The Werribee Irrigation district is one of the premier vegetable growing regions in Australia, producing in excess of $180 million worth of lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower per year. It is therefore vital that the farmers have certainty of their water supply.
In 2016, the Andrews Labor Government committed $10.44 million towards the $31.3 million project to pipe the Werribee Irrigation District.
This funding was matched by Werribee irrigators and the remaining funding has been sought by the Andrews Labor Government under the Federal National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.
Despite being assured of a response in February, the Federal Coalition Government is yet to announce whether they will join the Werribee South irrigators and the Andrews Labor Government in funding this project.
While the State Government is getting on with the job and funding this vital infrastructure, it is disappointing that the Federal Coalition Government have stayed silent.
On numerous occasions I have written to successive Coalition Government Minsters expressing the importance of this infrastructure. Once completed, this will save around 5,000ML of water a year - half of the annual river water use by Werribee irrigators.
In September 2015, I wrote to the then responsible Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, highlighting the importance of funding to secure a viable water supply for Werribee South farmers. The response was non-committal.
I then wrote to the Minster responsible in April 2016 after the Andrews Labor Government made their pledge of $10.4 million. My request fell on deaf ears.
In December 2017, I wrote to the new Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud, again requesting that the Federal Government provide the $11 million required to complete this project and ensure certainty for our farmers.
To this date, and despite the numerous attempts, there is yet to be a response from the Federal Coalition Government.
“While Coalition Government Minsters fail to take responsibility for the Water portfolio and deliver, Stage 1 of the project has been completed and Stage 2 is ready to commence early next month. I call on the current Minister responsible, the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, to make a commitment to the farmers of Werribee South and provide the final one-third of funding under the Federal National Water Infrastructure Fund” said Ms Ryan.
FRIDAY, 27 APRIL 2018