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 

Major conference to attract mining heavyweights

* * - Wednesday, June 18, 2014

  • Deputy Premier visits Ballarat mining success story Gekko Systems 
  • 120 speakers confirmed for International Mining and Resources Conference 
  • Victorian Coalition Government supporting local industries to compete on the world stage

Ballarat-based company Gekko Systems (Gekko) is a strong example of Victoria’s mining services sector creating and supporting jobs right across the state.

Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development Peter Ryan today visited Gekko to announce that the upcoming International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC), to be held in Melbourne during September, had secured 120 guest speakers.

Mr Ryan said the speakers represented a cross section of national and global mining industry leaders and experts, including Nev Power from Fortescue Metals Group, Ian Smith from Orica, Terry Burgess from Oz Minerals, Carlos Santa Cruz from Newmont Mining, Andrew Michelmore from MMG, and Tony Cudmore from BHP Billiton.

“This major conference will focus the world’s attention on Melbourne and Victoria as a leading hub for mining and mining services and will also highlight Victoria’s world class resource deposits such as brown coal, gas and mineral sands,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said Gekko was a great example of a regionally-based business which had grown to become a global leader.

“Gekko was started by husband and wife team Sandy Gray and Elizabeth Lewis-Gray in Avoca in 1996, initially producing InLine Pressure Jigs for gravity separation,” Mr Ryan said.

“Over the past 18 years, Gekko has grown to become a global company, with headquarters in Ballarat and sales offices in Perth, Canada, South Africa and Chile.

“Gekko Systems is now recognised as a world leader in gravity separation and recovery of gold and other high-value minerals such as silver, coal and gemstones.

“The mining industry relies on Gekko products to improve productivity and save on energy costs at mining sites.”

Mr Ryan said assisting businesses such as Gekko to become industry leaders by gaining access to global supply chains was a key reason behind the Victorian Coalition Government’s efforts to promote the mining and mining services industries in Victoria.

“By hosting events such as IMARC, which attracts hundreds of the industry’s biggest decision makers, we are saying to the world that Victoria, and our local mining and mining services industries, is open for business and the best in the world at what we do,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Coalition Government wants to see more companies like Gekko competing on the world stage and showcasing Victorian excellence in mining equipment, technology and services.”

Media contact: Ben Bulmer 0437 547 731

The sun won’t melt this Mars Bar

* * - Wednesday, June 18, 2014

  • Mars Ballarat to make its range of bars using clean green renewable energy 
  • Solar panels to reduce company’s energy costs by $900,000 a year 
  • Victorian Coalition Government invested $1.5 million to ensure a long future for Mars in Ballarat

Mars Australia’s Ballarat chocolate factory will save $900,000 a year on its energy costs, with Mars Bars, Snickers, Milky Way, Twix, Maltesers and M&Ms to be manufactured using electricity generated from the sun.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan visited Mars today to unveil the company’s new solar electricity generation system, installed as part of Mars Ballarat’s $6.2 million Utilities Efficiency Investment Project.

Mr Ryan was joined at today’s event by The Nationals candidate for Ripon Scott Turner, Liberal candidate for Buninyong Ben Taylor and Liberal candidate Wendouree Craig Coltman.

Mr Ryan said today’s event marked completion of the $1.3 million Renewable Energy Program, a component of the overall $6.2 million project, which included the installation of 800 fixed photovoltaic panels and two sun tracking solar panel arrays.

Mr Ryan said the Victorian Coalition Government had proudly invested $1.5 million to support the $6.2 million project, from the job creating $1 billion Regional Growth Fund.

“Today marks a milestone for Mars in Ballarat,” Mr Ryan said.

“The fixed solar panels and sun-tracking solar arrays will provide peak power of 210 kilowatts of electricity, saving Mars’ around $900,000 per year in energy costs.”

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government was keen to assist Mars’ Ballarat factory, which has a reputation for producing the world’s best Maltesers, to remain competitive against overseas manufacturers, where production costs were significantly lower.

“A strong and sustainable Mars Ballarat is vital to the local and regional economy. It currently employs more than 420 locals, sources 70 per cent of its materials and ingredients from Victoria, and injects almost $147 million a year into the regional economy,” Mr Ryan said.

“However, the cost of producing chocolate bars in Ballarat is twice as expensive than other plants in the Asia-Pacific region, meaning savings needed to be made for the factory to remain viable.

“To ensure Mars remains competitive locally, and we as consumers can continue buying the highest quality chocolate, the company needed to develop innovative solutions to reduce its costs, which this project delivers.”

Mr Ryan said generating energy onsite was one way Mars was reducing its costs, with other components of this $6.2 million Utilities Efficiency Investment Project set to follow, including plant insulation upgrades, water capture and storage initiatives, and wastewater improvements.

“Once completed, this $6.2 million investment will reduce Mars’ carbon dioxide emissions by 8,000 tonnes per year,” Mr Ryan said.

“It will also reduce water consumption by 46 megalitres a year, a $30,000 saving, which is vitally important in Ballarat where water can be a scarce commodity.”

Mr Ryan said this investment was another example of how the Coalition Government, through the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund, was ensuring companies who have made their name in regional and rural Victoria remain there.

“Mars has being producing its range of products in Ballarat since 1979, maintaining its place as an industry leader for the past 35 years,” Mr Ryan said.

“With support from the Coalition Government, and our $1 billion Regional Growth Fund, we aim to keep it in Ballarat for another 35 years and beyond.”

Media contact: Ben Bulmer 0437 547 731

Victorian Coalition Government halts onshore gas drilling

* * - Wednesday, May 28, 2014

  • Drilling at Seaspray halted while community consultation is carried out
  • Victorian Coalition Government won’t be rushed on onshore gas
  • Information sessions will be held in Gippsland throughout June

The Victorian Coalition Government has put a hold on issuing work plan approvals for onshore gas exploration, including at Seaspray, until the community has had its say and scientific facts are known.

Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said the decision would ensure all the facts were in front of government and communities ahead of any decision on whether an onshore gas industry would be developed in Victoria.

“We will not be rushed into making a decision on the potential for development of onshore gas in Gippsland until we have a full understanding of its effects on communities, farmland, the environment and the economy,” Mr Ryan said.

“This decision means planned drilling by Lakes Oil at Seaspray will not proceed until all the facts are considered and the community has had its say.”

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government’s position on onshore gas was in stark contrast to that of the Labor Party, which when in government issued 73 coal seam, shale and tight gas exploration licences and approved 23 fracking operations without community consultation.

“Under the former Labor Government, the onshore gas industry was given a green light to drill and frack without any understanding of the facts and without giving the community a say,” Mr Ryan.

“No fracking has ever occurred under a Coalition Government. The last time fracking occurred in Victoria was when it was approved by the former Labor Government, supported by local Labor representatives Matt Viney and Johan Scheffer.

“In contrast, the Coalition Government is giving the community a say on this important matter.

“In addition to our consultation process, we have committed to the most extensive investigation into our ground water systems ever undertaken, instigated a moratorium on fracking, put a hold on the issuing of new exploration licences and now a hold on issuing work plan approvals for existing exploration licences.”

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government’s community consultation would begin with an initial round of Open Days in June, including sessions at Sale, Yarram, Mirboo North, Inverloch, Bairnsdale and Warragul.

“These Open Days form one part of our extensive community consultation process, which also includes facilitated meetings with community groups, environmental groups, farmers, local government representatives and individuals, as well as workshops to discuss specific issues in greater depth.” Mr Ryan said.

“The Open Days will provide the community with all the information and facts so they can make an informed decision on the potential for the development of an onshore gas industry.”

In announcing the Open Days, Minister for Energy and Resources Russell Northe said the Coalition Government genuinely wanted to engage with community on this important issue.

“This is not just a listening exercise, it’s an information exercise. We want to ensure that everyone has an understanding of the facts to help them participate in discussions about a potential onshore natural gas industry in Victoria,” Mr Northe said.

“We intend to gain a comprehensive understanding of the issues and the range of views across the community, particularly in the regional and rural communities, before making any decision on this important matter.”

Mr Ryan said more information on the Coalition Government’s community consultation process, including planned and upcoming events, was available online at

Media contact: Ben Bulmer 0437 547 731


Warragul: 2pm – 8pm, Thursday 5 June 2014 at the Exhibition Hall Warragul, Korumburra Road, Warragul (next to the Warragul Show Grounds)

Sale: 2pm – 8pm, Tuesday 10 June 2014 at the Sale Memorial Hall, Macalister Street.

Bairnsdale: 2pm – 8pm, Wednesday 11 June 2014 at the RSL: Lakes Room, 2 Forge Creek Rd, Bairnsdale

Yarram: 2pm – 8pm, Thursday 12 June 2014 at the Anglican Church Hall, 95 Commercial Road, Yarram

Inverloch: 2pm – 8pm, Tuesday 17 June 2014 at the Inverloch Community Hub, 16 A’Beckett Street.

Mirboo North: 2pm – 8pm, Wednesday 18 June 2014 at the Mirboo North Shire Hall

$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

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

Advanced coal projects to drive new jobs

* * - Friday, May 16, 2014
 · Two advanced coal projects announced



Projects will use new technology to upgrade coal into new products



Commonwealth and Victorian governments are creating jobs and new investment in the Latrobe Valley


Federal Minister for Industry Ian Macfarlane, Deputy Premier Peter Ryan and Victorian Minister for Energy and Resources Russell Northe today announced $50 million for the first two advanced coal projects that will deliver new jobs and investment to the Latrobe Valley.

Mr Ryan said the projects, funded under the 50:50 State-Commonwealth Advanced Lignite Demonstration Program (ALDP), make possible the development of two demonstration plants producing high value products including oil, fertiliser and upgraded coal.

“Victoria is home to one of the world’s largest brown coal reserves and this joint investment will enable the development of new smarter, cleaner and sustainable uses for this important resource,” Mr Ryan said.

“We have reached an important milestone today in announcing two successful ALDP applicants, whose proposals will provide significant opportunities for communities in the Latrobe Valley and broader Gippsland region.”

Mr Northe said the Victorian and Federal Governments had committed to this project two years ago and today’s funding announcement was a significant step towards the construction and operation of demonstration plants using coal sourced from existing licence holders in the Latrobe Valley.

“Brown coal has a long history of providing benefits to all Victorians, delivering reliable and affordable power, and we believe it has a bright future helping build a better Victoria,” Mr Northe said.

“The projects we are announcing today have the potential to bring significant employment and investment to the Latrobe Valley and to contribute to the economic growth of the area.”

The funding agreements are based on the achievement of stringent milestones that indicate positive progress of the overall project outcomes.

Federal Minister for Industry Ian Macfarlane said Australia has a great opportunity to secure a sustainable future for Victoria’s brown coal reserves.

“This program is designed to accelerate the development of new technologies which could drive new industries and make a significant economic contribution to the Latrobe Valley and the State,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“The projects being announced today are about making progress toward clean solutions for capitalising on this rich resource and seeing a bright future for the Latrobe Valley and its community.”

Project 1

Coal Energy Australia has been granted $30 million for the development of a $143 million demonstration plant producing fertiliser, oil and high value coal used in steelmaking.

The project will entail:

  • Building a pre-commercial lignite upgrading plant to process high value metallurgical-grade carbon and other hydrocarbon products.
  • Integrating technologies for the pyrolysis of coal, based on coking, semi‐coking and advanced heating technology.
  • Applying coal pyrolysis technology.
  • Production of three products:
      • low volatile solid fuel or char – a substitute for PCI coal in steel manufacture
      • pyrolysis oil, which can be distilled into various oils, including diesel oil for industrial heating
      • ammonium sulphate for use as a fertiliser or soil conditioner.
  • Project 2

    Ignite Energy Resources has been granted $20 million for the development of an $84.3 million pre-commercial plant producing upgraded coal products for local or export markets and synthetic oil which can be refined into fuel sources such as diesel and petrol.

    The project will entail:

  • Building and operating a pre-commercial lignite upgrading and processing plant.
  • Utilising Ignite’s unique ‘catalytic hydrothermal reactor’ technology, which rapidly converts lignite in a water slurry into an oily coal, that can be separated into high energy products.
  • Production of three products:
    • oily coal, which can be separated into high energy products: synthetic crude (Syncrude) and micronized upgraded coal
    • upgraded coal – for use in blast furnaces as Pulverised Coal Injection (PCI) for steel manufacturing
    • synthetic crude oil.
  • Media contacts:

        Kylie Barron 0408 508 67 (Minister Macfarlane)

        Ben Bulmer 0437 547 731

    Regional Growth Fund connects Koo Wee Rup to natural gas

    * * - Friday, February 28, 2014

    • Over 1300 Koo Wee Rup homes and businesses to benefit from natural gas
    • $5.25 million Victorian Coalition Government investment supports roll-out
    • Regional Growth Fund is delivering for regional and rural Victoria

    More than 1300 homes and businesses in Koo Wee Rup will be able to save on their energy costs, as Koo Wee Rup joins the list of towns set to receive a piped natural gas connection with support from the Victorian Coalition Government’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund.

    Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan joined Member for Bass Ken Smith in Koo Wee Rup today to announce it would be the latest town to receive a natural gas connection.

    Mr Ryan said the connection would be made with $5.25 million in Coalition Government support which was funded through the $100 million Energy for the Regions Program, a component of the Regional Growth Fund.

    “The Coalition Government has reached an agreement with distributor Envestra Limited, that will see more than 1300 homes and businesses in Koo Wee Rup connected to Victoria’s natural gas network,” Mr Ryan said.

    “As part of the roll-out, Envestra will oversee the construction of approximately 14 kms of supply pipeline and at least 10 kms of reticulation mains to supply natural gas to Koo Wee Rup. Work will start before May this year.

    “Koo Wee Rup is the sixth town where an agreement has been struck for connection to natural gas under the Energy for the Regions Program, something Labor said couldn’t be done.”

    Mr Smith welcomed the announcement and said the arrival of natural gas in Koo Wee Rup would mean that households could make savings on their energy bills, especially through the use of gas for heating, cooking and hot water.

    “Lower energy costs are also good news for local businesses, with the opportunity for business operators to grow and for new businesses to be established in Koo Wee Rup,” Mr Smith said.

    Mr Ryan said the $100 million Energy for the Regions Program was the Coalition Government’s four-year plan to deliver natural gas to key towns in regional and rural Victoria.

    “We remain committed to connecting natural gas the remaining priority towns including Invermay, Lakes Entrance, Maldon, Marong, Orbost, Heathcote, Terang and Warburton,” Mr Ryan said.

    “These communities, as well as a number of others along the Murray River, are in line to be connected to natural gas using alternative delivery solutions such as CNG and LNG, as part of the $85 million Request for Tender which was announced in September.”

    Mr Ryan said connecting natural gas to communities in circumstances where the previous Labor Government had said it was unviable to do so was another example of how the Regional Growth Fund was delivering for regional and rural Victoria.

    “Since it was established in early 2011, the Regional Growth Fund has invested more than $380 million to support over 1350 projects across regional and rural Victoria, leveraging $1.55 billion in total investment,” Mr Ryan said.

    “Without the support of the Regional Growth Fund many of these job creating investment projects may not have come to fruition, and certainly wouldn’t have under a Labor government.”

    Media contact: Ben Bulmer 0437 547 731 

    Premier announces 300 new jobs for Geelong

    * * - Tuesday, February 25, 2014

    EnergyAustralia will establish its new national contact centre in Geelong creating 300 new full time positions with the Napthine Government providing a strategic co-investment to facilitate the project.

    Premier Denis Napthine and Deputy Premier Peter Ryan were in Geelong to make the important announcement.

    “This new investment is fantastic news for Victoria. It not only brings 300 new jobs for Geelong but also secures 500 existing jobs around the state,” Dr Napthine said.

    “EnergyAustralia has a great history with its national headquarters in Victoria and more than 2.7 million Australian customer accounts.

    “The Victorian Coalition Government has facilitated this project making a strategic co-investment in partnership with EnergyAustralia.

    “This is another example of how the Coalition Government is working with business to create jobs and drive investment in the Victorian economy,” Dr Napthine said.

    Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government had engaged in ongoing discussions with EnergyAustralia to assist with the development of its business case.

    “We are a Government that is committed to working productively in partnership with private enterprise to deliver positive outcomes for Victoria,” Mr Ryan said.

    “This announcement is a vote of confidence in the state economy and a vote of confidence in regional and rural Victoria.”

    EnergyAustralia Group Executive Manager – Retail, Adrian Merrick said the work of the Victorian Government had helped inform the company’s decision of where to expand its national contact centre operations.

    “The Victorian Government collaborated closely with EnergyAustralia to develop a solution for us that included a Geelong location, a region that isreshaping its local economy with a greater emphasis on services,” Mr Merrick said.

    Media contact: Les White 0409 805 122 

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