Regional Development shuts up shop under Labor

The Allan Labor Government’s failure to shore-up development and employment opportunities in the Latrobe Valley has come under fire by The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath.

Addressing the Minister for Regional Development, Gayle Tierney last week in state parliament, Ms Bath cited paltry jobs growth figures and high unemployment rates in the Latrobe Valley as evidence Labor had abandoned the region.

Disappointingly, when given the opportunity to explain how her government would take action to address stagnating growth in the Latrobe Valley, the Minister failed to mention the region once and instead hid behind more flattering growth figures in Geelong and Shepparton.

“Jobs growth in the Latrobe Valley over the past decade has been the equivalent of 0.47 per cent on an annual basis, while jobs in Wodonga have grown 2.7 per cent and jobs in Geelong have grown 3.4 per cent,” Ms Bath said.

“Alarmingly, this data doesn’t account for the recent mass layoffs across the timber industry or at Maryvale Mill, which will undoubtedly paint an even more dire picture of the jobs situation in the Valley when the next round of figures is released in May.

“Add in the fact that unemployment in the Latrobe local government area is the highest of any regional centre in the state – and it’s clear Labor has failed dismally to foster economic growth in the Valley.

“This region has been left behind, and after almost 8 years and a budget of $300 million the Latrobe Valley Authority latest offering is a glossy brochure or ‘transition plan’ that is based on ideology and doesn’t contain a single tangible action.

“In another act of ineptitude, Labor has forced the closure of Australian Carbon Innovation – a research and development not-for-profit body set up to drive low emission products and new jobs from the Valley’s greatest natural asset, brown coal.

“Sadly, Regional Development Victoria, once an effective ‘front-of-house’ job creating agency has been relegated to the ‘outhouse’ under this tired, city-centric Labor Government.

“I am calling on the Minister to lobby for increased funding for Regional Development Victoria to do its job and help regions like the Latrobe Valley and Gippsland grow and prosper.”