Press Releases

Tynong to supply 30 per cent of Australia’s apples

* * - Monday, August 11, 2014

  • Deputy Premier opens Australia’s largest apple processing facility at Tynong
  • Also launches a new plan for agrifood businesses in Melbourne’s outer south east
  • Coalition Government a strong supporter of Victoria’s food and fibre sector

Deputy Premier Peter Ryan on Friday opened Australia’s largest and most sophisticated apple sorting facility, the new $17 million Nine Mile Fresh facility at Tynong.

Mr Ryan said the facility, which was a joint venture between Battunga Orchards and Bon View Orchards, would process a significant portion of Australia’s apples.

Mr Ryan, who was joined by Member for Bass Ken Smith, said the Victorian Coalition Government had proudly invested $410,000 to support the $17 million development, which created 50 new jobs in Tynong, growing to 100 new jobs within five years.

Mr Ryan said cutting-edge equipment operating at Nine Mile Fresh increased sorting capacity from 160 to 500 bins per day, and reduced sorting, grading and packing costs by up to 20 per cent.

“Fifty local apple growers will supply this state-of-the-art facility, allowing them to meet the quality and volume requirements demanded by the major supermarkets,” Mr Ryan said.

“This impressive facility will process 30 per cent of all the apples sold in Australia, a truly remarkable achievement.”

Mr Smith welcomed the investment and said that by reducing the cost of processing apples, this facility would allow local growers to better compete against imports, while giving local exports an edge in global markets.

“This facility will also significantly improve the productivity, competitiveness, and sustainability of our apple supply chain, helping to secure the future of this vital sector of our economy,” Mr Smith said.

During his visit to Nine Mile Fresh, Mr Ryan also launched Southern Melbourne Regional Development Australia’s (RDA) Agrifood Master Plan, developed in collaboration with the region’s three local councils – the City of Casey and the shires of Cardinia and Casey.

“The RDA’s Agrifood Master Plan outlines a framework for the development of agriculture across Melbourne’s outer south east,” Mr Ryan said.

“The plan outlines the region’s many agricultural advantages, its economic benefits to Victoria and recommends strategies for investment and growth in the food production industry over the next 10 years.”

Mr Ryan said with the region’s food producers continuing to experience significant urban encroachment, there was a need to focus on higher value, differentiated products such as asparagus, premium beef, quality wine, premium dairy products, berries and herbs.

Mr Ryan said the plan identified key trends that will have the greatest impact on the local agrifood sector over the coming decade, from challenges such as rising water costs and seasonal labour shortages, to opportunities such as soaring global demand for food and the rise of Asia’s middle class.

“The Victorian Coalition Government recognise the importance of local agrifood businesses adapting to these ongoing changes,” Mr Ryan said.

“That’s why we are supporting the sector through initiatives such as our Food to Asia Action Plan, which seeks to build on our position as a leading exporter of premium food and beverage products to key Asian markets.”

Media contact: Ben Bulmer 0437 547 731

Frewstal expansion creates 98 jobs in Stawell

* * - Thursday, July 17, 2014


  • Frewstal abattoir expansion creates 98 new jobs in Stawell
  • Victorian Coalition Government invests $500,000 in $2.1 million expansion
  • Expansion will grow exports to Asia

A $2.1 million abattoir expansion at Stawell has created 98 jobs and boosted exports to Asia.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan joined The Nationals candidate for Ripon Scott Turner and Liberal candidate for Ripon Louise Staley at Frewstal’s abattoir in Stawell today to open the $2.1 million expansion.

Mr Ryan said the Victorian Coalition Government had invested $500,000 to support the expansion, with Frewstal contributing more than $1.5 million and the Northern Grampians Shire Council contributing $30,000 in planning support.

Mr Ryan said the project involved the construction of a new freezer/chiller facility that has enabled Frewstal to increase the production and storage of cut and boned out meat.

Mr Ryan said the new freezer/chiller facility had a capacity of 168 tonnes which enabled product to be supplied direct to port from Stawell, supplying high value export markets.

Mr Ryan said the project also included upgrades to truck loading areas, new car parking facilities and improved access in and out of the site.

“This investment ensures Frewstal will continue to process meat locally, supporting local jobs and the local community,” Mr Ryan said

“The expansion has exceeded everyone’s expectations, with the original estimate of 50 new jobs almost doubling to 98 new jobs once the project was complete.

“A growth in demand from export markets continues to drive the business and the Coalition Government looks forward to working with the company to deliver further expansions at the site.”

Mr Turner welcomed the investment, describing Frewstal as a regional success story, which had grown from 37 staff in 1984 to today employing more than 400 staff.

“The Stawell plant can process more than 1.3 million head of mutton and lamb per year, servicing major supermarket chains, butchers and wholesalers, as well as export markets,” Mr Turner said.

“Four years ago, Frewstal became a Halal accredited site to complement its move into the export market, opening up a wider customer base both overseas and domestically.”

Ms Staley welcomed the investment and said it was another example how the Coalition Government was growing jobs and investment right across the Ripon electorate.

“Here in the Northern Grampians Shire, the Coalition Government, through the Regional Growth Fund has invested more than $3.5 million to support 34 projects, leveraging almost $6 million in total investment,” Ms Staley said.

“This project has created new jobs, boosted exports and ensures a bright future for Frewstal’s Abattoir in Stawell.”

During his visit to Stawell, Mr Ryan and Mr Turner also met with the Northern Grampians Shire Council to discuss local projects, met with businesses on Main Street and hosted a Putting Local First Forum, where local businesses and community groups had the chance to put forward their funding priorities for the region.

Media contact: Ben Bulmer 0437 547 731

Regional Growth Fund delivers its 1,500th project

* * - Wednesday, July 16, 2014

  • $1 billion Regional Growth Fund invests in a record 1,500 projects
  • RGF invests $150,000 for cool room expansion at Nangiloc Colignan Farms
  • Project to create 12 permanent jobs and 42 harvest jobs

    The Victorian Coalition Government’s $ 1 billion Regional Growth Fund reached a major milestone in Mildura today, delivering its 1,500th project.

    Deputy Premier and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan attended a Regional Business Leaders Forum in Mildura, where he announced the Coalition Government would invest $150,000 from the Regional Growth Fund to support an expansion at Nangiloc Colignan Farms.

    Mr Ryan, who was joined by The Nationals Member for Mildura Peter Crisp, said the $1.2 million Nangiloc Colignan Farms expansion would create 12 permanent jobs, 42 harvest jobs and included construction of:
  • a new cool-room packing facility;
  • an additional cool-room storage facility; and
  • an additional hardstand and internal road infrastructure for the loading of containers in a dust free environment.

    Mr Ryan said the cool-room packing facility would be used for the packing, lidding, labelling and shrink-wrapping of up to 10,000 boxes of grapes per day.

    Mr Ryan said the cool-room storage facility would hold packed and processed fruit ready for export to countries including, Indonesia, China, Hong Kong and Russia.

    “We are proud to invest in this expansion project which ensures Nangiloc Colignan Farms can continue producing high quality grapes as well as packed and processed fruit,” Mr Ryan said.

    “It means the company can continue to meet the standard its export customers have come to know and expect of fruit supplied by Nangiloc Colignan Farms.

    “It also enables Nangiloc Colignan Farms to increase its international customer base, with exports expected to grow by more than $7 million per year as a direct result of this expansion.”

    Mr Crisp thanked the Deputy Premier for the Coalition Government’s continued support of the region, particularly through the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund.

    “Securing 12 new permanent jobs and 42 harvest jobs as a direct result of this investment is a win for the region, as is the more than $1.6 million a year which will be injected into the local economy in new wages,” Mr Crisp said.

    “The investment secures the future of this processing facility here in Colignan and provides another shot in the arm for the fruit processing industry here in the Sunraysia region.”

    Mr Crisp said the cool room expansion project would be completed by May 2015 and he looked forward to working with the company and other local fruit processors to identify further areas for growth.

    Mr Ryan paid tribute to Mr Crisp’s unwavering determination to promote his region and secure funding for Sunraysia communities.

    “Peter Crisp is always the first in line to advocate for key local projects that can be supported through the Regional Growth Fund,” Mr Ryan said.

    “Peter Crisp has managed to secure more than $35 million in investment for his community through the Regional Growth Fund, delivering more than 30 local projects which have generated $222 million in total leveraged investment.

    “His wins have included $12 million for the $18.3 million Mildura Riverfront Parklands Project, $5.2 million for the $6.4 million Mildura Airport Terminal Redevelopment, and $500,000 for the $1.8 million Merbein Community Hub.”


Media contact: Ben Bulmer 0437 547 731

Victorian Coalition Government helps Tatura Milk Industries grow

* * - Thursday, July 03, 2014

  • TMI has the room to grow thanks to Victorian Coalition Government support 
  • 2.6 hectares of surplus land made available for TMI expansion 
  • Coalition Government supports the manufacturing industry in regional Victoria

Tatura Milk Industries (TMI) now has the room to grow, with the Victorian Coalition Government helping the company secure surplus land in Tatura to ensure it continues producing high quality dairy products locally.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan, who was joined by The Nationals candidate for Shepparton Greg Barr and Member for Shepparton Jeanette Powell, visited TMI’s Hogan Street factory today.

Mr Ryan said TMI, which produces 80,000 tonnes of dairy products annually, had outgrown its existing facility, with little room left onsite to expand.

Mr Ryan said to secure the future of the company in Tatura, the Coalition Government worked with TMI to develop a Masterplan to cater for future growth.

“TMI’s current factory was operating at maximum capacity and any plans to develop the facility could only proceed once nearby land was secured,” Mr Ryan said.

“To ensure it could continue to grow, the Coalition Government sold 2.6 hectares of neighbouring surplus railway land to TMI.

“This additional land provides TMI with the space it needs to grow, while ensuring any future rail projects in Tatura would not be impeded.”

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government had also worked with the Greater Shepparton City Council to rezone the surplus railway land, as well as other nearby land purchased by TMI, to a Special Use Zone dedicated to milk processing, ensuring future development could proceed without delay.

Mr Barr said The Nationals, as part of a strong Coalition Government, were committed to supporting local manufacturing businesses as well as the region’s farmers.

“TMI are vital to the local economy, employing 435 full-time employees and contributing $163 million per year to local farmers through milk payments,” Mr Barr said.

“TMI is the largest private label cream cheese and infant formula manufacturer in Australia and produces a variety of products including milk powders, cheese, cream cheese, infant formula and milk protein concentrate.

“Approximately 50 per cent of TMI’s products are exported, mostly to Asia and Europe, with export sales anticipated to be $229 million in 2014.

“The Coalition Government is working alongside local manufacturers such as TMI to ensure they continue to operate in regional and rural Victoria and continue to support local jobs and local farmers.”

Mrs Powell said the Coalition Government’s hard work and support meant TMI had a bright future in Tatura.

“Tatura Milk Industries, which started out as the Tatura Butter Factory and Farmers Produce Company, has been operating out of its Hogan Street facility since 1907,” Mrs Powell said.

“The Coalition Government’s support ensures TMI will continue to operate in Tatura long into the future.”

Media contact: Ben Bulmer 0437 547 731

Murray Goulburn opens new plant in Laverton, creating 50 jobs

* * - Thursday, July 03, 2014

  • Premier opens Murray Goulburn’s new fresh milk plant in Laverton, creating 50 jobs 
  • New plant will enable the company to remain competitive 
  • The Victorian Coalition Government investing in a stronger farming sector

A new, state-of-the-art fresh milk factory in Laverton will create 50 new jobs and help Murray Goulburn remain competitive in the agricultural sector, Premier Denis Napthine said today.

Dr Napthine officially opened the new plant today with Prime Minister Tony Abbott and said the fresh milk factory would help launch Devondale brand fresh milk.

“Devondale brand fresh milk will give consumers more choice in supermarkets and an option to buy 100 per cent Australian-owned milk, supporting Australian farmers,” Dr Napthine said.

“Importantly, the opening of this plant will see 50 highly skilled jobs created in this sector.”

Murray Goulburn is a major competitor in the domestic and international dairy market, producing milk, cheese, butter, spreads and other dairy products.

“Laverton is Murray Goulburn’s seventh processing plant in Victoria and is capable of supplying up to 150 million packaged litres of milk annually, allowing the company to meet its 10-year contract with Coles to supply fresh milk,” Dr Napthine said.

“The new factory incorporates the world’s latest processing technology to deliver the highest possible quality standards, helping to position Murray Goulburn as the nation’s most efficient producer of milk.”

It also incorporates environmentally-sustainable design features including built-in heat exchanges, oil-less refrigeration compressor technology and specially designed stormwater and trade waste systems.

Deputy Premier Peter Ryan said the environmentally sustainable plant would result in significant energy savings and, importantly, would help to protect Victoria’s natural water system.

In 2013, Murray Goulburn processed almost three billion litres of milk, with the majority processed in plants across regional Victoria.

“There are about 2,500 Australian farmer shareholders who supply milk to Murray Goulburn and the majority of these shareholders are Victorian,” Mr Ryan said.

“With nearly 5,500 dairy farms operating in Victoria, the dairy industry is the state’s largest agricultural employer and a vital part of the Victorian economy.”

Dr Napthine said Victorian dairy exports were valued at $1.85 billion in 2012-13, which equates to 86 per cent of the value of Australia’s dairy exports.

“Dairy is a significant economic driver in Victoria, including the growth area of south-west Victoria, so this new plant is great news for Melbourne’s west,” Dr Napthine said.

“We are supporting growth across Victoria through initiatives such as the East West Link. Once complete, the western section of the East West Link will ease congestion for motorists, including heavy vehicles, travelling from Laverton to the other side of Melbourne.

“By improving freight and logistics capabilities through projects such as the East West Link, we are increasing productivity in Victoria’s key industries, including the dairy industry.”

The Victorian Coalition Government is continuing to build a stronger food and fibre sector with $41.2 million in new initiatives in the 2014-15 Victorian State Budget, including $35 million to boost exports of premium food and beverage products to Asian markets as part of the Food to Asia Action Plan.

In May, Murray Goulburn announced a $19 million investment at its Koroit facility to increase its capacity to produce nutritional products destined for Asian consumers. Annually, the Koroit site currently produces approximately $600 million worth of premium, mainly export destined, dairy products including powders for infant nutrition and bulk ingredients; retail butter, bulk butter, and retail milk powder.

Member for Western Region Bernie Finn also attended the opening.

"This is another win for Melbourne's west and will create jobs and boost the local economy," Mr Finn said.

Media contact: Les White 0409 805 122

Rural Finance Corporation Leongatha moves premises to expand operations

* * - Friday, June 20, 2014

  • Relocation allows Rural Finance Corporation to expand operations in Leongatha
  • Larger range of service now available from Smith Street premise
  • Move follows Victorian Coalition Government’s successful sale of RFC to Bendigo Bank

South Gippsland residents will have access to the concessional loans, flood and drought relief finance and agri-loans through Rural Finance Corporation’s new shopfront at 1/18 Smith Street, Leongatha from today.

Speaking at the new office, Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said RFC Leongatha had moved from 2/9 Peart Street into new premises at 1/18 Smith Street as it has expanded its operations to cater for South Gippsland’s growing agribusinesses sector.

Mr Ryan said the move followed the Victorian Coalition Government’s successful sale of RFC to Bendigo Bank.

“RFC has been an outstanding government-owned agribusiness lender, and it will continue to offer all the same products and more now that it is owned by Bendigo Bank,” Mr Ryan said.

“As part of the sale agreement, a separate RFC branch will remain in Leongatha.

“RFC customers will keep their existing products and services and also be able to access the broader banking service of one of the country’s most respected, community-based banks – Bendigo Bank.

“The Young Farmers Finance Scheme, Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangement programs will all be maintained.”

Mr Ryan said that while Leongatha, with its strong history in agriculture and dairy farming, already has its own RFC outlet, this is one of just 11 RFC outlets around the state. The sale of RFC to Bendigo Bank expands RFC’s reach into 276 Bendigo Bank outlets.

“The change of ownership will not impact the three RFC employees,” Mr Ryan said.

“Our sale agreement stated RFC employees would be offered their jobs on equal or better conditions. Looking after local people, be they RFC employees or farmers with loans, was always a non-negotiable part of this sale for us.

“The people of Leongatha and the wider region can access all the same RFC services at 1/18 Smith Street.”

Media contact: Steph Nicholls 0437 108 870

Regional Growth Fund turns trash into treasure

* * - Friday, June 13, 2014

  • Victorian Coalition Government invests $150,000 to support Gibsons Groundspreads’ $4.8 million compost project
  • Gibsons to create new product using waste destined for landfill 
  • Investment will create 12 new full-time jobs at Dutson

Gibsons Groundspreads will turn waste which was previously destined for landfill into commercial grade compost, providing a cheaper alternative to traditional imported fertilisers for local farmers.

The initiative is part of a $4.8 million investment from Gibsons Groundspreads to develop a compost processing and distribution facility at Dutson to produce a new fertiliser called Revive Compost, creating 12 new highly-skilled full-time jobs.

Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan joined Member for Eastern Victoria Region Danny O’Brien at Dutson today to announce the Victorian Coalition Government would invest $150,000 from the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund to support Gibsons’ investment.

Mr Ryan said Revive Compost would be produced using waste diverted from landfill, from Gippsland Water’s Soil & Organic Recycling Facility at Dutson.

Mr Ryan said the $4.8 million project included building upgrades, compost processing and handling equipment, heavy vehicle facilities and the creation of storage bunkers and wash bays.

“Gibsons, which has been operating in Gippsland since 1953, currently spreads fertiliser and other products over 200,000 hectares of land, servicing around 4,000 clients,” Mr Ryan said.

“The company employs 35 people in Gippsland, which will grow to 47 with a further 12 highly-skilled full-time jobs to be created at Dutson as result of this development.

“This investment will create a much sought-after compost product using waste that would otherwise have been sent to landfill and ensures Gibsons maintains its place as one of the key fertiliser businesses in Gippsland.”

Mr O’Brien said Gibsons would produce 100,000 tonnes a year of Revive Compost, generating a further $4.5 million worth of sales.

“Revive Compost has a range of advantages including a reduction in landfill by turning waste into a highly sought-after agricultural product which provides a lower cost alternative to imported traditional compound fertilisers for local farmers,” Mr O’Brien said.

“It also has significant environmental benefits, producing less nutrient run-off into local waterways, including the Gippsland Lakes, compared with traditional fertilisers.”

Mr Ryan said this investment was another strong example of the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund investing in local businesses to grow jobs, generate new products and new investment.

“Earlier today, I joined Tim Bull and Danny O’Brien in Heyfield to celebrate the completion of Australian Sustainable Hardwoods $2.7 million expansion, which benefited from a $650,000 Regional Growth Fund investment and led to the creation of 27 new full-time jobs,” Mr Ryan said.

“Gibsons job creating investment is further proof of the success of the Regional Growth Fund which is investing record levels of funding to support new employment and investment opportunities in regional and rural communities.”

Media contact: Ben Bulmer 0437 547 731

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

$1 billion Regional Growth Fund supports Kelpie centre study

* * - Tuesday, June 03, 2014

  • Deputy Premier announces $15,000 for $20,000 Kelpie centre study 
  • Interpretive centre would further cement Casterton as the home of the Kelpie 
  • Victorian Coalition Government supporting local communities to develop local initiatives

Casterton’s status as the home of the Kelpie will be further cemented if the development of the Casterton Kelpie Interpretive Centre proves viable.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan visited Casterton today to announce the Victorian Coalition Government would invest $15,000 in the $20,000 Casterton Kelpie Interpretive Centre Feasibility Study.

Mr Ryan, who was joined in Casterton by Member for Lowan Hugh Delahunty and The Nationals candidate for Lowan Emma Kealy, said the study would identify the benefits of developing the Casterton Kelpie Interpretive Centre.

“Casterton is the birthplace of the Kelpie, and each year hosts the annual Kelpie Muster Festival over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in June, attracting visitors from right across Australia,” Mr Ryan said.

“A statue of a Kelpie was also commissioned and placed outside the Casterton Town Hall in celebration of the Kelpie’s history, and the town is home to the Kelpie Walking Trail which takes in five unique Kelpie sculptures with interpretive signage.

“The local community is keen to further develop its links with the iconic Kelpie to help attract even more visitors to Casterton all-year-round.

“To achieve this aim, the community asked the Coalition Government to support a feasibility study to look at the benefits of developing the Casterton Kelpie Interpretive Centre, which could potentially be incorporated into a larger Glenelg Visitor Information Centre development.

“The Coalition Government is keen to help local communities capitalise on their strengths and I am proud to be here today, alongside Hugh Delahunty and Emma Kealy, to announce our government’s support for this exciting initiative.”

Mr Delahunty, who last week called on the Deputy Premier to support the initiative, said the feasibility study was an important first step towards developing the Casterton Kelpie Interpretive Centre.

“Community consultation has already indicated there is strong local support for this project,” Mr Delahunty said.

“A consultant will now be appointed to undertake the feasibility study, which will identify community and business needs, as well as develop a project business plan.

“The community, particularly the Casterton Kelpie Association, should be applauded for the work it has done in developing Casterton’s reputation as the home of the Kelpie and I am proud that we as a government can assist the community to progress this initiative further.”

Ms Kealy welcomed the Coalition Government’s funding support, which was provided through the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund, and also thanked the Glenelg Shire Council for its $5000 contribution towards the feasibility study.

“This project is yet another example of the strong work The Nationals, as part of a Coalition Government, are doing in regional communities, particularly in Western Victoria,” Ms Kealy said.

“Through the Regional Growth Fund, the Coalition Government is investing in community-led projects that help our local communities be their best.

“Here in the Glenelg Shire, the Regional Growth Fund has invested almost $4 million in support of 40 projects, leveraging almost $6 million in total investment.”

The Casterton Kelpie Interpretive Centre Feasibility Study will be finalised by February 2015.

Media contact: Ben Bulmer 0437 547 731

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 

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