Member of Lions Club – State Parliament
Questioned in Parliament this week on the Government’s plans to improve water security for Lindenow Valley irrigators, Water Minister Lisa Neville said any proposal for water storage in the area had to be considered in relation to the sensitive nature of the environment.
Gippsland East Nationals MP Tim Bull last night asked the Minister to provide an update on water security improvement plans and also visit the region and meet with local irrigators.
Mr Bull outlined that in 2011 the Liberal Nationals Government established a local working group that included irrigators and provided $1 million to consider water security options.
“Then in 2016 the Federal Government provided another $550,000 to complete what was a complex project,” he told Parliament.
The question seeking an update came on the back of irrigators this week reaching Stage 10 water restrictions, the final stage before a total ban.
Mr Bull told Parliament the industry generates between $100-120m to the local economy and to give some idea of the scope of the markets, one of the many they provide for is 60 per cent of the lettuce to McDonald’s on the eastern seaboard of Australia.
It also employs up to 1500 people depending on the season.
Mr Bull said one irrigator told him this week “When we get to this stage, the business plan is just to push on and hope we get a few showers of rain. For a multi-million dollar industry that has markets we need to supply, or lose, it is not the ideal plan”.
“I understand an off-river storage at Stoney Creek is one of the options that was being given consideration,” he said.
“I believe we are now at a stage, where after seven years since the initial funding was provided, the Government needs to make some decisions. Hence my invitation to the Minister to come and meet with the irrigators.”
In response, the Minister said it was not an uncomplicated issue and any storage built in that area cannot be done lightly.
While she did not commit to a visit, the Minister stated: “I would encourage people to engage very strongly with Southern Rural Water”, adding “We are certainly open to working with the community on what we need to do in that area”.
Caption: Gippsland East Nationals MP Tim Bull, pictured speaking with local farmers, has sought an update from Victoria’s Water Minister on plans to secure water supply for Lindenow Valley irrigators.
Wednesday, February 6, 2019