Mitiamo pipeline cash dries up

By Country News

Despite calls for federal funding, the Mitiamo pipeline has been left off the Federal Government’s budget funding list.

The proposed pipeline, which will provide water security and efficiency and reduce costs for farmers who have had to rely on carting their own water, was given $10million of funding in the Victorian budget on May 1.

But extra funding never came, with the Victorian Water Minister Lisa Neville accusing Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Victorian Shadow Water Minister Steph Ryan of letting irrigators down.

‘‘The federal budget does not provide a cent for water infrastructure in Victoria, putting these projects — and the jobs and economic activity they would have brought to our regions — at risk,’’ Ms Neville said.

‘‘Steph Ryan is out of excuses — she needs to finally admit she simply can’t deliver for regional Victoria and is out of her depth when it comes to fighting for irrigation communities in Victoria.’’

Federal Agriculture and Water Minister David Littleproud, during a visit to the Goulburn Valley recently, said if the Victorian Government was committed to getting water infrastructure projects up and going, it would do it regardless of any monetary help from the Federal Government.

‘‘We put $2.5billion on the table for projects right across this nation but if the Victorian Government are committed they will get on with the job, with or without us,’’ Mr Littleproud said.

Ms Ryan has responded by saying Ms Neville appeared to be confusing her with the federal water minister.

Ms Ryan said Ms Neville would be better off focusing on her own job in advocating for Victoria as the state’s water minister.

‘‘Ms Neville is tetchy because she tried to use the East Grampians Supply Pipeline as a political football,’’ Ms Ryan said.

‘‘She is berating the Federal Government for not funding a project when she hasn’t even submitted an application to the Federal Government.

‘‘In parliament this week she claimed she couldn’t make an application to a program that wasn’t open — however the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund clearly states that it accepts expressions of interest on a rolling basis.

‘‘When I called her out on it, her only defence was to claim that I have somehow failed irrigation communities — despite East Grampians being a stock and domestic project.

‘‘I will continue to speak to my federal colleagues about Victoria’s water needs. It’s a shame that Lisa Neville isn’t doing the same.’’