Taking back the Valley

The State Opposition converged on Moe at the weekend on a quest to reconnect with local issues in a region that has become the centre of National Party heartland.

The Labor Party Country Conference 2012, held at the Ted Summerton Reserve on Saturday and Sunday, saw Labor Party members from across the state gather to prepare their future policy plans for the next state election, scheduled for November 2014.

Opposition spokesperson for Agriculture and Food Security John Lenders said the conference was about reconnecting and building its relationship and understanding of regional issues.

“We will not be coming out of this weekend with a concrete document, but a starting point for the party’s policy decisions which will be made in 2013 our policy development year,” Mr Lenders said.

With Moe’s seat of Narracan taken in an upset loss to the Liberal party in 2006, and the traditional Labor seat of Morwell lost to the National’s Russell Northe in 2006, Labor’s once strong presence in the region has been absent.

While Mr Lenders welcomed the State Government’s recent unveiling of the Latrobe Valley ‘Roadmap’ plan, which laid down a gameplan to ‘future proof’ the region’s future industries, he said it was essentially a Brumby Government policy “with a new cover”.

Mr Lenders said the Baillieu government’s winding back of the first home buyers grant, in the current time of uncertainty, was hindering needed construction, and employment growth in the Valley.

Local school principals attended the conference as part of an education panel.

Thirteen ’emergency resolutions’ were passed at the conference, which gave a particular focus to health and education issues, including a condemnation of the recent Baillieu Government TAFE and public sector funding cuts.