Federal member for Page Kevin Hogan today announced funding for five major projects in the Northern Rivers totalling more than $12.6 million under the Australian Government’s National Stronger Regions Fund.
“Christmas has come early for our community,” he said.
The projects are the redevelopment of the Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange in Casino ($3.5 million); the reconstruction of the Ballina Marine Tower ($850,000), the creation of the Lismore Quadrangle, including a new Northern Rivers Regional Gallery ($2,850,000); road work to unlock the economic and tourist value of Toonumbar Dam (about $1 million); and improved sugar freight and logistics project at Harwood Mill and Refinery ($4,150,000).
“Since I was elected I have been working to ensure there are local jobs for local people. These projects are game-changers and will create more jobs for local people and bring more money into our region for years to come,” Mr Hogan said.
“If you are one of the 1200 workers at the Casino meatworks or a beef producer, this is good news for you. If you are one of the thousands of people who rely on the sugar industry this is good news for you.
“All small businesses in our region are going to benefit from these investments. We are going to maintain our presence as a regional beef and sugar producer. This has spinoffs in many ways.”
“The Northern Rivers Regional Gallery, the Ballina Marine Rescue tower and accessing Toonumbar Dam are going to attract tourism and therefore create new jobs in our communities.”
Mr Hogan said the funding was supporting investment in a diverse range of agricultural, tourism and cultural infrastructure.
“These projects have been identified as priority infrastructure by our community,” he said.
Projects on the Northern Rivers:
- Casino Saleyard (Northern Rivers Livestock Exchange) – $3.5 million: This project will allow the saleyards to expand and grow its throughput by 40% and play its role as the premier selling centre in the Northern Rivers, driving economic growth in the cattle industry, increasing employment and ensuring the retention of the large number of abattoir jobs in the region. It will also allow the ongoing coordination of cattle selling throughout the region, increasing productivity and product specialisation. Total project cost $7 million.
The Saleyard also attracts value-adding business like the Northern Cooperative Meat Company that employs more than 1200 people.
- Ballina Marine Rescue tower- $850,000: To construct a replacement Marine Rescue Tower on the northern break wall of the Richmond River, East Ballina. This will replace the existing unsafe facility. This project will improve marine safety and boost the regional economy by improving safety for commercial and recreational fishing. Total project cost more than $2 million.
- ‘Lismore Quadrangle’ – $2,850,000: The creation of a signature Town Square and Cultural Precinct in Lismore, including a new Regional Art Gallery.
With 300,000 visits annually (including an increase to 55,000 for Lismore Regional Gallery), the Quadrangle will drive economic prosperity to the Lismore CBD, with combined increase of 47 jobs in Lismore City through construction, and 26.9 full-time equivalent jobs due to increased Gallery visitation and increased staffing. Total project cost $5.8 million.
- Improved Freight and Logistics Project at Harwood Mill and Refinery – $4,150,000. A new logistics warehouse, increased bulk storage silo capacity, and the movement of the packing facility will increase throughput capacity of the refinery, allowing more higher value-add refined sugar products to be manufactured in Australia.
This will provide a direct and immediate benefit to the region’s 500 cane growers at the farm gate. This is a proactive response from the industry to the significant cost and overseas competitor pressures, and enables an improved freight and logistics network to be created to secure the long term future of the Northern Rivers sugar industry. Harwood Mill and Refinery currently employs, directly and indirectly, more than 2000 people. Total project cost $8.3 million.
- Toonumbar Dam – about $1 million: Accessing the economic benefits of the dam by sealing of the remaining 7.5km of gravel road that acts as a missing link between the sealed road network and the Toonumbar Dam precinct. This consists of 0.9km of Afterlee Road and 6.6km of Dam Access Road. The existing unsealed road is seen as a major barrier to the local community and industries in the area, and restricts the number of visitors to the most significant tourist site in the Kyogle LGA, resulting in the facility operating at below occupation rates that would be otherwise possible. The project seeks to remove this disadvantage and provide the catalyst for strong economic growth in the area. The project will also provide improved facilities at the Bells Bay camping area.