‘Strong sign of faith’

A key transport terminal tipped to unlock Latrobe Valley’s manufacturing potential through a rail link to Melbourne’s ports has attracted a $10 million election commitment from the Labor party.

The funding would green light construction of the troubled Gippsland Logistics Precinct project, which aims to create a transport hub in Morwell’s industrial area where locally produced goods can be transferred directly into shipping containers for rail freight.

The proposal has been long pursued by Latrobe City Council as a key employment generation zone, tipped to create 150 ongoing jobs, however has struggled to attract government funding due to insufficient private sector interest.

Labor candidate for Morwell Jadon Mintern said the upfront funding commitment was showing a “strong sign of faith” in the Valley and its ability to attract more jobs into the region.

“It’s been an ask from Latrobe City for at least the last three years and from the future prospective of a Labor Government, projects like this are where government can step in and remove the barriers which are stopping industries from creating jobs in the valley,” Mr Mintern said.

“One of the issues that this project has had is that’s a bit of a chicken and egg scenario.

“It’s difficult to attract potential tenants when the infrastructure isn’t there, but at the same time it’s difficult getting government support when there isn’t a tenant sitting there waiting on the doorstep.”

The funding will allow the construction of rail siding extensions, hard stands for loading/unloading and storing containers, buildings and offices associated with operation of and road connections with Morwell’s neighbouring Gippsland Intermodal Freight Terminal.

Latrobe City Councillor and 2010 Labor candidate for Morwell Graeme Middlemiss said with ‘notional designs’ for the GLP in place, the exact timeline and project layout would need to be finalised if and when a Labor government was brought to power.

“The figure of $10 million is an estimate for what funding is needed for a flexible design, because it really still comes back to chicken egg scenario, you need to get the client on board to tailor the precinct to their needs,” Mr Middlemiss said.

He said the proposal had recently attracted interest from a brown coal export project and a logging operation.