Labor’s Latrobe Valley Report ignores evidence

The final report of Victoria’s Parliamentary Inquiry into the Closure of Hazelwood and Yallourn Power stations has ignored evidence and failed to address the future economic transition of the Latrobe Valley

Today in State Parliament, The Nationals and Liberals released a Minority Report which considers all the evidence provided to properly investigate the impact of the closure on jobs and the local regional economy.

The Minority Report highlights that the Latrobe Valley Authority (LVA) had a narrow focus on social benefits instead of establishing new industries and creating sustainable ongoing jobs for its highly skilled technical workforce to transition to. It recommends the disbandment of the LVA.

The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region Melina Bath, who established the Inquiry, said the LVA promised big, but evidence showed it failed to transition the local economy.

“It’s extraordinary that Labor has put over $290 million into the LVA in the past six years and has failed to establish a transition plan.

Ms Bath said this Inquiry was one that Labor didn’t want to happen – Andrews Government MPs and its army of Independent’s attempted to block its establishment.

“Through the Committee Report Labor used its majority vote to whitewash local sentiment and ignore vital evidence to the contrary – it even dismissed the results of its own community survey on the LVA,” said Ms Bath.

“During evidence and in the Committee report, the LVA cite unemployment data for the Latrobe-Gippsland region which is derived from six local government areas (LGA) as a measure of success, instead of drilling down to examine the Latrobe LGA at the epicentre of the economic fallout of power station closures.

“At 7.8 per cent, Latrobe LGA’s unemployment is double the national unemployment rate, and it has the lowest engagement of people in the actual workforce across Victoria.[1]

“Over the past decade the Latrobe LGA labour force has declined by approximately 4,350 jobs, compared to other Victorian regional centres which each grew by 10,000 jobs.

“The LVA asserts it’s created 4000 jobs; however, the CEO Mr Buckingham won’t quantify in detail how many jobs are ongoing, if they’re full time and in what industries – it’s as transparent as mud.

“The LVA’s financial investment in SEA Electric to create 500 new manufacturing jobs was also a disaster, with the dodgy deal spectacularly collapsing before a shovel hit the ground.”

Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh said given the significant duplication of functions between the LVA and Regional Development Victoria (RDV) it’s not feasible for the LVA to continue.

“The latest state budget provides $7.5 million for wages to keep LVA bureaucrats employed for just one year,” said Mr Wash.

“The LVA is entering a second year devoid of program funding with the Committee report recommending it now focuses on self-promotion[2].

“In light of upcoming power station closures and the state’s ongoing transition to renewable energy, a long-term plan for Latrobe Valley is urgently needed to support investment in new industries like solar panel manufacturing and the recycling of redundant renewable energy components.

“In contrast, The Nationals’ billion-dollar fund to Bring Manufacturing Home would support existing businesses to expand and help drive new industries that will need skilled workers.

“The LVA is dying is a slow death, there isn’t any derived benefit in continuing a government department that exists in name only.”

[1] Employment to population rate (%) 6291.0.55.001 52.6%

[2] Recommendation 8 – Committee Report Parliamentary Inquiry into the Closure of Hazelwood and Yallourn Power stations