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Press Releases

$1 billion Regional Growth Fund supports Kelpie centre study

Friday, June 06, 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

Friday, June 06, 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 

Coalition Government building a better Gippsland

Friday, June 06, 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

Victorian Coalition Government is building a better regional Victoria

Friday, June 06, 2014

The Victorian Coalition Government's 2014-15 Victorian State Budget delivers record funding to build a better Victoria by investing in the future infrastructure and services to unlock the potential and drive growth across regional and rural communities.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan said the Coalition Government was investing in new job-creating infrastructure projects that would deliver more efficient roads and rail, better hospitals and schools and safer communities.

"The Coalition Government is building a better regional and rural Victoria by delivering infrastructure and services that unlock the growth potential of the regions," Mr Ryan said.

"Responsible financial management means we have delivered a healthy $1.3 billion surplus and maintain our AAA credit rating, enabling us to invest more in rural and regional Victoria."

Rail Infrastructure

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government's investment in regional and rural Victoria was spearheaded by a commitment of up to $220 million to build the Mildura to Geelong rail standardisation link as part of the Murray Basin Rail Project.

"The Coalition Government's Murray Basin Rail Project will transform the movement of freight across the state and unlock economic potential by delivering key country freight rail line upgrades and building the Mildura to Geelong rail standardisation link," Mr Ryan said.

"An additional $209.5 million is also delivered for the maintenance of new stations, bridge, other infrastructure and the delivery of new train and bus services along the $4.1 billion new Regional Rail Link, which will transform regional passenger rail services.

"Other rail investment includes $5.8 million to improve disability access at the Geelong Station and to upgrade the bus interchanges at Moorabool Street and North Shore in Geelong, $14.3 million for a new crossing loop at Rowsley to improve rail operations on the Ballarat line and $1.3 million for planning for the Avalon Airport Rail Link transport corridor," Mr Ryan said.

Road Infrastructure

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government was strongly investing in building and upgrading roads across Victoria with an extra $130 million for roads maintenance and restoration, increasing our roads maintenance investment to more than $500 million for the coming year.

The State Budget delivers key regional and rural road projects in partnership with the Commonwealth including:

  • $362.2 million to duplicate the Princes Highway from Winchelsea to Colac;
  • $86 million for the Calder Highway interchange at Ravenswood;
  • $31.8 million for the Princes Highway East interchange at Sand Road;
  • $11 million for Princes Highway East overtaking lanes; and
  • $56.2 million for the Transport Solutions initiative which delivers targeted improvement projects to reduce bottlenecks and improve transport flows in key regional areas.

The Coalition Government will also invest $12.9 million to deliver the Pioneer Road duplication.

"In stark contrast, Labor's transport plan says it will set aside just $1 billion over eight years, or $125 million a year, for regional roads – slashing regional roads spending by two-thirds," Mr Ryan said.

"The money Labor cuts from country roads will be used to pay for Melbourne level crossing removals, where 32 of the 40 promised level crossing removals are in Labor held seats."

Hospitals and healthcare

Mr Ryan said that country hospitals would share in an extra $287 million to hospital bottom-line funding over the next year alone, to treat more patients and assist more people in emergency departments.

"The Coalition Government is investing in building better hospitals and delivering more efficient services so that regional Victorians can access the best healthcare," Mr Ryan said.

The State Budget's key regional and rural health investments include:

  • $73 million for Stage 2a of the Latrobe Regional Hospital redevelopment;
  • $28million to build the new Barwon Health-North facility;
  • $14 million for the Boort Hospital redevelopment; and
  • $8.6 million for two new Prevention & Recovery Care (PARC) mental health services, at Mildura and Warrnambool.

"This new spending builds on what we have already delivered including the biggest regional hospital in Australia's history – the $630 million Bendigo Hospital; the $46.4 million expansion of the Ballarat Hospital, the $65.6 million Echuca Hospital redevelopment and the $10 million Castlemaine Hospital upgrade, and hospital redevelopments at Mildura, Swan Hill, Kerang, Charlton, Numurkah, Geelong and Kilmore," Mr Ryan said.

"The regions will also share in $34.1 million to expand drug and alcohol treatment services and tackle the use of illicit drugs including ice.

"This funding boost will provide support services for over 2,000 extra people a year in rural and metro areas to respond to the growth in the use of ice," Mr Ryan said.

Education and training

Mr Ryan said regional and rural schools would share in a massive $500 million school capital investment package in the 2014-15 State Budget.

"The Coalition Government is building new schools, including $10 million Horsham College for modernisation and regeneration, $8.5 million for Geelong High School as part of $20 million commitment for a modernisation, and $7.8 for the Ballarat High School modernisation," Mr Ryan said.

"Additional to general budget spending, we're also investing $5 million over four years from the Regional Growth Fund into Year 12 retention in the regions.

"The regions will also share in $272.8 million in funding for increased support for students with moderate to severe disabilities in mainstream and specialist government schools.

"For skilling Victorians, the Coalition Government is investing $1.2 billion per year in vocational education and training. The Victorian Coalition Government is also investing $30 million in training for automotive workers," Mr Ryan said.

Food and fibre production

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government will continue to build a stronger food and fibre sector with $41 million of new initiatives in the 2014-15 Budget.

"This year's budget includes $35.4 million over four years, plus a further $6 million thereafter, for the Government's Food into Asia Action Plan to increase the volume and value of food exports into Asia, as we aim to double Victorian agricultural production by 2030," Mr Ryan said.

"The 2014-15 Budget will assist farmers in the war against wild dogs with an additional $1.8 million allocated for aerial baiting and ground baiting in North East Victoria and Gippsland.

"There is also $2.3 million to help establish a poppy industry in Victoria, and $1.6 million to deliver the Goulburn Valley fruit growing industry concessional loans package.

"The Coalition Government will also invest a further $40 million in water management initiatives which will help protect more communities from floods, tackle salinity and support the Murray Darling Basin Authority," Mr Ryan said.

Public Safety

Mr Ryan said the State Budget continues to invest in the CFA and the three highest CFA budgets in Victoria's history have all been delivered by the current Victorian Coalition Government.

"The 2014-15 CFA Budget is $457 million, $58 million more than Labor provided in its last year of office. This record investment shows Labor's 'CFA budget cuts' mantra is an outright lie," Mr Ryan said.

"The CFA investment will now include a bonus $17.2 million to purchase 49 additional medium tankers for CFA brigades on top of the 29 vehicles already coming out of the CFA's usual budget, and $20.5 million to replace all existing respiratory protection equipment for Victoria's fire services.

"The State Budget delivers $13.5 million to roll out Tasers to all regional 24-hour police stations as well as $14.4 million for the new Echuca Police Station and $8.4 million to establish an emergency service precinct at Ballarat West," Mr Ryan said.

Funding announced in the 2014-15 State Budget was in addition to the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund, which has so far invested almost $400 million in more than 1,400 projects, generating more than $1.6 billion of total investment and expected to create thousands of jobs.

Media contact: Les White 0409 805 122

Coalition Government divests Rural Finance Corporation and invests in regional Victoria

Friday, June 06, 2014

  • Rural Finance Corporation divested as part of the 2014-15 State Budget 
  • $400 million return to be invested in infrastructure to build a better regional Victoria

The Victorian Coalition Government has signed a heads of agreement for the sale of Rural Finance Corporation (RFC) business to Bendigo and Adelaide Bank (Bendigo) for a net return of approximately $400 million.

Treasurer Michael O’Brien and Deputy Premier Peter Ryan said the Victorian Coalition Government was satisfied that the conditions of the agreement, combined with Bendigo’s extensive experience and positive reputation for rural finance, meant that this was the right opportunity for this divestment.

“RFC has a proud history as a government-owned agribusiness specialist lender in Victoria and together with Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, have a wonderful cultural fit in terms of community banking that serves rural and regional Victoria,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Following a comprehensive review and a market process, the Coalition Government has determined that RFC customers, and broader regional communities, will benefit from these two organisations joining forces.

“RFC customers will now have access to not only existing products and services, but the broader banking service of one of the country’s most respected, community-based banks.

“In the conditions of this sale we have also ensured that non-commercial programs such as Young Farmers Finance Scheme, Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangement programs will all be maintained on the same terms,” Mr O’Brien said.

Mr Ryan said that the announcement was a win for Victoria’s diverse rural and agribusiness sector which would get better and more convenient access to RFC products and services, as well as regional Victoria generally as the proceeds were invested back into regional communities.

“The Coalition Government has made sure customers and staff will be looked after in this change of ownership,” Mr Ryan said.

“RFC staff will be employed by Bendigo on the same or better conditions, and there will be no forced redundancies.

“Customers will also benefit from this decision. RFC currently has 11 shop fronts and when the transition is complete, RFC customers will have access to 276 Bendigo Bank branches right across the state.

“Combining the business’s current products with those of a private bank will create a one-stop shop so regional customers can access more banking products and services.

“Today’s announcement also means that the Coalition Government can boost our investment in job creating infrastructure projects in regional Victoria, such as the historic Murray Basin Rail Project,” Mr Ryan said.

Net proceeds of the RFC divestment will be earmarked for investment in new productive infrastructure in rural and regional Victoria.

Mr O’Brien said the sale is expected to be bolstered by the Commonwealth Government’s asset recycling initiative.

“The Commonwealth’s financial incentives for the recycling of state assets into productive new infrastructure will further support our record infrastructure investment program,” Mr O’Brien said.

“We are about to embark on a significant infrastructure program and the proceeds of this divestment, together with the Commonwealth’s contribution, will be invested directly back into new job-creating infrastructure.

“We welcome the Commonwealth Government’s asset recycling initiative, which has been an influential factor in the decision of the Victorian Coalition Government to divest RFC.

“The most productive use of these funds is not sitting in the State’s books, but to have it invested into productivity enhancing infrastructure in rural Victoria, that will create jobs and boost our regional transport and export capacity.

“The value attributed to RFC by Bendigo and Adelaide Bank reflects the high quality of the RFC business. I wish to thank and pay tribute to the RFC board, led by Chairperson Sonia Petering, and its staff, led by Chief Executive Officer Rob Goudswaard, for their outstanding work which has helped to build the RFC business into what it is today,” said Mr O’Brien.

Key conditions placed on the sale include: there will be no forced redundancies of employees and employees will be offered employment with the new owner for a minimum of three years and on no less favourable terms and conditions; RFC products and brand are to be maintained for a minimum of three years; and offices or branches in the current 11 locations operated by RFC are to be maintained for a minimum of three years, including its head office in Bendigo.

RFC ownership will transition to the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank from early to mid-July 2014, pending APRA approval.

Media contact: Les White 0409 805 122 (Deputy Premier)

Statement regarding Murray Goulburn announcement

Friday, June 06, 2014
Statement from Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan regarding Friday's Murray Goulburn announcement:

The Victorian Coalition Government welcomes Murray Goulburn’s $127 million investment in its regional manufacturing and processing facilities.

This includes a $112 million investment across two sites in Victoria, at Cobram and Koroit.

This major investment is a shot in the arm for regional manufacturing and processing, with the Co-operative set to build a world leading cheese cut and wrap facility at Cobram, with the Cobram and Koroit plants receiving a boost to their nutritionals lines.

The Victorian Coalition Government continues to support and facilitate investment in regional Victoria’s food manufacturing capacity to capitalise on the ever increasing demand for our clean green food and fibre product for a growing Asian market.

Our investments and support are creating new jobs for regional Victorians and helping farmers to achieve higher farm-gate prices.

Murray Goulburn’s investment shows the strength of the Victorian economy, particularly in regional areas where our Triple A credit rating, strong budgetary position and initiatives such as the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund are securing vital investments.

Murray Goulburn has been strong beneficiaries of initiatives such as the Regional Growth Fund, having recently secured $1.5 million to upgrade its energy infrastructure and gas supply at Leongatha.

This Coalition Government investment at Leongatha supported Murray Goulburn’s $19 million expansion, enabling it to boost UHT production at Leongatha by an additional 100 million litres a year.

Media contact: Ben Bulmer 0437 547 731

$42 million Pactum Dairy Group UHT milk line opens

Friday, June 06, 2014

  • $950,000 from Victorian Coalition Government brings new UHT milk line to Pactum Dairy in Shepparton 
  • New line will process up to 100 million litres of UHT milk within three years 
  • Regional Growth Fund has leveraged more than $1.6 billion of investment across regional and rural Victoria

A new UHT milk processing facility at Pactum Dairy in Shepparton was opened today, following an investment of $950,000 by the Victorian Coalition Government.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan joined Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss to open the new $42 million facility.

Mr Ryan said the Victorian Coalition Government invested $700,000 from the Industries for Today and Tomorrow program to support the development of the Ultra High Temperature (UHT) milk processing facility, enabling it to process up to 100 million litres of milk within the next three years, bringing economic benefit to the region and Victoria.

He said a further $250,000 from the Coalition Government’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund aided the extension and connection of natural gas to the Shepparton site.

“The Victorian Coalition Government’s $950,000 investment has helped attract a business to Shepparton which could otherwise have gone elsewhere,” Mr Ryan said.

“The new facility builds on one of the natural advantages of the region – dairy – to export our product to the world, creating new local jobs.

“With overall sales at around $100 million, Pactum Dairy also has the potential to export up to $37 million worth of produce to the Chinese market.

“This investment is a win for the Shepparton and we’re proud to be part of it.”

Mr Ryan said the project had already generated 35 full-time jobs, growing to 52 full-time jobs over the next three years.

“The Coalition Government is proud to support regional jobs and regional industries, particularly in the Goulburn Valley where investment such as those at SPC Ardmona and Rubicon have created new jobs and secured existing workforces,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Truss said it was crucial for businesses in regional areas to tap into global supply chains.

“Pactum Dairy Group is capitalising on new opportunities presented by new and emerging markets, creating fresh prospects for the regional and national economies,” Mr Truss said.

“This facility is a great example of strategic, well-planned and well-executed infrastructure that will improve the competitiveness of the region’s dairy sector and underpin new jobs and economic opportunities for the Shepparton region.”

Mr Ryan said the overall $42 million investment in the new UHT milk processing facility, and gas extension was an example of projects that strengthened the economic base of regional Victoria, as intended through the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund.

“Since it was established in 2011, the Regional Growth Fund has delivered almost $400 million, generating over $1.6 billion of total investment across more than 1400 projects.”

Mr Ryan said in the City of Greater Shepparton, the Regional Growth Fund had provided almost $10 million to 25 projects, leveraging around $95 million in total investment. 

Those projects included:

  • $2 million for the $6.57 million Mooroopna West Growth Corridor project; 
  • $700,000 for the $2.37 million Vaughan Street Precinct Urban Renewal and Redevelopment Project; and 
  • $600,000 for the $900,000 Fairley Leadership Program for the Goulburn Valley.

Media contact: Les White 0409 805 122

Gippsland produce takes a major step forward

Friday, June 06, 2014

  • Food to Asia Plan will get more Victorian food and beverages on Asian tables
  • Brings the Coalition’s support for growing state’s agricultural production and food processing sector almost $160 million 
  • Government investment has seen expansion at Burra Foods in Korumburra. 

The recent launch of the Victorian Liberal National Coalition Government’s Food to Asia Plan will continue to benefit Gippsland by delivering a more profitable food sector and creating new and sustainable jobs.

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said the plan provides an opportunity for regional businesses and producers to take advantage of the rapid growth of Asia’s consumer class and their requirement for premium food and beverages.

“The plan has allowed Victoria to take a major step forward in capitalising on export opportunities in Asia,” Mr Ryan said.

“That is why the Coalition Government has committed $35.4 million to drive Victoria’s long term growth as the demand from Asia grows.”

Mr Ryan said local dairy company Burra Foods had already benefited from the Coalition Government’s investment towards their expansion project at the Korumburra plant which saw the number of suppliers double and 50 new jobs created.

“South Gippsland has rich soils, a temperate climate and reliable seasonal rainfall that enhance the strong agribusiness focus of the region,” he said.

The $35.4 million Food to Asia Action Plan will:

  • Strengthen representation of Victoria’s food sector in Asian markets;
  • Focus research and development investments on food that meets Asian consumer preferences; and
  • Deliver a Food to Asia Trade Program. 

“This plan builds on the work the Coalition Government has already undertaken to grow production and jobs in the agricultural and food processing sectors throughout Victoria and importantly Gippsland,” he said.

Mr Ryan said this plan linked in well with the Gippsland Food Plan that he launched at Farm World last Friday.

“The Gippsland Food Plan has been formulated specifically for our region and will allow us to further capitalise on growing international demand for high quality food,” Mr Ryan said.

“Gippsland’s food plan will enable local food industries to increase their contribution to the economy, whether it’s on-farm production, manufacturing and processing, or value adding.

“It will stimulate investment in Gippsland by promoting our competitive strengths and reputation for producing high quality products.”

Mr Ryan said Victoria’s food and fibre exports increased by five per cent last financial year.

“There can be no doubt that Victoria is Australia’s premier food state, it is our largest export sector and our investment will ensure this remains so well into the future,” he said.

Media contact: Steph Nicholls 0437 108 870 

Two local show societies receive funding

Friday, June 06, 2014

  • Almost $3,000 to update Foster show jumping equipment
  • $8,543 to upgrade power, purchase urn and install speed humps at Korumburra Show
  • Gippsland show societies encouraged to apply for next round

The Victorian Liberal National Coalition Government is providing two South Gippsland show societies with funding to upgrade equipment, improve safety and continue their valuable contribution to the community.

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said Foster and District Agricultural Society would receive $2,734 to purchase a set of show jumping safety cups and Korumburra Agricultural and Pastoral Society would receive $8,543 to upgrade power, purchase an urn and install two speed humps.

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government was committed to supporting agricultural and pastoral show societies in the great work they do for their communities as well as showcasing the region’s agriculture industries to locals and visitors.

“Show societies play a vital role in rural and regional communities, by not only boosting local economies but providing a place for the community to come together each year and so we are pleased to provide some assistance,” Mr Ryan said.

“More than $265,000 is being provided to 45 show societies across Victoria this year through the Agricultural and Pastoral Society Grants Program, which provides grants of up to $10,000 for improving facilities that promote agriculture and arts and crafts,” Mr Ryan said.

“Societies can also apply for up to $8000 to install or upgrade showground amenities and up to $5000 for business activities such as workshops, planning and surveys.

“I would encourage all local show societies in need of upgrades to consider applying for a grant under the next round of funding.”

Foster Show Society president Noel Afflitto said he was thrilled that the grant would allow the committee to purchase their own set of show jumping cups that would improve safety for riders and horses.

“Up until now, we’ve been borrowing the cups from local pony clubs to use at our show each year, which is difficult as they often require them at the same time,” Mr Afflitto said.

“Having a strong horse presence at our show is integral and it’s important that we provide riders with the best equipment that we can.

“Now that we will have our own set of safety cups, we will be able to loan them out to other smaller organisations to assist them with their events.”

Korumburra Agricultural and Pastoral Society’s Syd White said all show patrons and competitors would benefit from the $8,543 grant.

“The installation of speed humps will prevent the road that runs through the showgrounds from being used as a thoroughfare, which will improve safety for those walking around that area at show time,” Mr White said.

“The power upgrades will take place in the cattle area and the funding will also allow for lighting to be installed, which will be handy for those setting up of a night or early morning.”

Mr White said the hot water urn would also be made available to others who used the Korumburra Showgrounds throughout the year, including the pony club and dairy expo.

Mr Ryan said the show grants were conditional on show societies providing $1 for every $2 contributed by the Victorian Government.

For more information on the Agricultural and Pastoral Society Grants program, visit: 

Media contact: Stephanie Nicholls 0437 108 870 

Regional Growth Fund supports Gippsland Food Plan

Friday, June 06, 2014

  • Deputy Premier unveils Gippsland Food Plan at Farm Wold 2014 
  • Plan supports region to capitalise on growing international demand for food 
  • Victorian Coalition Government is investing in local communities to ensure a bright future 

The Gippsland Food Plan, which sets up the region to capitalise on growing international demand for high quality food, was launched today at Farm World 2014 by Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan.

Mr Ryan, who was at Lardner Park to open Farm World 2014 alongside Member for Narracan Gary Blackwood, said the Gippsland Food plan would guide the future growth of the local food industry.

“Now in its 52nd year, Farm World is Victoria’s largest regional agricultural event and includes over 650 exhibitors and attracts over 50,000 visitors from right across Australia,” Mr Ryan said.

“This fantastic event not only gives exhibitors the opportunity to launch new industry products and generate sales, but also creates industry networking opportunities.

“It is the ideal venue to launch the Gippsland Food Plan.”

Mr Ryan said the Gippsland Food Plan identified four key priorities for the future growth of Gippsland’s food industries including: 

  • promoting growth and attracting investment; 
  • enabling infrastructure; 
  • innovation and adapting to change; and 
  • advocacy and policy development. 
“The Plan will enable local food industries to increase their contribution to the economy, whether it’s on-farm production, manufacturing and processing, or value adding,” Mr Ryan said.

“It will stimulate investment in Gippsland by promoting our competitive strengths and reputation for producing high quality products.”

Mr Blackwood said the Gippsland Food Plan was a call to action from a region which is well positioned to take advantage of the ever increasing international demand for food.

"By 2030, the number of consumers in Asia who have access to discretionary spending will grow to 3.5 billion people, six times what it is today,” Mr Blackwood said.

“This ever growing Asian middle class will be looking for high quality and premium food products, driving up demand for Gippsland food. This comprehensive plan will position our region to fully capitalise on these limitless opportunities.”

Mr Ryan said the Victorian Coalition Government had proudly invested $250,000 to develop the Gippsland Food Plan.

“Our $250,000 investment has been provided through the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund, which is investing in regional and rural communities to create new jobs, investment and innovation,” Mr Ryan said.

“Since it was established in early 2011, the Regional Growth Fund has invested more than $394 million to support almost 1,400 projects across regional and rural Victoria, leveraging $1.57 billion in total investment.

“In Gippsland, it has invested $67 million to support almost 300 projects, leveraging in excess of $200 million worth of investment.

“The Gippsland Food Plan is another example of the Regional Growth Fund investing in and supporting regional and rural communities to ensure they are positioned to fully capitalise on future opportunities for growth.”

Media contact: Ben Bulmer 0437 547 731