‘Kick in the guts’ for workers

The State Government has defended claims by the Member for Morwell it is “picking and choosing” what Victorian jobs are worth fighting for.

In the wake of the signing of an agreement between the State Government, AGL and Alcoa to keep the latter’s Portland smelter operating, Member for Morwell Russell Northe criticised the government for its willingness to ‘work around the clock’ to secure jobs in Portland while not doing the same for those affected by Hazelwood’s impending closure.

Mr Northe said the Alcoa agreement was a “great relief” for workers and their families in the state’s south-west but a “kick in the guts to hundreds of people in the Latrobe Valley who will lose their jobs when Hazelwood closes”.

“Daniel Andrews is picking and choosing which Victorian jobs are worth fighting for to further his own political agenda,” Mr Northe said.

Industry, Employment and Resources Minister Wade Noonan said the two power plants had differing circumstances.

“Engie has made the decision to close coal-powered stations globally, which has resulted in Hazelwood’s closure (while) Alcoa sought to keep its Portland operations running,” Mr Noonan said.

“For the Member for Morwell to suggest we’re picking and choosing whose worth fighting for is both misleading and wrong.”

Mr Noonan said the government would “do all we can” to support Latrobe Valley jobs, pointing to its $266 million transition package.

“We are a government that supports our local communities and our local economies, because they’re the lifeblood of our great state,” Mr Noonan said.