Press Releases

Coalition delivering cheaper water bills

* * - Friday, June 27, 2014

  • Victorian Coalition Government delivering cheaper water bills
  • Savings of up to $36 per year for the next four years
  • Coalition Government driving down cost of living pressures

Homeowners, tenants and landlords in Sale, Rosedale, Stratford, Maffra and Heyfield will save up to $36 on their water bills each year for the next four years thanks to the Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition Government‟s Fairer Water Bills initiative.

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan welcomed the savings which have been achieved by Gippsland Water cutting back on office waste and unnecessary red tape.

“Gippsland households have frustratingly come to expect that their water bills will keep rising each and every year,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Coalition Government has said „enough is enough‟ and asked water corporations to find savings.

“I am pleased to announce that for the next four years Gippsland Water will provide rebates of $26 a year to all customers paying water service charges and $10 a year to customers paying water use charges.

“This means that owner-occupiers will receive a total $36 saving off their annual water bills, tenants will save $10, and landlords will save $26.”

Mr Ryan said all residential customers of South Gippsland Water were eligible to receive the savings, which would be delivered through a yearly one-off rebate applied to all residential water customers‟ accounts from 1 July 2014.

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government was committed to driving down cost of living pressures and the Fairer Water Bills initiative was delivering real savings for household budgets.

“The Coalition Government asked Gippsland Water to identify ways it could help customers save on their water bills without compromising on service,” Mr Ryan said.

“Gippsland Water highlighted a number of cost saving measures, which included a reduction in the use of external consultants, better collaboration with local government and other agencies, and streamlining of internal processes.”

Gippsland Water Chairman Richard McDowell said the organisation was happy to pass on savings to its customers as it would help to ease some of the pressure on household budgets.

“We‟ve been able to identify some projects and internal processes which will have a positive impact on our bottom line through the Fairer Water Bills initiative and we will continue to examine how we do business to keep downward pressure on customer‟s bills,” Mr McDowell said.

Media contact: Steph Nicholls 0437 108 870

$12 million on offer to Engage young locals

* * - Tuesday, June 24, 2014

  • Victorian Coalition Government invests $12 million to help young Victorians reach their potential
  • Program initiatives include volunteering, mentoring and real life skills
  • Local organisations can apply for up to $150,000

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan today announced that the Victorian Coalition Government would invest $12 million into the Engage program to help young Victorians build skills needed for life after school.

Mr Ryan said the Engage program offered grants of up to $150,000 to local community organisations and councils to help young people become more involved with their local communities.

“The funding will support organisations and councils to deliver a wide range of initiatives including volunteering and mentoring programs, and projects that boost real-life skills and connect young people to further education, training or careers,” Mr Ryan said.

“Through these projects, young people have the opportunity to become more connected to their community, become engaged in education, training and career pathways and have an opportunity to build their networks.

“The program provides local groups with the practical resources they need to listen, respond and create opportunities for young Gippslanders so that they can fulfil their potential,” Mr Ryan said.

“I urge local groups to submit an Engage grant application to enable them to conduct programs to engage younger members of their communities and help them to build skills that they can use in future community service ventures and employment.”

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government’s $12 million 2015 - 2017 Engage program was another example of this government’s commitment to providing young Victorians with more opportunities to become involved in their communities.

“Since 2012, more than 100,000 young Victorians have been involved in Engage, highlighting the success of the program,” Mr Ryan said.

Minister for Youth Affairs Ryan Smith encouraged organisations to reach out to young people in the community and work with them to develop innovative projects that could be eligible for an Engage grant.

“Through this Coalition Government program, Victoria’s young people will have access to fantastic initiatives that help develop new skills and networks,” Mr Smith said.

The Engage program is part of the Coalition Government’s Youth Statement, Engage, Involve, Create that outlines its vision for young Victorians.

Applications close on Friday 1 August 2014. For more information or to apply, visit

Media contact: Steph Nicholls 0437 108 870

New $2.7 million Australian Sustainable Hardwoods expansion opens

* * - Friday, June 13, 2014

  • Deputy Premier opens $2.7 million expansion at ASH Heyfield mill
  • Expansion creates 27 full-time jobs and secures a further 190 jobs at the mill
  • Victorian Coalition Government invested $650,000 to support expansion

A $2.7 million expansion and upgrade to Victoria’s largest hardwood saw mill, Australian Sustainable Hardwoods at Heyfield, has secured the future of the mill, provided a local alternative to imported products and created 27 new full-time jobs.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan joined Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull and Member for Eastern Victoria Region Danny O’Brien in Heyfield to celebrate completion of the $2.7 million ASH’s Value Adding/Expansion Project.

Mr Ryan said the expansion was made possible thanks to a $650,000 investment from the Victorian Coalition Government’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund.

Mr Ryan said the project included the purchase and installation of a new horizontal finger joiner, an extension to the current finger joining and laminating facility, the establishment of a hard stand site, and new equipment for the joiner line.

“ASH currently produces a range of high quality manufactured timber products, such as window and door frames, door stiles and flooring – products which have traditionally been imported,” Mr Ryan said.

“To help ASH successfully compete against imported products, a more efficient and expanded production process was needed.

“With efficiencies now achieved, ASH is able to produce timber products locally which have previously been imported, and are in a position to begin exporting these products to international markets.

“This significant investment has secured the future of ASH in Heyfield and paves the way for further investments at the mill to achieve even greater efficiencies.”

Mr Bull said today was a great day for the employees of ASH and the local timber industry more broadly.

“Australian Sustainable Hardwoods is the primary recipient of high-quality logs in Gippsland and the ongoing operations at the Heyfield mill are critical to the viability of our forest industry,” Mr Bull said.

“This significant investment not only created 27 full-time jobs and six new indirect jobs, but also secured the jobs of ASH’s existing 190 employees.

“The investment is also a major win for businesses in Heyfield and surrounding communities who rely on a strong and profitable timber industry both directly and indirectly.”

Mr O’Brien said the investment was yet another success story for the Coalition Government’s job creating $1 billion Regional Growth Fund.

“The Regional Growth Fund is investing in projects right across Gippsland to create jobs, secure investment and boost innovation,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Since it was established in 2011, the Regional Growth Fund has delivered more than $400 million, generating well over $1.6 billion of total investment across almost 1500 projects.”

“This includes more than $7 million of investment in the Wellington Shire to support 40 projects and more than $23 million of total leveraged investment.

“Here in Heyfield, the Regional Growth Fund has also invested $150,000 to support the $275,000 redevelopment of Apex Park and a further $100,000 to support the $135,000 upgrade of the Heyfield section of the Gippsland Plains Rail Trail.”

Media contact: Ben Bulmer 0437 547 731

New Sale Specialist School now one step closer

* * - Friday, June 13, 2014

  • Victorian Coalition Government committed to building a new Sale Specialist School
  • $4m provided in State Budget for planning and Stage 1 construction
  • Member for Gippsland South announces settlement of land for new school

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan today visited Sale Specialist School to announce that the land purchased for the new school had now settled.

Mr Ryan said the land settlement of the four-hectare Princes Highway site in Sale’s north was an exciting day for the school community with the realisation of the new school now one step closer.

“Today’s announcement progresses the Victorian Liberal National Coalition Government’s commitment to providing a new school for students and teachers of Sale Specialist School,” Mr Ryan said.

“In last month’s Victorian Budget, the Coalition Government provided an initial $4 million for planning and design, and to deliver stage one works.

“The total cost of the project is anticipated to be in the order of $15 million.”

Mr Ryan said the finalised land purchase and $4 million commitment from the Coalition Government meant that planning for a new school would begin shortly.

“Due to rising enrolments, the Sale Specialist School has had to expand beyond its Raymond Street campus to include a senior campus within the grounds of Sale College,” Mr Ryan said.

“Having two campuses is a less than ideal situation, however these Coalition Government commitments mean that the Sale Specialist School community can look forward to a new school in the very near future.”

While at the school, Mr Ryan presented awards to students of the leadership team, including the school and campus captains and members of the student representative council.

“It’s great to be here today to present these leadership awards and recognise the magnificent effort made by these student leaders to assist fellow students,” Mr Ryan said.

“Students who demonstrate leadership qualities while at school often go on to be strong leaders within the community, so I’m pleased that these students are being rewarded by their peers and school community.”

Media contact: Steph Nicholls 0437 108 870

Sale leader awarded a women’s scholarship

* * - Friday, June 06, 2014

  • Local Christina Rush awarded leadership scholarship
  • Scholarship finds leadership course worth more than $7000
  • More than 179 applicants applied to Coalition Government

Gippsland Women’s Health Service board member Christina Rush has been awarded one of 34 Women’s Governance Scholarships from the Victorian Liberal National Coalition Government.

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said the Coalition Government was proud to provide opportunities for local women to enhance their leadership skills by participating in the scholarship.

Mr Ryan said since 2012, the Victorian Coalition Government had been making scholarships available to women currently serving on boards of not-for-profit organisations that receive State Government funding.

“These scholarships are intended to professionally develop women serving on community boards in order to facilitate their expansion into more senior community leadership roles,” Mr Ryan said.

“The program provides a full-fee payment for the successful applicants to undertake the Australian Institute of Company Directors’ Company Directors Course, as well as a 12 month membership of the Institute.”

Mr Ryan said the total cost for an individual to undertake the course would be more than $7,000, which can make it unaffordable for a great number of women.

“Ms Rush, of Maffra, is an active leader in the Gippsland community and is currently serving on the board of Gippsland Women’s Health Service, a position she has held since 2011,” Mr Ryan said.

“Ms Rush has a long association within the nursing and health care field and won the State Nursing Excellence and Commitment Award in 2004.”

Minister for Women’s Affairs Heidi Victoria said she was impressed by the quality of the applicants for this year’s scholarship program.

“This year the Coalition Government particularly encouraged applications from women living in rural and remote areas, from non-English-speaking backgrounds and from disability and Indigenous communities,” Ms Victoria said.

“The result was overwhelming with more than 179 applications for the scholarship program received from impressive women across Victoria from all walks of life.

“I’m delighted to see so many women from so many backgrounds taking such an interest in the Government’s Women’s Governance Scholarship Program.”

Mr Ryan said scholarship applicants were judged on their experience as a board member and the extent to which the scholarship would assist the person in attaining future leadership and board positions.

“Since the scholarship program began in 2012, almost 70 Victorian women, like Ms Rush, have taken the opportunity to undertake the important professional development course at the prestigious Australian Institute of Company Directors,” Mr Ryan said.

Media contact: Steph Nicholls 0437 108 870

$25,000 grants to tackle local graffiti issues

* * - Tuesday, May 27, 2014

  • Regional shires encouraged to apply to tackle graffiti 
  • Part of Coalition’s $35 million Community Crime Prevention Program
  • Up to $25,000 available until 20 June

Councils can now access grants of up to $25,000 to combat graffiti in local neighbourhoods as part of the Victorian Liberal National Coalition Government’s graffiti grants program.

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan today encouraged local councils to think about graffiti solutions that would improve the visual amenity of neighbourhoods and increase community confidence in the safety of public places.

“The Coalition Government is serious about responding to concerns about graffiti vandalism, which is why we have committed more than $10 million over 4 years to reduce graffiti through a range of strategies under our anti-graffiti plan,” Mr Ryan said.

“The grants are open to councils to partner with local organisations such as schools, community and residents groups, local police, retailers and trader associations, to come up with local solutions to tackle graffiti.

“These might include design features such as murals, education and information programs, and graffiti removal projects.”

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government was committed to stamping out graffiti at a local level.

“Over the past three years, the government has provided more than $918,000 to fund 57 projects across the state through the grants.

Crime Prevention Minister Edward O’Donohue said that the Labor Party had shown its lack of commitment to such programs by abolishing the crime prevention portfolio from the shadow ministry.

“When Daniel Andrews reshuffled his front bench in December, the crime prevention portfolio disappeared,” Mr O’Donohue said.

“The Coalition Government is delivering programs to help communities find local solutions to local problems, while Labor is offering nothing.”

“These grants make a real difference and I strongly encourage councils across the state to apply for grants of up to $25,000.”

The Graffiti Prevention and Removal Grants are part of the Coalition Government’s $35 million Community Crime Prevention Program, which helps promote community safety and prevent crime in communities across Victoria.

Applications close on Friday 20 June and to apply or for further information, visit

Media contact: Steph Nicholls 0437 108 870

Coalition Government reduces fire levy rates

* * - Wednesday, May 21, 2014

  • Victorian Coalition Government cutting fire levy rates from 1 July 2014
  • More funding for CFA and MFB in the 2014-15 State Budget
  • Fire services better resourced under the Coalition Government than Labor
The Victorian Coalition Government will reduce the Fire Services Property Levy rates in 2014-15 for all property owners, Treasurer Michael O’Brien and Deputy Premier Peter Ryan announced today.

"The Coalition Government’s successful implementation of the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission property-based levy has proven to be a fairer way to fund our fire services,” Mr O’Brien said.

“We are reducing the levy rates from 1 July 2014 while also increasing funding to our fire services. The Coalition Government is delivering better funding for our fire services with lower average costs for households and businesses.”

The variable levy rate will be lower across all property categories than the 2013-14 rates. A fixed charge of $102 for residential properties and $205 for all other properties will apply.

From 1 July, the average household’s contribution to fire services funding in a CFA area is expected to remain at $142, with average MFB area household contributions remaining at an average of $143. This represents a reduction in real terms for the average household.

A $50 concession for eligible pensioners and veterans will continue to apply, benefitting over 400,000 households across the state, easing cost of living pressures.

The fire services property levy funds services provided by the CFA and the MFB twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week including personnel, training, infrastructure and equipment.

“This tax reform provides greater funding for our fire services while also reducing the rates on households, businesses and farmers right across Victoria,” Mr O’Brien said.

The new rates also reflect the recategorisation from 1 July 2014 of residential-investment flats from the commercial to the residential rate, delivering further savings for tenants and property owners across Victoria.

Deputy Premier Peter Ryan said that the Coalition Government had promised to overhaul the fire services levy and had delivered.

“Last year we brought in the lowest levy rates for regional areas we could afford. This year, we’ve lowered them again,” Mr Ryan said.

“The average business in the CFA area will now pay $823 instead of $923 a year.

“The average business in a CFA area on an industrial block will see its bill drop from $1,689 to $1,389, saving $300.

“Farmers are big winners, with their average Fire Services Property Levy dropping from $449 to $402. This is a massive drop from the average of $725 each farmer was paying back in 2011-12.”

Mr O’Brien said that for more than a decade Labor refused to reform the insurance-based fire services levy. This refusal continued despite recommendations from the Bushfires Royal Commission that it should be abolished.

“It costs over $780 million a year to fund our vital fire services. Record funding of $326 million for the MFB in this year’s budget will include the replacement of all respiratory protection equipment,” Mr O’Brien said.

“The 2014-15 Budget also provides an investment of $29 million for the CFA to support an accelerated fleet replacement program.”

The Coalition Government continues to directly fund 12.5 per cent of MFB and 22.5 per cent of CFA operating budgets.

“Since coming to office in 2010, the Coalition Government has provided the CFA with more than $2.29 billion and the MFB more than $1.45 billion,” Mr O’Brien said.

The 2014-15 Budget for the CFA is $457 million, $58 million more than under the last Labor Budget. The 2014-15 Budget for MFB is $326 million, $39 million more than under the last Labor Budget.

For more information about the property-based levy visit

Media Contact: Les White 0409 805 122 

Gippsland schools celebrate Education Week

* * - Monday, May 19, 2014

  • The 70th annual Education Week runs from 18-24 May
  • New resources and activities under theme – Scientists do Amazing Things
  • Victorian Coalition Government building a better education system

This week schools across Gippsland will celebrate the 70th anniversary of Education Week while also discovering how science influences our daily lives.

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said this year’s theme – Scientists do amazing things – would allow students to explore the wide range of career options in the field and participate in scientific experiments.

“Scientific innovation is the key to facing critical challenges like food and water security, delivering improved health and wellbeing, and ensuring Victoria’s prosperity and development,” Mr Ryan said.

“Education Week is a great time to celebrate Victoria’s education system, our scientific advancements, and for schools to showcase their programs to the local community.”

Mr Ryan said a revamped Education Week website, which contained sections for parents, teachers and students, provided information about science learning and careers, as well as fun science experiments to undertake at school and home.

“The Victorian economy is highly diversified and science is the key to many industries and services, including agriculture, manufacturing, building and construction, technology, research and education, and health,” Mr Ryan said.

“That is why the Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition Government is investing a total of $31.2 million in 400 science teaching scholarships, training 200 Primary Maths and Science Specialists and developing six Specialist Science and Maths Centres.”

“In addition to that funding, the Coalition Government is also providing grants for schools to specialise in areas such as science, engineering, aeronautics and earth sciences.”

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government was focused on building a better education system for all students and their families with a record $8.8 billion funding for schools in 2014. 

For more Education Week information, visit  

Media contact: Steph Nicholls 0437 108 870 

Coalition supporting Gippsland volunteers

* * - Friday, May 16, 2014

  • $4.42 million invested in volunteering program for students
  • Victorian Coalition Government supporting volunteers
  • Unite with more than 1.5 million people; become a volunteer today

To celebrate National Volunteer Week, the Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition Government this week announced more than $4 million to support volunteer programs for Victorian secondary school students.

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said the funding would see more than 20,000 students take part in volunteering and give back to their communities through the Advance program.

Mr Ryan said that the Coalition Government’s $4.42 million volunteer program would support more than 420 Victorian secondary colleges including those in Sale, Leongatha, Korumburra, Yarram and Foster.

“The Advance program helps young people develop skills and receive training across a range of sectors, including animal welfare, culture, conservation, emergency services, events, human rights, and sport and recreation, that will help them transition from school to work,” Mr Ryan said.

“Examples of local activities include joining the Air Force cadets, becoming a volunteer surf lifesaver, CFA or SES member, helping out the Red Cross, becoming a Girl Guide or Scout and assisting at a community radio station.

“This is a great Coalition Government initiative that provides young Victorians with exciting opportunities so that they can volunteer and make a difference in their communities.”

Mr Ryan said National Volunteer Week was a fitting time to announce funding that would assist young people to be more active volunteers and also thank all of the young Gippslanders that already contribute their time to benefit others.

"Volunteers make a real difference in our communities, from volunteering their time as fire fighters, assisting with Meals on Wheels, providing lifesaving at our beaches and assisting at Visitor Information Centres. They provide a crucial service and for that I thank them.”

Mr Ryan today caught up with volunteer members of the Sale Fire Brigade to thank them for the service they give to the Sale and surrounding communities.

“At present, Sale Fire Brigade has 120 members, which includes 15 junior members and 13 auxiliary members, who actively contribute their time and skills to benefit members of the Sale community,” Mr Ryan said.

“In the 2012-13 year, the brigade was called out a record number of 246 times, which demonstrates the commitment that these members and fire fighters have for the communities they protect.”

Mr Ryan said most years the brigade attended around 230 turnouts.

“About 20 per cent of Sale Fire Brigade’s membership provides essential support services to reduce the workload of the fire fighters, so they can concentrate on putting out fires,” he said.

“The role that support members play to a brigade is invaluable and should never be underestimated.”

Mr Ryan said with more than 1.5 million Victorians currently volunteering, now was a great time to become involved in a community organisation.

“Volunteering brings immense personal satisfaction for the volunteer as well as making communities more active, confident and resilient,” Mr Ryan said.

"Research shows that people who volunteer report better physical and mental health as well as improved employment opportunities.

"Volunteering allows people to learn new skills, meet people and create networks, as well as providing a sense of belonging through team work and getting involved in the local community."

For more information on the Advance program, visit or to learn more about volunteering, visit: 

Media contact: Steph Nicholls 0437 108 870

Coalition Government building a better Gippsland

* * - Friday, May 09, 2014

This week’s Victorian Coalition Government 2014-15 State Budget delivers in the key areas of education, roads, tourism, business, emergency services and health, Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said today.

Mr Ryan said the Coalition’s State Budget delivers improved infrastructure and services for residents and businesses throughout Gippsland to build a better, more connected Victoria.

“This Budget is investing hundreds of millions of dollars into Gippsland and other regional cities and rural communities,” Mr Ryan said.

The Liberal Nationals Coalition Government outlined significant expenditure in the 2014-15 Budget that benefits residents in the Gippsland South electorate. Highlights include:

  • $5.6 million to upgrade Korumburra Secondary College;
  • $4 million for planning and stage One works at the Sale Specialist School; 
  • $5.12 million for the Leongatha heavy vehicle alternate route;
  • $14 million for regional tourism marketing to increase visitors to regional Victoria;
  • $14 million to provide small business owners with practical financial management, marketing and human resources strategies;
  • $4.7 million to upgrade the online energy price comparison tool, My Power Planner;
  • $65 million to fund bushfire management measures;
  • $29 million for the CFA to acquire 78 additional vehicles
  • $20.5 million to replace Respiratory Protection Equipment for CFA and MFB firefighters;
  • 5.5 million for practical on-ground partnership with Landcare groups;
  • An additional $3 million a year for the Boating Safety and Facilities Program, bringing total funding to $8 million annually; and
  • $1.2 billion commitment per year to Vocational Education and Training.

Mr Ryan said these investments build upon the Coalition Government’s recently announced budget initiatives. Highlights in the Gippsland South region include: 

  • An extra $130 million pumped into road maintenance, meaning that more than $500 million will be delivered in the coming year for maintaining roads - up from $384 million under Labor;
  • $73 million for a major redevelopment of Latrobe Regional Hospital, including a new emergency department with double the capacity of the current facility, a new 30-bed ward and a cardiac catheterisation laboratory;
  • $13.5 million for the rollout of new tasers to all 24 hour police stations across regional Victoria, including Sale; 
  • $34 million to expand drug and alcohol treatment services and tackle the use of illicit drugs including ice throughout the state, including Gippsland;
  • $2 million to improve wild dog control; and
  • $3 million to provide support for regional councils to assess infrastructure demand, develop business cases and manage projects.

“By rebuilding Victoria’s finances and keeping the economy strong, the Coalition Government has been able to advance key projects, including those under the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Nationals are exceptionally proud of the Regional Growth Fund, which has contributed to more than 70 projects in the Wellington and South Gippsland shires, leveraging almost $60 million in total investment.”

Mr Ryan said the local projects announced in the 2014-15 State Budget built on the Coalition Government’s significant investment in Gippsland over past Budgets.

Mr Ryan said the Liberal Nationals Coalition Government is building a better Victoria by delivering a strong budget with a record $27 billion investment in roads, rail, health and education, ensuring growth, jobs and opportunities across the state.

“This is in stark contrast to the risk that Daniel Andrews and Labor pose to Victoria’s economy and prosperity. Victorians cannot afford a return to Labor, which is more interested in kowtowing to its union mates than addressing the needs of regional Victorians,” he said.

“Only a Liberal Nationals Coalition Government can be trusted to deliver these important projects on time and within budget.”

Media contact: Steph Nicholls 0437 108 870

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