Work is set in concrete despite spat

06 Jun 2018 Border Mail, Albury-Wodonga (General News) by Anthony Bunn GROUNDWORK is clearly well under way for a $60 million plant to make concrete for Melbournes West Gate tunnel, even though rival North East politicians are arguing over the projects fate. Benalla-raised Labor MLC Jaclyn Symes and Nationals member for Euroa Steph Ryan have traded barbs over the factory which is expected to generate 400 jobs. It was stated by Ms Symes in a media release headlined Leadership Test Looms for Steph Ryan on Benalla Concrete Jobs that the Nationals were engaging in reckless parliamentary stunts to jeopardise new employment. Ms Ryan hit back. Shes just making stuff up there, there is no leadership test, Ms Ryan said. The only test is a test of her honesty. Ms Symes claimed Benalla residents were dumbfounded and angry that their local National member was part of a plan that risked much-needed employment opportunities. She was referring to a vote in parliament in March which saw work on the tunnel stop before resuming via the Planning Minister. I will always support jobs for my hometown of Benalla, it is disappointing that the National Party are more interested in Melbourne politics than real outcomes for country people, Ms Symes said. Ms Ryan said she had never voted against the project and work had continued. Shes doing everything she can to whip up fear about it, Ms Ryan said of Ms Symes. Ms Ryan pointed to contractor CPB-John Holland advertising for engineers and managers at the Benalla plant as evidence of the factory proceeding. When The Border Mail visited the site on Murray Road on the northern edge of Benalla, a wire perimeter fence was being erected and truckloads of fill were being moved as part of groundwork for the plant which will make precast concrete. Temporary accommodation is expected to expand at the site later this month with the factory due to begin production in October. The West Gate Tunnels construction contractors, CPB and John Holland are recruiting for management roles that will provide ongoing assistance with quality control and management of the facility, Western Distributor Authority spokeswoman Kim Payne said. The bulk of recruitment is likely to be nearer October.