Farmer wa­ter win

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Front Page - BY DEAN LAW­SON

Awest­ern Vic­to­rian piped­wa­ter jig­saw ap­pears set to ex­pand with Ararat dis­trict farms and busi­nesses next in line to ben­e­fit from greater se­cu­rity of sup­ply.

The State Gov­ern­ment has an­nounced plans to spend $32-mil­lion on an $85-mil­lion East Grampians Wa­ter Sup­ply Pro­ject and has now called on the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to pro­vide its share.

But the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment, while back­ing the con­cept of se­cur­ing wa­ter sup­ply to agri­cul­tural ar­eas in Ararat, North­ern Grampians and Pyrenees mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, in­sists that it can do lit­tle un­til it sees a State Gov­ern­ment pro­posal.

Fed­eral Mem­ber for Wan­non Dan Te­han said a for­mal Vic­to­rian pro­posal was es­sen­tial in gain­ing Com­mon­wealth sup­port.

“The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment has not re­ceived a pro­posal from the State Gov­ern­ment for the East Grampians Wa­ter Sup­ply Pro­ject,” he said.

“The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment has re­peat­edly asked the State Gov­ern­ment to pro­vide a pro­posal un­der the Na­tional Wa­ter In­fra­struc­ture Fund. They have de­cided to play pol­i­tics in­stead.

“It is ter­ri­bly dis­ap­point­ing for farm- ers and busi­nesses that need a se­cure wa­ter sup­ply that the State Gov­ern­ment has failed to sub­mit a pro­posal while an­nounc­ing the pro­ject. I again call on Premier Daniel An­drews to sub­mit a pro­posal.”

The State Gov­ern­ment is push­ing ahead with its side of the pro­ject through its 2018-19 bud­get. Re­gard­less of the process, its an­nounce­ment now places pres­sure on the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment to fol­low suit.

Vic­to­rian Wa­ter Min­is­ter Lisa Neville joined farm­ers and com­mu­nity lead­ers at Mt Langi Ghi­ran Vine­yard on Mon­day to an­nounce the prom­ise.

Ms Neville said farms and busi- nesses would ben­e­fit from a more se­cure wa­ter sup­ply, which would re­duce op­er­at­ing costs and im­prove pro­duc­tiv­ity.

She said the pro­ject, ‘im­por­tantly’, would also give farms and busi­nesses more cer­tainty about their fu­ture, al­low­ing them to make long-term de­ci­sions in­clud­ing plant­ing more crops, buy­ing more stock or in­vest­ing in equip­ment.

Wa­ter se­cu­rity

The pro­ject in­volves con­struc­tion of 1600 kilo­me­tres of stock and do­mes­tic pipeline to pro­vide wa­ter for up to 530,000 hectares. Its pur­pose is to im­prove wa­ter se­cu­rity for property own­ers re­liant on farm dams and wa­ter cart­ing and in the process sup­port re­gional economies and jobs.

It also rep­re­sents an ad­di­tion to an ex­pand­ing western Vic­to­rian piped wa­ter grid that al­ready in­volves Wim­mera-mallee and North­ern Mallee pipe­lines, the start of work for an $80.6-mil­lion South West Lod­don Pipeline in Vic­to­ria’s north cen­tral and in­ves­ti­ga­tions into piped sup­ply for the south-west Wim­mera.

Ms Neville an­nounced plans for a fea­si­bil­ity study into the pipeline dur­ing a 2016 visit to the re­gion as part of a broad re­sponse to drought.

Ms Neville said in a pre­pared state­ment on Mon­day the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment now needed to ‘step up and pro­vide its share of the fund­ing for the pro­ject, to en­sure it can pro­ceed’.

“These com­mu­ni­ties have been do­ing it tough in re­cent years due to drought,” she said.

“That’s why we’re de­liv­er­ing the wa­ter se­cu­rity these land­hold­ers, farm­ers and towns need and have been calling for.

“This pro­ject will give lo­cal farm­ers the wa­ter se­cu­rity they des­per­ately need – which sup­ports jobs and means farm­ers no longer have to cart wa­ter dur­ing dry pe­ri­ods.”

Vic­to­rian Coali­tion politi­cians, mean­while, joined Mr Te­han in heavy crit­i­cism of the gov­ern­ment’s tac­tics sur­round­ing the pro­ject.

Op­po­si­tion wa­ter rep­re­sen­ta­tive Steph Ryan and Louise Sta­ley, Ripon, and Emma Kealy, Lowan, all came out strongly in sup­port of the pro­ject but ac­cused the gov­ern­ment of sit­ting on its hands and only re­spond­ing to the need of piped sup­ply in an ef­fort to win votes.

Ms Ryan said if the gov­ern­ment was se­ri­ous about se­cur­ing wa­ter for east Grampians com­mu­ni­ties, it would have sought the money needed from the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment.

“The gov­ern­ment had every op­por­tu­nity to en­sure this pro­ject would be fully funded but Lisa Neville hasn’t even made an ap­pli­ca­tion,” she said. Ms Sta­ley said the pro­ject was of vi­tal im­por­tance.

“It is time for Premier An­drews to be­have col­lab­o­ra­tively with Can­berra for the ben­e­fit of the re­gion and Vic­to­ria,” she said.

Ms Kealy said landown­ers had been cart­ing wa­ter for stock and crop spray­ing, which was both ex­pen­sive and time con­sum­ing.

“Fund­ing for this pro­ject should have been on La­bor’s radar long be­fore now,” she said.

“It’s only been since the strong com­mu­nity cam­paign that the gov­ern­ment has taken this se­ri­ously.”

Pipeline con­struc­tion is sched­uled to start at the end of next year and the pro­ject is likely to take about three years to com­plete.

While east Grampians com­mu­ni­ties as­sess lat­est de­vel­op­ments, con­trac­tor Mitchell Wa­ter turned the first sod on phase 2.1 of the South West Lod­don Pipeline at In­gle­wood.

The State Gov­ern­ment is pro­vid­ing $40-mil­lion, the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment $20-mil­lion, Gwmwa­ter $15-mil­lion and cus­tomers and Coliban Wa­ter the bal­ance for the north cen­tral pro­ject.

The lat­est phase of works will in­volve the first of 1300 kilo­me­tres of pipe span­ning 2900 square kilo­me­tres and pro­vide wa­ter from the Grampians head­works sys­tem to the farm gate of more than 600 ru­ral prop­er­ties.

WEARY WARBIRD: Pi­lot Nick Cald­well wheels Wir­raway A20-722 across the sky above the west Wim­mera town of Nhill while nav­i­gat­ing the air­craft to its fi­nal rest­ing place. The Wir­raway, a rare fly­ing ex­am­ple of one of the planes the RAAF used at its Nhill...

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