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“Member for Benalla, Bill Sykes, Nationals Candidate for Euroa Electorate Steph Ryan and Leader of The Nationals and Deputy Premier Peter Ryan”


Friday, October 31, 2014
• Bright Splash Park opens
• $525,000 project to redevelop community infrastructure in foreshore park
• Victorian Government provided $300,000 for project which will boost tourism
Bright residents are rejoicing following today’s official opening of the Bright Splash Park, a part of the Bright Foreshore Redevelopment project, by Nationals Member for Benalla Bill Sykes.
In Bright representing Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development, Peter Ryan, Dr Sykes said the Victorian Government was proud to invest $300,000 from the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund in the Bright Foreshore Redevelopment project.
“The Bright Foreshore Redevelopment project will create a modern public space with better access to the Ovens Riverfront,” Dr Sykes said.
“Nestled on the banks of the Ovens River, Bright is a wonderful destination for bushwalking, canoeing, camping and rock climbing.
“This project will redevelop Bright’s Centenary Park on the banks of the river and close to the CBD.
“It will replace outdated infrastructure to create a modern space that will attract tourists and locals to the park and includes the addition of a unique gold mining-themed splash park on the banks of Morses Creek.”
Member for Murray Valley and candidate for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy said, “This innovative water splash park feature will create a distinct difference for Bright and bring new visitors to the region, creating a quality experience for visitors and locals throughout the warmer months.
“The increase in tourism will help boost local businesses and create new job opportunities.”
The project has already included replacement of the existing toddler pool with an extended splash park area and will include installation of new lighting and landscaping across the site.
Mr Ryan said Victorian Government funding for the $525,000 Bright Foreshore Redevelopment project was provided through the Regional Growth Fund to Alpine Shire Council, which contributed $145,000 along with $20,000 from the Bright Rotary Club and $60,000 from the Bright Community Bank Branch of the Bendigo Bank.
“The Regional Growth Fund invests in community-led projects to drive jobs, investment and innovation in rural and regional Victoria.
“Since it was established in 2011, the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund has invested in almost 1700 local projects in communities outside of Melbourne, generating around $1.9 billion of total investment.”
In Alpine Shire the Regional Growth Fund has provided $11.3 million to 38 projects, leveraging more than $32.4 million in total investment. These projects include:
• $2 million for the $14.572 million Bright Off River Water Storage (Election Commitment)
• $400,000 for the $400,000 Ireland Street Renewal Works
• $300,000 for the $452,000 Bright Art Gallery Facility Development
Following the opening Dr Sykes and Tim McCurdy joined Alpine Shire CEO Dave Barry, Mayor Peter Roper, councillors and members of the community at a farewell afternoon in recognition of Dr Sykes’ 12 years of service as the Member for Benalla.


Friday, October 31, 2014
Dear Editor

I write to thank the many local Honorary Justices of the Peace (JPs) for volunteering their time every Thursday over many years at my office to assist people with document witnessing and certification services.

They do a fantastic job and their services are greatly appreciated by the community.

In particular I thank Joy Poole, Phillip Messenger, Jack Harrison, Athol Graham, Di McMillan, Max Marriott, Gail Banfield, Steve London, Ian Roscoe, Athol Graham, Ken Whan, Max Marriott, Joan Stephens and Vince Vaccaro.

The Victorian Coalition Government has made changes to how the Department of Justice now works and the recognition of the important role that JPs play.

These changes have been warmly welcomed by JPs.

Yours sincerely

Bill Sykes
Member for Benalla
Parliamentary Secretary for Primary Industries


Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Dear Editor

I read with interest the article in last week’s Benalla Ensign on Voices for Indi’s successful forum at Swanpool recently.

I attended for part of the day and heard Tony Windsor, former Federal independent member speak.

I agreed with much of what he said especially:

• Country people do have power; and
• It is important to focus on what you agree on and present as a united voice in order to get things done.

However Mr Windsor’s view that the major parties had lost their way and that candidates and policies are determined by the party, not the members certainly does not apply to The Nationals.

The National Party has a clear focus on representing the interests of the diverse range of people living in country Victoria.

In the National Party, grass roots members select their Member of Parliament and have a significant input into policy formulation.

Examples of National Party policies which we took into the Coalition and became Coalition Government Policy include:

• The $1 billion Regional Growth Fund which has delivered on 1,650 projects and created thousands of jobs so far; and
• Replacing the inequitable insurance based Fire Services Levy with a much fairer property based levy which has resulted in most people paying substantially less levy.

Having spent eight years in opposition and four years in Government, I know that you have to be in government to deliver the big changes. I invite you to visit my website and compare what we have been able to deliver during our four years in government compared with the preceding eight years in opposition.

Another issue on which I share Mr Windsor’s concerns is the lack of interest many young people have in politics.

This is one of the reasons the local Nationals members selected 28 year old Steph Ryan as the Nationals candidate for Euroa.

Steph was born and raised in the electorate, went to university in Melbourne and worked both in country Victoria and worked more recently with politicians including the Deputy Premier Peter Ryan, Ted Baillieu when Premier, Peter Walsh Minister for Agriculture and Water and Kim Wells Minister for Police and Emergency Services.

She now resides in Wandong having grown up in the Murchison area.

Steph connects well with young (and older) people, works hard and knows how to get things done.

Yours sincerely

Bill Sykes
National Member for Benalla


Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Nationals Member for Benalla Bill Sykes today announced that Mansfield’s young people will be able to hone their BMX and skateboard tricks with $100,000 from the Victorian Coalition Government’s Community Facility Funding Program which will build a new Youth Hub including updated skate park facilities.

Dr Sykes said the project would provide both formal and informal skate opportunities for people of all ages and abilities creating a hub to cater for the needs of youth recreation and the wider community.

“The current skate park is co-located on the Mansfield Recreation Reserve which has recently undergone major renovation works and I was pleased to join the Member for Seymour Cindy McLeish at the official opening of the upgraded reserve.

“Sport and recreation clubs throughout the state are a vital part of our social fabric, particularly here in Mansfield and I congratulate all the parties involved in their efforts to provide a great skate park and Youth Hub facility for the town.”

Mansfield Secondary College student Harry Green has been involved in progressing this project for some time.

“The rebuild of the Mansfield skate park is a massive accomplishment by the youth of this town. There has been a push for an upgrade of the current park for years.

“Since I started skating at 11 years old the issue was a hot topic of conversation amongst the local kids, but it has only been in the past few years that someone has done something proactive and taken practical steps in achieving this goal,” Harry said.

“The construction of an enjoyable and safe skate park gives the youth of Mansfield an active pursuit outside of structured sport, a sport that doesn’t have a timeframe and that is accessible to anyone.

“It’s been a huge credit to the Mansfield Shire that they have been able to recognise this push and listen to the youth of their town.”

Ms McLeish said, “The Victorian Government is delighted to invest in sports facilities that bring even more great benefits to the community, encouraging people to get together and get more active and involved in youth related sporting activities.”

Nationals candidate for Eildon Jim Child said, “This funding will help develop a quality, accessible community sport and recreation facility that can play an important role in increasing participation, accommodate more people of all abilities, improve the health of the community for years to come and host bigger and better events.”

Mansfield Shire Council will match the $100,000 commitment by the Victorian Coalition Government.

Minister for Sport and Recreation, Damian Drum said the Victorian Government is committed to a more active Victoria and proud to give this timely boost to clubs throughout the state that are the backbone of their communities.

“This investment is recognition of the important role sports clubs play in community development, from providing a place for locals to meet and get active to supporting the development of volunteers,” Mr Drum said.

The Mansfield skate park was one of over 120 projects to receive funding from the 2015/2016 round of the Community Facility Funding Program.

For more information about the Community Facility Funding Program visit  


Monday, October 20, 2014
• Victorian Coalition Government providing $271,500 from $1 billion Regional Growth Fund for Merton Hall Refurbishment Project
• Project to rejuvenate community facility will boost economy and provide jobs during construction
• The Regional Growth Fund has delivered almost $440 million, generating over $1.8 billion of total investment across 1600 projects
Nationals Member for Benalla Bill Sykes today announced that the Victorian Coalition Government is investing $271,500 from the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund to rejuvenate the 91 year-old Merton Memorial Hall.
Making the announcement on behalf of the Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan, Dr Sykes said, “The Merton Memorial Hall has been a focal point for the small community of Merton since 1923.
“Over almost a century of use the building has reflected the dynamics of an ever changing country town – from hosting children’s nativity plays to becoming a refuge during bushfires.
“Unfortunately, due to its current state of disrepair, the hall is not used as fully as it once was.
“This project will greatly improve the functionality of the building and modernise its amenities and appearance.”
Member for Seymour Cindy McLeish said, “It will give residents of Merton new and improved facilities to enjoy, fostering greater connections within the growing community.
“The project will also create jobs and provide local businesses with work during the construction phase.”
Nationals candidate for Eildon Mr Child said the extensive upgrade of the Hall would include removing asbestos before building works begin, replastering, painting, roofing and insulating the existing building, reconfiguring the space, rewiring the building and installing heating and cooling, the addition of a kitchen, toilets and veranda, and landscaping that includes, paving, rear parking and a barbecue.
Mr Ryan said Victorian Government funding towards the $362,000 Merton Hall Refurbishment project would be provided through the Regional Growth Fund to Mansfield Shire Council, which would provide $68,625 through cash and in-kind. The balance of $21,875 would be provided by the Merton community.
“The Regional Growth Fund is investing in community-led projects to drive jobs, investment and innovation in rural and regional Victoria,” Mr Ryan said.
“Since it was established in 2011, the Regional Growth Fund has delivered almost $440 million, generating $1.8 billion of total investment across 1600 projects.”
In Mansfield Shire, the Regional Growth Fund has provided $3.4 million to 16 projects, leveraging $7.8 million in total investment. These projects include:
• $375,000 for the $750,000 Mt Buller Mt Stirling EPIC Mountain Bike Trail Project – Element Two;
• $169,500 for Yarck Hall upgrade; and
• $49,500 for the $61,895 Mansfield Community Leadership Program.
The project is expected to be complete in November 2016.


Monday, October 20, 2014
• An upgraded $71,840 community hall opens at Edi Upper, Wangaratta
• $23,000 from Regional Growth Fund supports new community hall
• $1 billion Regional Growth Fund continues to support regional Victoria
A newly upgraded community hall at Edi Upper has created a better venue to host local events, while boosting the surrounding economy, following a $23,000 investment from the Victorian Government’s $1 billion Regional Growth Fund.
Representing Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Peter Ryan, Member for Benalla Bill Sykes said the $23,000 Edi Upper Hall and Recreation Reserve Upgrade would benefit the community of Edi Upper, following improvements to the electricity supply, lighting, construction of a covered barbeque and function area and the repositioning of a water tank.
Dr Sykes said Edi Upper is one of the most picturesque parts of Victoria and an area that he is very proud to have had as part of the Benalla electorate.
“The installation of an outdoor playground and the barbeque and function area would provide a great asset for future social events and community activities in a lovely setting.
“In addition the more the hall is put to use, the more revenue it will deliver into the local community and economy,” Dr Sykes said.
“The all-round donations and in-kind services toward this project have been outstanding and the Rural City of Wangaratta has done well to get this project completed.
“The Government is proud to have invested in this project and I acknowledge the support of the Rural City of Wangaratta who provided $25,000 and the community’s contribution of $11,650 in donations and $12,190 in in-kind support.”
Deputy Premier, Peter Ryan said the $23,000 in Victorian Government support was provided through the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund.
“This project is an example of the Victorian Government’s commitment to invest in community-led initiatives, while strategically driving jobs, investment and innovation in rural and regional Victoria,” Mr Ryan said.
“Since it was established in 2011, the Regional Growth Fund has supported 1600 projects, generating $1.8 billion of total investment.
“In the Wangaratta Rural City, the Regional Growth Fund has provided $6.9 million to 33 projects, leveraging $12.6 million in total investment. These projects include:
• $500,000 for the $600,000 King Valley Community Complex
• $275,000 for the $423,178 Eldorado Multi-Purpose Track and Tourism Facilities, and
Dr Sykes concluded that with the electoral boundary changes the King Valley will become part of the Ovens Valley electorate.
“My colleague the Member for Murray Valley Tim McCurdy will in all probability become the member for that area after the November 29 State election.”


Monday, October 20, 2014


Friday, October 17, 2014

• Nationals Member for Benalla, Bill Sykes today participated in the annual Marngrook footy game at Bright P-12 College.
• Dr Sykes also took the opportunity to recognise the Bangarang people who are traditional custodians of much of the Benalla electorate.
Dr Sykes joined local community members, Bright P-12 students, teachers and some boys from the Wadeye Aboriginal community which is located in the Daly River Reserve in the Northern Territory, at the annual Marngrook footy match.
“To participate properly in this match we wear only a lap-lap and some ceremonial skin paint as we pursue a stuffed possum-skin ball,” Dr Sykes said.
“This game is part of the Bright P-12 partnership with the Thathangathay Foundation and the Kindred Spirits Foundation which seeks to provide broader experiences to young people from Wadeye, a seriously disadvantaged Northern Territory community.
“The aim is to also encourage students to achieve to their potential.”
Local Bright students benefit by having the opportunity to visit Wadeye and learn about their rich Aboriginal culture.
“Well done to Justin and Bec Crawley and the whole Bright community. It is a great project,” Dr Sykes said.
Dr Sykes also said that his experiences with the Bangerang people, traditional custodians of much of the Benalla electorate along with the Taungerong, Dhudhuroa and Yorta Yorta, had made a strong and lasting impression on him.
“I have worked with and formed great respect for the Bangerang people in Benalla. People such as Uncle Sandy Atkinson, Vicki, Marlene, Freddie Dowling, Jane, Kevin Atkinson, Uncle Wally Cooper and his boys Kevin and Jesse.
“Uncle Wally has a great ability to connect our cultures, highlighted by the words he uses when he does a welcome to country. He highlights that, ‘We walk across this country together’.
“One of my most treasured memories is from earlier this year, when with the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs I met with over 100 Bangerang people in Benalla.
“We met four generations of proud, caring people with a very strong connection to their country.
“I wish them well in their application to become a registered Aboriginal party, which is currently being considered by the Aboriginal Heritage Council.”


Friday, October 17, 2014
Nationals Member for Benalla, Bill Sykes in Parliament this week requested that the Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development Peter Ryan support a bid by the Yarck community to fund infrastructure upgrades in the township.
“As my colleague, the Member for Seymour Cindy McLeish, knows full well Yarck is on the Maroondah Highway between Merton and Murrindindi and Molesworth,” Dr Sykes said.
“It is a beautiful part of the world with a small yet strong community of a few hundred people.
“It is a community that people going up to the snowfields on Mt Buller and Mt Stirling often pop into for a cup of coffee.”
Dr Sykes said the town has a number of businesses including the Giddy Goat Café, Yarck General Store, the Yarck Hotel and a book store.
“We also have a number of businesses that generate a lot of money for the local economy including Keath’s Excavations.
“There are various other community facilities such as a recreation reserve and war memorial and a hall at which the Member for Seymour joined me to announce $169,000 from the Regional Growth Fund for the upgrade to the hall.”
The Nationals, in coalition, have delivered substantially for local communities throughout north east Victoria particularly through the $1 billion Regional Growth Fund.
This includes $8,860 for the Jamieson Hall fire shelter upgrade, $90,000 for Maindample Community Park project, $75,580 for the Tolmie Tea Rooms, $500,000 for the Mansfield Community Gathering Place. In addition the Bonnie Doon Community Centre has recently received an extra $27,000 to increase its weekly operational hours to 20.
The funding for Yarck would involve further landscaping of the streetscape, signage and pathways and placement of outdoor furniture to accommodate visitors and bike riders using the Great Victorian Rail Trail.
“Yarck is one of the key locations on that trail which is a magnificent connector between Mansfield in the high country through to Yea and Alexandra to Tallarook.
“If we can put in place this infrastructure we will have a more vibrant community that locals will be pleased to call home and that visitors will be pleased to call in to.
“Along with my colleague Cindy McLeish and the Nationals candidate for the area Jim Child I seek the support of the Minister to help kick this little community along.”
The Minister for State Development Peter Ryan has responded to this request and said that the project was certainly in the nature of the sort of projects supported through the Regional Growth Fund since 2010.
“As is the case with all those that come to the fund, the application will be carefully assessed however in the first instance it seems to be very worthy of being supported and I commend the Member for bringing it before the house,” Mr Ryan said.
Mr Ryan also congratulated Dr Sykes for a distinguished period of some 12 years of service as the Member for Benalla.
“The matter he raises to support the development of Yarck reflects the extraordinary concern he has demonstrated to his communities over this time. I wish him well, which I am sure reflects a perspective that is held throughout his electorate of Benalla.”


Friday, October 10, 2014
Dear Editor

Labor has made much of its pledge to spend $200 million on regional jobs initiatives and $1 billion on regional roads, but let’s look more closely.

The regional jobs initiatives Labor “announced” are already reality under the Coalition’s Regional Growth Fund. Regional Development Victoria manages 18 regional offices which ‘facilitate investment, jobs and exports, creating a local contact point for businesses, council and community groups’ and has a Business Engagement Team which helps grow regional business and investment.

Yet Labor openly says it will axe the Regional Growth Fund. The growth fund has already delivered 5000 regional jobs, and will deliver another $500 million in direct investment to regional Victoria over the next term of government – far more than the $200 million it claims it will spend on regional jobs strategies which are already running.

In the electorate of Benalla, specifically Alpine, Mansfield, Murrindindi and Strathbogie Shire councils and Benalla Rural City, the Regional Growth Fund has invested $26,382,372 into 131 community-nominated projects worth a total of $65,148,815.

This includes investing $5 million for the Benalla Education Regeneration P-12 project, $500,000 for Nagambie streetscape, $300,000 for both Avenel Recreation Reserve and Euroa Conference and Function Centre, $500,000 for Mansfield Community Gathering Place and $800,000 for the Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing.

Labor’s pamphlets state it will spend $1 billion on regional roads is over eight years – $125 million a year. This year, the Coalition invested $500 million in roads maintenance. Labor is actually promising to cut roads maintenance budgets by up to 75 per cent.

Labor will scrap the Country Roads and Bridges program ($160 million) and refuses to build the Murray Basin Rail Project (up to $220 million), which will standardise freight rail from Geelong to Mildura, connecting businesses and farms in north and west Victoria to Portland, Geelong and South Australia, creating jobs and investment.

Don’t be fooled. Labor will cut the country.

Yours sincerely

Bill Sykes
Member for Benalla