This week I had the pleasure of officially opening the new and improved Trangie-Nevertire Irrigation Scheme. The opening took place on the Macquarie River at Gin Gin and represented more than half a decade of hard work by the Scheme board and members. The scheme will provide long-term water efficiency and crop productivity gains for local irrigators, with the benefits to flow through to the wider community. The Federal Government contributed $115 million to the world class scheme while members transferred 29.620 mega litres of permanent water savings to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder for the $115 million funding which I believe will promote sustainable growth and development in the Macquarie region for many decades to come. The modernised scheme now hosts an upgrade of a long earthen channel irrigation and stock and domestic water supply system, fully-pressurised stock and domestic pipeline to 102 member farms to allow continuous supply of clean river water. The improved scheme also includes an upgrade of the river irrigation pumps to variable speed and world leading control and delivery gates with telemetry control, significant on farm irrigation system improvements aimed at more efficient water use. The new stock and domestic pipeline system is also providing substantial benefits to farmers through the supply of regular good quality water for homes and for stock. Overall the scheme will go a long way to help improve the efficiency and productivity of water use and management of private irrigation networks, and on top of that deliver water savings for the environment. Water savings achieved through these improvements will be available for increased crop production and Commonwealth environmental watering activities. On average over the long term, 11,516 ML every year will be returned for the environmental needs of the Basin. The local community has also benefitted from the project, as much of the construction work involved local contractors and regional business. ………………………………………………… The search is on for Australia’s vocational skills and training champions, with just one month before applications close for the 2015 Australian Training Awards. The awards are a great way to recognise those doing important work in the skills and training space. I encourage individuals, schools, registered training organisations and businesses to apply for these showcase awards. For more than 20 years, the Australian Training Awards have highlighted excellence in our national vocational education and training sector. Our Government is taking action to strengthen the VET sector and get the best results for students and employers, because it is central to our economic growth and to employment outcomes. These awards recognise those helping to deliver a world leading education and training system and help to drive the continued pursuit of excellence. There are 18 award categories, with seven accepting direct applications and the rest nominated from the best in state and territory training awards programmes. To apply for a direct entry category before applications close on 29 May, visit www.australiantrainingawards.gov.au or phone 02 6240 8155.