The State Government has quashed reports Ambulance Victoria’s Morwell headquarters will be relocated outside of the Latrobe Valley.
Speaking to The Express on Friday, Member for Morwell Russell Northe said he had been told Ambulance Victoria’s Regional Headquarters was being relocated to Warragul, with the current lease due to expire in the coming months.
A spokesperson for Ambulance Services Minister Jill Hennessy said there had “never been any suggestion that the site would close or that jobs would be affected”.
Mr Northe said he raised this issue during question time at Parliament on Thursday, after which the government “backflipped” on its decision.
“Prior to question time there was no doubt the government was intending to close the Ambulance Victoria headquarters in Morwell. Yet one hour after question time that decision had been reversed,” Mr Northe said.
He said any decision to remove government departments from the region was “simply not acceptable”, especially when the government had said it would consider relocating its department and agencies to the Valley following the announcement of Hazelwood’s closure.
“At a time where jobs are at a premium, any job lost will have a detrimental impact on this community and it was important that we fought for these jobs to remain in the Latrobe Valley,” Mr Northe said.
“I think that the Premier quickly realised this yesterday and has made this backflip decision… it’s great to see that decision has now been made and jobs will be retained in the Latrobe Valley as they should be.”
Ms Hennessy’s spokesperson said Mr Northe had made a statement in the Parliament that Ambulance Victoria’s headquarters were “closing down”, threatening jobs.
“This was false and misleading and designed to scare people in Morwell,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said the lease of the headquarters was soon expiring and that building was no longer considered fit for purpose.
She assured residents the department would remain in Morwell, “however, no decision has yet been made about a new site and no staff have been relocated as part of this search for a better workplace”.
Ambulance Victoria Gippsland regional director Simon Jemmett confirmed the organisation was looking within Morwell for a suitable replacement property.
“All jobs will be retained when a new building is secured and the move is made,” Mr Jemmett said.