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Funding boost for Meander Dam.



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DAFF04/359WTJ - 16 December 2004

Australian Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss Tasmanian Minister for Primary Industries and Water, Steve Kons

Funding boost for Meander Dam

Another milestone has been achieved in the construction of the Meander Dam with the signing of an agreement on funding for the dam between the Tasmanian and Australian Governments.

The Australian Government Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss, and the Tasmanian Minister for Primary Industries and Water, Steve Kons, today signed a joint agreement for the provision of nearly $10 million towards the cost of the dam's construction.

This follows the announcement earlier this week of the preferred tenderers for the 43,000-megalitre facility (note to editors - 1 megalitre is equivalent to the volume of an Olympic swimming pool).

Under the agreement announced today, the Australian Government will contribute $2.6 million and the Tasmanian Government will contribute $7 million to help build one of the most significant agricultural water asset in the State's history.

Mr Truss said that the agreement realises the Australian Government's commitment - first made in 2001 - to provide $2.6 million to assist with the development of the dam.

"The Howard/Anderson Government's commitment to the Meander Dam was part of the $38 million A Stronger Tasmania package, designed to invest in Tasmania's future by developing its physical, economic and social infrastructure," Mr Truss said.

"It builds on the economic fundamentals of higher employment, lower interest rates and sustained low inflation delivered by the Coalition Government.

"This agreement is another example of what can be achieved when there is a cooperative approach between the Australian and Tasmanian Governments to facilitate economic development in this State."

The Meander Dam proposal is a key part of the Tasmanian Government's water development and management strategy under The State of Growth

policy to develop the State's primary industries.

Mr Kons said that the dam will massively enhance sustainable irrigation development and attract further investment within the Meander catchment. He said that the total cost of the project will be over $30 million.

"The Meander Dam is an excellent example of how strong and willing co-operation between all levels of government and the private sector can achieve truly remarkable results," Mr Kons said.

"Funding for the project is being provided through a partnership between the Australian and Tasmania Governments, Hydro Tasmania and private sector proponents, including local farmers" he said.

"When you add to this mixture the substantial support for the project provided by the Meander Valley Council and the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association it is clear that this is a project that has brought governments, the commercial sector and the community closely together."

Construction of the dam is expected to be completed by late 2006. It will provide 43,000 megalitres of water to deliver a reliable water supply for domestic, industrial and irrigation activities and electricity generation and environmental flows to sustain the health of the Meander River.

The statutory planning process for the project included assessment and approval under State and Commonwealth environmental legislation.

The Ministers said Tasmanians can be confident that, under approved environmental management plans, the environmental values in areas both adjacent to and downstream of the Dam site will be protected.

The agreement signed between the Australian and Tasmanian Governments also includes provision for a funding contribution to increase water storage capacity for irrigation in the South Esk Basin.

"The Basin is one of few large areas in temperate Australia with potential to provide additional water for irrigation while fully sustaining the land and water resources that underpin irrigated agriculture," Mr Truss said.

The Tasmanian Government's Water Development Plan is investigating a number of potential water storage opportunities in the South Esk Basin.

Further media inquiries:

Minister Truss' office:

Tim Langmead (02) 6277 7520 or 0418 221 433 Minister Kons's office:

Tony Scott (03) 6336 2443 or 0417 051 255

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