Member for Morwell, Russell Northe used his Members Statement in Parliament today to highlight concerns of the Latrobe Valley community post the closure of Hazelwood Power Station nearly 12 months ago.
“The closure of Hazelwood in such a short time-frame was such a bitter blow for many workers, contractors, families, businesses and our local community,” said Mr Northe
“The past 12 months have been difficult for many workers and contractors, and whilst some have been able to find work locally, many others have had to travel away from the Latrobe Valley to find work to support their families,” said Mr Northe
The result of Hazelwood Power Station closing has been higher energy prices, security of supply under threat and a significant loss of jobs in the Latrobe Valley.
This has not only impacted Latrobe Valley and Gippsland residents but all Victorians through higher energy bills, and it’s incredulous to think that Victoria is now reliant on other States to prop up supply.
From a local perspective we have witnessed a number of businesses closing post Hazelwood, which is not surprising given the reduction in wages circulating in the local economy.
Labor promised a gradual closure plan of Hazelwood, yet this did not happen, and despite speculation of large projects and industries coming to the Valley, this has not eventuated.
“It’s really important that Government invests strategically in our region, and one key area that has been missed is a clear and innovate job retention plan. It’s good and well to focus on the creation of new jobs and so we should, but it seems little attention has been given to businesses who have to reduce staff or have had to close their doors.” said Mr Northe
“There also needs to be a strong local procurement policy across all levels of Government to ensure local people and local businesses have every opportunity to participate in Government contracts and services,” Mr Northe said.
And infrastructure investment is critical, whether it be large scale investment on rail for example, or local infrastructure in roads and water and sewerage that would create local jobs and support local businesses. There are local projects that could be advanced very quickly if the necessary infrastructure was built; but unfortunately due to cost, and red and green tape a lot of projects are stifled.
The people of Latrobe Valley are resilient people but they also need Government support that will make a real difference to them and their family and in many cases that equates to jobs.