$32m for Macalister irrigation modernisation

The Victorian Coalition Government has today announced $32 million to kickstart a major modernisation of the Macalister Irrigation District (MID), the biggest investment in this region in decades.

Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said he was delighted to join with Deputy Premier and State Development Minister, Peter Ryan, and Water Minister, Peter Walsh, to make the announcement at Murray Goulburn’s milk processing plant at Maffra.

Mr Bull said this $32m investment over three years will not only attract investment into the MID but also provide security for existing businesses to grow.

“The initial phase will improve the speed and reliability of water delivery to farms, boost agricultural output through greater on-farm efficiency and improve waterway and estuarine health by reducing outflows,” said Mr Bull.

Mr Ryan said the Coalition Government will provide $16 million towards upgrading the MID over the next three years, with a co-contribution of $16 million from irrigators.

“The modernisation will increase the amount of food this region produces, boosting the local and state economy with this initial phase to return 12,300 megalitres (ML) of water a year to productive use.

“Murray Goulburn estimates the additional water could increase milk production from the Macalister region by an extra 24 million litres a year,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Walsh said the project would fund channel automation projects, outlet rationalisation, and construction of the Southern-Cowwarr balancing storage.

“The Macalister region contains some of Australia’s most valuable and productive grazing land, with about 33,500 hectares under irrigation,” Mr Walsh said.

“The district’s gravity-fed system irrigation system is now 60 to 90 years old and contains 410 miles of supply channels and 305 miles of drainage channels, much of which is manually operated.

“The modernisation will provide irrigators with reliable and secure water supplies to help increase production and meet the Coalition Government’s ambitious target to double the value of Victoria’s food and fibre production by 2030.

Mr Walsh said the funding was in addition to the irrigators had already spent $6.4 million on an early works program which was set to provide an extra 2,200 ML of water savings.

“With the first phase of the project now secured, we will be negotiating with the Commonwealth for funding to help build the Southern Tinamba balancing storage and pipeline.

“The pipeline will result in a further 13,500 ML of water savings that will then be available for irrigators, increasing the productivity of the district,” Mr Walsh said.