It wasn’t just our roses and street art that brought the Roads Minister to town last week, but the biggest announcement for my home town of Benalla in decades.
Locals rejoiced with the news that a $60 million concrete precast factory will be built in Benalla, to supply the West Gate Tunnel project.
This will be the largest precast facility in Victoria, creating 400 new jobs and providing a massive boost to the local economy
Construction of the facility is due to start in March and it is expected to be operational from October.
Mayor Don Firth said: ‘‘this is a massive investment and one Benalla has been waiting for, for a long time — you could say it is a game changer for Benalla,’’ and ‘‘The number of jobs coming to Benalla is so significant it’s the biggest investment Benalla has seen at least since Thales.’’
Facebook lit up with positive feedback pointing to the job opportunities, benefits for businesses and people looking to move to or back to Benalla.
So like many people in town, I am angry that the coalition is attempting to side with the Greens to oppose the Tunnel project — the Liberals and Nationals are trying to use the Parliament to revoke the planning approvals for the project and if successful the project will halt, as will the 400-plus jobs for Benalla.
Once built, the facility will be capable of producing up to 1500 tonnes of concrete product per day at peak capacity and will be well placed to supply future Victorian and interstate projects, creating enduring economic benefits to North East Victoria — but without the Tunnel Project it won’t be built anytime soon.
Anyone who says the factory can proceed now without the Tunnel Project is misinformed, misguided or malicious.
The tunnel project has been awarded to a construction consortium and commercial discussions are currently under way with local suppliers to develop and operate the facility.
Let me be very clear — No Tunnel Project = No Benalla Precast Factory = No 400 jobs.
The West Gate Tunnel project is needed.
It went through the most comprehensive and transparent process in the state’s history — the business case is public, there are no side deals — it stacks up.
Under Labor we are making sure that all of Victoria can share the opportunities created by our massive program of major infrastructure investment.’’
This project will add $11 billion to the state’s economy creating 6000 jobs with at least 400 of those in our town.
I will stand up for Benalla jobs — I will be speaking in Parliament next Wednesday to vehemently oppose the Liberal/Nationals’ plan to knock off this project — I can’t fathom how Steph Ryan won’t be joining me.