West Gate Tunnel Project secured for Benalla Pre-Cast Concrete plant

Posted: 10th Dec

Taking shape

by SIMON RUPPERT
Benalla Ensign 

Benalla’s future is looking bright as Lima South Precast forge ahead with the development of the new concrete facility being built on Benalla-Yarrawonga Rd.

A pop-up shop has also been opened in Carrier St to provide the community with answers to any questions they might have as well as creating an employment hub where prospective employees can apply for a position.

LS Precast managing director Ashley Day said he was excited the controversy over the future of the West Gate Tunnel project is over and all the contracts are signed.

‘‘It’s a great position to be in, we’re excited all that’s past us,’’ Mr Day said.

‘‘It’s fantastic, it really is.

‘‘The shop has officially opened, the facility is well under construction and we hope to be pouring concrete later this year.

‘‘We’re looking at 400 local jobs, 300 within the facility and we expect at least 100 associated jobs in the cafés, shops and supermarkets, for example.’’

Construction at the site is moving ahead at pace.

The frame of one of three massive warehouses is already up and work on the rail siding has started.

The rail connection is one element that will give the facility the option to tender for jobs anywhere between Melbourne and Brisbane.

The Australian Rail Track Corporation gave a presentation to Benalla Rural City Council on Wednesday outlining plans to run double-stacked trains between Melbourne and Brisbane with a 24-hour delivery time.

‘‘It’s all added benefit. We plan on transporting a lot of the precast down to Melbourne on the train to keep the trucks off the road,’’ Mr Day said.

‘‘It’s fantastic. We’ll be able to not only use the facility for transporting the precast, but later on we’ll have our own rail siding and we’ll be able to invite freight companies and lots of different people to use that same facility.

‘‘Victoria is under a major infrastructure boom, so we’ll be tendering for any job that comes up needing precast.

‘‘We’ll be going for lots of different opportunities.

‘‘We have a solid strategy going forward. We’re hoping for, not only the next infrastructure job, but we’ll be looking to diversify between this and my other business LS Quarry.

‘‘With the rail siding and freight there should lots of opportunities out there.’’

A walk through the site shows the scale of the project, which is something State Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes did on Monday.

‘‘I don’t think I can remember a more important event in Benalla,’’ Ms Symes said.

‘‘I think if you ask people we haven’t seen this type of buzz in Benalla since Thales came. It’s been a long time coming.

‘‘There’s a buzz, there’s optimism, there's’s excitement about what this is going to do for the town, not only from people that are looking for jobs, but people who are running businesses here, too.

‘‘It’s also great for people that are investing in real estate, the flow-on effects for a small town such as Benalla are endless.

‘‘And to have someone like Ash Day, who’s local, being responsible for the employment and operation of the facility is a great coup.’’

Ms Symes said there were times she felt the West Gate Tunnel Project would be stopped, and she was concerned about the future of the facility proposed for Benalla.

‘‘When you don’t have the numbers in the upper house and you’ve got a Liberal party that was against the West Gate Tunnel Project, they got the Nats to vote with them, they got the Greens to vote with them and our project was in jeopardy,’’ Ms Symes said.

‘‘It was only because of big industry in Melbourne. The transport companies, the industry companies, who said that they really needed the West Gate Tunnel to go ahead.

‘‘But also the outcry here in town was phenomenal. For someone who’s grown up in Benalla, you say hello to a lot of people walking down the street.

‘‘Very rarely do people come up to me and talk about work, but it was phenomenal.

‘‘People were coming out of the shops asking ‘What’s going on with the West Gate Tunnel? What’s going on? We need these jobs.

‘‘So I was concerned that they had the power to knock it off in the parliament. We started to hear some rumbling that they were going to give up, but until we got past that date in June and we knew they lost the ability to retract the planning approvals through the parliamentary process, it wasn’t until then that I was confident that we could go ahead.’’

Benalla Mayor Don Firth echoed Ms Symes sentiment and described the new facility as ‘‘the most important thing we’ve had happen for a long time.’’

‘‘Ashley tells me they’ve already had 60 people come through looking for work. It’s just spectacular,’’ Cr Firth said.

‘‘That means there’s been 60 locals come in and not only apply for a job, but potentially a career.

‘‘This is not just a four-year project. It will be for ongoing projects for years to come. Long enough for good, long careers for young and not-so-young people.’’

●For more information or to apply for a job vsit lsprecast.com.au