Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, and Tasmanian Minister for Primary Industries and Water, Jeremy Rockliff, have signed off on final project details for the $31million Southern Highlands Irrigation Scheme.

The project will deliver water infrastructure to Tasmania’s Southern Highlands.

Mr Joyce said, “This project will deliver significant benefits for farmers in Tasmania’s Southern Highlands, and will go a long way to securing water supply in the region for years to come.

“Secure water for irrigation reduces uncertainty and reliance on rainfall, and maximises productive capacity per hectare.

“This stability breeds confidence and triggers more investment in agriculture in the region, including in new and emerging crops that need reliable access to water for irrigation.”

Mr Joyce said building water infrastructure in this region is a forward thinking, future-proofing investment.

“It delivers benefits to agriculture, communities and the environment—that’s why we are committed to investing two dollars for every dollar the state government is investing in these projects.

“It is an investment that not only delivers jobs in the construction phase for the short term, but sustainable and measured wealth through irrigated agriculture into the long term.”

Mr Rockliff said modern water infrastructure was particularly important to future-proof Tasmania.

“Delivering highly reliable irrigation across the state is a key part of the Tasmanian Government’s AgriVision 2050, our plan to achieve a tenfold increase in the value of our agricultural sector by 2050,” Mr Rockliff said.

“The Southern Highlands around Bothwell is one of the state’s key grazing and cropping districts but has lacked sufficient water to achieve its full productive potential.

“This scheme will help transform agriculture in the entire valley, creating almost 40 direct and indirect full-time jobs and securing the future for 23 farming families who have connected to reliable water, which will help their local community to prosper into the future.”

Federal Member for Lyons, Eric Hutchinson, congratulated everyone involved in the project.

“This irrigation scheme will boost communities in the southern highlands, providing businesses in Bothwell and surrounding areas with extra income in both construction and operation phases,” Mr Hutchinson said.

“The lead on effect from irrigation flows into farms, to farm workers, to freight businesses, to road infrastructure, to cafes and accommodation, to tourism, education and so on.

“I’m truly pleased for those who have worked so hard and for so long on this project, thank you for making it reality.”

Mr Joyce said the Southern Highlands Project was being delivered under the Tasmanian Irrigation Tranche II Program with $60million from the Australian Government, $30million from the Tasmanian Government and additional private sector investment from farmers.

“I look forward to Tasmania providing further projects for consideration under Tranche II which will go a long way to securing future water supply for Tasmania’s irrigators, and underpin the state’s productive capacity and economy,” Mr Joyce said.

Jessica Dickers

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