Member for Morwell Russell Northe has formally written to Minister for Regional Development Jaclyn Symes in requesting that the State Government reopen its Worker Transfer Scheme (WTS) which was initially established to assist former Hazelwood workers and contractors find employment with other local power stations following the abrupt closure of Hazelwood Power Station in 2017.
“Like Hazelwood Power Station the WTS was also closed in quick haste, and in the case of the WTS it was done so without meeting its target of creating 150 local jobs” Mr Northe said.
Mr Northe by way of submitting and asking questions in Parliament was able to ascertain that had the WTS not only been closed without meeting its objective, but hundreds of former Hazelwood workers and contractors were employed in non-full time positions or identified as looking for work.
Many former workers and workers are struggling to adjust to life after Hazelwood and whilst some have found gainful employment many more have had to find work in other regions or other States, or are finding it incredibly difficult to find ongoing or full time work, or work at all.
“With $20 million allocated to the Worker Transfer Scheme I had also questioned the Minister on how much of this $20 million had been expended given the program has fallen short of its target of supporting 150 former Hazelwood workers and contractors”.
“Unfortunately the Minister did not respond to this specific question when asked and hence why I am now writing to the Minister seeking these answers” Mr Northe said.
“Interestingly when the Minister eventually responded to my Questions on Notice in May, the WTS was apparently already closed however no mention of this was made by the Minister two months after the fact.”
Nor was the closure of the scheme referenced by the Minister for Jobs when asked about the status of the scheme in Question Time in June.
What Mr Northe is seeking is for the State Government to reopen the scheme; a scheme that was designed with support from many community leaders and organisations and it should be given every opportunity to achieve its objective of 150 new jobs.
“The Government also needs to explain if the $20 million in totality has not been expended, then what other initiatives will the Government implement to support former workers and contractors given so many are not working full time or are actively looking for jobs” Mr Northe said