Council fuming at Shorten snub

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Opposition leader Bill Shorten has come under fire for failing to meet with Latrobe City Council leaders during his visit to the region on Monday.

During his visit, Mr Shorten toured Moe business Safetech before meeting with workers affected by the closure of Hazelwood.

But Mayor Kellie O’Callaghan said she was disappointed with the Opposition leader’s failure to meet with local government representatives.

“We would have welcomed the opportunity to discuss the priorities and concerns of our community with Mr Shorten,” Cr O’Callaghan said in a statement.

“We firmly believe that the community must be involved in any decision-making process.

“While we are always welcoming and respectful of elected representatives visiting our community, we believe that all visits at this point in time must include a discussion with council around the issues which are pressing for our community.”

A spokesperson for Mr Shorten said the Opposition leader was unable to meet with council because of a shortage of time.

“Bill had limited time and his priority was spending it with workers who are directly affected by the Hazelwood station shutdown,” the spokesperson said.

“We are more than happy to meet with council officials in the future.”

On Monday Cr O’Callaghan and deputy mayor Graeme Middlemiss met with Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester.

Mr Chester said he was pleased with the outcome of the meeting.

“We agreed on the need to work closely with each other to make sure that any government funding is well spent in the community,” he said.

“There’s already projects like the performing arts centre in Traralgon which have been supported by all levels of government and are ready to get underway but we need more details on the state package to find out exactly which projects might be eligible for support.”