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February 5, 2023

Cannabis and rail trail among projects funded

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A medical cannabis facility at Casino has received Federal Government funding.

A medicinal cannabis facility at Casino and the first stage of a rail trail are among nine projects to receive funding from the Federal Government.

Page MP Kevin Hogan said more than 1000 jobs would be created across the Northern Rivers thanks to more than $17 million of Federal Government grants for nine job-creating projects.

‘The nine projects I am announcing today will create more than 500 direct and therefore at least another 500 indirect jobs. In terms of wages, this is an additional $50 million that will be coming into our community each year,’ he said.

‘The recipients of these grants are matching the funding, taking the total value of the projects to well over $36 million.

‘These projects are game-changers and will provide greater opportunities for job seekers of all ages.”

The projects are:

*         Relocation of world-leading robotics firm Adaptapack’s state-of-the-art facilities to the Northern Rivers creating more than 100 new skilled jobs. These jobs will include marketing and mechanical and electrical engineering. The company will also be working with education providers such as Tafe and the university ($1.5 million),

*       Fast-tracking Solaris Nutraceuticals’ (formerly known as Puff Ventures) Medicinal Cannabis Processing Facility at Casino which will employ more than 280 people ($2.5 million),

*        Expansion of the Whiddon Group’s Kyogle Aged Care Facility providing almost 100 construction jobs and increasing the permanent workforce to more than 40. The additional 23 beds also mean older community members will not be forced to move away from family and friends to find an Age Care Bed ($4.7 million),

*        Major upgrade of Culmaran Creek Road to unlock barriers to growth of existing Agri-business, such as Mara Seeds, creating 26 jobs ($1.7 million),

*        Oz Group Export Ready Innovation Program to expand the export market of Blueberries and implement advanced technology, modified atmosphere and robotics, creating more than 30 jobs ($1 million),

*        Establishment of Intellectual Vision’s Raw Food Hub at Nana Glen, creating about 80 jobs ($400,000),

       Upskilling of Northern Rivers Food Producers for Food Tourism ($30,000),

*         Expansion of Oneva Holding’s Macadamia processing facility to make nut-based cheese for domestic and international markets, creating ten jobs (147,000),

*         Stage 1 of the Northern Rivers Rail Trail that will revitalise small communities along the route, underpin the tourism industry as well as boosting destination appeal encouraging visitors to stay longer and inject more money into our local economy. Figures for a completed Rail Trail show a base case of 88,000 visitors per annum, direct expenditure from visitors would be $18 million a year providing 60 direct jobs and 300 indirect jobs for a total of 360 jobs.

The projects are funded under the Government’s Regional Jobs and Investment Programme.

Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government John McVeigh said the projects were funded after an extensive assessment process involving strong community input.
“The initiative is part of the Federal Government’s commitment to stimulate jobs and drive economic growth in Australia’s regions. The projects announced by thanks to Page MP Kevin Hogan, will provide locals with a range of employment and investment opportunities,” he said.

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  1. Great to see our local member acknowledging the benefits and jobs that a rail trail will bring to our inland towns and villages. It’s time to get past romantic notions of a train on this old and disintegrating line and put the corridor to good use for community recreational and tourism projects.

    • Glenys,

      Have you tried getting across the region by the buses we have? It’s precisely the absence of railway services that hundreds of people are having great difficulty in getting to education and employment, or anything else, such as getting to the beach or visiting friends – without a car.

      Perhaps you are too young to remember when people from Kyogle, Casino and Lismore could go to the beach for the day, and return home by the evening? People would catch a train to get to High School in Mullumbumby from Byron, or from north of Kyogle to Casino.

      People seem to have either short memories, or no interest in the history of the area, to know that when we had less people, we had better transport! This thing about the numbers on the XPT isn’t relevant; it was a disaster, as it was put on too late in the day to get people around when they needed it for local travel.

      Working with people with disabilities, you surely must know that equitable means socially inclusive, and as much as possible we need to cater for people with disabilities, chronic illness, the elderly and small children who cannot catch bus after bus over the distances we have in this region.

      We can’t have a day trip to Brisbane for medical appointments, as the Brisbane XPT too, is at an inconvenient time of the day. There are hundreds of people that would use a functional integrated public transport system.

      Ripping up the rails will not even be good for cyclists and tourism, as many people would be looking for transport to put their bike on if a storm comes up, or they feel ill in a terrible heat spell.

      It’s about time we went into the 21st century and brought 21st century trains with solar, much better than the one that you experienced in Byron in December.

  2. Where are the figures coming from to equate 88000 people using the rail trail ?
    Is it more like 88 people but that figure wasn’t enough to get funding ?
    The Northern rivers needs a public rail transport system

  3. The Rail Trail is to cost $13million. You don’t invest money unless you get a return on money, say 6 percent interest a year.
    That is about $14million.
    Can anyone tell me just how there will be a return on $14 million coming into the Northern Rivers because of the Rail Trail.
    At least with a railway you can sell tickets and get a return on investment straight away.
    Oh, the Rail Trail will bring tourists.
    Just how will it bring tourists.
    The people who will walk, ride bikes and ride horses they will be locals and they will do it for free and spend no money for the privilege.
    The trouble with the Rail Trail is it will bring no money into the Northern Rivers.
    We could go to India and get a white elephant.

    • The negativity implicit and explicit in some of this commentary is extraordinary and of course baseless.
      Six percent of 13m is not 14m Len. The cost benefit analysis is outlined in 3.3.5 of the Casino to Murwillumbah Rail Trail Study and it shows a positive return from 35,000 visits per annum. Why on earth would you not expect the visitors to come from the usual sources of domestic tourism . Murwillumbah is just twenty minutes from the Southern part of Australia’s third largest conurbation; we know too that many people travel long distances now to enjoy the rail trials in Victoria and even NZ. The rail trail report shows data on for spending at those Australasian rail trails average $200 a day, spending at small businesses spread along the path. That is why Victorian councils have worked to extend their rail trails. Neville asked where the 88,000 figure came from. The base figure is outlined at 3.5.2 of the Study. It is a figure for the full trail and it applied the ratio of 1.9% rail trail / all domestic visitors of Murray Valley trail – considered the most comparable tourist destination in length of trial and distance from a major centre – to domestic visits to our region. Gary Ainsworth as ever fails to show why other rail trails grow each year in patronage but a trail in an area as attractive as hours, worth a better year round climate and close to an urban area of 3m people would be any different.
      Tjerk more sensibly asked about buses to pick users up. The bus services to past Crabbes Creek are not great which is why we need to improve them. In places like Wangaratta there are services that take people to the end or points along the rail trail, and there are plenty of shuttle operators already in our region that could provide such services. Thanks to the rail trail Vicrail has also resiled from its long standing policy of not carrying bikes on coaches; perhaps NSW rail can end its unnecessary policy of bikes having to be boxed on coaches and trains.
      Can I take the chance to congratulate the NRRT this achievement and to thank all the local members and Councillors who made it happen.

  4. It will be interesting to see how long the rail trail lasts. I give it a year. There’s no chance in hell it will live up to the unrealistic predictions that have been made. Nobody will use it. The Government will then no doubt close the trail, saying how it wasn’t used enough, then sell the land to developers. It’s bound to happen that way unfortunately.

  5. Unfortunately Solaris Nutraceuticals is a Canadian owned company that is some how sneaking into a market and area that surely could be filled 100% by local business and personnel. And now they are getting $2.5 million of tax payers money. Smells Adani-ish.

  6. Howe can I juse a rail trail if there is no train ore bus to bring me to the start of the walk and pick me up where I end my walk?

  7. Does Lismore really want to support a company that is central to the agenda to automate millions of people around the world out of their jobs? Because this is what Adaptapack’s operation is all about. Shouldn’t Lismore, with its strong cultural focus on social justice, oppose this?


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