Cash in the pipeline

SHORTAGES: Farmers near Wedderburn have been forced to cart water for the past three years. Pictures: GLENN DANIELS

The Victorian Farmers Federation has praised the federal government for committing $20 million to help connect more than 600 properties towater.

Federal agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce announced $20 million in funding for stage two of the South West Loddon Pipeline on Wednesday.

Stage two calls for more than 1300km of pipelines to connect farmsand rural properties near Wedderburn to the West Waranga channel andWimmera Mallee pipeline.

VFFWedderburn branch president Graham Nesbit said the project would help farmers carry more stock and attract investment from intensive industries.

“We’ve been carting water for the past three years, so it’s great to see that at last we’re going to be connected to a secure, long-term water source,” he said.

“It will improve the quality of life for all south-west Loddon residents through secure domestic water supplies.”

Candidates weigh inLabor candidate for the Murray electorate Alan Williams said anything that helped get water distributed to such a dry area should be counted as a good thing.

But he said people should be wary of what the Coalition promised beforeelections.

“If it happens it’ll be terrific. But it is not the first time he (Barnaby Joyce) has promised something on this issue and not delivered,” he said.

Nationals candidate Damien Drumfired back, branding the comments “disappointing”.

“It’s impossible for the federal government to move on this issue until the state government has put their money on the table,” he said.

“That happened a few months ago and since then it’s been a priority.”

Mr Drum said farmers and other stakeholdersin the Loddon Shire had been impressed by how quickly the Nationals had put together a delegation to advocate for, and secure, funding in Canberra.

Meanwhile Liberal candidate Duncan McGouchie welcomed the funding boost.

“This is a Coalition government commitment that (retiring member for Murray) Sharman Stone and I have worked very hard for,” he said.

“It’s also significant for the community near where I grew up.”

He predicted a water holding area where the pipelines would eventually meet could one dayevolve intoawater skiing destination.

Mr McGouchiesaid the funding boost helped push forward debateon a number of issues in Wedderburn, including possible upgrades to the local caravan park.

“There is currently a lot of community discussion around ways to boosttourism in the region,” he said.

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