Plans to expand irrigation in Central Gippsland along the Latrobe River and Macalister Irrigation District have been taken directly to State Parliament.
The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien has asked the Minister for Water, Lisa Neville in Parliament to develop plans to allocate unused water in the Latrobe River system to irrigation.
Mr O’Brien recently launched a campaign to create jobs and stimulate economic activity by using water stored in Blue Rock Lake but unused.
“We have a great opportunity to help the Latrobe Valley and Central Gippsland as we transition away from traditional industries and grow the amount of jobs in high value irrigated agriculture and horticulture,” Mr O’Brien said.
“There is currently around 40,000 megalitres of water that was previously set aside for coal-fired power stations that remains unused, as well as a 40,000 megalitre drought reserve.
“We should be looking at using some of this water for irrigation development to help grow jobs and farm production in Gippsland.”
Mr O’Brien said that there are dozens of existing irrigators along the Latrobe who are keen to improve the water security of their farms by purchasing more water, while there are opportunities for new entrants to develop land for irrigation.
“Whether it’s new irrigation along the Latrobe River or potentially opening up a connection into the Macalister Irrigation District and expanding that area, there are good opportunities for growth.
“I would also like to see low water-use but high-value protected agriculture such as greenhouses developed in Latrobe City and Wellington Shire.
“This is a great way to create jobs and boost our local farming economy and I’ve called on the Minister to develop a plan to better utilise this water.”