Press Releases

Deputy Premier launches $1.6 million project at Heyfield as part of major MID upgrade

* * - Friday, September 19, 2014

  • $1.6 million Heyfield Regulator Retrofit Program marks a milestone in the $32 million upgrade of the Macalister Irrigation District
  • 18km of channel infrastructure modernised, saving 1,200 megalitres of water
  • Coalition Government building a better Victoria through productive regions

 

The Macalister Irrigation District (MID) is well on its way to becoming more efficient, with the launch of the $1.6 million Heyfield Regulator Retrofit Program which will save water and boost productivity.

 

Deputy Premier and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan and Minister for Local Government and Aboriginal Affairs and The Nationals Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull today launched the completed regulator project.

 

Mr Ryan said the retrofit program had upgraded 18 kilometres of old channel infrastructure and was a major step forward in the modernisation of the Macalister Irrigation District.

 

“The Heyfield Regulator Retrofit Program has improved the efficiency and reliability of water supply to 22 properties and has replaced ageing, open channels with an automated delivery system,” Mr Ryan said.

 

Mr Ryan said the retrofit program was expected to save 1200 ML of water, which would be returned to productive use.

 

Mr Bull said the MID is the largest irrigation district in southern Victoria, with irrigators contributing more than $500 million to the Gippsland economy each year.

 

“The Victorian Coalition Government has invested $16 million in the first phase of upgrading the Macalister Irrigation District, and this funding has been matched by Southern Rural Water.”

 

Mr Bull said the modernisation is critical to ensuring the region continues to thrive and this investment will enable farms to become more productive and more profitable.

 

“The modernisation will provide irrigators with reliable and secure water supplies to help increase production and meet the Coalition Government’s target of doubling Victoria’s food and fibre production by 2030,” Mr Bull said.

 

“This is in stark contrast to the former Labor government’s approach of taking water from farming communities and sending it to Melbourne through the north-south pipeline.

 

“This Coalition Government is building stronger Victorian farming industries.”

 

Southern Rural Water Manager Irrigation Modernisation, Mike Budahazy said the program modernised 32 water regulator devices along irrigation channels in the Heyfield area.

 

“This means that water flowing through the channels is now controlled much more accurately via computers at Southern Rural Water’s head office,” Mr Budahazy said.

 

“More accurate control means that we can deliver much better service to farmers, and that we can save water which will be returned to the district for greater production.”

 

Media contacts:

Kate Lancaster 0428 921 404 kate.lancaster@minstaff.vic.gov.au (Deputy Premier)

Jacinta Cummins  0400 571 611  jacinta.cummins@minstaff.vic.gov.au (Minister Bull)

Maffra salad maker’s expansion to create 20 jobs

* * - Friday, September 19, 2014

  • Victorian Coalition Government invests $200,000 in Australian Fresh Salads expansion 
  • $1.5 million expansion creates 20 new skilled jobs in Maffra
  • Coalition Government building stronger regional communities through the 
  • $1 billion Regional Growth Fund

The Victorian Coalition Government is investing $200,000 to enable a major Australian horticultural company to expand its vegetable processing facilities in Maffra, which will increase production and productivity and create 20 new jobs.

In Maffra, Deputy Premier and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan joined Minister for Local Government and Aboriginal Affairs and The Nationals Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull to announce the funding.

Mr Bull said that the Coalition Government was proud to be investing in the project with funding from the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund.

“Our funding will enable Australian Fresh Salads Pty Ltd (AFS) to improve and expand its vegetable operations in Maffra by undertaking a $1.5 million expansion project,” Mr Bull  said.

“This is a very important project for Maffra and our state because AFS has chosen to expand its vegetable production operation in Victoria.

“AFS is a major Australian producer of fresh cut salads, specialising in the growing, harvesting and processing of salad products for the retail, food service and wholesale markets.

“After the 2011 floods in Queensland, AFS decided to begin investment in Victoria by purchasing land at Maffra in the Macalister Irrigation District.

“In 2012, the company successfully invested in land, irrigation infrastructure, a vegetable cool room, processing and storage facilities in the Maffra region, which has now resulted in further investment of $1.5 million.

“The current Victorian operation has approximately 15 employees, with this expansion to create an additional 20 new jobs in Gippsland.”

Mr Ryan said AFS’s investment would involve the construction of a new vegetable processing, washing and drying facilities and new plant and equipment to support the existing infrastructure.

“It will also include construction of a micro testing, quality control and food safety validation operational area, an increased refrigeration capacity and new truck loading facilities,” Mr Ryan said.

“AFS’s expansion in Gippsland will result in the company being able to reliably supply year-round demand for its products due to operating in both Queensland and Victoria, with counter seasonal climatic conditions.

“The project will also provide AFS with the opportunity to enter export markets in South East Asia.”

Mr Ryan said the Regional Growth Fund had invested $200,000, with the balance of the project funds being provided by AFS.

“Our $1 billion Regional Growth Fund is investing in community-led projects to strategically drive jobs, investment and innovation in rural and regional Victoria.

“Since it was established in 2011, the Regional Growth Fund has delivered almost $440 million, generating $1.8 billion in total investment across 1,600 projects.”

Mr Ryan said the project would be completed in November this year.

Media contact: Kate Lancaster 0428 921 404 kate.lancaster@minstaff.vic.gov.au 

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

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