DEPUTY Premier Peter Ryan announced a landmark $85 million investment to supply natural gas to regional communities during a visit to Heathcote on Monday.
“Natural gas supply is critically important to the regions of Victoria,” Mr Ryan said
“And we are announcing an $85 million request for tender that will go to the market imminently, I have signed off on it.
“It will comprise $55 million for our Energy for the Regions program with the intention of supplying the remaining nine of the nominated 14 priority towns throughout the state.
“We’re also going to have another $30 million, comprised equally of $15 million from the state government and $15 million from whomever is the government after next weekend, to enable the towns along the Murray Valley, particularly those affected by the Murray Darling Basin Agreement, those will also be the beneficiaries of this natural gas supply.”
Mr Ryan was joined by Federal Coalition shadow minister for finance Andrew Robb in Heathcote for the announcement.
Under the $100 million Energy for the Regions program the Coalition government has already announced the augmentation of Mildura’s gas supply and has also announced gas connections for Huntly, Avoca, Bannockburn, Winchelsea and Wandong-Heathcote junction.
Remaining priority towns to which announcements are yet to be made are Koo Wee Rup, Heathcote, Maldon, Marong, Orbost, Lakes Entrance, Terang, Warburton and Invermay.
Mr Ryan said the announcement followed the Victorian Coalition government’s strategy for the rollout of the $100 million Energy for the Regions Program released in May 2012 and the release of a feasibility study last December into the provision of natural gas to Victoria’s Murray River region.
“Natural gas is critically important to these towns,” he said. “Many times they can’t grow because they don’t have enough demand to warrant being able to have industry come to them.
“On the other hand, they’re never going to have that sort of demand unless they have natural gas available so through this process we intend to make sure that a lot of the towns, not only along the Murray valley but throughout the rest of Victoria, they are going to be the beneficiary of what I think is going to be a magnificent project.
“And I’m very grateful to the federal opposition and Tony Abbott for the fact they’ve been prepared to sign off on this, it’s been an important step forward ... I have signed the documentation this morning to trigger the process, it will take about 90 days start to finish.
“We will then assess the submissions we receive and it will probably be in reality early into the new year before we can make a final judgement about it.”