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EDITORIAL: We need to keep an eye on the ball

We desperately hope the State Government remains tuned in to major growth opportunities unfolding across Victoria, in particular multi-million-dollar development projects in the regions.

To say Victoria should be desperate to not only identify but also support where possible all profound growth opportunities, especially in a ‘new’ go-to agricultural sector, would be an understatement.

All state governments would be in the same boat – scanning the inboxes, the files, the contacts and the networks for projects, private and public, that would provide oomph to socio-economic recovery. But we couldn’t help but fear that Spring Street, while understandably preoccupied with COVID-19, might end up being guilty of considerable negligence if it fails to take notice of its regional people on the ground and act quickly.

Australian Plant Proteins is using patented technology to develop high-value protein powder from pulse crops for a $20-million to $130-million export project.

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It has established what is set to become a $40-million base in Horsham based on a business case developed in the region and ready access to necessary raw primary Wimmera product.

But its leaders have more than hinted that doing business with Victoria is far from embracing or encouraging and as a result they have now broadened their   next-stage expansion considerations to include other broadacre-farming states.

We have to ask whether the State Government, through regional development and agriculture leadership, has left all stones unturned in working to keep this expansion in Victoria. This is serious and goes well beyond the old ‘the state stops at Ballarat’ rhetoric.

We’re talking about a new Australian international export business, ticking all the boxes from regional development to state health and prosperity and ready to supply a hungry market nationally and beyond –  a market immune from China trade complications.

The State Government is perhaps rightfully getting the benefit of the doubt for all sorts of positioning during the COVID-19 crisis. 

It’s undoubtedly been tough to get formulas right. But it would be unforgivable if Victoria and regional Victoria were to lose the lion’s share of this Wimmera-born project because of slap-on-the-back ambivalence in Melbourne.

It is far from the time to be asleep at the wheel and we don’t need to get a sense from large-scale private agricultural enterprise that it is getting too hard to get any love in Victoria.

Jumping at shadows? Maybe, maybe not. 

We appeal to whoever has the most appropriate level of clout to get on the phone and make some calls.

The entire May 27, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire May 27, 2020 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!