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$10 million package for the Sunraysia.

A $10.08 million funding package, of which $6.9744 million is being provided by the Commonwealth, was announced today for an integrated regional adjustment and development program for the Sunraysia region of Victoria and NSW.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, Senator David Brownhill, made the announcement at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) involving Commonwealth and State Governments and the local community.

The Federal Member for Mallee, Mr John Forrest MP, who has shown significant support for the strategy during its development, welcomed the signing of the MOU and the commitment by governments to development of the Sunraysia region.

The community was represented by Mr Henry Tankard, Chair of SunRISE 21. The MOU is based on a submission called Kickstart Sunraysia prepared by the SunRISE 21 committee in consultation with local growers.

Senator Brownhill said the program is an important stepping stone towards achieving productive and sustainable industries in the Sunraysia.

"The Kickstart Sunraysia program provides the basis for long term profitability for the established grape and citrus industries and other horticultural enterprises in this area," he said.

"It has been developed under the auspices of the Rural Partnership Program (RPP) which seeks to encourage dynamic rural communities, profitable businesses and sustainable resource use. The signing of the MOU is the culmination of several years of effort and negotiation by Sunraysia growers and the broader community and the Federal and State Governments."

Senator Brownhill said Kickstart Sunraysia offers strategies for property planning and development through new technologies, property build- up, improved irrigation systems and skills development.

"It will also provide financial assistance and relocation opportunities for eligible growers who wish to leave the industry," he said.

Kickstart Sunraysia will be managed by SunRISE 21 which has local grower and community representation to ensure it is implemented efficiently and effectively and remains relevant to the needs of growers in the region.

Further inquiries:

Murray Hansen, Senator Brownhill's office, 067 666 998

Ian Ballantyne, 21 Projects Director, 0350 514 524