Mr NORTHE (Morwell) — (12 711) My adjournment matter is to the Premier, and the action I seek from the Premier is for his government to keep the Carter Holt Harvey timber mill in Morwell open. The Latrobe Valley community cannot afford to have this mill close. It is as simple as that. We have 160 direct employees at this mill, and many of these workers and employees are members of the same family. In some instances you have three members of the same family working at Carter Holt Harvey and all three are about to lose a job. Something needs to be done to protect these people and protect these jobs.
From an indirect employment perspective, you have got transport companies, drivers, businesses such as Traralgon Home Hardware and others who rely on the timber resource coming out of Carter Holt Harvey. They are now also going to be negatively impacted by the closure. It is not just the direct employees, it is also the downstream impacts that are going to hit very hard in our community. This is of course on top of the Hazelwood power station closing; it is on top of Johnson Health Tech relocating its operation from the Latrobe Valley; it is on top of BOC Gas closing its doors; and it is on top of the Latrobe Valley Hotel closing down.
A line needs to be drawn in the sand to protect jobs within our community. The question is being asked: what is the state government doing to keep these businesses open? They are prepared to intervene at Alcoa Portland and Australian Sustainable Hardwoods in Heyfield — and that is right, those jobs are worth protecting — but what about the jobs in the Latrobe Valley? What has happened to the Latrobe Valley task force? The Premier stood here and said, ‘I’m going to lead this and lead the charge’. Since he made those statements we have had business after business closing in the Latrobe Valley.
Here are some quotes from the Premier:
The Labor government will get our state back to work, because every job is worth fighting for.
I can sum up our jobs and industry policy in six words: make Victorian, buy Victorian, hire Victorian.
Then we had the Treasurer in here saying in his budget speech:
This government is creating jobs, but we’re also focused on protecting jobs.
I am sorry, but they are hollow words for the people of the Latrobe Valley at the moment. They mean nothing because the complete opposite is happening within our community, and our community and our workers now do not see the state government doing anything to keep these businesses open or protect these jobs which we vitally need. They really are hollow words. You can say what you like, but we need the Premier and the relevant ministers to step up and support our area. We now have an 11.2 per cent unemployment rate in Latrobe city, an increase of 50 per cent in two years. It is simply not good enough. I am calling on the Premier to make sure he does not allow the Carter Holt Harvey Morwell mill to close.