There seems to be some stirrings in the Nationals camp regarding a proposed $130m aviation freight hub. This was a project I campaigned for during the Federal election that would unlock $300b of food export opportunities to Asia.
As the next State election looms, it’s set to be a fierce battle. The Nats want to reclaim the seat of Shepparton from Independent Suzanna Sheed and no doubt it’s become clear Damian Drum’s Federal promise to relocate Government agencies to Greater Shepparton is being met with resounding silence. Couple these events with the Coalition’s Population Relocation Taskforce, which aims to decentralise Melbourne, and we have a recipe for some highly welcome pork barrelling. Would you like crackling with that..?
The Port of Melbourne is set to be privatised, which could price us ‘hillbillies’ out of the export trade altogether. Also, the QLD inland rail system is not planed to link with Shepparton. Further, the Nats failed to deliver the first stage of the Shepparton Bypass, instead offering the crumbs of a regional Infrastructure Fund to upgrade some roundabouts.
They need another solution to steal back the seat and capitalise on Greater Shepparton’s $2.88b GRP; $239.6m in Agriculture, forestry and fishing exports (4.4% in Victoria), on top of domestic consumption.
An Aviation hub in Greater Shepparton will put food on the plate in China overnight. We are marketed as green, healthy food, produced under best practice conditions. Organics is a popular Asian food choice. Also largely untapped markets like goat products, crayfish, mushroom, legumes etc. An aviation export hub will give farmers confidence to diversify away from stone fruit, dairy and wheat to truly Make Shepparton Greater.