Labor more focused on jobs for mates than jobs for the Valley

The Andrews Labor Government has given another Labor mate the job of head of the Latrobe Valley Authority (LVA) despite its funding expiring on June 30 and no more program funds being available.

The Labor Government announced last week that former Labor staffer and ALP candidate for McMillian, Chris Buckingham had been appointed as CEO of the LVA.

This follows the appointment of the president of the South Gippsland branch of the Labor Party, Karen Cain as CEO back in 2017.

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region Melina Bath said the LVA is more about jobs for local Labor people than it is for delivering jobs for the region.

“It’s extraordinary that the Government has appointed another Labor mate to this position, but unfortunately we are not surprised.

“It is not lost on the community that there seems to be more focus on employment for Labor party members than ongoing jobs for the people of the Latrobe Valley.

Evidence presented to Parliament’s Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) recently showed that the Authority spent all its grant funding last financial year, meaning there is no funding to help new or expanding business in the region. Its staff are only funded up until 30 June next year.

“I am very alarmed that the Government appears to be winding down the LVA at a time unemployment is edging up to post-Hazelwood levels,” Ms Bath said.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South and PAEC committee member, Danny O’Brien questioned the future of the LVA.

“One wonders how a new CEO is appointed to a $200-300k salary job when the organisation itself has no funding in the budget papers beyond the end of this financial year.

“With the Government’s plan to shut down the native timber industry and the early closure of the Yallourn power station, as well as a gradual winding down of the oil and gas industry in Wellington Shire, it would be premature to end financial support for our region just now.

“However, this situation probably confirms to us that the LVA has always been more about photo opportunities for Labor Ministers and not about jobs for Gippslanders

“We have seen that with the Premier’s broken promise to deliver 500 new jobs through the failed SEA Electric Vehicle Manufacturing factory where the pre-election promise was not matched by delivery.”