Ten projects in Indi (north eastern Victoria) have received funding through the federal governments Local Economic Recovery (LER) program for bushfire recovery.

Local Member for Indi, Helen Haines, says: ‘They will bring new jobs and attract tourism, and I’m so proud to see the hard work and initiative of our region recognised by this investment.

‘It is fantastic that the Alpine resorts have received $7 million for three transformational projects. The resorts were hit hard by the fires and then COVID-19, and yet inexplicably, the Government had initially excluded them from the bushfire recovery funding.

‘There is also great news for tourism in our region here. $5 million for the Great River Road, upgrades to the Alpine Hotel and Bright Velo will help position our region for a strong economic recovery, creating sustainable jobs by bringing tourists to our wonderful region’.

Full list of projects

Great River Road. $5 million to boost tourism infrastructure and visitation along the Great River Road.

The Upper Murray portion of the Murray River Road commences at Bellbridge in the west and stretches from Albury to Khancoban, following the curves and bends of the Murray River.

Dargo High Plains Road. $2.6 million for new and upgraded infrastructure along the Dargo High Plains Road.

Helen says: ‘I’ve been lobbying the Government to seal the Dargo High Plains road since the beginning of last year. When I hosted the National Bushfire Recovery Coodinator’s virtual visit in April, he heard directly that this road access was critical during emergency events. This upgrade has been a long time coming and I’m thrilled this will open up more opportunities for tourism and make us safer.’ Some who have campaigned for the sealing of the road say it will also be a boost to the local tourism industry.

It is not yet clear how much of the road will be sealed as a result of this allocation.

The Place-Based Power Plan. $2.17 million to support Upper Murray Inc’s plan to protect communities against power outages and reduce running costs.

The Place-Based Power Plan will secure electricity supply through the installation of stand-alone renewable energy generation and battery storage systems. These installations will be located in critical sites for emergency response and recovery in towns across Towong Shire.

Renewable energy plays a vital role in boosting electricity security in remote regions. It ensures critical infrastructures like emergency response offices, evacuation centres, ATMs and fuel stations have access to energy, even if the grid goes down.

The installations will also serve as the foundation for a future microgrid. The microgrid will stabilise energy supply across the Upper Murray, by feeding power back into the local grid, thus saving sites money and reducing carbon emissions.

Federal member for Indi, Helen Haines, says:

‘The Upper Murray has received an additional $2.17 million to develop its own renewable energy system. This comes on top of $800,000 announced last year. The Upper Murray’s Place Based Power Plan will mean the region generates and stores its own renewable power locally, so is not reliant on distant coal generators. This is a massive win for places like Corryong and Cudgewa but is also an example for the entire nation to follow’.

Mansfield Autism Statewide Services. $1.35 million for Mansfield Autism Statewide Services to develop accessible accommodation units to suit visitors to the region who have special needs.

Building resilience in the wine industry. $870,000 for Wines of the King Valley to develop a smoke sensor network that will help wine makers make informed decisions.

Helen says: ‘The investment of $800,000 in a network of smoke sensors is a welcome boost to resilience of our local wine sector. Grapes and wine employ hundreds in the North East and yet was hit hard in the fires by the loss of crops due to smoke taint incurring $141 million worth of damage.

$600,000 to help redevelop the iconic Alpine Hotel in Bright so that it can be used for community events.

$375,000 for a cycle tourism and accommodation redevelopment in Bright.

$2.5 million for Falls Creek Alpine Resort to redevelop the lakeside trailhead and foreshore to assist growing water sport activation.

Mt Hotham Snow Play and Activity Hub. $2.5 million to develop the Mt Hotham Snow Play and Activity Hub.

As I understand it, these funds will help with a redevelopment of the facilities at Wire Plain. This is an important snow play area within the resort, is a hub for cross country and skate skiers and snow shoers, and is the entry point to the Alpine Nature Experience camp site. Additional funds will be required to complete this project.

Dinner Plain recreation reserve. $2 million to develop the Dinner Plain recreation reserve and village centre.

I haven’t seen the detail on what is proposed for this project. An earlier proposal, which would have seen a significant area of snow gum woodland cleared, was rejected by the Alpine Shire Council, who noted that many people were concerned about the damage that would have been caused by clearing more than 2 hectares of snow gum woodland. They note that many in the ‘community were concerned about the high cost, as well as the high cultural heritage, visual and environmental impacts of a large Village Green’.

They also ‘recognised that the Dinner Plain community would still like some form of open space or cleared level grass area which was closer to the original intent of the Village Green as represented in the 2015 Master Plan’.

According to the Nationals Senator for Victoria, Bridget McKenzie,

‘Funding for LER projects is just one of the initiatives supported by the Australian Government’s National Bushfire Recovery Fund, which is worth more than $2 billion. To date, more than $1.9 billion in Australian Government support has been provided to help bushfire affected communities, including $1.3 billion spent so far from the National Bushfire Recovery Fund.’

Check here for further information on the program. Details on previous LER allocations in Victoria can be found here.