Distillery withdraws from government grant process

THE New Norfolk Distillery has today announced its withdrawal from a grant application process with the State Government that would have assisted with its planned redevelopment at the Willow Court historic site at New Norfolk.

In a statement, New Norfolk Distillery director Tarrant Derksen said continued delays and the politicisation of issues were making it difficult for the business to meet its grant conditions. Mr Derksen said it was disappointing that after five years and more than $200,000 invested in the project, an apparent reversal by the Derwent Valley Council had given the business no option other than to withdraw from the process.

“This development was going to be an important part of the revitalisation of Willow Court, which is much needed and long overdue, creating 40 jobs during construction, 40 jobs once complete and investing $6.5 million in the local community,” Mr Derksen said. “Instead, we now have a situation where yet again, the Derwent Valley Council has said no to development at Willow Court, leaving the site to become more derelict.”

Mr Derksen said recent politicisation of the project by the Labor Party was unfortunate, “given it was a Labor Government who originally dumped Willow Court on the Derwent Valley community, 23 years ago.”

“As a result of the combined actions of the Derwent Valley Council and the Labor Party, Willow Court will now miss out on much-needed investment and a message has been sent to investors in Tasmania, ‘beware you might become political roadkill for a reckless Labor Party’ through no fault of your own.”

“Perhaps the local member for Lyons, Bec White, could tell us her plan for the site now that no one is going to be investing in it and how she obtained commercial in confidence information? Or maybe she could tell her Labor Party colleague mayor Michelle Dracoulis her plans for Willow Court?”

“It’s shocking the amount of commercial-in-confidence information that has leaked from the Derwent Valley Council including our letter and lease document and how her own local community is being used for political leverage. We have acted with integrity on this matter at all times, and our only desire was to build a world class tourist attraction in the beautiful Derwent Valley,” Mr Derksen said.

During parliamentary scrutiny of this year’s State Budget this week, Labor and Greens members asked a number of questions about the proposed government grant of $1.2 million to the New Norfolk Distillery, including the Derksen family’s links to the Liberal Party. Tarrant Derksen’s brother, Justin Derksen, is a Derwent Valley councillor and previous Liberal candidate for the state seat of Lyons. Having previously led the family’s building company, Crusader Homes, Justin Derksen now works as an advisor to Lyons MHA and government minister Guy Barnett. Cr Derksen told last month’s council meeting this was no secret.

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