Forward planning

GTLC secretary Steve Dodd, Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing, Regional Development Minister Mary-Anne Thomas and LVA chief executive Chris Buckingham. photograph michelle slater

Michelle Slater

The Victorian government is committing $7.5 million towards funding the Latrobe Valley Authority for another 12 months, which includes developing a dedicated transition plan for the region.

Regional Development Minister Mary-Anne Thomas was in Morwell on Wednesday making the announcement ahead of next month’s state budget.

Ms Thomas said the funding would help the LVA continue its “important” work, as well as developing a transition plan as the Valley heads towards the closure of the Yallourn Power Station.

She said this plan would help inform the government’s decisions on future investments in the Valley.

The transition plan would support the region’s natural advantages in new energy, food and fibre, health and wellbeing, tourism and advanced manufacturing.

“We know Yallourn is going to close in 2028, this is a community that is ready to see new opportunities and create new pathways for young people and people across the region,” Ms Thomas said.

“Transition planning is about how you prepare for the future when you know there will be jobs lost in certain industries.  It will continue to detail our aspirations for job creation in the region.

“The $7.5 million will help the LVA to continue to run the important functions it has already has. It will guarantee a place for all staff while the plan is developed.”

The new funding will also continue to support the Ladder – Step Up program to help young people find opportunities in education, jobs and training.

The LVA was established in 2016 with a $266 million investment to help the community transition with the closure of the Hazelwood Power Station.

According to government figures, it had helped to create about 4000 jobs in the region and $750 million worth of major projects.

Gippsland Trades and Labour Council secretary Steve Dodd was at the funding announcement lending his support for the transition plan.

Mr Dodd wanted all levels of government to work together to help deliver new industries to the region.

“There are a lot of people talking about transition and writing reports about it. But in this region, we are actually getting on with the job as opposed taking no action,” Mr Dodd said.

“I think it would be great of the federal government got their chequebook out and did the same thing. They seem to be absent from the role.”

Member for Morwell Russell Northe had been calling on the state government to come up with a transition plan for the Valley ahead of coal closures and the demise of the native timber industry.

Mr Northe said he hoped the transition plan would be developed in consultation with the local community, businesses and industries.

“If you have a plan, it gives confidence to local investors and those outside the region that the government is working with the community on alternative plans and opportunities,” Mr Northe said.

“Ideally, we don’t want people leaving the region for employment opportunities.”