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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”


Monday, November 17, 2014
• Memorial park honouring Euroa’s three Victoria Cross recipients opens
• VC Memorial Park a wonderful location to remember Euroa’s military heroes
• Victorian Government invests $150,000 through Regional Growth Fund
A memorial park that’s now home to bronze statues honouring Euroa’s three Victoria Cross recipients was officially opened today by The Nationals Member for Benalla, Bill Sykes.
In Euroa representing Deputy Premier Peter Ryan Dr Sykes said the Victorian Government was proud to invest $150,000 from the Regional Growth Fund developing VC Memorial Park.
“VC Memorial Park is a wonderful location for the whole community to remember Euroa’s military heroes, particularly the district’s three Victoria Cross recipients Major Fred Tubb, Lance Corporal Alexander Burton and Lieutenant Les Maygar,” Dr Sykes said.
“Improvements to the area have ensured the precinct is accessible for people of all abilities, opening up further opportunities for community activity, including significant remembrance events.
“The upgrade of the parkland on Kirkland Avenue included amenities such as dedicated seating and shade areas, feature lighting, retaining walls and the construction of accessible pathways.
“Signage has been included in the development and Euroa locals have named this wonderful new community asset VC Memorial Park following a competition run by Euroa’s Honouring Our Heroes Committee.”
The Nationals candidate for Euroa Steph Ryan said the project had strong community support and praised the ongoing efforts of community members.
“In particular well done to all members of the Honouring Our Heroes committee including Chair Neville Harris, Vice Chair Fred Wawrzik and Brian Bamford.
“Acknowledgement of the strong support provided by the Strathbogie Shire is also important.”
Mr Ryan said developing VC Memorial Park had strong community support, particularly from the Honouring Our Heroes Committee which contributed $20,000.
“The committee has led the way in establishing the publicly-funded bronze statues of Euroa’s three Victoria Cross recipients,” Mr Ryan said.
“The Victorian Government contributed $150,000 through the Regional Growth Fund and Strathbogie Shire Council provided $30,000.”
Mr Ryan said the Regional Growth Fund was investing in community-led projects to strategically 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 1800 local projects in communities outside of Melbourne, generating almost $2 billion of total investment,” Mr Ryan said.
“In Strathbogie Shire, the Regional Growth Fund has provided more than $4 million to 25 projects, leveraging over $4.9 million in total investment. These projects include:
• $300,000 for the $400,000 Euroa Conference and Function Centre Redevelopment
• $315,260 for the $315,260 Violet Town Transfer Station Development
• $60,000 for the $80,000 Strathbogie Shire Economic Development Master Plan.”


Monday, November 17, 2014
Nationals Member for Benalla Bill Sykes and candidate for Euroa Steph Ryan today announced $10,000 in funding to host a premier parachute event in January 2015 at Nagambie Skydive on behalf of the Minister for Sport and Recreation Damian Drum.
Dr Sykes said the funding is provided through the Coalition Government’s Significant Sporting Events Program.
“I was pleased to write a letter of support for Nagambie Skydive’s application which was submitted to Sport and Recreation Victoria earlier this year. This is great news that they have been successful in their bid,” Dr Sykes said.
“The Australian Skydiving National Championship is the official event sanctioned by the Australian Parachute Federation that attracts competitors not only from all over Australia but internationally as well.
“This is a significant sporting event of the highest class that provides a platform for elite state and national competitors to vie not only for medals but the chance to be in the Australian National Team competing internationally.”
The event has not been held in Victoria since 1988 with organisers expecting up to 120 participants for the nine day event with approximately 70 per cent coming from outside Victoria.
Ms Ryan said the event would provide economic and tourism benefits to Nagambie and district which offers quality accommodation, food and wine and sightseeing.
“Nagambie is situated on a beautiful lake and is the birthplace of horse racing legend Black Caviar. In 2013 a statue of Black Caviar was installed in the township which has become a popular tourist attraction,” she said.
“When I visited Nagambie Skydive in mid 2014 I was impressed with the professionalism of the team including Don and Louise Cross and Dan Tothill.
“The 2015 Australian Parachute Federation National Skydiving Championships will bring economic benefits to the Nagambie area.”
Mr Drum said a focus on regional cities and towns means the Significant Sporting Events Program is vital to regional Victoria.
A re-elected Coalition Government will continue the program investing a further $3.5 million over the next four years.
“A Coalition Government gives regional Victoria a true voice, and program and events such as the Skydiving Championships at Nagambie will inject tourism benefits for regional areas.
“Regional Victoria deserves major sport and it’s the Coalition that will work hard to make that happen,” he said.
The Victorian Coalition Government has also provided $75,000 for the Nagambie after-the-bypass strategy, $50,000 for landscaping around the Black Caviar statue and $600,000 for Nagambie’s streetscape project.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Dear Editor

Wow! At last Labor leader Daniel Andrews has got the message that we sent to the Brumby Government in 2010.

Four years on, Dan has agreed that the $750 million north-south pipeline is not necessary – something that we told them loud and clear from the day they announced their ill-conceived idea in 2007.

Readers will recall how we were enraged by Steve Bracks and John Brumby breaking their 2006 election promise to not take water from northern Victoria.

They arrogantly ‘rode rough shot’ over us and built the pipe to take water from drought stricken northern Victoria to flush the toilets of Melbourne.

Remember the countless hours that thousands of people put in to argue the case against the pipeline logically and to protest.

Remember the placards like “you can lead a Brumby to water but you can’t make him think”.
So now the north-south pipeline will continue to lay idle as it has since the Minister for Water, Nationals Peter Walsh turned it off in 2011.

This $750 million white elephant stands beside the multi-billion dollar desalination plant white elephant as testament to the fact that Labor:

• Can’t manage water supplies
• Can’t manage money
• Can’t manage major projects
• Can’t be trusted to tell the truth

I remain outraged about Labor’s contempt for country Victoria.

Yours sincerely

Bill Sykes
Nationals Member for Benalla
Parliamentary Secretary for Primary Industries


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