Ararat pipe win
An Ararat municipal leader has joined a chorus in describing a $32-million Federal Government investment to help establish greater water security in the region as an economic game changer.
Ararat Rural City Council chief executive Tim Harrison said the prospect of an East Grampians Pipeline becoming a reality represented a massive
step forward for the municipality and its near neighbours.
Dr Harrison added the Federal Government announcement – ‘the final financial piece’ in the $85.5-million project puzzle – was a clear reflection of what could happen when individuals and parties worked together.
“It will be one of the biggest things that has happened for this municipality and we couldn’t be more excited,” he said. “We’ve been sweating on this. Having water security for the majority of the municipality will be a total game changer.
“Not only will farmers have surety in usual agricultural activities, it will also open up opportunities to valueadding industries such as horticulture and viticulture.
“There’s been plenty of media in the past couple of years about division in Ararat, but this shows, when we work together around a particular project, what we can achieve.”
Deputy Prime Minister Michael Mccormack joined Mr Tehan alongside Victorian Member for Ripon Louise Staley and Member for Lowan Emma Kealy at farmer Charlie de Fegely’s Ararat district property for the announcement.
Ararat mayor Peter Beales, Northern Grampians mayor Kevin Erwin, Gwmwater managing director Mark Williams and board chairman Peter Vogel and about 30 district farmers also attended the occasion.
The $32-million matches $32-million provided by the State Government for the project last year.
Gwmwater and landowners make up the balance.
Mr Tehan confirmed the money would be forthcoming regardless of the result of Saturday’s Federal Election.
“The best thing about this is that it is a budgeted commitment,” he said.
“The money was in this year’s budget so the project is going ahead no matter who wins the forthcoming election.
“It is a fantastic announcement. It means that this region will be drought proof with a 95 percent guarantee of water supply.
“With this type of investment we will see this region continue to be one of the best agriculture production regions in Australia.
“It will be a winner for local jobs. We know if farmers have certainty to invest in farms we will see production grow and when production grows employment grows.
“We expect jobs to be created from this over the long term.
“It is an investment in our rural industries and we know when we invest in rural industries we get better employment results.”
Ararat council leaders made a lastbid pre-election appeal for the federal money through The Weekly Advertiser last month.
At the time, Cr Beales said regardless of which party won the election, the region’s water issues would remain until the Federal Government took action.
Meanwhile, Labor candidate for Wannon Maurice Billi also welcomed the announcement, adding he believed a Labor government would have joined Victorian Labor in backing the project.
“Of course I support it. But I’m curious about the timing,” he said.
“It’s not an election promise, it is something that has been budgeted for.
“This means the Coalition has been sitting on this for a while.
“Ararat people have been waiting anxiously for this and it appears to have been used it as a political lever.”
The pipeline will provide a reticulated water-delivery network and Gwmwater is seeking expressions of interest from agricultural businesses for connection.
It involves construction of 1600 kilometres of stock and domestic pipeline for up to 530,000 hectares roughly stretching from the eastern fringe of Grampians National Park to beyond Buangor and Stoneleigh and from Joel South in the north to Lake Bolac in the south.
It would also stretch from Eversley in the northeast to Stavely in the southwest.
Expectations are that on completion, a fully operational pipeline would provide high-quality water from the Grampians via Lake Fyans for up to 1500 rural farming properties.
WATER DELIVERY: From left, Member for Wannon Dan Tehan, Ararat district farmer Charlie de Fegely and Deputy Prime Minister Michael Mccormack at Mr de Fegely’s farm.