Press Releases

$5 million for first phase of Benalla Education Regeneration

* * - Friday, May 02, 2014

  • Victorian Coalition Government commits to delivering Benalla Education Regeneration 
  • 2014/15 State Budget invests $5 million in the first phase of work 
  • Coalition Government is building a better regional Victoria

The Victorian Coalition Government will deliver the visionary Benalla Education Regeneration project with a first phase investment of $5 million allocated in the 2014/15 Victorian Budget, Deputy Premier Peter Ryan announced today.

Mr Ryan joined Member for Benalla Bill Sykes at Benalla P-12 to announce that the Coalition Government would continue building a better Victoria by investing $5 million to begin the community driven education development.

Mr Ryan said Benalla P-12 was created when four Benalla schools merged at the beginning of 2013, and currently operates across four campuses.

“The uncertainty around this project was how do we bring these four facilities into one,” Mr Ryan said.

“Today I am here to announce that the Coalition Government will invest $5 million to deliver certainty to this project.”

Mr Ryan said the $5 million would ensure the school’s master plan could be completed, and initial building works could be started.

“This announcement will enable us begin important building works over the course of this year,” Mr Ryan said.

“The funding will continue to flow for this project over the coming years under a Coalition Government.”

Mr Ryan paid tribute to Mr Sykes , the school council and the broader school community for their joint vision and making this project a reality.

“It’s a very courageous thing for a community to decide to establish one school out of four. It’s also a far sighted decision because this is the best way forward for future generations of Benalla students,” Mr Ryan said.

“Securing this funding is a wonderful vote of confidence for Benalla and we as a government are proud to support it.”

Mr Sykes said securing this important initial funding marked a great day for the Benalla community and the school’s more than 1000 students.

“Securing funding to begin works at Benalla P-12 was my highest priority heading into this Budget and I am thrilled to be here today to make this announcement,” Mr Sykes said.

“This announcement will be well received by the community and it will have a significant and positive impact on Benalla P-12 students.”

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government was delivering better schools right across regional and rural Victoria as part of its strategy to boost education in Victoria.

“The Coalition Government has boosted funding for school maintenance and is providing a record $8.8 billion in funding for primary and secondary school education in the 2014 calendar year,” Mr Ryan said.

“Delivering modern school infrastructure is vital if we are to create a truly world-class school system here in Victoria.”

Media contact: Les White 0409 805 122

Regional Growth Fund helps Bertalli’s Alpine Breads to rise higher

* * - Friday, May 02, 2014

  • Bertalli’s Alpine Breads to develop an innovative new packaging line 
  • New packaging line will create six jobs and open up new markets 
  • Victorian Coalition Government invests $75,000 to support the expansion

Six new jobs will be created at Bertalli’s Alpine Breads Benalla bakery, with the Victorian Coalition Government announcing today that it will invest $75,000 from the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund to support a $450,000 expansion.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan joined Member for Benalla Bill Sykes and Nationals Candidate for Euroa Steph Ryan to announce the Coalition Government grant which will enable the company to expand its packaging line.

Mr Ryan said the expansion would allow the company to boost the supply of its new range of artisan breads, opening up new markets.

“This $450,000 investment will enable Bertalli’s Alpine Breads to develop an innovative new packaging line for its artisan breads, creating six new local jobs,” Mr Ryan said.

“The new packaging line will replace traditional bread loaf packaging with new sealed clear packaging, similar to that used for cheese and meats.

“This process will extend the shelf life of its bread by up to three weeks, enabling the company to supply new interstate markets including supermarkets, retail health food businesses and specialty food outlets.

“The Coalition Government is proud to support regional and rural businesses to grow their operations, access new markets and employ more local people.”

Mr Sykes welcomed the investment and said Bertalli’s Alpine Breads was a highly regarded specialty bakery, employing 20 Benalla locals.

“Bertalli’s Alpine Breads is a regional success story, growing from a humble local bakery to one that supplies specialty breads to Coles and Woolworths,” Mr Sykes said.

“More recently, the company has developed a new range of artisan breads for supply to independent supermarkets and retail outlets.

“This expansion will allow more people in more areas to purchase this wonderful Benalla product.”

Ms Ryan said this exciting project was another example of the strong work the Nationals, as part of a Coalition Government, were delivering for regional communities.

“The Coalition Government is investing record funding in regional and rural Victoria through initiatives such as the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund,” Ms Ryan said.

“The Regional Growth Fund has so far invested more than $4 million for projects in Benalla, leveraging more than $12 million in investment.

“This includes $1 million for the $4.57 million Benalla Library/Civic Centre Conversion project, $900,000 for the $3.5 million Benalla Aquatic Centre Re-development, and $300,000 for the $400,000 Benalla Town Hall Restoration.”

Media contact: Les White 0409 805 122

$110,000 for Benalla Airport master plan

* * - Friday, May 02, 2014
  • Victorian Coalition Government invests $110,000 in Benalla Airport master plan 
  • Project is a local priority ahead of the 2017 World Gliding Championships 
  • The Regional Growth Fund has delivered almost $400 million to support more than 1400 projects, leveraging more than $1.6 billion in total investment

The Victorian Coalition Government is investing $110,000 from its $1 billion Regional Growth Fund in a detailed master plan for the Benalla Airport.

In Benalla today, Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan said the project was a priority for the Benalla Rural City Council as it prepares for the pre World Gliding Championships test event in December 2015 and the World Gliding Championships in January 2017.
“We’re delighted to be able to be part of it,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Benalla airport precinct includes more than 15 active user groups including aviation businesses, club members, accommodation facilities, recreational aviation, potters, museums, tertiary education facilities and a Performing Arts Centre.

“This Regional Growth Fund investment will help Benalla Rural City Council complete a strategic review of the airport and engage with user groups about the planning for future growth and development of this facility.”

Mr Ryan said the airport master plan would provide strategic development advice to Benalla Rural City Council and give confidence to user groups and investors looking to develop and grow businesses at the airport.

“The project will develop a collective vision across all user groups and a broader plan for the airport precinct,” Mr Ryan said.

“It will help ready the airport for the World Gliding Championships.”

Nationals candidate for Euroa Steph Ryan said Benalla’s airport was renowned for good weather and safe, reliable flying conditions.

“The future of the airport is important to pilots and gliders as well as local businesses who benefit from the economic activity and tourism it brings.”

Member for Benalla Bill Sykes said the Coalition Government’s Regional Growth Fund was investing in community-led projects to strategically drive jobs, investment and innovation in rural and regional Victoria.

“The Regional Growth Fund has delivered almost $400 million, generating over $1.6 billion of total investment across more than 1400 projects,” Mr Sykes said.

“In Benalla Rural City, the Regional Growth Fund has provided $4.1 million to 18 projects, leveraging about $12.4 million in total investment. This includes $1.6 million for the $4.58 million Benalla Library/Civic Centre Conversion; $104,075 for the $3.5 million Benalla Aquatic Centre Re-development and $300,000 for the $400,000 Benalla Town Hall Restoration.”

The Benalla Airport master plan will be completed in June 2014.

Media contact: Les White
0409 805 122

Record attendance at Regional Victoria Living Expo

* * - Thursday, April 17, 2014
  • The Regional Victoria Living Expo attracted 9,638 Melburnians with a genuine interest in moving to regional and rural Victoria
  • About 2,000 people had their details electronically collected by exhibitors
  • The Expo is an ongoing Victorian Coalition Government initiative to drive population and investment into regional and rural Victoria

A new record of 9,638 Melburnians attended the 2014 Regional Victoria Living Expo at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre last weekend, Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan said today.

Mr Ryan said the record numbers reflected growing interest amongst Melburnians to move to regional and rural Victoria, with the expo having grown steadily since beginning in 2012.

“Feedback from the 147 exhibitors at the event was that visitors this year were even more serious about relocating to country Victoria,” Mr Ryan said.

“Many regional councils reported that Melburnians attending had done their homework and asked very specific questions about the regions and the towns they intend to move to.

“The regional councils felt this year’s event would see the effort from the previous two years pay off as potential new country residents put the pieces in place for their move.

“Visitors asked about how to get quality jobs in their respective fields; about affordable housing, education, health and community life – questions indicating they are serious about relocating to the regions.”

Southern Grampians Shire Council Manager Economic Development and Tourism Hugh Koch said there were clear economic benefits in luring city residents to his region.

“A family moving to our region is worth around $90,000 a year to the local economy,” Mr Koch said.

“If we can get three to five families a year moving into the area, we’re more than happy with that – and the Expo is delivering that for us.

“If four families a year move for the next five years, that adds up to around an extra 1.8 million dollars into our local economy.”

Mildura Rural City Council Business Event Facilitator & Special Projects Julie Jewell said the level of interest in moving had increased in the expo visitors.

“Last year people were looking for a destination, and this year people know exactly where they want to move – we feel like it is a culmination of the three years of work we have put in, with each building on the last and becoming more targeted each time,” Ms Jewell said.

“We had 25 people keen to visit, many of whom are genuinely interested in moving.

“We really value the support from the Victorian Coalition Government and are very keen for the Expo to continue in forthcoming years.”

Ararat Rural City CEO Andrew Evans said a Smartphone App launched at the expo was already doing well.

“The App gives people access to a whole range of information about Ararat – we only made it available yesterday and we had 60 downloads by halfway through day two,” Mr Evans said.

“That’s 60 people with ongoing access to a whole lot of information about our area.”

A 2012 report found that by supporting growth in the regions we can help reduce the estimated $95 billion in cumulative congestion costs associated with expanding Melbourne’s outer-metropolitan areas over the next 20 years.

For example, the cumulative cost of providing critical infrastructure to support an additional 50,000 persons in the Regional Cities is $1 billion; this compares with inefficiency costs of $3.1 billion associated with the same number of persons being accommodated in metropolitan Melbourne.

“Basing population in the regions greatly reduces the strain on city services and infrastructure,” Mr Ryan said.

“Relocating house is a big step, and people undertaking it deserve support.”

“Exhibitors at the Expo this year provided visitors with information tailored to their needs including current job opportunities and the chance to match them up with existing or new businesses setting up in the regions.

“It also proves that the Coalition Government’s Good Move campaign, created to showcase the benefits of regional living, spurs city dwellers to genuinely consider a move to the country.

“Positive interaction between councils – promoting the best of their wares as a region – made a big difference to attracting greater interest among people genuinely interested to move.”

Media contact: Les White 0409 805 122

Mansfield makeover to connect community

* * - Tuesday, April 02, 2013

A project to better connect Mansfield and improve its liveability will soon
be completed with the help of $100,000 in Coalition Government funding,
announced today by Member for Benalla, Bill Sykes on behalf of the Deputy
Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan. 
Dr Sykes said Mansfield Shire was one of Victoria’s fastest growing rural
municipalities, attracting more than 1.2 million visitors annually and
boasting population growth of 18 per cent over 10 years. 

“The Mansfield Landscaping and Pathways to Connect Community project will
consolidate Mansfield’s place as a prime tourism and rural/residential
lifestyle destination, supporting social and economic growth in the
community,” Dr Sykes said. 

“The project will improve key areas of public open space in the township,
building on its physical features and liveability. 

“Works will include improvements to the Botanical Gardens and the town
amenities used most by residents and tourists alike. 

“The project is consistent with Mansfield Shire’s strategic plans and
policies in relation to the preservation and enhancement of the key
characteristics of the town, which make it a prime tourism and lifestyle

Mansfield Shire Council’s Mayor, Cr Russell Bate said, “This particular
funding allows council to undertake works at Mansfield Botanic Park that
will make the Park more enjoyable for locals and visitors. In particular it
will allow the development of a series of connecting pathways that will
inter-connect community centres of activities around the greater Mansfield
township area.” 

Mr Ryan said the Victorian Coalition Government funding towards the $152,000 project
would be provided through the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund’s Putting
Locals First Program
to Mansfield Shire Council, who will contribute the
remaining funding. 

Putting Locals First is a $100 million initiative designed to enable
regional communities to plan and deliver the services and infrastructure to
meet local priorities,” Mr Ryan said. 

“It is supporting stronger and more sustainable regional communities by
building their capacity to drive development in their region.” 

The Mansfield Landscaping and Pathways to Connect Community project is
expected to be completed in October 2014. 

For more information about the Putting Locals First program, please visit 

Media contact: Stephanie Nicholls 0437 108 870


Recovery package for Alpine communities

* * - Tuesday, March 12, 2013
The Victorian Coalition Government today announced a $1.7 million recovery package for the state’s Alpine region, following extensive bushfires which threatened towns and Alpine Resorts in the area following a lightning strike on 21 January 2013.


Member for Benalla Bill Sykes announced the recovery package in Bright today on behalf of Deputy Premier Peter Ryan, following their visit to bushfire-affected residents and businesses in the region on 27 February.


The funds will be used for a number of key projects, ranging from immediate tourism- focused recovery events to long-term investment in community planning and infrastructure.


Key funded projects are;

  • $1 million to upgrade rail trails between Harrietville and Bright;
  • $350,000 for the first stage of an adventure park in Dinner Plain; and
  • $300,000 for a redevelopment of the Bright river foreshore. 

Other funded projects are;

  • $10,000 for community recovery events;
  • $30,000 for smoke-taint testing for grapes produced by Alpine Valley wineries and growers;
  • $4,000 for a new family event to be held in Dinner Plain every Easter; and
  • $60,000 for a strategic masterplan for Dinner Plain.
“This funding package will provide support to the community for short and long term projects including the Easter tourism period,” Dr Sykes said.


“Of equal importance is the major focus on getting the Great Alpine Road partially re-opened. This happened in time for the Labour Day long weekend and it is important to continue to get the message out that the Alpine Shire is back in business and ready to welcome visitors.”


Mr Ryan said over the short-term, the package would include projects such as $30,000 for smoke-taint testing for grapes produced by Alpine Valley wineries and growers, to ensure economic losses are minimised.


“A further $4,000 will be provided for a new family event to be held in Dinner Plain every Easter, to attract tourists to the region,” Mr Ryan said.


Mr Ryan said the focus over the longer term would be on a sustained program of infrastructure, facility and service improvements which would continue to draw visitors and increase business and employment opportunities.


“For that reason we have allocated the majority of funds to local infrastructure projects including $1 million to upgrade rail trails between Harrietville and Bright, $350,000 for the first stage of an adventure park in Dinner Plain and $300,000 for a redevelopment of the Bright river foreshore,” Mr Ryan said.


“Planning is another key element of the package, with $60,000 allocated to a strategic master plan for Dinner Plain, focused on the economic and social development of the town over the next 20 years.”


Mr Ryan also confirmed that small business mentors from Business Victoria would visit the region this week to meet with businesses affected by the fires.


“Our focus is on revitalizing the local economy as quickly as possible, and we want to ensure that small businesses in the area are given the best support available,” Mr Ryan said.


For more information on business support initiatives visit the Alpine Shire Council website at


Media enquiries: Stephanie Nicholls 0437 108 870


Stephanie Ryan - Tuesday, October 19, 2010
A Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition Government will inject an additional $2 million into increasing the size of a new off-stream storage near Bright.

Shadow Minister for Rural and Regional Development and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan made the announcement in the north-east town today with The Nationals Member for Benalla Bill Sykes.

Mr Ryan said the extra funding would increase the size of the proposed storage from 360 megalitres to 520 megalitres.

“Bright’s water supply has just one holding tank and relies on regular pumping from the Ovens River,” Mr Ryan said.

“This off-stream storage will decrease the town's dependence on water from the Ovens River during summer and autumn when flows in the river are low.

“The Coalition is committed to working with existing allocations on the Ovens River, however the increased storage will improve security of supply.

“We will ensure greater reliability of environmental flows and supplies for towns and other consumptive users upstream of Myrtleford.”

Mr Ryan said a Coalition Government would review the information on which the site choice was based to ensure the location best suited community needs.

“In 2007 the Brumby Government told the community that the construction of this storage was a priority and promised it would be completed by 2010.

“Here we are in 2010 and funding for the storage is still uncertain. It is now unlikely that the project will be completed before 2013.”

Dr Sykes said the Coalition’s commitment would secure Bright’s reputation as one of Victoria’s premier tourist destinations.

“Bright’s population swells to about 30,000 during the town’s famous autumn festival and the summer school holidays,” Dr Sykes said.

“This announcement is a great win for the community. It will help resolve water quality issues which are threatening Bright’s reputation as a first-class tourism destination and will ensure that the town has the ability to cater for an expected increase in tourism numbers."

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