The Andrews Labor Government has demonstrated it has no plan for the future of the Latrobe Valley after it was revealed it has savagely cut the Latrobe Valley Authority (LVA).
Under questioning at State Parliament’s Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC), Regional Development Minister, Jaclyn Symes revealed the LVA’s funding has been dramatically cut to just $26.9 million over two years, down from its initial $266 million over four years.
Gippsland Nationals MPs Melina Bath and Danny O’Brien said the savage funding cut showed that Labor has abandoned support for a jobs and industry transition in the Latrobe Valley.
“Everyone in the Latrobe Valley knows that the economic problems and lack of jobs didn’t start and finish with the closure of Hazelwood,” said Ms Bath, The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region.
“Labor’s energy policies threaten to bring forward the planned closure of Yallourn power station too, while the disastrous decision to end the native hardwood timber industry will also hurt the Valley and the rest of Gippsland.
“It is clear the Latrobe Valley and Gippsland will need more support to transition in coming years, but Labor is not only slashing that support, and it will end in two years.”
With no line item in the recent State Budget for the LVA, Labor Upper House MP Harriet Shing told local media that there was $125 million available for the LVA. In questioning Minister Symes, Mr O’Brien confirmed that was a lie.
“Harriet Shing owes Gippslanders an apology for misleading them. The LVA is getting just one fifth of what she told us, with $13.8 million to be spent on staff and just $13.1 million available for job creating programs,” Mr O’Brien said.
“It’s concerning that at a time when the Valley and Gippsland needs a government that will support it, Labor is turning away. We need a plan for the region, but Labor seems more interested in just generating a few photo opportunities for its MPs.
“This was the biggest spending budget in our state’s history, but Labor is actually slashing money to support the Latrobe Valley. That speaks volumes.”
Mr O’Brien said PAEC also revealed that Labor’s promised 500 jobs in a new electric vehicle manufacturing plant in Morwell had not been delivered.
No site has even been identified for the plant two years after the Premier promised it would be operating within 12 months, and just four Latrobe Valley residents are working in SEA Electric’s Dandenong plant – with taxpayers paying their travel costs.