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Monday, 9 September 2019
Page: 2171


Mr DRUM (NichollsChief Nationals Whip) (16:00): Recently the Minister for Agriculture, Senator Bridget McKenzie, and I were hosted by Peter and Marian Vandegoor at their hydroponic tomato operation at Katunga, a small town about 30 kilometres north of Shepparton. Katunga Fresh grows over 10 million kilograms of tomatoes every year under 14 hectares of glass, which they're planning to expand as well. One of the limits to its expansion is the cost of energy. Katunga Fresh has taken a proactive step to partner up with one of the most advanced bioenergy projects in the world.

This will be Australia's first large-scale, fully-integrated renewable energy business. More than $500 million will be injected into the local economy following this announcement that AgBioEn renewable energy facility are going to partner up with Katunga Fresh in Katunga. The total investment in all land, equipment and buildings in Katunga and the surrounding region will be around $2 billion. This multi-million dollar facility from AgBioEn will utilise world-class technology to deliver clean, low-emissions renewable energy and will produce electricity, high-quality renewable diesel and jet fuel, fertiliser and food grade CO2. Using a combination of technologies, the AgBioEn facility will process organic waste materials, biomass, such as cereal straw. It is planned that by 2023 over 7,500 hectares of land will be farmed for this facility and more than 1,000 jobs will be created. I applaud the innovative and entrepreneurial leadership shown by the Vandegoors and their partners.