Press Releases

Deputy Premier speaks at Avoca Natural Gas Forum

* * - Thursday, July 10, 2014

  • Deputy Premier addresses Natural Gas Forum in Avoca 
  • Victorian Coalition Government invests almost $8.4 million to connect Avoca 
  • Gas roll-out expected to be completed by the middle of 2016

More than 700 homes and businesses in Avoca will be connected to natural gas thanks to the Victorian Coalition Government’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan along with The Nationals Candidate for Ripon Scott Turner were in Avoca today to host a Natural Gas Forum.

The forum followed the Coalition Government’s historic agreement with SP AusNet to connect the town to natural gas, reached in April 2013.

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government had invested almost $8.4 million to deliver gas to Avoca, something Labor said it wouldn’t do and falsely claimed the Coalition Government couldn’t achieve.

"Connecting Avoca to the natural gas network will provide the town with new opportunities for growth and help attract new businesses," Mr Ryan said.

“Before the Coalition Government intervened, communities such as Avoca were in the unenviable position of not being able to attract new businesses because they didn’t have a natural gas connection but couldn’t get a gas connection because they didn’t have enough homes and businesses to warrant it.

“The Coalition Government, through its $100 million Energy for the Regions Program, a component of the Regional Growth Fund, is delivering this much sought after gas connection.

“This initial investment will pay long-term dividends for Avoca, and is part of our commitment to growing regional communities and supporting local jobs.”

Mr Turner said the roll-out of natural gas would provide cheaper and cleaner energy to residents and businesses in Avoca and was yet another example of what The Nationals could deliver as part of a Coalition Government.

“Supplying gas to households and businesses via reticulation is significantly cheaper than bottled natural gas or energy sourced via the electricity grid,” Mr Turner said.

“Delivering natural gas to Avoca is another example of the Coalition Government’s hard work to lower household bills and follows the government’s recent announcement that it is cutting water bills.

“I will continue to work with Peter Ryan, The Nationals and the Coalition Government to reduce the cost of living for communities throughout the region.”

Mr Ryan said subject to planning and regulatory approvals, construction of the Avoca gas connection would commence this year and the project would be completed by winter 2016.

Mr Ryan said SP AusNet would hold a further community information session on Wednesday, 16 July to answer the community’s questions, including project timing and the process for connecting to the reticulation network.

Mr Ryan encouraged homeowners and businesses to attend next week’s information session.

“SP AusNet has said there is sufficient flexibility in the network to ‘in-fill’ areas not initially covered in the roll-out, and enough capacity to satisfy future growth,” Mr Ryan said.

“Those not included within the initial project footprint can collectively submit an expression of interest to SP AusNet in order to be included in the network.

“By taking a coordinated approach, homes and businesses will increase the likelihood of a connection and minimise connection costs.”

Mr Ryan also called on the Labor Opposition’s regional spokesperson Jacinta Allan to publicly apologise to the Avoca community for her continual scaremongering on the roll-out of gas.

“Ms Allan famously said the Coalition Government couldn’t sensibly connect any more regional communities to natural gas,” Mr Ryan said.

“Ms Allan described our Energy for the Regions Program as a hoax.

“I am proud to say this is not a hoax and the Avoca community will soon be cooking with piped natural gas.”

Media contact: Ben Bulmer 0437 547 731 

$85 million natural gas tender applicants down to final two

* * - Tuesday, May 27, 2014

  • Field of applicants for $85 million natural gas tender narrowed to two 
  • Regional Development Victoria has entered detailed and complex negotiations with the final two companies 
  • Connection to seven towns already confirmed; Mildura’s supply has also been increased

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan today announced further progress on connecting regional Victorian towns to natural gas as part of the Victorian Coalition Government’s $85 million tender.

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government had already reached agreements to deliver natural gas to seven towns in regional Victoria, and had expanded supply to Mildura.

The $85 million tender asked companies to compete for the chance to supply the remaining seven priority towns as well as additional communities along the Murray River.

The gas is to be delivered as either compressed or liquefied natural gas.

“The field of applicants to win this tender has now been whittled down to two final competing companies,” Mr Ryan said.

“Regional Development Victoria has now entered detailed and complex negotiations with these companies.

“This landmark $85 million investment in regional Victoria will deliver gas to towns that have been calling for this cheaper and more convenient energy supply for decades.

“Some towns have found themselves caught between not having enough customers to attract gas supply from an energy company, but handicapped in attracting new residents and businesses because they did not have natural gas.

“The Coalition Government is fixing this problem for these rural towns. CNG/LNG is less than half the price of bottled gas, so whether you’re heating your home or operating a business, the Coalition Government aims to drive down your costs.”

The $85 million Request for Tender includes:
  • $30 million for the provision of natural gas to Murray River communities, comprising $15 million from the Commonwealth’s $100 million Murray-Darling Basin Regional Economic Diversification Program and $15 million from Victoria’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund; and 
  • $55 million from Victoria’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund to supply the remaining seven priority towns as part of the third stage of the Energy for the Regions program.

The Coalition Government has announced the improvement of Mildura’s gas supply along with gas connections for Huntly, Avoca, Bannockburn, Winchelsea, Koo Wee Rup, Warburton and Wandong-Heathcote Junction. 

“Alternative solutions, including CNG/LNG represent a new opportunity to work with the energy industry to achieve broader energy security for regional Victoria, while also providing consumers with a comparable price and convenient access to conventional pipeline gas,” Mr Ryan said.

Media contact: Les White 0409 805 122

$25,000 grants to tackle local graffiti issues

* * - Tuesday, May 27, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Applications close on Friday 20 June and to apply or for further information, visit www.crimeprevention.vic.gov.au/graffitigrants

Media contact: Steph Nicholls 0437 108 870
 



Wandong-Heathcote Junction takes another step towards natural gas

* * - Wednesday, May 21, 2014


  • Victorian Coalition Government’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund bringing natural gas to Wandong-Heathcote Junction 
  • Piped natural gas costs about one-third the price of bottled gas 
  • Victorian Coalition Government reducing cost of living for regional Victorians

Wandong-Heathcote Junction is a step closer to receiving piped natural gas following the completion of a Front End Engineering and Design (FEED) study to finalise the project design and costs.

Speaking in Wandong-Heathcote Junction today, Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan said that following conclusion of the FEED study, energy company Envestra had begun obtaining planning and environmental approvals.

Mr Ryan said the Victorian Coalition Government reached an agreement with Envestra to supply natural gas to Wandong-Heathcote Junction by investing $4.94 million from the Energy for the Regions Program, a component of the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund, to enable the connection.

“This project will see construction of 1.1 kilometres of high pressure supply pipeline from Envestra’s existing network and at least 11.8 kilometres of reticulation mains within the town, providing more than 500 households and businesses with the option to switch to natural gas,” Mr Ryan said.

Member for Seymour Cindy McLeish, who joined Mr Ryan at today’s event, said residents and businesses covered by the distribution plan could enjoy cleaner and cheaper energy, with piped natural gas costing them only about a third of what they pay for bottled gas.

“With the completion of the FEED study, Envestra is aiming to have Wandong-Heathcote Junction connected to natural gas by 2017,” Ms McLeish said.

The Nationals Candidate for Euroa Steph Ryan, who was also present at today’s event, said there were many potential economic benefits from natural gas that could flow to residents and businesses in Wandong-Heathcote Junction.

“The potential for lower energy bills will not only help local families overcome cost of living pressures, it will also boost the local economy by attracting investment, creating opportunities for new businesses and enabling existing businesses to expand,” Ms Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government, through the Energy for the Regions Program, was delivering reticulated natural gas to regional communities where the former Labor Government and current Labor opposition said it couldn’t be done.

“When in government, Labor promised to deliver piped natural gas to communities in regional and rural Victoria , like Wandong-Heathcote Junction, but failed to deliver,” Mr Ryan said.

“Over the past three and a half years, Labor’s shadow regional spokesperson Jacinta Allan, along with Labor member for Northern Victoria Candy Broad, have said again and again that reticulated natural gas could not be delivered to communities such as Wandong-Heathcote Junction.

“It is about time the Labor Party admitted their failure to the people of regional and rural Victoria and acknowledged that through hard work the Coalition Government is delivering what they couldn’t.”

Media contact: Les White 0409 805 122

Victorian Coalition Government delivers natural gas to Warburton

* * - Monday, May 19, 2014

  • $7.88 million from Regional Growth Fund brings natural gas to Warburton 
  • Reticulated gas to cost one-third the price of bottled gas 
  • Victorian Coalition Government reducing cost of living for regional Victorians

The Victorian Coalition Government has reached an agreement with Multinet Gas to supply natural gas to Warburton with $7.88 million in support from the Victorian Coalition Government’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund.

Speaking at Warburton, Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan said the long-awaited arrival of natural gas to Warburton would reduce the cost of gas for residents and businesses.

“Natural gas is around one third the price of bottled gas, and this means that households will now be able to save on their energy bills,” Mr Ryan said.

“Towns like Warburton have been caught in a bind where they are told they do not have enough residents to justify an energy company building infrastructure to supply them, but are handicapped in attracting new residents because they do not have reticulated natural gas.

“The Coalition Government has fixed this problem for Warburton. We promised and we delivered.”

Local State Government Member Cindy McLeish said bringing cheap energy to the town meant Warburton had more opportunity to grow and attract new businesses and residents.

“Lower energy costs makes life easier for local businesses and the local economy,” Ms McLeish said.

“The important thing today is that we have delivered for Warburton, for local businesses and residents.

“Let’s not forget that Labor openly said during the 2010 election that it would not connect any more towns to natural gas, so it was only the Coalition Government that would ever deliver this for Warburton.”

Member for Gembrook Brad Battin said Multinet expected to begin construction next year, with gas to start flowing in the second half of 2017.

“Regardless of which party wins the election this year, Warburton will receive cheaper, natural gas courtesy of the Coalition Government,” Mr Battin said.

“Some 5,600m of supply main and a minimum of 23,300m of reticulation main will be laid, supplying natural gas to at least 500 homes and businesses in Warburton.

“It’s a great day for the town.”

Mr Ryan said the $7.88 million in funding was provided through the Regional Growth Fund’s Energy for the Regions program, which provides $100 million over a four year period to deliver natural gas to towns in regional and rural Victoria.

“Energy for the Regions helps to create new investment in regional Victoria, ease cost-of-living pressures, help to grow jobs and businesses and build a better life for regional Victorians,” Mr Ryan said.

Media contact: Les White 0409 805 122

Coalition Government building a better Gippsland

* * - Friday, May 09, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Media contact: Steph Nicholls 0437 108 870
stephanie.nicholls@parliament.vic.gov.au



Victorian Coalition Government is building a better regional Victoria

* * - Tuesday, May 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 to build transformational Mildura to Geelong rail standardisation link

* * - Monday, May 05, 2014

  • Deputy Premier unveils transformational Mildura to Geelong rail link 
  • Up to $220 million project will revolutionise freight movement across the state 
  • Victorian Coalition Government is investing in vital infrastructure across the state, creating new jobs and investment

The Victorian Coalition Government will invest up to $220 million to deliver key country freight rail line upgrades and build the transformational Mildura to Geelong rail standardisation link.

Deputy Premier and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan today unveiled the Coalition Government‟s Murray Basin Rail Project that will revolutionise the movement of freight across the state and unlock the economic potential of regional and rural Victoria.

In the keynote address to The Nationals State Conference in Benalla, Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government‟s State Budget would deliver funding for the Mildura to Geelong standardised rail link with construction expected to be completed by 2018.

“This landmark project is more than a century in the waiting and the Victorian Liberal and Nationals Coalition has delivered funding to build it in our first term of government,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Murray Basin is one of the nation‟s leading food production regions, exporting in excess of $3 billion worth of food products and mineral resources per year.

“By converting the existing broad gauge tracks to standard gauge, the Murray Basin Rail Project will deliver modern rail infrastructure and transform Victoria‟s freight network to meet the increasing demand for freight services.

“The project involves building and upgrading freight lines to 21 tonne axle loading, providing an immediate 15% productivity improvement that will increase train loads by 300 to 400 tonnes.

“It will improve transport efficiency and enhance access to the ports of Portland, Geelong and Melbourne for Victorian exports.

“A modern and efficient rail freight network is critical to Victoria‟s economic productivity and this Project marks the first phase in the Coalition Government‟s vision to standardise regional and rural Victoria‟s freight-only lines to drive future growth and prosperity.”

Mr Ryan said the first stage of the Murray Basin Rail Project would deliver urgent upgrades on the Mildura to Maryborough and Hopetoun to Murtoa rail lines, while the business case for the full Mildura to Geelong standardisation was finalised.

“The first stage of the Project will include an initial $41 million to upgrade the Hopetoun and Mildura rail lines to ensure quick benefits from more efficient freight movement,” Mr Ryan said.

“The final cost and alignment of the full Mildura to Geelong rail standardisation will be guided by the final business case to be delivered by the end of the year.

“The standardisation is also a crucial first step in the return of passenger rail to Mildura.”

Mr Ryan said the Project would assist in moving freight off road and onto rail and pave the way for the potential future creation of a new „transcontinental link‟ near Broken Hill, connecting to the Sydney- Perth rail line.

“The project will enable further logistical flexibility and ease of use of the Victorian rail network. It will result in a mode shift to rail and thereby improve road safety, reduce road congestion and lower road maintenance costs,” Mr Ryan said.

“Ultimately, the project will enable a Transcontinental Rail Link between Mildura and Menindee, near Broken Hill, NSW, connecting to the Perth interstate rail line.”

Mr Ryan said this historic investment formed a central part of the Coalition Government‟s plan to build a better Victoria by delivering new job-creating infrastructure projects that unlock economic potential and drive growth across the state.

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

Deputy Premier announces $4.75 million Wangaratta High School redevelopment

* * - Thursday, May 01, 2014


  • Deputy Premier announces $4.75 million for Wangaratta High School 
  • Block A to be demolished, replaced by a modern teaching and learning space 
  • Victorian Coalition Government is delivering record education funding

The Victorian Coalition Government will fund much-needed upgrades to Wangaratta High School as part of the 2014-15 Victorian Budget, Deputy Premier Peter Ryan announced today.

Mr Ryan joined Member for Murray Valley Tim McCurdy in Wangaratta to announce that the Coalition Government would invest $4.75 million to deliver modern teaching and learning spaces, as part of stage three of the Wangaratta High School masterplan.

Mr Ryan said the project would involve demolishing Block A’s dilapidated classrooms and administration facilities, replacing it with modern classrooms and open spaces.

“Block A was described as substandard, worn and of poor quality in the Coalition Government’s recent maintenance audit of every school in Victoria,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Coalition Government is proud to deliver this much-needed funding to support the replacement of Block A.

“I thank local teachers, parents, students and the broader Wangaratta community who have championed this project, and I applaud their dedication to see it through to completion.

“I also pay tribute to the Member for Murray Valley Tim McCurdy who has strongly advocated for this project in the Parliament; he can take great pride in the fact this funding has now been delivered.”

Mr Ryan said the project would complement works already undertaken as part of the school’s masterplan.

“Stage one of the masterplan saw the development of new senior school facilities, with stage two delivering a new science block and administration facilities,” Mr Ryan said

“The Coalition Government’s investment will finalise the work outlined in the masterplan, providing a school that will meet the educational needs of the region’s students long into the future.”

Mr McCurdy said securing this funding marked a great day for the Wangaratta community and the school’s 950 students.

He said the school community would be provided with the opportunity to have its say in how the funds should be directed to ensure the best return for students.

“This project will have a significant and positive impact on Wangaratta High School students,” Mr McCurdy said.

“I am proud to be part of a Coalition Government that is investing in local schools and building a brighter future for students in Wangaratta and the North East.”

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 les.white@minstaff.vic.gov.au.

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