Mr NORTHE (Morwell) — As this government lurches from one crisis to another, the Latrobe Valley community should be in no doubt that this state government is more concerned about its own future than that of Latrobe Valley workers, contractors and businesses. This is a government in complete denial — denial about the systematic rorting by some of its members and denial that the Latrobe Valley community will be impacted by the closure of Hazelwood power station.
I note that the Labor Party recently hosted a local forum about the impending closure. I wonder if the following questions were asked. Why did you have a policy to close Hazelwood when seven years later you still have no plan to provide real jobs for those impacted? You promised a gradual closure of Hazelwood, so why have you broken that promise? And why did you tax Latrobe Valley generators an extra $252 million in last year’s budget if, as you allege, you are so supportive of the industry and its workers?
I think a quote from the forum by well-known local Vicki Hamilton reported in Monday’s Latrobe Valley Express encapsulates it all:
The thing I feel in the community is a sense of hopelessness.
Mrs Hamilton said she knew families who were looking to leave the region ‘because they are not confident that this government can deliver any jobs in this region of proportion to those actually being lost’.
Whilst we remain hopeful that a pooled redundancy scheme will be implemented, the only real solution for workers, contractors and local businesses is to, at the very least, undertake a gradual closure of Hazelwood, which the Labor Party promised. Despite having a policy to close Hazelwood and despite taxing the hell out of Latrobe Valley generators, this government apparently does not bear any responsibility for those decisions — now, that is a rort!