Valley urged to ‘move on’

The Latrobe Valley Sustainability Group’s president believes it’s time to “move on” from brown coal, citing prefabricated housing as a possible future industry.

Speaking to The Express about a recent community demonstration where all participants called for funding to steer away from fossil fuels, Lorraine Bull said the results made one thing clear.

“It says it’s time to move on and organise our transition because we know it’s going to happen,” Ms Bull said.

“The community just wants it to happen in an orderly manner.”

Ms Bull said she wants to see the region establish a diverse market providing a range of jobs, with prefabricated houses a “viable possibility”.

She said with a national housing shortage it was a need the region could capitalise on.

“I think we’ve got the scope here to do pre-fab housing. I’d particularly like to see reasonable low-cost housing and social housing,” Ms Bull said.

“If you can produce well built, energy efficient houses that are small enough in scale, you can prefabricate them here and transport to wherever they are required, wherever there’s a housing shortage” Ms Bull said.

“I think we have the skills and resources and I see an opportunity to develop this industry here on an international scale.”

However, Ms Bull said the first step towards a post-coal Valley was the establishment of a regional body to drive transition.

She highlighted Regional Development Australia Gippsland chair Richard Elkington’s push to re-establish the Latrobe Valley Transition Committee.

“I think it is good community leaders have started to acknowledge we need to do this now,” she said.

“But the next step is the establishment of a regional body that can handle the money going in and coming out.

“We need an overarching body that can control what’s happening, whether this is RDA or another entity.

“What the community wants to see is development happening, not just plans or consultations.”