Member for Morwell, Russell Northe has once again raised his concerns on the future of the much touted SEA Electric Vehicle manufacturing facility that was an election promise of the State Government prior to the 2018 State election.
“This project was announced with great fanfare and rightly so, particularly given the nature of the industry and the fact that the Premier and State Government stated that 500 local jobs would be subsequently created” Mr Northe said.
Mr Northe said, “In the State Parliament’s Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) hearing yesterday, the Minister for Jobs in Martin Pakula conceded that staff had been stood down from SEA Electric’s Dandenong plant and in doing so also conceded a dispute or rift exists between the Government and the company”.
“This dispute could have major ramifications for the Morwell facility which was promised to be established by 2021; however this now looks a long way off” Mr Northe said.
“In addition the Minister referenced that SEA Electric had previously employed a number of Latrobe Valley personnel at its Dandenong plant; however the Government now needs to detail how many Latrobe Valley people have actually been employed by SEA Electric and how many of these same people have now lost their job” said Mr Northe.
Mr Northe who has previously raised issues relating to SEA Electric in Parliament in addition to writing to the Premier and various Ministers about the status of the project, particularly given strong community angst surrounding the lack of information that was being provided to local residents.
“Unfortunately not much has changed since the Premier responded to my question in Parliament in October of last year” Mr Northe continued.
Interestingly the Minister for Jobs said in PAEC yesterday that a site had been identified which is in contrast to the Premiers response in October 2019.
Now more than ever the Latrobe community should be informed as to the status of this project and quite rightly questions need to be answered including; is the project still proceeding and if so when, where and how? Are there still going to be 500 local jobs created as initially promised?
These are legitimate questions that our community deserves answers to because the silent treatment that has been in place the past 18 months in my view has been extremely disrespectful to a community that was promised a lot.
“We all want this project to succeed and personally I believe it would be a great project and a tremendous boon to the region but the State Government has to tell us what the hell is going on, particularly given growing cynicism and scepticism” Mr Northe said.