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Plan to pay for Deniliquin gas

Federal Member for Farrer Sussan Ley says plans are in the works on how to get natural gas to Deniliquin.

ZOE MCMAUGH December 13, 2013 4:35am

A natural gas connection to Deniliquin could potentially be paid for by Murray-Darling Basin Plan compensation.

Federal Member for Farrer Sussan Ley confirmed yesterday she would be campaigning to fund the connection with money from the Murray-Darling Basin Regional Economic Diversification Program.

Ms Ley has also started investigating the possibility of a state and Federal Government partnership in getting the project off the ground.

‘‘Gas has been on our wish list for years and I think, right now, there’s an opportunity for NSW, Victoria and the Commonwealth governments to provide co-ordinated support to make it a reality in our region.

‘‘This could be with the release of funds from the Murray-Darling Basin Regional Economic Diversification Program.

‘‘If and when NSW signs off on the Basin Plan, which I hope will occur shortly, this region could pitch for a similar arrangement to the recent Victorian/Federal agreement which plans to deliver natural gas to a number of their Murray River communities.’’

The Victorian Government has allocated its share of the diversification fund to connecting natural gas to Murray River communities.

There is now potential for a NSW connection to be added to the project, with NSW Government support.

NSW is expected to get a third of the $100 million package should it sign the basin plan agreement.

Ms Ley said there must be a strong, united voice from Deniliquin and surrounding districts calling for the project to help sway the NSW decision.

‘‘Natural gas has the potential to rekindle growth while also diversifying and future-proofing our traditional economic reliance on climate and water,’’ she said.

‘‘My office has already held initial discussions with local councils and state authorities on this, as well as the new Assistant Minister who will administer the fund.

‘‘I guess the next step is for Deni and district to send that same message, loud and clear, that this is something we really want to see happen.’’

NSW Member for Murray-Darling John Williams said the NSW Government has an obligation to look at assisting with the supply of natural gas to the local area because of limited firewood opportunities in National Parks.

Mr Williams, who is a member of the Riverina Home Heating Taskforce, said it was one of the recommendations put forward in the taskforce’s report released last week.

‘‘If they (the NSW Government) are going to reduce the supply of firewood, they had better get people an alternative,’’ he said.

Mr Williams admitted it would be difficult, however, saying NSW support would be dependent on interest from a company to manage and supply the natural gas.

‘‘If we can get a company that is prepared to manage the system we can push ahead, but at this stage we haven’t found one.

‘‘It’s one thing to get the pipeline to Deniliquin, but people need to connect to the reticulation system and there have to be re-sales.

‘‘The government does not run gas, so we are reliant on a supplier.’’

Mr Williams said the proposal to build a $90 million ethanol plant, which would use two B-double truck loads of gas each day, in Deniliquin could help increase interest.

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