Funds for Latrobe Valley Authority

File photograph



THE Latrobe Valley received significant attention in the 2023/2024 State Budget, that was handed down last Tuesday, May 23.

To the shock of many, the State Budget promised a $7.2 million funding package for the Latrobe Valley Authority.

This comes off the back of concerns from communities impacted by coal closure to see that funding for the Latrobe Valley Authority has not been secured in forward estimates from mid-2024 onwards.

The Victorian government announced room in the budget for place-based economic and community development through the Latrobe Valley Authority.

The budget will provide $7.2 million to the Latrobe Valley Authority (LVA) to continue their essential work, including the Ladder Step Up and Inclusive Employment Worker Transition programs. The state goverment has said that this investment will support jobs and further the economic development of the Latrobe Valley.

The new funding comes as the federal government announced the development of a Net Zero Authority to coordinate the clean energy transition across the country earlier this month.

The Latrobe Valley Authority was established in November 2016 to support the region through the sustainable economic transition of Latrobe Valley workers, their families and the community at the time of the Hazelwood Power Station and Mine closure. Since then, the LVA has operated out of Morwell to work closely with community groups and stakeholders to improve the economic outcomes of the Latrobe Valley. Focusing on diversifying the local economy away from solely coal generation, the LVA has helped receive an investment of almost $1.5 billion which has contributed to more than 4000 additional jobs being created through significant projects and business support.

LVA chief executive, Chris Buckingham welcomed this year’s State Budget.

“Funding announced in this year’s budget will enable the Latrobe Valley Authority to continue our work in partnership with the community, as part of the Victorian Government’s broader investment in the region,” he said.

“Workers are at the heart of our long-term response to the region’s transition and over the past year, the LVA has been developing a comprehensive Latrobe Valley Transition Plan to ensure that the region is prepared for the future.

“The LVA will continue to work closely with the community to support stakeholders and partners across the region to deliver projects, programs and services and set the region up for a strong future.”

The original $266 million investment kick-started the LVA’s work and enabled hundreds of jobs to be created through the construction of around $750 million worth of new significant projects like the Hi-Tech Precinct in Morwell and Gippsland Regional Aquatic Centre in Traralgon.

The LVA Transition plan developed in consultation with workers, unions, and the community will focus on strategies for economic diversification and employment growth.

One Gippsland has cautiously welcomed the release of the state government’s 2023-2024 budget, which includes new funding programs that will benefit the Gippsland region.

East Gippsland Shire Council, Mayor and chair of One Gippsland Councillor Mark Reeves said, “One Gippsland acknowledges the tough budget conditions and looks forward to meeting with the Government to begin the task of transition and securing a strong future for our shared communities.”

Wendy Farmer, local resident and president of the advocacy group Voices of the Valley and the Gippsland branch of the Friends of the Earth, welcomed the budget’s increased focus on the Latrobe Valley.

“We knew this was going to be a tight budget, and I think the Latrobe Valley was actually included really well in it. It was a tight budget, and you will look at other regions across Victoria that have not been as well supported as the Latrobe Valley has. In 2016, Dan Andrews said he would not turn his back on the Latrobe Valley, and he hasn’t, but we do need to keep the LVA going and support for a lot longer,” Ms Farmer said.

“We look forward to seeing the opportunities of what the SEC will do for the Latrobe Valley and the broader Gippsland, and we think it’s critical that we get more details, and we actually have that in place now,” she added.

Though the LVA has yet to be confirmed past 2024 with even the Age reporting possible axes to the LVA a few days prior to budget day, the new funding comes as a warm welcome for the community.

“The LVA is there for that transition for Latrobe Valley and Gippsland, and it has to continue… it’s a really important step to keep supporting the LVA within this energy transition,” said Ms Farmer.