Mr NORTHE (Morwell) — The unemployment rate for the Latrobe region continues to be an ongoing concern for our community. The small area labour market figures released last week paint a very disturbing picture. For example, the figures for the Latrobe city area show that in December 2014 the unemployment rate was 7.3 per cent, yet under the Andrews government we now see the March 2016 unemployment rate sitting at 9.3 per cent, so in the short space of 15 months the unemployment rate in Latrobe has increased by 2 percentage points.
We know that Australian Bureau of Statistics figures have shown a loss of approximately 12 000 full-time jobs in the Latrobe-Gippsland region since Labor came to office. In the last 18 months we have seen this government scrap the Regional Growth Fund and abolish important economic and community programs, such as the Latrobe Valley Industry and Infrastructure Fund, Putting Locals First and Skilling the Valley. In addition the Premier has just imposed millions of dollars of costs on our region’s largest employers through his electricity tax, which will have a direct and indirect impact upon local businesses and jobs — and who knows how many local jobs will be lost, given the recent renewable energy target announcement by this government.
Just last week we had a member for Eastern Victoria Region in the Legislative Council, Ms Shing, tweeting that the coalition’s $15 million Latrobe Valley Industry and Infrastructure Fund did not generate jobs or economic benefits for the Latrobe Valley, and she also falsely stated that the fund was used to support Warragul station. No wonder one of these tweets was subsequently deleted, and no wonder our local business community has lost faith in this government when incorrect statements like that are made by its members.