New regional Victoria blueprint aims to boost communities and tackle disadvantage

The Age

 State Labor has developed a blueprint for regional Victoria to identify new projects and tackle disadvantage in the bush. Photo: Justin McManus

State Labor has developed a blueprint for regional Victoria to identify new projects and tackle disadvantage in the bush. Photo: Justin McManus

Nine regional summits will be held across Victoria each year to identify much-needed projects for the bush, tackle entrenched disadvantage and recommend policy responses to regional problems.

The summits will be led by nine new advisory groups to be formed across Victoria. The groups, or “regional partnerships”, were announced by the state government on Tuesday and labelled the centrepiece of the government’s new blueprint aimed at boosting regional Victoria.

The blueprint for the bush also outlined new regional spending pledges, including

  • * $34 million for regional skills and training, with a focus on disadvantaged areas and groups
  • * $25 million to upgrade transport routes, particularly aimed at agricultural producers
  • ​* $20 million for irrigation upgrades in Gippsland’s Macalister irrigation district
  • * $18 million to improve mobile phone and internet connectivity on V/Line rail routes, via grants to mobile phone carriers

Under the blueprint, a new fund will be established to support “the 10 most significant regional tourism projects” in the state. The government has also pledged to “boost visitation and expenditure in regional Victoria” by focusing on specific regional tourism segments and markets, such as nature-based tourism, or food and wine tourism.

The government said that the blueprint would “give regional communities a stronger voice in government decision-making”, and make regional Victoria a better place to live.

“Victoria’s regional statement”, launched in the state’s north-east by Premier Daniel Andrews and regional development minister Jaala Pulford, also flagged that the government would consider fast-tracking projects of state or regional significance, if those projects boosted jobs or local economies.

Mr Andrews said the statement would “make sure that, more than ever, government is working for regional communities. Not those with the loudest voices – but the families, workers and communities that are the heart and soul of regional Victoria.”

He also said: “I truly believe that Victoria can’t be the best place in the world unless our regional communities are the most successful in the nation. That’s why we’re getting on with it.”

The nine regional advisory groups announced by the government will be made up of representatives from business, education, community groups and different tiers of government. They are separate to the existing Regional Development Australia committees.

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Rocky to become home to a $140m new urban university village

The Morning Bulletin

Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad.

Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad.

Hundreds of jobs and development opportunities in the Rockhampton area are on the horizon with the announcement today the Palaszczuk Government is seeking a development partner to transform the Central Queensland University (CSU) campus into a $140 million vibrant urban village.

The Deputy Premier and Minister for Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning Jackie Trad announced the opening of Expressions of Interest today.

“The project will transform 80 hectares of the university campus into a mix of residential, retail, community and recreational areas and generate up to 470 jobs,” Ms Trad said.

“The development will not only enhance the role of CQU as an education destination but will provide the broader Rockhampton community with a diverse range of housing options including affordable housing and new retail and recreational amenities.

“With more than 2,000 dwellings expected to be delivered as part of the venture to transform the Priority Development Area into a vibrant urban community which integrates the university with residential, educational, retail and community facilities, this area will become part of the Rockhampton landscape.

“This next phase of the project follows the announcement of $7.65 million in funding from the Priority Development Infrastructure Co-investment Program for the provision of an intersection at the Bruce Highway and the new Main Street within stage 1 of the proposed new development.

“This is a great example of where catalyst infrastructure can help the next stage of a development get off the ground.

“This development will activate a large parcel of development-ready land in Rockhampton ripe for growth, with social benefits for the community and retail precincts.”

CQU Rockhampton was declared a Priority Development Area in 2011 and since that time Economic Development Queensland has been working closely with the university and Rockhampton Regional Council on potential development opportunities.

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Metallica Minerals discovers rare graphite in north Queensland

ABC Rural

Metallica Minerals has discovered graphite at Croydon in north Queensland. Graphite is used in batteries, laptops, lubricants, construction materials, medicine and pencils.

Graphene, which is produced from graphite, is being lauded as having huge potential in the development of computers, mobile phones and aviation materials. Currently there is only one operating graphite mine in Australia, at Port Lincoln in South Australia.

The graphite was found in Metallica’s first graphite-focused core drill hole at the Esmeralda Graphite Project, south of Croydon. The company is yet to receive laboratory results about the quality of the graphite, but Metallica CEO Simon Slesarewich said visual assessments had been positive.

“Visually it looks like the grade is very encouraging, but the proof in the pudding will be when we get these assays back in November sometime,” he said.

“I don’t think it is too early to be excited. A very large intercept like that is very rare globally, so it has the potential to be world class.

“Graphite, unlike many other metals, you can actually visually see it in the core, so it is reasonable to look at that and make an informed assumption of what the grade may be.”

The drill hole intersected more than 120 metres of graphite, and visual inspection indicated the majority of the core could contain more than 10 per cent graphite, up to 20 per cent in places.

Mr Slesarewich said the graphite discovered was a pure hydrothermal mineralisation, which is very rare. While he was excited about the discovery, he said there was a long road ahead. “This is the first drill hole and we’re drilling the second one as we speak, so although it’s exciting and encouraging, a lot of work and questions need to be answered prior to us even thinking about any sort of development.”

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