Bipartisan approach

Economic growth and diversification were top of the agenda at the first meeting of a new committee which aims to coordinate the response to the closure of Hazelwood across all tiers of government.

Latrobe City mayor Kellie O’Callaghan, State Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing and Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester attended the Tuesday meeting of the Latrobe Transition Bipartisan Committee.

Ms Shing said she welcomed the opportunity for all levels of government to work collaboratively to address the problems facing the region.

“So it’s been a great pleasure to work with Darren Chester and the Latrobe City Council, as well as Wellington and Baw Baw councils, to make sure we’re all on the same page,” she said.

“The key thing here is to ensure that the community is consulted and engaged in decision making and that decisions are taken not just as part of a sugar hit in jobs creation but for the medium and long-term in driving jobs opportunities.”

Cr O’Callaghan said council had been focused on achieving a bipartisan response to the closure of Hazelwood, which will shut down at the end of March next year.

“It’s okay for Latrobe City to have perspectives on what we would like to see happen, but we know that unless all levels of government are working together we won’t see the level of success we need to achieve for our community,” she said.

Cr O’Callaghan said the first meeting tackled how the committee would work and it would continue to meet “every month or so”.

Mr Chester said while there were tough times ahead for the region it was important to stay focused on the positives.

“At the end of the day we need to have jobs for the local people and that means investing in the traditional industries but also looking for new opportunities and I think it’s good to see the local, state and federal governments working together,” he said.