As talks of transition, economic diversity and jobs continue getting louder, so too do Latrobe City Council’s calls for long-term government commitment to the region.
Last week mayor Michael Rossiter confirmed council would request an urgent meeting with Premier Daniel Andrews to discuss what the government’s $40 million ‘economic diversification and transition’ fund would look like.
“This fund will be the critical first step in a long journey to economic recovery and stability,” Councillor Rossiter said.
“We want to know the details, we want to ask questions and to seek the best possible outcome for our community.”
When asked about the Valley’s opportunities for jobs growth amid changing industries, Cr Rossiter pointed to council’s own transition plan, currently in the making.
He said council was crafting a plan that focused on benefitting existing and future workforces of the Latrobe Valley.
“We firmly believe that a plan built by this community for this community is essential,” he said.
“Our [previous plan] 2010 ‘Positioning Latrobe City for a Low Carbon Emission Future’ was a forward-thinking policy that set the scene for a proactive approach to diversifying our economy.
“And whilst we can be as proactive as we like, the fact remains that we will need the long term support and assistance of the State Government.”
State Industry and Employment Minister Wade Noonan said the Latrobe Valley was his first regional visit as the new minister and he planned on returning soon.
He said during this visit he had made it clear the ownership of the $40 million transition fund would be driven locally.
“My focus is ensuring that residents of the Valley continue to shape crucial decisions about the region’s long-term future and that includes the $40 million transition fund,” Mr Noonan said.
Cr Rossiter said now was the time for the community to come together and discuss ideas “based on a shared aspiration of sustainable job creation”.
He said council’s transition plan would clearly articulate the community’s needs through projects “that require immediate action”.
Council’s calls involve the regionalisation of State Government departments, stronger rail links and the immediate creation of the Office of the Health Advocate and the Health Innovation Zone. Councillors also recently adopted an economic development strategy, which aims to position the Valley as the engineering capital of Australia.
Sitting member for the federal seat of Gippsland Darren Chester said he supported council’s strong push to emphasise the Valley’s engineering credentials.
Mr Chester said since being elected in 2008, he had strongly advocated for the Valley’s small businesses and ensured government worked in partnership with industry.
“To retain and expand our existing agriculture, engineering and manufacturing businesses, especially food, plantation timber and paper,” Mr Chester said.
To view council’s economic development strategy, visit www.latrobe.vic.gov.au/Business_and_Investment/Support_for_Business/Business_News