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Port deal brings billion dollar windfall for regions

RURAL Victoria is set to secure nearly $1 billion in funding for priority infrastructure projects thanks to a deal struck by the State Government for the Port of Melbourne lease.

The agreement, sealed Sunday afternoon for a whopping $9.7 billion, will see around $970 million (10 per cent) of the lease proceeds go towards boosting rural and regional infrastructure.

“This is a fantastic outcome for agriculture and we’re looking forward to working with the Government on identifying priority projects, many of which desperately need funding,” VFF President David Jochinke said.

“The investment will help grow our economy by keeping our farmers and export supply chains competitive, which is all the more necessary as we’re seeing a decline in manufacturing.”

Proceeds from the lease will go into a Victoria Transport Infrastructure Fund, with the Government promising 10 per cent of proceeds to rural and regional projects, as well as committing to establish a $200 million Agriculture Infrastructure and Jobs Fund to create jobs, boost exports, and support farmers in transporting their products from paddock to port.

“With the proceeds for the lease rolling into the Victoria Transport Infrastructure Fund, government must invest in infrastructure links to the Port, such as upgrading our road and rail networks – both in the immediate vicinity and the broader supply chain,” Mr Jochinke said.

Mr Jochinke said the VFF would work to ensure that key priorities for rural communities were addressed.

“In agriculture we need infrastructure investments in irrigation modernisation, pipelines to secure water for livestock producers, freight rail line upgrades, the elimination of mobile phone black spots and a raft of other projects,” he said.

“Our support for the sale has always depended on the State Government ensuring theses issue are addressed and the port remains competitive.

“Now, we just need to make sure the new leaseholders continue to make the port efficient and keep costs for port users down.”

The new leaseholders – the Lonsdale Consortium, comprising QIC, the Future Fund, Global Investment Partners, and OMERS – signed a 50 year lease of the Port’s commercial operations, outbidding a rival group led by IFM Investors.

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