THE Latrobe Valley Authority, which was set up to help the region with economic transition, will receive $6.3 million in funding for another six months but will close by the end of the year.

The closure of the LVA was not specifically mentioned in the State Budget, which under ‘Regional economic transition’ only noted that funding in 2024-25 would be $6.3 million. This will fall to $300,000 in 2025-26 and $200,000 in 2026-27.

However, a government spokesperson told the Express that the Latrobe Valley Authority (LVA) funding had been extended as part of the Budget until the end of 2024.

“We’re currently working on a plan for current LVA staff and functions to be transitioned into Regional Development Victoria (RDV) by the end of the year,” the spokesperson said.

“The LVA plays a very important role transitioning workers and upskilling them for jobs in future-proof industries, especially in Gippsland. This important work will continue under RDV, where some of the programs pioneered by LVA will be extended to more areas across the state.”

LVA staff are being informed there will be a transition process starting later this year. The government is expected to say more in the coming months.

Member for Morwell, Martin Cameron, said the government indicated that the LVA would be absorbed by Regional Development Victoria.

“We can safely assume that means it will cease to exist altogether and Valley will be abandoned again,” he said.

In a posting to followers of the LVA, the chief executive, Chris Buckingham, said he was proud of the way his colleagues at the authority had come to grips with the news.

“The LVA are actively encouraging our people to seek work now,” he said.

Mr Buckingham said the team “was looking after each other, turning their minds to legacy and getting on with making good decisions about their future,” he said.

“We care deeply about Gippsland and will work hard to ensure our partners and allies across the region are well supported.

“It is humbling to lead this incredibly professional team. They have proved themselves time and again over the last couple of years and this latest turn of events is no exception. We want these wonderful peeps to have every opportunity to keep working in the region they love.”

Mr Buckingham said if employers were on the lookout for talent in Gippsland, “please feel welcome to contact me directly”.

Mr Cameron strongly criticised the legacy of the LVA.

“All that the LVA had delivered was a $300 million glossy brochure or ‘transition plan’ based on ideology,” he said.

“It doesn’t contain a single tangible action.”

Apart from the LVA, Mr Cameron said there was nothing else in the budget for desperately needed local infrastructure projects for the Traralgon Recreation Reserve, Hazelwood CFA, Tyers CFA, Latrobe Youth Space or Lifeline Gippsland.

“The budget again proved that Labor could not manage money. It’s Victorians who are paying the price,” he said.

“The State Budget offers precious little for the Latrobe Valley and regional Victoria, while taxpayers will continue to foot the bill for Labor’s soaring debt.”

Mr Cameron said with net debt forecast to hit $188 billion by 2027/28, taxpayers would soon be paying $25 million per day on interest alone. Brutal cuts to roads, health and policing underscored a bad news budget for regional Victoria.

“Despite the dire state of our roads, maintenance funding remains at a lower level than it was in 2020,” Mr Cameron said.

“Cruel cuts have been made to hospitals that are in desperate need of more funding, and we are bracing for the amalgamation of several health services which will undoubtedly place immense pressure on an already struggling system.

“And at a time when crime is out of control in the Valley and spiralling state-wide, community crime prevention has been cut by 46 per cent.”