Press Releases

New emergency services training centre opened at West Sale

* * - Monday, October 20, 2014


  • Firefighters have improved access to breathing apparatus training at a new facility at West Sale
  • $793,000 invested to upgrade the Victorian Emergency Management Training Centre (VEMTC)
  • Victorian Coalition Government building a better and safer Victoria

Firefighters in Gippsland have improved access to breathing apparatus training with the official opening of an upgrade at the West Sale campus of the Victorian Emergency Management Training Centre (VEMTC).

In West Sale, Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said the Liberal National Coalition Government had invested $793,000 in the upgrade that would benefit the region’s firefighters.

“The new building and facilities at the West Sale campus will support CFA members and is a fantastic resource for all emergency service personnel in Gippsland,” Mr Ryan said.

“The type of training offered gives our volunteers the skills and practical experience that is essential for their role in protecting the community,” he said.

“All of the VEMTC campuses are purpose built to allow volunteers to take part in training scenarios that are as close as possible to reality.

“Facilities provide for both ‘live fire’ simulations and other scenarios that reflect the variety and complexity of incidents that emergency services volunteers face.
“This investment at West Sale has promoted growth and created jobs, and importantly ensures Victoria’s emergency service workers have the best training facilities.”

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government was proud of the vital work performed by CFA and its 55,000 members who protected 3.3 million Victorians and more than one million homes and properties across the state.

“We will continue to support CFA members by providing the facilities and equipment they need to save lives and property,” Mr Ryan said.

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region Danny O’Brien said since coming to office in November 2010, the Coalition Government has provided the CFA with $2.3 billion in funding.

“This financial year the CFA budget is $457 million; that is $58 million more than it was when Labor left office,” Mr O’Brien said. 

“The Coalition Government has invested in firefighter safety with $20.5 million to replace respiratory protection equipment for CFA and MFB firefighters.

“This investment, along with the opening of the new facility at West Sale demonstrates the Coalition Government’s strong commitment to supporting the CFA and its volunteers who play a critical role in Victoria’s emergency response.” 

Media contact: Kate Lancaster 0428 921 404

Coalition Government grant makes Leongatha men’s shed more accessible to more people

* * - Monday, October 20, 2014


  • Victorian Coalition Government funding will allow people with mobility aids to access shed more easily
  • Funding delivered under $4 million Strengthening Men’s Sheds program
  • Coalition Government is committed to building and improving men’s sheds

Leongatha Men’s Shed will now be accessible to more people thanks to an injection of more than $12,000 from the Victorian Liberal National Coalition Government.

Visiting the shed on Friday, Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan said the project, totalling $18,495, would enable a new concrete driveway, paths and a parking area to be built to make the shed easy to access for those with mobility aids.

“About 20 men attend the Men’s Shed gatherings on Wednesdays, however a few of those use walking frames and have trouble navigating the current path and across the grass into the shed,” Mr Ryan said.

“This funding will allow a wider driveway, paths and a concrete parking area close to the shed to be built, meaning those with mobility issues will be able to park nearby and access the shed more easily.

“The shed is a great contributor to the Leongatha community, so it makes sense to make this fantastic facility accessible to more people.”

Mr Ryan said the shed had benefited the community in a number of ways, including the contribution of wooden garden beds for the community garden, attending Woorayl Lodge Aged Care to make and paint bird boxes with residents and offering mentoring to clients from Yooralla disability organisation.

“Once a fortnight, a group of eight young men from Yooralla come here to learn hands-on skills from the shed’s members, so these new paths will make it easy for those guys to access the shed too,” Mr Ryan said.

"The Coalition Government recognises the significant role men's sheds play in local communities through engaging a range of men, including those with a disability, farmers, war veterans, retirees and the unemployed.”

Mr Ryan said the grant was delivered through the latest round of the $4 million Strengthening Men’s Sheds Program.

“This funding commitment shows that we are serious about supporting men’s sheds to continue to grow and thrive and provide stronger and more integrated communities,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government was pleased to deliver $12,330 towards the $18,495 project, with the shed, Community College Gippsland and Yooralla to contribute the balance of funds.

Mr Ryan encouraged any men interested in finding out more to visit the shed, located in Howard Street, on Wednesdays from 1pm.

Media contact: Steph Nicholls 0437 108 870

Funding to protect wildlife in Gippsland South

* * - Wednesday, October 15, 2014


  • Local wildlife shelters to share in Wildlife Rehabilitator Grants 
  • Grants assist shelters to care for native wildlife in Gippsland South 
  • Coalition Government is building a better Victoria

Wildlife carers in Gippsland South can continue protecting the region’s native animals following the latest round of the Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition Government’s Wildlife Rehabilitator Grants.

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan today announced $8,725 in grants to help locals care for sick and injured wildlife.

“The work of the five grant recipients is important to maintaining the health of the region’s local wildlife,” Mr Ryan said.

“Animal carers and shelter operators here in Gippsland South do important work to protect and nurture our native wildlife.

“For example, Our Haven Wildlife Shelter at Golden Beach was one of the recipients of funding, receiving $2,000 to assist in their work.

“Theresa and Tony Matthews at Our Haven Wildlife Shelter perform a marvelous service to our local community in taking care of sick and injured wildlife.

“This funding will assist Theresa and Tony to build a new enclosure for kangaroos and joeys, allowing them to reclaim the living space in their home from the wildlife which currently occupy it.

“It will also assist them to purchase heat pads to assist the joeys, who have lost their mothers, to sleep, along with an incubator for very young joeys.

“These grants are another example of how the Coalition Government continues to support practical environmental projects in our local community.”

Mr Ryan said other grant recipients in Gippsland South included:

  • Individual carers in Sale to receive a grant worth $1061 to repair an enclosure and purchase nest and release boxes;
  • Individual carers in Koonwarra to receive $2000 to purchase a flight aviary for bird rehabilitation;
  • Individual carers in Welshpool to receive $2000 to purchase heat pads and hot boxes, formula to feed the animals and fuel for rescues; and
  • Individual carers in Woorarra West to receive $1664 for a new enclosure.

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region Danny O’Brien said in Victoria each year authorised shelter operators and foster carers rehabilitate sick, injured and orphaned wildlife for release.

“The Coalition Government is committed to recognising and rewarding those in Gippsland with the experience, knowledge and commitment to protect our iconic wildlife,” Mr O’Brien said.

Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith said the Coalition Government’s Wildlife Rehabilitator Grants Program supports an amazing network of tireless and dedicated volunteers.

“More than 100 carers and shelter operators along with three wildlife organisations across Victoria will share in grants totaling $212,700 to maintain or upgrade the facilities they need to care for native animals,” Mr Smith said.

Media contact: Kate Lancaster 0428 921 404

Spring has sprung! Time to collect your firewood for next winter

* * - Monday, October 13, 2014


  • Spring firewood collection areas are open across Victoria
  • Permits for firewood collection have been abolished
  • Now is the time to stock up for next winter

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan has encouraged locals who use firewood as a source of heating to take advantage of the spring firewood collection season.

Mr Ryan said after being closed for winter the designated firewood collection areas are open and will remain open for collection for domestic use until 30 November 2014.

“Firewood can be collected without the need for a permit from any of the designated firewood collection areas,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Victorian Coalition Government made it easier for firewood collection on public land when it abolished the useless permit system in 2011.

“The new system makes it easier for households to collect firewood from areas of public land close to their homes without the burden of unnecessary red tape and regulation.”

Mr Ryan said firewood collection areas within the Gippsland South were located in Alberton West, Carrajung South, Darriman, Giffard West, Gormandale, Stony Creek, Willung South, Won Wron and Woodside.

“Firewood collection is only permitted during designated times of the year and from designated firewood collection areas,” Mr Ryan said.

“Firewood collected at these sites is for personal use only and cannot be sold. Official signs will display the rules and collection limits.”

For more information and specific locations visit or call 136 186.

Media contact: Kate Lancaster 0428 921 404

Koonwarra CFA celebrates a station upgrade and new medium tanker

* * - Monday, October 13, 2014


  • Deputy Premier officially opens upgraded CFA station at Koonwarra
  • Koonwarra CFA receives the keys for a new medium tanker
  • The Victorian Coalition Government delivers upgrades to 240 CFA stations

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan has officially opened the $245,000 upgrade to Koonwarra fire station and delivered a new medium tanker that will boost the CFA’s fire fighting capacity in Gippsland.

Mr Ryan said the Victorian Coalition Government was getting on with the job of ensuring the state was protected from the threat of bushfires and other emergencies.

“The Koonwarra station upgrade forms part of the Coalition Government’s investment of $125 million to build or upgrade 250 CFA stations across the state,” Mr Ryan said.

“With 240 stations now completed, we are well on track to deliver on this commitment, which is helping to make our country communities safer.

“The upgrade provides the brigade’s 34 members with an additional engine bay room, new communications board, better amenities and car parking spaces.”

During the event, Mr Ryan also officially handed over the keys to a new $345,000 medium tanker.

“This new four-wheel drive truck has a water capacity of 2,350 litres and includes a crew protection spray system, which will increase firefighter safety.

“It is absolutely crucial that our emergency services are supported with the resources and infrastructure they need to keep Victorians safe.

“Both the station extension and new tanker will boost emergency response capabilities in the region.”

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government had enormous respect for CFA firefighters and were delivering record funding to help them protect local communities.

“Since coming to office in November 2010, the Coalition Government has provided the CFA with more than $2.29 billion in funding,” Mr Ryan said.

“And as part of the 2014-15 State Budget, the Coalition Government is contributing an additional $29 million to the CFA to buy 78 new vehicles.”

Media contact: Kate Lancaster 0428 921 404

Regional Growth Fund delivers jobs for Toora

* * - Monday, October 13, 2014


  • Ryan and O’Brien announce $1.5 million investment for ViPlus dairy at Toora
  • Victorian Coalition Government’s investment supports $50.4 million expansion
  • Expansion will create 45 new full-time jobs and boost exports of powdered milk

Forty-five new jobs will be created in Toora with ViPlus dairy announcing on Friday it will embark on a $50.4 million expansion that will boost production of high quality locally produced dairy products for the export market.

Deputy Premier and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan joined The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region Danny O’Brien in Toora on Friday to announce the Victorian Coalition Government would invest $1.5 million to support the expansion.

The Coalition Government’s $1.5 million investment will be provided through the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund, and is the 38th project to be supported by the Regional Growth Fund in South Gippsland.

Mr Ryan said the ViPlus factory at Toora manufactured milk products, including infant formula and milk powders, and was one of only four Australian companies accredited to export infant formula to China.

The $50.4 million expansion will enable ViPlus Dairy to manufacture new product lines locally, including UHT milk and ice cream, and produce infant formula from raw milk.

Mr Ryan said the expansion would include the installation of a spray dryer and pre-treatment infrastructure, a milk powder canning facility and UHT plant.

“Thanks to this investment , ViPlus Dairy will boost production at the plant from 10,000 tonnes of milk products produced per annum to 30,000 tonnes of milk products produced per annum,” Mr Ryan said.

“This will create 45 new full-time jobs here in Toora, which for a town of this size will deliver major economic benefits to the community.

“A further 70 jobs will be created during the project’s construction phase, another win for Toora and South Gippsland more broadly.

“It will also provide strong support to local dairy farmers who supply the factory, and create even more new jobs on-farm and in supply chain businesses across the region.”

Mr Ryan said he was thrilled to see the scale of investment here at Toora.

“It was little over a decade ago that we were dealing with the closure of this factory and the subsequent jobs losses, and for many that was the end of dairy processing here in Toora.

“To think then that we would be standing here today just 12 or so years later announcing a more than $50 million expansion is truly quite remarkable.

“This investment reinforces why we as The Nationals, in Coalition Government, fought so hard to secure the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund.

“We are leveraging the money set-aside in the Regional Growth Fund to secure investments such as this here at Toora. Through the Regional Growth Fund, we are working with companies like ViPlus Dairy to encourage them to invest and create new jobs in regional and rural Victoria.

“I am so very proud to be here today in my own electorate alongside Danny O’Brien, the South Gippsland Shire Council and ViPlus Dairy to announce this exciting project.”

Mr O’Brien echoed Mr Ryan’s comments and said another exciting part of the investment was the significant water saving initiatives to be implemented, including the construction of a wastewater recycling plant.

“The wastewater treatment will allow up to 70 per cent of the water used here to be recycled for use within the plant, and for 100 per cent of the site’s wastewater to be treated so that it is suitable for irrigation,” Mr O’Brien said.

“The plant will also be powered by a gas fuelled co-generation system that will produce 1 megawatt of electricity and thermal energy, reducing the boiler steam load and pressure on the grid.”

Mr O’Brien said the investment continued the Victorian Coalition Government’s ongoing support for local dairy processors through the Regional Growth Fund, which included a $1.5 million investment to support a $22 million expansion at Burra Foods in Korumburra, and a $1.5 million investment to support a $22 million expansion at Murray Goulburn in Leongatha.

The $50.4 million expansion will be completed by 2016.

Media contact: Kate Lancaster 0429 921 404

Deputy Premier announces $1.6 million for children’s hub at Korumburra

* * - Monday, October 13, 2014


  • New children’s hub to provide 120 kindergarten places at Korumburra
  • $5.3 million project to provide a range of children’s services at one location
  • Victorian Coalition Government supporting families in South Gippsland

South Gippsland families will have improved access to kindergarten, maternal and child health and childcare with a Victorian Coalition Government investment of $1.6 million in the Integrated Children’s Centre at Korumburra.

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Peter Ryan said for the growing number of young families in Korumburra the new $5.3 million centre would provide a range of children’s services all under the one roof.

Mr Ryan said the new centre will provide 120 kindergarten places, giving children access to the learning so vital to their early development.

“Parents and carers of young children will be able to come to the centre and access advice and support from maternal and child health, kindergarten and childcare services,” Mr Ryan said.

“The centre will enable a smooth transition from kindergarten to childcare which will be a blessing for working parents.

“The centre will also provide after school care programs and rooms that will be available for the local community to use, and for vocational education and training opportunities.

“For the many families juggling the pressures of raising children with study or work, the Integrated Children’s Centre will go some way to ease the stress by providing streamlined services.”

Mr Ryan said that the South Gippsland Shire had provided land and $2 million for the project. The community of Korumburra had raised $100,000 and the Federal Government was expected to contribute $1.6 million.

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region Danny O’Brien said investing in early years infrastructure was part of the Coalition Government’s plan to make Victoria a world leader in children’s learning and development.

“Victoria already leads the nation in early childhood education and care, and by improving access to services, we are making regional Victoria an even better place for families to raise their children,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Bringing children’s services together in an integrated centre makes sense for families – it’s more convenient and allows for a child’s progress to be better supported as they grow.”

The Karmai Community Children’s Centre Committee Vice President Rebecca Marriott said the integrated hub would bring together Korumburra kindergarten and Birralee childcare centre.

“The committees have already joined to form Karmai Community Children’s Centre and are celebrating the announcement,” Ms Marriott said.

“For the past six years, with the support of the South Gippsland Shire Council, we have been working to make this project a reality for local families.

“This hub will meet the future demand for children’s services in the growing Korumburra community.

“This will mean better outcomes for families, who will have integrated support for their children.

“The children will have access to world’s best childcare practices. We are setting children up for learning for life.

“It will also mean children who attend kindergarten can make a seamless transition to childcare. Younger children in care will be reunited with older siblings attending afterschool care programs.

“For women in Korumburra wanting to participate in the workforce, this will make a real difference.

“This makes the township of Korumburra an even more attractive place to live.”

The hub will be built by December 2015.

Media contact: Kate Lancaster 0429 921 404

New facilities to attract visitors at Agnes Falls

* * - Friday, October 03, 2014


  • Deputy Premier inspects new facilities at the Agnes Falls Scenic Reserve
  • New picnic area and amenities expected to attract more visitors to the waterfalls
  • Victorian Coalition Government supports tourism in regional areas

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan was in the Strzelecki Ranges yesterday to inspect the new visitor facilities at the Agnes Falls Scenic Reserve.

Mr Ryan said the Victorian Coalition Government had invested $195,000 to upgrade the new facilities at Agnes Falls.

“Agnes Falls Scenic Reserve in Gippsland is home to a spectacular waterfall that cascades over a series of rocks over a 59 metre drop,” Mr Ryan said.

“Tourists and locals already know that Agnes Falls is a spectacular place for a picnic or short walk, and the upgraded facilities will help to attract more visitors to this wonderful tourist attraction.

“The new facilities include a picnic shelter with tables, toilets, new signage and plans for a new lookout over the picturesque park.

“The new facilities will greatly enhance this special part of the world, attracting more visitors to the park and delivering benefits to our regional economy.”

The Deputy Premier acknowledged the work of the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority, South Gippsland Shire Council, Parks Victoria and the Friends of Agnes Falls.

Mr Ryan reserved particular praise for the Friends of Agnes Falls’ Kathy Whelan.

“Kathy is a wonderful ambassador for Agnes Falls and her passion for the place is infectious.”

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region Danny O’Brien welcomed the upgrade at Agnes Falls and acknowledged a new partnership with Corrections Victoria.

He said that Wulgunggo Ngalu Learning Place, a culturally appropriate community corrections centre for Koori men, would be involved in the ongoing maintenance of the local tourism site.

 “This project really shows environmental partnerships in action and demonstrates the many benefits of using local knowledge and developing relationships beyond the park boundary.”

Media contact: Kate Lancaster 0428 921 404

Deputy Premier announces $1.3 million to complete important link to the Great Southern Rail Trail

* * - Friday, October 03, 2014


  • Victorian Coalition Government invests $1.3 million in Great Southern Rail Trail
  • Investment completes 2.6 km section of trail between Koonwarra and Meeniyan
  • Project will deliver a $1.9 million a year boost to the local economy

Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan yesterday announced funding of $1.3 million for an iconic project known as the Black Spur that will complete an important section of the Great Southern Rail Trail.

In Koonwarra, Mr Ryan said the $1.85 million project would complete the 2.6 kilometre section of the rail trail between Koonwarra and Meeniyan, and create a 69 kilometre route between Leongatha and Welshpool.

Mr Ryan said the Black Spur section would be carried out in two stages, with the first stage to include the construction of new bridges. The works will include:
demolition and reconstruction of two historic bridges spanning the Black Spur Creek;
construction of a 130 metre connecting trail between the two bridges; and
construction of a picnic area and viewing location at the end of the second bridge.

Mr Ryan said stage two would connect the end of the second Black Spur rail trestle bridge and picnic area to Meeniyan. The works will include:
reconstructing a 146 metre bridge that spans the Tarwin River;
constructing a 170 metre connecting trail between two bridges; and
constructing an 800 metre connecting trail between bridge three and Minns Road.

“The Black Spur project will complete the missing section of the rail trail and create a seamless 69 kilometre route between Leongatha and Welshpool,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said the Victorian Coalition Government’s $1.3 million investment included $1 million from the Regional Growth Fund and $290,000 from the Advancing Country Towns program.

Mr Ryan said the South Gippsland Shire Council invested $562,184 towards the project.

“The Great Southern Rail Trail is a major asset to the South Gippsland region, attracting tourists, supporting local businesses and improving the health and wellbeing of local residents,” Mr Ryan said.

“When complete, the Black Spur connection will provide more than $1.9 million in annual economic benefits to the region through tourism-related business opportunities, employment and new attractions.”

Member for Eastern Victoria Region Danny O’Brien welcomed the investment and commended the Great Southern Rail Trail Committee for their work.

“Extending the rail trail has been a high priority for the Coalition Government, the community and the Committee of Management, and thanks to this investment we will now complete another vital link in this impressive rail trail,” Mr O’Brien said.

“This Black Spur leg will consolidate the entire length of the rail trail between Leongatha and Welshpool and represents the realisation of a long held vision for the Great Southern Rail Trail.”

Mr O’Brien said the project would be completed by December 2015.

Media contact: Kate Lancaster 0428 921 404

Deputy Premier announces John Leslie Art Prize

* * - Monday, September 22, 2014


  • Victorian artist wins $20,000 prestigious Gippsland art award
  • Gippsland Art Gallery hosts major landscape painting prize and exhibition
  • Victorian Coalition Government is a strong supporter of the arts in Gippsland

Melbourne-based artist Shannon Smiley has taken out the prestigious $20,000 John Leslie Art Prize, presented on Friday evening by Deputy Premier and The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Peter Ryan at Gippsland Art Gallery.

Mr Smiley won with his painting ‘Untitled, Burnley’, which was praised by the judges for its use of contrasting elements and for its ‘equilibrium, colour and detail’.

Mr Ryan also presented Gippsland-based artist Frank Mesaric with the $1,000 prize for Best Gippsland Work for his painting ‘Figure and Cypress Pines, Denison’.

Mr Ryan congratulated each of the 35 artists whose work was short-listed for this year’s awards from over 400 entries nationwide. He thanked management and staff at Gippsland Art Gallery, Wellington Shire Council as well as gallery patron, John Leslie.

“John’s generosity and devotion to the arts and to this region are legendary,” Mr Ryan said.

“Gippsland Art Gallery is extremely fortunate to have John as its patron, and the reach and impact of the John Leslie Art Prize is a testament to that.

“The biennial John Leslie Art Prize, first held in 2000, has grown to become one of Australia’s major prizes for landscape painting, and is open to all artists living and working in Australia.”

Mr Ryan said the Victorian Coalition Government was a strong supporter of the arts, having announced in May this year it would contribute $5.5 million towards construction of the new $15 million Gippsland Art Gallery and Sale Public Library cultural and community hub.

He said the project – a partnership between the Coalition Government, John Leslie and Wellington Shire Council – would not only deliver a first class arts and cultural precinct for Sale, it would also boost the profile of the John Leslie Art Prize and Gippsland art more broadly.

“A great partnership will produce a great community outcome,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan encouraged locals and visitors to view the exhibition and, while there, to vote for their favourite art work in the People’s Choice Award.

The exhibition at Gippsland Art Gallery runs until Sunday, 23 November 2014. More information is available online at

Media contact: Kate Lancaster 0428 921 404

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