Member for Morwell Russell Northe had the opportunity this week in Parliament to respond to the 2018/2019 Victorian State Government Budget. Mr Northe described the Budget as a mixed bag but raised many concerns, including the impact the State Governments new and increased taxes were having on Victorians, and the lack of a real jobs plan for the Latrobe Valley.
“The reality is that the Government has introduced 12 new taxes in this term of Parliament, and it has increased existing taxes which has reaped the Government an extra $6.2 billion in revenue as a consequence. This is despite the Premier promising prior to the 2014 election that Victorians would not see the introduction of any new taxes, nor would they experience any increases to existing taxes” said Mr Northe
Unfortunately our community has borne the brunt of this broken promise with the Government just two years ago increasing taxes on Latrobe Valley Power Stations by an outrageous $252 million. We all know the outcome of that diabolical decision with Hazelwood Power Station now closed, jobs lost, prices rising and security of supply threatened.
Subsequently Hazelwood Pondage has recently been closed for an indefinite period of time and its future remains uncertain. The closure just a week before one of the Latrobe Valley Yacht Club’s largest events; the Sauna Sail is heartbreaking for the Club.
“Whilst it is pleasing to see some payroll tax relief for eligible regional businesses with the threshold figure increasing to $650,000 and the payroll tax rate reducing to 2.425%; the reality is these same businesses have had to endure a massive rise in costs over the past two to three years. The notion that this payroll tax reduction will equate to businesses employing more people – well I believe that to be a fallacy,” said Mr Northe
Latrobe City’s unemployment rate has increased from 7.3% to 8.8% under the current Government and my concerns are that this will increase even further over the next period of time. Despite high local unemployment there are many projects within the Latrobe Valley that could be advanced, but sit idle due to State Government bureaucracy and red tape. One only has to look at the quarry industry as an example where local quarry owners have proposals to grow and expand their enterprises yet the Governments own departments seem incapable of even getting to first base.
“The Government continually spruiks the number of jobs they are allegedly creating but it appears nothing is being done to retain jobs in the Morwell electorate which is a critical part of the employment equation. We have seen Hazelwood Power Station, Carter Holt Harvey, Target Morwell and Coles Morwell either close their doors or soon to close their doors yet one has to question what has been done to protect these vitally important local jobs,” said Mr Northe
“Following the Budget, Gippsland V/Line commuters are still none the wiser if there will be any new services, improved punctuality or additional carriages on our network. For months and months commuters have experienced cancellations, delays and replaced services yet not one person within Government can say what if any improvements will be introduced when proposed works are completed” Mr Northe said.
Mr Northe said that whilst he was pleased the Government had pledged funding for a Gippsland alcohol and drug residential rehabilitation facility, it is still remains unclear if the Latrobe Valley will be the preferred location.
“I do acknowledge the Governments investment in some of our local education facilities, but also remain disappointed that a number of projects that I have supported since 2014 remain unfunded,” said Mr Northe
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