Chester describes ASIC cuts as ‘unfortunate’

Pending job losses at one of Traralgon’s biggest employers, as forced by federal budget cuts, have been described as “unfortunate” and a “tough decision” by the Abbott Government’s local representative.

In a speech to federal parliament on Tuesday, Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said he shared “the pain and disappointment” of the affected staff at Australian Security and Investments Commission’s registry office.

“Being in government does present some tough decisions, particularly when the current government has had to clean up the mess left behind by the former Labor government,” Mr Chester said.

“But I want to stress that the vast majority of staff will be continuing at the ASIC office in Traralgon in the immediate and for the long-term future.”

Last week ASIC informed staff it was seeking up to nine targeted redundancies and would allow the expiration of up to 25 non-ongoing contracts at the Traralgon office, which employs more than 300 people.

The announcement came within a week of employees learning of the Abbott Government’s plans to forge ahead with a privatisation of the registry, through a $12.6 million tender process to probe the market’s appetite for a buyout.

“It is up to the government to make the case for this privatisation. The government and the department need to convince us and convince the community that it is a good idea,” Mr Chester said.

Mr Chester’s fresh comments in parliament come after heightened calls for representation on the issue from Latrobe City Council and staunch Traralgon community advocate Peter Wood OAM – citing a $126 million annual contribution to Gippsland’s economy.

“I am very confident that, whatever form the operation and management of ASIC takes into the future, those jobs will remain in Traralgon,” Mr Chester said.

“It is a very important business model. It utilises cheap rent in comparison to the metropolitan areas and a reliable source of staff who are experienced and capable of doing a great job for our nation.”