Lacklustre industry despite promised funds

THE construction industry in country Victoria, including the Gippsland region, has slowed down in tandem with a shrinking national construction sector, which declined for the 32nd consecutive month in January.

Gippsland Trades and Labour Council secretary John Parker said while the State Government had committed to spending on public infrastructure this financial year, it would “not kickstart the economy in another 12 months even if they release the money today”.

In a statement to The Express, a government spokesperson said the Coalition Government had committed a record $5.8 billion infrastructure spend in its last budget.

“In 2012-13 there will be $41 billion of public sector capital projects underway in Victoria, that, combined with the record investment in apprentice training, secure the future of jobs in Victoria,” the spokesperson said.

“Labor continually talks down the Victorian economy, but the Coalition Government is getting on with the job of providing jobs now and in the future.”

Mr Parker said the State Government had not done its part to meet funding obligations met by the Federal Government.

“The State Government has done what Latrobe City’s new councillors have done, walked into office and stopped the economy to review (projects),” he said.

The slowing construction industry has impacted apprentices, with Mr Parker estimating at least 50 “that we know of” having been stood down because of a lack of work.

“To my understanding, about 29 are still looking for work,” he said.

Meanwhile, the State Government spokesperson said the Gippsland Apprentices Program introduced last year was “more than a third of the way towards its target”.