Press Releases

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 

Huntly and natural gas getting connected

* * - Tuesday, January 07, 2014


Significant work has already been completed to connect Huntly to Victoria’s natural gas network, as part of the Victorian Coalition Government’s $100 million Energy for the Regions Program.

In Huntly today, Acting Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan inspected progress on the $4.5 million project, that will look to connect more than 580 households and businesses to reticulated natural gas.

Mr Ryan said the project would be among the first completed under the Energy for the Regions Program, funded through the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund.

“Huntly residents will soon have access to cheaper and cleaner energy,” Mr Ryan said.

“Cheaper energy makes life easier for everyday people and makes Huntly a more attractive place to run a business.”

Gas network owner SP AusNet has already installed more than 3.8 kilometres of supply main down the Midland Highway and is beginning work on the 13 kilometres of reticulation pipeline to supply homes and businesses throughout Huntly with natural gas.

Mr Ryan was joined in Huntly by SP AusNet’s General Manager Asset Management, Alistair Parker, who said the company was committed to delivering the underground gas network on time, safely and with minimal disruption to locals.

Mr Ryan also met with Huntly residents who will be among the first connected to natural gas.

Over the past five years, SP AusNet has extended its natural gas network in western Victoria to more than 92,000 homes and businesses and plans to have the gas pipes ready for Huntly residents and businesses to connect by mid-2014.

Details about Huntly’s connection to natural gas and general gas information are available on SP AusNet’s website (

Mr Ryan said the Victorian Government had made good progress in delivering natural gas through the Energy for the Regions Program to 14 priority towns.

“The Coalition Government is committed to delivering natural gas to more communities in regional Victoria and has already reached agreements to deliver gas to Huntly, Bannockburn, Avoca, Winchelsea and Wandong-Heathcote Junction, and to expand the current supply to Mildura,” Mr Ryan said

“We’ve also announced an $85 million tender to connect the remaining priority towns, as well as Murray River communities, to natural gas using compressed or liquefied natural gas.

“Energy for the Regions is a key component of our flagship $1 billion Regional Growth Fund, which invests in community-led projects to strategically drive jobs, investment and innovation in rural and regional Victoria.

“In three short years, the Regional Growth Fund has invested more than $350 million into more than 1200 projects worth a whopping $1.5 billion across regional and rural Victoria.”

Media contact: Les White 0409 805 122

Extension of tender granted to energy companies

* * - Monday, December 16, 2013


The Victorian Coalition Government has extended the deadline on its mammoth $85 million tender to supply natural gas to country towns, following requests from energy companies keen to put forward sophisticated proposals.

Energy companies have shown strong interest in the tender, with all requesting extensions on the 4 December 2013 due date. Tenders are now due in the first quarter of 2014.

The Coalition Government believes the extension will help produce the best possible proposals, and therefore outcomes, for regional communities.

The $85 million tender is for the supply of compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the remaining priority towns under the Energy for the Regions Program, and to
Murray River communities. Bids which maximise the reach of natural gas supply, producing the best outcome for regional communities, will be favoured.

Some $30 million is allocated for the Murray River communities: $15 million from the Commonwealth Government and $15 million from Victoria's Regional Growth Fund.

The Regional Growth Fund is also investing $55 million to connect the remaining priority towns: Lakes Entrance, Invermay, Heathcote, Orbost, Warburton, Marong, Terang and Maldon.

Natural gas costs about a third the price of the bottled gas these communities are currently using and will encourage more business investment in these areas.

The Coalition Government has agreed to the extension of time, given the complex commercial nature of bids required. These bids require new partnerships to create a complete supply chain, from sourcing, retailing and supply of natural gas.

A key evaluation point of the tender will be the supply of extra regional industries and regional residents, known as “Program reach”.

Bidding companies will also submit extremely complex designs for extensive gas reticulation networks within target towns.

Victoria’s gas supplies secured well into the future

* * - Tuesday, December 03, 2013


•    Deputy Premier turns first sod of ExxonMobil’s $1 billion gas conditioning plant

•    Plant will process enough gas to power a city of one million people for 35 years and create 250 construction jobs
•    Victorian Coalition Government is supporting industry to deliver Victoria’s future infrastructure needs

Construction is set to begin on ExxonMobil’s $1 billion gas conditioning plant, enabling the development of new off-shore gas fields in the Gippsland basin and underpinning Eastern Australia’s future energy needs.

Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development Peter Ryan today visited ExxonMobil’s Longford complex to turn the first sod for the start of construction of the $1 billion gas conditioning plant.

Mr Ryan said the new plant, which will begin processing gas in 2016, would create 250 construction jobs at the site 20 kilometres south of Sale, and provide security for Victoria’s gas stocks.

“The finished plant will process gas associated with ExxonMobil’s $4.5 billion project that covers three oil and gas fields – Kipper, Tuna and Turrum,” Mr Ryan said.

“The gas processed will maintain current gas supplies by bringing on new reserves. This means that Victoria will have an ongoing stable source of natural gas, a clean burning low emission source of energy for use now and into the future by business, industry and households.”

Mr Ryan said the $4.5 billion Kipper, Tuna and Turrum project had already created 1,300 construction and installation jobs.

“This project is the largest domestic oil and gas development on Australian’s eastern seaboard and will provide enough energy to power a city of one million people for 35 years,” Mr Ryan said.

“The project will not only secure Victoria’s gas needs for the foreseeable future, it will also be able to supply gas to interstate markets through the gas transmission lines that connect to New South Wales and South Australia.”

Mr Ryan said that Esso Australia Pty Ltd (Esso), a subsidiary of ExxonMobil Australia Pty Ltd, owns the Longford complex, an onshore receiving point for oil and gas output from Bass Strait.

“The Longford complex, which currently has four plants operating 24-hours a day, seven days a week, has been supplying most of Victoria’s gas supply since 1969,” Mr Ryan said.

“During this period Esso has been a strong contributor to the local and state economies, employing 1,800 people, the majority of whom are based in regional Victoria.

“This project will ensure Esso continues to be a strong contributor to the Gippsland and Victorian economies for many years to come.”

Mr Ryan said the Victorian Coalition Government had worked with ExxonMobil, the Wellington Shire and relevant government agencies regarding development approvals for the new plant.

Media contact: Ben Bulmer 0437 547 731

Melbourne joins ‘Grand Slam’ of mining events

* * - Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Melbourne will be home to a globally significant annual mining conference as of 2014, the Victorian Coalition Government has announced.

Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development Peter Ryan said the inaugural International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) would be held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre from 22 - 26 September 2014, cementing Victoria as a hub for mining and mining services.

“The IMARC conference is anticipated to join the ‘Grand Slam’ of world mining events alongside PDAC in Canada, Expomin in Chile, Mining INDABA in South Africa, and China Mining,” Mr Ryan said.

“Hundreds of the global mining industry’s biggest decision makers will flock to our city as we position ourselves as a global leader in investment attraction and facilitation.

“IMARC will use Melbourne’s profile as the world’s most liveable city and the Australian major events capital to attract key industry players, including international mining executives, who shape the future direction of the global industry.

“Melbourne is the corporate headquarters for some of the world's top mining companies, led by BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Newcrest Mining. In fact, Melbourne is home to seven of the top 25 ASX-listed mining, metals, energy and utilities companies.

“Victoria is also a hub for mining services and equipment which has strong ties to Victoria's strengths in innovation, manufacturing and financial services. Victorian companies already export their mining expertise all over the world, but there is definite potential for growth.

“The Coalition Government is proud to support IMARC because it will help Victorian businesses develop significant global partnerships and networks,” Mr Ryan said.

The IMARC conference will provide a platform for companies that currently supply traditional industry sectors, such as automotive, to develop new relationships in the mining sector.

“As the mining industry transitions from a period of intense investment to greater focus on increased innovation and efficiency, Victorian companies have a great opportunity to gain access to global supply chains and grow their business,” Mr Ryan said.

“The IMARC conference will be driven by the Minerals Council of Australia, Austmine and the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy. IMARC will attract high calibre speakers on a range of topics of interest to the broader resources industry.”

In the lead-up to the Conference, the Coalition Government is supporting a series of events both in Melbourne and abroad to promote the state’s mining and mining services expertise.

“The Mines and Money Australia Conference, to be held from 29 October – 1 November 2013, has been relocated to Melbourne as a prelude event to IMARC. The conference organiser, Beacon Events, has also been appointed as the official organiser for IMARC,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Melbourne Celebrates Mining industry dinner, an initiative of the Coalition Government, is being held on 30 October to celebrate the global mining industry in Victoria.

“The Coalition Government is also supporting the Melbourne Mining Club dinner in Beijing and a similar mining services networking event in London in November 2013 – increasing the profile of our industry’s best and brightest in these key overseas markets.

“These events are part of a program that demonstrates the Coalition Government’s determination to promote and develop the state’s mining and mining services sector.”

Media contact: Les White 0409 805 122

Regional Growth Fund powers Mildura

* * - Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Victorian Coalition Government’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund will help power the new Balfour Beatty Investments Biomass Power Plant for Sunraysia, providing $3 million in support.

The money will go towards connecting the power station to the grid – which is expected to reduce costs to Mildura electricity users.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan said he was proud to be reducing energy costs for the people of this great region – by bringing natural gas to Murray River communities; increasing gas supply to Mildura and supporting local power projects like the Biomass Power Plant.

“Electricity consumers in the Mildura region are currently charged a premium of approximately 15 per cent on the usage part of their bills, to allow for transmission losses. We understand that the new power plant, when completed, should provide sufficient power to the area to offset the transmission losses, thereby reducing the cost of power to all electricity consumers in the region,” Mr Ryan said.

“Local horticulture growers will now have a new income stream, supplying 215,000 tonnes of material per year, as well as the associated work for truck drivers. Ash from the residue will be used as nutrient for crops.

“Furthermore, it is good news that project operators Balfour Betty Investments will work closely with Sunraysia TAFE, to develop courses and programs that involve practical 1experience within the technically advanced power plant. This will provide a springboard for higher value education in the region.”

Mildura MP Peter Crisp said he was “over the moon” that the project would deliver both jobs and cheaper electricity to the people of Mildura.

“This project is a major win for our region,” Mr Crisp said.

“This $174 million project will create 100 jobs in construction and 25 high-paying, full time jobs after that.”

Local schools awarded for being sustainable

* * - Monday, September 30, 2013

Deputy Premier and Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan has congratulated four local schools on receiving a Victorian Coalition Government grant to help reduce energy use and promote sustainability practices.

“Mary MacKillop Catholic College, Loch Primary School, Poowong Consolidated and South Gippsland Specialist School were selected for an Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative (AuSSI) grant due to their efforts in environment preservation,” Mr Ryan said.

 “These grants will assist schools to carry out energy audits and install equipment such as energy efficient light bulbs, door and window draught seals, small wind generators or to replace less energy efficient appliances.”

Mr Ryan said the grants can also be used for energy efficiency training for staff or for guest speakers to provide knowledge and motivation to staff and students.

“The grants are a great way to encourage Victorian schools to join ResourceSmart AuSSI Vic and to support schools in adopting sustainable practices,” Mr Ryan said.

“The program is part of the Coalition Government’s Energy Efficiency Grants Program for Victorian Schools and round 1000 schools are now involved in the ResourceSmart AuSSI Vic program.

AuSSI engages participants in a whole-of-school approach to improve the management of resources and facilities including energy, waste, water, biodiversity, landscape design, products and materials.”

The Energy Efficiency Grants Program is a joint partnership between the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) and Sustainability Victoria.

For more information about the Energy Efficiency Grants Program and ResourceSmart AuSSI Vic, go to the Environmental Sustainability area at or

Ryan and Mulder launch Gippsland Freight Strategy

* * - Thursday, September 19, 2013
Deputy Premier Peter Ryan and Minister for Public Transport and Roads Terry Mulder today met with Mayors and CEOs from Gippsland’s six regional shires and councils to discuss a unified freight vision for Gippsland.

During a meeting at Parliament House, Mr Ryan and Mr Mulder discussed Gippsland’s critical role for Victoria both now and into the future and launched the Gippsland Freight Strategy, which was collaboratively produced by the six shires and councils.

Mr Ryan said the Gippsland region played a fundamental role in meeting Victoria’s electricity needs as well as providing a significant supply of dairy, beef, fruit and vegetable produce, gas and oil.

“The Gippsland region supplies 90 per cent of Victoria’s electricity needs. It also provides 32 per cent of Victoria’s milk, 25 per cent of its beef and 14 per cent of its fruit and vegetables,” Mr Ryan said.

“One of the key considerations in ensuring these industries continue to thrive is providing a fully functioning freight network.

“An efficient freight network, where existing infrastructure is developed and new infrastructure is delivered, is paramount to the continued success of Gippsland’s key industries.

“It is great to see the Gippsland councils working together to produce the Gippsland Freight Strategy which will provide the Victorian Coalition Government with the region’s vision for the future.

“The Coalition Government will continue to work with the six shires and councils to ensure we can support this vision wherever possible.”

Mr Mulder said the Coalition Government is very much in step with the Gippsland Freight Strategy and is a strong supporter of Victoria’s freight and logistics industry.

“We recognise the enormous contribution the freight and logistics sector makes to the Victorian economy and how important this sector is in supporting the industries and businesses that rely on it,” Mr Mulder said.

“The Coalition Government’s freight and logistics plan, Victoria – The Freight State includes the Gippsland Freight Strategy as a fundamental plan for the region and we will work closely with our regional partners in delivering the best solutions possible.

“Already underway for the long term is the expansion of the Port of Hastings as Victoria’s second container terminal, which will deliver enormous benefits to the Gippsland region.

“Projects such as the upgrade of the Princes Highway between Traralgon and Sale, the sealing of the Omeo Highway, improvements to the Hyland and Strzelecki Highways and the construction of the Koo Wee Rup Bypass will provide significant boosts for freight movements.

“We also recently made a significant investment through the $28 million Transport Solutions program that delivers a series of strategic projects across the freight network to benefit the Gippsland region.

“All of these measures will help improve freight movement in Gippsland and provide leverage for existing and future industries to grow.”

The six regional shires and councils include Bass Coast Shire, Baw Baw Shire, East Gippsland Shire, South Gippsland Shire, Wellington Shire and Latrobe City Council.

Regional Growth Fund expands business, reduces emissions

* * - Monday, September 16, 2013

Murray Goulburn-Devondale (MG) will increase production by 100 million litres a year at its
Leongatha facility, while cutting its carbon emissions by 31,000 tonnes annually, thanks in
part to a $1.5 million investment from the Regional Growth Fund.

Deputy Premier, Minister for Regional and Rural Development and Gippsland South MP
Peter Ryan also opened two other important projects at MG’s Leongatha site today.

Mr Ryan today announced MG would embark on a $22 million project to upgrade energy
infrastructure and gas supply at the Leongatha site, which includes a $1.5 million grant from
the Regional Growth Fund.

“This project is critical to helping secure a reliable supply of steam to provide energy, and will underpin MG’s plans to increase UHT capacity at the plant,” Mr Ryan said.

“The expansion means more regional exports, and helps to secure jobs at the plant.

“The energy switch from coal to gas will save the company money and reduce its carbon
emissions by 43 per cent, or 31,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year at the Leongatha site.

“The Victorian Coalition Government supports action by MG to ensure its energy needs are
sustainable and able to provide for the company’s major expansion plans.

“The project will strengthen the economic base of regional Victoria by upgrading and
providing gas infrastructure that will benefit the broader community.”

MG Chairman Phillip Tracey said the Regional Growth Fund support to upgrade the natural
gas supply network was critical to MG being able to use natural gas.

“It is also critical infrastructure needed to allow MG to expand our UHT capacity at Leongatha
by up to an additional 100 million litres,” Mr Tracey said.

“By expanding our UHT capacity, MG are able to improve the international competitiveness of
our Leongatha site.”

MG is also seeking support from the Commonwealth Government for this major infrastructure

Mr Ryan said securing the future of the MG Leongatha plant was also critical to the region’s
dairy supply chain, with 385 local farms supplying milk to the plant.

“The gas infrastructure upgrade will benefit gas consumers in Leongatha and has the potential to support further industry investment, specifically through the provision of upgraded city gates, 26 connection points and seven kilometres of pipeline,” Mr Ryan said.

“The $1 billion Regional Growth Fund invests strategically in regional and rural projects to drive jobs, investment and growth in country Victoria.

“As of July 31, 2013, the RGF had provided $9.1 million to 26 projects worth $33.2 million in South Gippsland.”

While at MG’s Leongatha plant, Mr Ryan also officially opened two other recently completed MG projects funded by Regional Development Victoria.

Mr Ryan opened the $13.5 million dollar Leongatha Water Recycling Project, to which Regional Development Victoria had invested $2 million and the Department of Environment and Primary Industries had invested $2 million.

The project involved the installation of plant and equipment to recycle, treat and reuse water at the MG dairy processing plant in Leongatha.

“The project reduced MG's reliance and demand on town water and reduced the amount and load of wastewater being discharged from the plant to the Leongatha Waste Water Treatment Plant,” Mr Ryan said.

“This project delivered MG water savings of 390 ML in 2010/11 and 404 ML in 2011/12 – an excellent result.”

The $5.6 million Leongatha Water and Energy Project was also opened by Mr Ryan. Regional Development Victoria had invested $1.57 million into the project, which saw a steam turbine installed at the plant to generate electricity.

“Since the turbine became operational the Cooperative has been able to save about $80,000 in energy bills and also cut carbon emissions by 1200 tonnes,” Mr Ryan said.

“This is a win-win for the Cooperative and the environment.”

The three MG projects are worth a total of $41.1 million, with Victorian Government contributions of $7 million.

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