Press Releases

Multi-million dollar conference centre a step closer

* * - Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The much anticipated multi-million dollar Marysville hotel and conference centre is a step closer today following the start of an Expression of Interest (EOI) process announced by the Victorian Coalition Government.

Speaking in Parliament, Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan said the government was inviting interested parties to put forward their credentials and ideas for the project.

“This important development, which is estimated to be worth more than $30 million, will be a major factor in the economic recovery of Marysville following the 2009 bushfires,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Victorian Coalition Government is providing up to $19 million towards the project which offers an exciting opportunity for experienced consortiums (developers/ operators/ investors) that have the vision to create a striking new facility in the town.

“The proposed centre, to be constructed on a prime development site on Murchison Street recently acquired by the government, is expected to accommodate between 80 – 120 hotel rooms with conference facilities to support up to 300 people.

“Such a major development will add character, quality and social benefit to Marysville and provide a tangible economic benefit for the region.”

The procurement process will take place over two distinct stages:

  • An initial Expression of Interest (EOI) stage (Stage 1); and
  • A Request for Proposal stage (Stage 2), open only to those parties shortlisted from the EOI stage.

Mr Ryan said the EOI stage would give interested parties the chance to highlight their suitability for the project.

“This will include an outline of previous experience and expertise in developments of this size and a demonstration of capability in hospitality and tourism projects, including an illustration of a proposed design concept and operational model,” Mr Ryan said.

The EOI process closes at 2pm on Wednesday 30 November 2011. For more information, email

Media:            Clare Siddins 0429 507 541

Emergency Management legislation passes Parliament

* * - Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Coalition Government is supporting Victoria’s emergency services to effectively carry out their responsibilities in emergencies with new legislation clarifying the roles of government and emergency service agencies today passing through Parliament.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Police and Emergency Services Peter Ryan said the Emergency Management Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 directly fulfilled recommendations 11 and 54 of the Bushfires Royal Commission recommendations.

The Bill amends the Emergency Management Act 1986 to remove the title of Co-ordinator in Chief of emergency management from the Minister for Police and Emergency Services.

“Among other key duties, the Chief Commissioner of Police, as State Emergency Response Co-ordinator, will have primary responsibility for keeping the Minister informed during an emergency,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said other key amendments in the Bill included changes to the Victorian State Emergency Service Act 2005 which would ensure the state’s emergency agencies operated more efficiently.\

"The bill broadens the powers of the Chief Officer, Operations to enable them to direct individual VICSES members, or any other person who volunteers.”

Other changes under the bill include:

  • enabling the agency in control of emergency response activities to transfer control of any response activity to an officer of another agency; and
  • providing for the appointment of controllers or assistant controllers from other agencies who can then exercise the powers of the chief operational officer of the control agency.

Mr Ryan said the Bill would ensure Victoria’s emergency agencies were moving in the direction of an 'all hazards, all agencies' approach.

“Greater interoperability between emergency services is critical during times of crisis and this legislation will help to promote a shared responsibility for community safety,” Mr Ryan said.

Media contact:          Sonia Heath 0413 485 526

Coalition Government delivers key Bushfires Royal Commission recommendation

* * - Monday, October 24, 2011

Deputy Premier and Minister for Bushfire Response Peter Ryan today announced details of the Victorian Coalition Government’s voluntary buy-back community consultation process as it moves to implement recommendation 46 of the Bushfires Royal Commission.

Recommendation 46 stated: The State develop and implement a retreat and resettlement strategy for existing developments in areas of unacceptably high bushfire risk, including a scheme for non-compulsory acquisition by the State of land in these areas.

“From 10 November, all landowners whose principal place of residence was destroyed in the 2009 bushfires will be given an opportunity to attend meetings to comment on the details of the scheme before it is finalised,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said Bushfire Buy-back Scheme Landowner Information and Consultation sessions would be held in Bendigo, Chum Creek, Churchill, Flowerdale, Kinglake, Marysville, Melbourne, St Andrews, Strathewen, Wandong, Whittlesea, and Yarra Glen.

“Participation in the bushfire buy-back scheme is completely voluntary as eligible landowners can decide for themselves whether they to wish to sell,” Mr Ryan said.

Eligible properties will, in the first instance, be determined by the following criteria:

  • owner occupiers whose principal place of residence was destroyed by the Victorian bushfires in early 2009, and
  • who have not commenced rebuilding, and
  • a site is not available on the property that will enable a replacement dwelling to be located at a distance greater than 100m from forest vegetation, and that vegetation adjoins a large area of forest such as a National Park, State Park, State Forest or private plantation.

Mr Ryan today also announced Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund Chairman Pat McNamara would chair the Bushfire Land Acquisition Panel which would oversee the operation of the scheme and the management of acquired properties.

“I am delighted Pat McNamara has agreed to chair the Panel as he has worked very closely with bushfire affected communities in his position as Chairman of the Victorian Bushfires Appeal Fund (VBAF) since the 2009 fires and is the ideal person for this role.”

Mr Ryan said $50 million funding had been made available in the first instance as part of the Coalition Government’s voluntary bushfire buy-back scheme, with future allocations to be provided as may be required.

“The former Labor Government rejected this key Bushfires Royal Commission recommendation,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Coalition Government is acting on its commitment to implement all 67 Bushfires Royal Commission recommendations.

“If a property is eligible under the Coalition Government’s voluntary buy-back scheme, and the landowner and government agree on the terms of sale, we will provide the funding to make that happen.”

The Bushfire Land Acquisition Panel will initially use existing data to determine landowners whose properties meet the above criteria and are assessed to be at the greatest bushfire risk.  The process of contacting those landowners will begin as soon as the precise terms of the buy-back scheme have been resolved. Other eligible property owners will be able to apply to have their land acquired through an application process starting in March 2012.

Mr Ryan said land would be valued through Valuer-General Victoria processes at both pre-bushfire and current market value with the higher of the two values being the basis of the sale price.

“The Coalition Government is committed to improving bushfire safety and the buyback scheme will be delivered in conjunction with community consultation and other government bushfire safety initiatives,” Mr Ryan said.

Further information on the voluntary bushfire buy-back scheme is available on the Department of Justice website

Media contact:          Sonia Heath 0413 485 526

Dandenongs feature in unique bushfire planning pilot

* * - Thursday, October 20, 2011

Four councils in the Dandenong Ranges will take part in a Victorian-first pilot program designed to improve bushfire preparedness in one of the state’s most high-risk regions.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Bushfire Response Peter Ryan today launched the Dandenong Ranges Bushfire Landscape Plan – a comprehensive Coalition Government initiative that will focus on community safety and planning.

“The Dandenong Ranges, which incorporate Yarra Ranges, Cardinia, Casey and Knox municipalities, is one of the most beautiful places to live and to visit in Victoria but the ranges also have a complex bushfire risk due to the population density, topography and vegetation,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Fire Services Commissioner will pilot a new integrated approach which aims to address existing gaps in fire management plans, and identify short and long-term issues and priorities to improve bushfire safety.”

The Dandenong Ranges pilot program will examine a range of issues, including:

• public and private land management;
• demographics and population;
• community planning and preparation; and
• understanding fire behaviour.

Mr Ryan said the landscape plan would include input from a wide range of stakeholders.

“This project is being led by the Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley, with involvement from the Department of Sustainability and Environment, Parks Victoria, CFA and Victoria Police as well as representatives from local churches, traditional owners, schools, sporting clubs, cultural heritage groups, traders associations, environmental groups and senior citizens,” Mr Ryan said.

“It is the first time a plan of this kind, with such broad input, has been undertaken to look at fire planning and preparation across municipalities in such a strategic and holistic way.”

Mr Ryan said the plan would include consideration of new innovations in fire prevention technology as well as traditional safety measures.

“The Dandenong Ranges Bushfire Landscape Plan will consider short, medium and long-term fire mitigation initiatives, infrastructure improvements and contingency options which include leaving early, Neighbourhood Safer Places (NSPs), community fire refuges and evacuation.

“A Bushfire Operational Plan will be developed that connects all fire safety options in the region, that will be exercised annually by the community.

“Another outcome will be the development of fire prevention and land management initiatives, such as municipal and community vegetation clearance programs.”

Mr Ryan said the Victorian Coalition Government was supporting projects across the state to help the communities prepare, plan and respond to bushfires.

“Fire Action Week from 13-20 November will involve a range of activities and events to help Victorians prepare for the upcoming fire season and I encourage everyone to get involved, particularly people living in high-risk areas,” Mr Ryan said.

“We are also implementing over 200 projects state-wide as we deliver on our commitment to implement all 67 recommendations of the Bushfires Royal Commission.”

Media contact: Clare Siddins 0429 507 541

$120,000 to support Werneth grain storage facility

* * - Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Road access to a new $5.2 million grain storage facility at Werneth will be significantly improved following the announcement of $120,000 in funding from the Victorian Coalition Government.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan said funding would be provided to the Golden Plains Shire for the Southern Quality Produce (SQP) Werneth Grains Storage facility- Road Infrastructure Improvement Project.

“The project will include the construction of turning lanes into and out of the site on the Colac-Ballarat Road at the Werneth Main Road intersection,” Mr Ryan said.

“The work is essential to the efficient functioning of the new grain storage facility and will significantly improve safety around the site.

“This will be particularly important during the busy months around harvest when the surrounding roads are expected to experience much higher traffic volumes.

“The improved infrastructure at the facility will also create opportunities for further investment generating future benefits such as the creation of more local jobs.”

Minister for Transport and Member for Polwarth Terry Mulder said the new facility and the improvements to road infrastructure would generate significant benefits for the region.

“The new facility will support at least four full-time employees and during harvest, from November to February, an additional 20 part-time positions will be created,” Mr Mulder said.

“This sort of investment will have much needed flow-on effects for businesses in the Golden Plains Shire region.

“The site will also significantly improve transport and delivery options for local farmers, providing a centralised point for delivery and storage of grain.”

Mr Ryan said funding for the project would be provided through the Putting Locals First program; a stream of the Coalition’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund.

The road upgrade works are expected to be completed ahead of the 2011 harvest.

Media contact: Clare Siddins 0429 507 541 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            0429 507 541      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Deadline extended to access bushfire business loans

* * - Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Small businesses and primary producers in the state’s bushfire-affected communities will now have until 31 December 2011 to apply for concessional loan packages available under the Victorian Coalition Government’s low interest bushfire loan scheme.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Bushfire Response Peter Ryan said under the Coalition’s scheme small businesses and primary producers could apply for up to $500,000 in low interest loans to help them recover and rebuild from the devastating 2009 bushfires.

“Due to considerable late interest in the scheme, which had a previous closing date of 30 September, the government has approved the extension to 31 December to ensure people have more time to apply,” Mr Ryan said. 

“Under the scheme small business operators who lost everything in the 2009 bushfires may be eligible for concessional loans to help restore business operations.

“The loans can be used to help with a range of needs such as to repair or replace damaged buildings or infrastructure, to purchase plant and equipment or to assist primary producers in replacing livestock lost as a result of the bushfires.”

Mr Ryan said businesses which had previously received loans under the former government’s scheme could also apply to increase their loan.

“In June the Coalition Government announced it would increase the size of loans available from $200,000 to $500,000 to better reflect the costs involved in re-establishing business operations in bushfire-affected areas,” Mr Ryan said.

“Non-property secured loans of up to $50,000 are also available to small businesses at a concessional rate of 3.2 per cent per annum for the first five years to help them recover and rebuild their business sooner.

“This will help small businesses repair or replace damaged plant and equipment, work vehicles, tools of trade or fit-out of retail premises damaged by the bushfire event.”

Applications must be received by Rural Finance by Saturday 31 December 2011.

For more information on concessional loans visit

Media contact: Clare Siddins 0429 507 541

Ryan launches ‘Think Resources’ not-for-profit summit in Bendigo

* * - Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A new business training program to help Victoria’s not-for-profit (NFP) community sector was launched in Bendigo today at the 2011 Think Resources not-for-profit (NFP) summit.

Speaking to over 300 delegates, Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan said applications were now open for the $75,000 Victorian Government funded Business Planning for NFP Organisations Program.

“The Business Planning for NFP Organisations Program involves six business planning seminars for up to 72 NFP organisations,  to be held across the state in Shepparton, Bendigo, Geelong, Central Metro, Southern Metro and North West Metro regions,” Mr Ryan said.

“Participants will also benefit from one-on-one business mentoring to help organisations plan for the future and further develop management and administration skills.”

Mr Ryan also launched the Developing Conflict Resilient Workplaces guide which has been developed to help NFP organisations minimise conflict in the workplace.

“The new guide will provide NFPs with a great resource to help improve processes to ensure staff work well together and understand what to do to achieve positive change within an organisation,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said the third annual NFP summit provided a great opportunity for representatives of Victoria’s 120,000 NFP organisations to learn important new skills and share ideas.

“The summit will focus primarly on efficient use of resources with presentations, workshops and exhibits on information technology, pro bono support, workforce and financial resources and through better engagement with philanthropic organisations and businesses,” Mr Ryan said.

“Delegates will also hear from Australian of the Year Simon McKeon who is a prominent investment banker and long time supporter of a number of NFP organisations including World Vision Australia, MS Research Australia and Red Dust Role Models.”

For more information about the Business Planning for NFP Organisations program, a copy of Developing Conflict Resilient Workplaces and the wide range of other tools and resources to support NFPs, visit the Office for the Community Sector’s website

Coalition cracks down on livestock and farm crime

* * - Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Deputy Premier and Minister for Police and Emergency Services Peter Ryan today announced a new Victorian Coalition Government initiative to crack down on livestock theft and farm crime.

Mr Ryan said a new Livestock and Farm Crime Specialists Group would be established within Victoria Police to investigate a recent spike in livestock theft, particularly sheep, and undertake targeted operations, prosecute offenders and roll out crime prevention initiatives.

“Today’s announcement delivers on an election commitment to target a growing incidence of livestock theft and farm crime which is costing our farmers valuable income,” Mr Ryan said.

“Livestock theft and farm crime is an increasing problem in regional and rural Victoria however there is currently no central coordinating office within Victoria Police to tackle livestock theft and farm crime offences.”

Mr Ryan said even with under reporting of livestock and farm crime, there had been a 129 per cent increase in the number of sheep recorded stolen from 2009/2010 (2,481 sheep) to 2010/2011 (5,681 sheep), likely due to recent record prices for sheep, lamb and wool.

“During the past financial year in the western region alone, there have been 67 thefts involving heavy machinery, including 28 tractors and 13 bobcats,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said livestock theft was a unique crime that required specialist investigative skills and a good partnership between government, police and agricultural groups to catch those responsible.

“As part of this initiative, a statewide network of police investigators will undergo world class training to become specialists in the field of livestock theft and farm crime,” Mr Ryan said.

“As many as 12 Victoria Police members around Victoria will form the Livestock and Farm Crime Specialists Group and act as a point of contact for farmers.”

A committee, chaired by Victoria Police, and including representatives the Victorian Farmers Federation, Department of Primary Industries, the Municipal Association of Victoria, the Stock Agents Association of Victoria and other agencies will meet regularly to discuss emerging trends and issues relating to livestock theft and farm related crime. This Committee may also provide advice around the location of the investigators.

Mr Ryan said Victoria Police would also launch an online intranet 'investigation hub' as part of the Victoria Police website which would go live by the end of the month and grow as additional information and material was sourced and produced.

“Research will be undertaken by Victoria Police examining and evaluating different national and international policing approaches to this type of crime and potential crime prevention opportunities,” Mr Ryan said.

“A six-monthly Livestock and Agricultural Conference will also be conducted by the Victoria Police Crime Department to look at current livestock theft and farm crime trends and how they relate to specific regions.”

Media contact:  Sonia Heath 0413 485 526

$2 million for Bendigo Showgrounds upgrade

* * - Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The 2012 Bendigo Sheep Show will be one of the big winners with the Bendigo Showgrounds set to receive a major upgrade by way of a new pavilion with the Coalition Government honouring a key election commitment.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan and Member for Northern Victoria Region Damian Drum today announced $2 million of Victorian Coalition Government support for the Bendigo Showgrounds redevelopment.

“The Coalition Government is pleased to help fund Stage 2 of the Bendigo Exhibition Centre project, made possible through the Coalition Government’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund,” Mr Ryan said.

“Showgrounds play a vital role in our regional and rural communities and this important project will ensure Bendigo can continue attracting bigger and better agricultural events.”

Mr Ryan said the Bendigo Agricultural Show Society had a great history of accomplishment dating back to 1859 and the Coalition was pleased to help secure the show’s future.

“The Bendigo Exhibition Centre Stage 2 project is part of the Bendigo Showground Masterplan, which is a leading example of how show societies can forecast and plan for regional events of the future,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said the $3.1 million Stage 2 project included a $300,000 contribution from the Bendigo Show Society, $600,000 from the Australian Sheep Breeders Association and $250,000 from City of Greater Bendigo.

“The Stage 2 project has been revised after the Bendigo Show Society was unsuccessful in its bid to attract $2.5 million of Federal Government funding,” Mr Ryan said.

The project involves the construction of a 6,150 square metre pavilion to be used for the sheep show and indoor equestrian events. The Pavilion includes foyer and meeting space and general amenities to ensure flexible use for show and exhibition purposes. 

Mr Drum said the Coalition Government’s  $1 billion Regional Growth Fund played a key role in driving growth and prosperity in regional cities and country communities.

“The construction of the new Pavilion is expected to be completed and operational in time for the July 2012 Sheep Show,” Mr Drum said.

Funding boost for legal service supporting not-for-profit sector

* * - Monday, October 17, 2011

Victoria’s not-for-profit (NFP) sector will continue to benefit from free or low-cost legal services with the help of more than $200,000 from the Victorian Coalition Government.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan said the government would contribute $235,000 to the Public Interest Law Clearing House (PILCH) to continue the provision of free or low-cost legal services to Victoria’s NFP sector.

“Funding will support the PilchConnect service which was established specifically to support the needs of NFP community organisations,” Mr Ryan said.

“PilchConnect combines the pro bono resources of the private legal profession with specialist in-house expertise to deliver NFP organisations with legal advice, assistance and training.

“This includes a range of legal services, including their legal information webportal, a low-cost legal seminar series, as well as referral to free legal assistance.

“PilchConnect also provides NFP organisations with access to reliable free or low-cost legal advice about regulatory and compliance issues arising under both State and Federal Government legislation.

“Regular e-bulletins, reports, papers and articles are also produced to keep not-for-profit organisations up to date on issues of importance and relevant legal cases.”

Mr Ryan said the services provided through PilchConnect allowed NFP organisations to focus on their core role of supporting the community.

“Through this program community organisations can focus on doing what they do best – which is helping people, and working to improve the quality of life of the Victorian community.”

The Office for the Community Sector in the Department of Planning and Community Development is contributing $149,700 of the funding while the Department of Justice is providing the remaining $86,000.

Media contact: Clare Siddins 0429 507 541

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