Independant Candidate for Nicholls Andrew Bock met with representatives of Strathbogie Shire Council and other stakeholders on Monday to discuss a long-awaited upgrade to Mangalore Airport, just north of Seymour.
Mr Bock said that upgrading the site, allowing air-freight to reach national and international markets, would complement existing road and rail freight services that pass right by the existing airport.
‘‘With the Goulburn Valley Fwy and Tocumwal rail line a stone’s throw to the west and the Hume Fwy and North East rail line to the east — this is a no-brainer,’’ he said.
‘‘Not only would it diversify the economy and bring much-needed jobs to the residents of Seymour, Nagambie and surrounding towns, it would allow the primary producers, processors and manufacturing firms right across the electorate to access new markets quickly and cheaply.
‘‘This project is often mentioned in the lead-up to elections, only to be dropped after the race is run.
‘‘I’m aware it would only take a modest investment from government. Both sides of politics are currently touting their infrastructure spending plans and the government have earmarked $100million for regional airport upgrades.’’
From last Monday’s meeting the true nature of what is needed to upgrade the airport became apparent.
As the airport is supplied by bore water and its electricity supply is at its limit, it would need to be connected to town water — likely to Seymour’s supply via Avenel — and its power infrastructure would need to be upgraded before major works could go ahead.
The existing runway is big enough for larger aircraft, but it would need to be rebuilt to take their weight.
And because the airport is privately owned, it is not on Infrastructure Victoria’s radar, which is the main reason there hasn’t been any official costings done.
However, according to Mr Bock, the sum needed for these upgrades was nothing compared to what they could mean for the community.
‘‘If the state organises the power and water, the Federal Government investment would be approximately $100million — a pittance compared to the benefits to our region,’’ he said.
‘‘As an independent Member for Nicholls, I can promise to keep it on the political radar and fight tooth and nail until the social and economic benefits that this modest investment will bring are achieved.’’