Still no clarity on State Government’s ‘transition plan’

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The State Government has failed to shed any more light on its $40 million Latrobe Valley transition package and ‘hi-tech precinct’, almost a month on from announcing it in the budget.

In the wake of the budget, Industry, Energy and Resources Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the government would work with the community and stakeholders to establish the best way for the Latrobe Valley to transition, saying it was all still “initial thoughts”.

This week The Express lodged a series of questions with the minister asking how the community consultation process would work, who would be consulted and how people could get involved.

These details were not provided, however, Ms D’Ambrosio said “thorough consultation” on the implementation of the Latrobe Valley Transition Package would begin in the coming months.

“The government has committed $40 million to support the growth of future industries in the Latrobe Valley,” the minister’s statement read.

“This will focus on attracting new jobs and high-growth industries to diversify the region’s economy.

“Development of the Latrobe Valley Transition Package will be based on consultation with the community and businesses to identify local needs such as skills, training and infrastructure.”

Latrobe City chief executive Gary Van Driel said council had requested to meet with Regional Development Victoria representatives, to better understand the guidelines regarding access to the $40 million.

Ms D’Ambrosio did not answer questions from The Express about whether the government was committed to a bipartisan approach to a Latrobe Valley transition involving all tiers of government.

Regional Development Australia Gippsland chair Richard Elkington said the ‘hi-tech’ precinct was a concept that had been around for a number of years and RDAG had commissioned a business case for a ‘Latrobe Valley Education and Innovation Precinct’, which was soon to be completed.

“We’re hoping the Victorian Government will support our business case and then we’ll be on the pathway to creation of the precinct with government support,” Mr Elkington said.

It is currently unclear how the innovation precinct proposal would fit in with the ‘hi-tech precinct’ if adopted by government.

The minister has previously described the ‘hi-tech’ precinct as bringing together industry and secondary and tertiary education into one precinct in Morwell with a goal of diversifying industry in the Latrobe Valley.

A background document for the Latrobe Valley Education and Innovation Precinct business case seen by The Express describes it as connecting secondary students and their learning to industry, higher education and tertiary education.