The State Government has today been called on to commit to the next round of the Macalister Irrigation District (MID) upgrade in State Parliament, given the sale of the Port of Melbourne lease legislation has progressed.
The Nationals Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, today asked the Minister for Water to confirm her pre-Christmas commitment and importantly, also confirm the funding stream, as there appeared some confusion on this point.
“My colleague Danny O’Brien and I are seeking clarity on the funding source to make sure our electorates, and all of country Victoria, are not short-changed,” Mr Bull said.
“The issue lies with the fact that pre-Christmas the Water Minister promised to provide $20 million for the next stage of the MID from the $200m Agriculture Infrastructure and Jobs Fund.
“Since then, The Nationals have fought hard to secure a $700m Regional Transport Fund, which delivers what is country Victoria’s fair share from the Port lease sale. This has been based on 10% of the estimated port lease sale proceeds.
“Unfortunately, there has been mixed messages since. The Special Minister of State, Gavin Jennings, who was the Government’s chief negotiator, clearly stated the $700m would only be spent on transport-related infrastructure. Following is his Parliament speech on the matter:
“I give a very clear undertaking that … the 10% allocation will be very consistent with the criteria that are outlined within the bill, and the basket of projects that will be supported will be directly connected to transport, logistics or supporting productive access to ports across the Victorian landscape.” – Gavin Jennings.
“However, the Treasurer said on radio this week the MID funding would come from the Regional Transport Fund. The problem is that it simply does not meet the criteria and to do so would short-change regional Victoria,” Mr Bull said.
Gippsland South Nationals MP, Danny O’Brien, said that given the MID upgrade clearly does not fit within the scope of the $700m Regional Transport Fund and taking into account Mr Jennings’ comments, it clearly needs confirmation from the Water Minister that this money will come from the Agriculture Infrastructure and Jobs fund as she promised.
“That is why we have asked the Water Minister to re-confirm this funding will come from the Agriculture Infrastructure and Jobs Fund, so the larger fund we fought so hard for to improve transport in the regions, is not spent in areas it was not allocated for and the regions are not short-changed. She has one month to now respond and clear this up,” Mr O’Brien said.