Fund promises improvements between Geelong and Port


Agriculture transporters and farmers promised productivity boost with Port of Melbourne lease funding

Fund promises improvements between Geelong and Port
Port of Melbourne.

 

The Victorian government has announced plans for a $200 million Agriculture Infrastructure and Jobs Fund to subsidise projects between Geelong and the Port of Melbourne, including improving high productivity freight vehicle (HPFV) access.

The new fund, dependent on the Port of Melbourne lease legislation successfully passing through the Victorian Parliament, will look at upgrading freight routes in the western corridor such as the Princess Freeway.

The road improvements would form part of the fund, which aims to lessen the strain on farmers and increase exports for the region, roads and ports minister Luke Donnellan says.

"The purpose of the Fund is to boost the agriculture sector’s competitiveness, maintain market access, increase exports and boost jobs growth across Victoria," Donnellan says.

"The fund will go towards projects such as road improvements to improve access for heavier vehicles such as trade between the Port of Geelong and the Port of Melbourne."

The Labor government plan will only fund projects directly beneficial to the $11 billion-a-year agriculture industry, but Member for Geelong Christine Couzens says the whole region will see the rewards from skills development programs, market access campaigns, and transport, irrigation and energy projects.

"Through this fund the Andrews Government will improve productivity for Geelong’s freight industry and reduce costly detours," Couzens says.

"It’s good for Geelong and it’s good for local business."

The funding has been applauded by the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF) president Peter Tuohey, who believes the move will make it easier for locals to compete with interstate and international farmers.

"A competitive port in combination with this $200m investment in rural infrastructure will help deliver a competitive supply chain that keeps us ahead of the game," Tuohey says.

"We’re also expecting the government to announce a further commitment to upgrade and standardise the Mildura rail freight line and its feeders."

The VFF is pushing for the standardisation and upgrades of the Murray Basin Rail freight network and rural road improvements.

The Greens and Coalition oppose the Port of Melbourne lease, planning to block the move in parliament when is introduced this week.

 

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