er­ing Vic­to­rian In­fra­struc­ture (Port of Mel­bourne Lease Trans­ac­tion) Bill this week.

The Coali­tion and Greens are set to re­fer the Bill to a se­lect or stand­ing com­mit­tee in­quiry.

The gov­ern­ment has made it clear the $200m fund’s es­tab­lish­ment is con­tin­gent on the Bill be­ing passed by Par­lia­ment.

Key ru­ral in­fra­struc­ture projects iden­ti­fied by the VFF in­clude the stan­dard­i­s­a­tion and up­grades of the Mur­ray Basin Rail freight net­work (Mil­dura and feeder lines), ir­ri­ga­tion in­fra­struc­ture and ru­ral road up­grades.

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