A Parliamentary Inquiry into power station industry transition and the Latrobe Valley Authority (LVA) saw the LVA grilled on its effectiveness in reducing unemployment and creating jobs in Latrobe City.
At the Inquiry, established by The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath said the LVA appeared more interested in protecting the Andrews Government than addressing rising unemployment and the establishment of ongoing jobs in the region.
“CEO, Mr Chris Buckingham told the Committee that creating employment was a key success measure of the LVA, however the reality is Latrobe Valley’s unemployment is high and climbing upwards”, said Ms Bath.
“Latest small area market figures released by the Federal Government’s Labour Market insights show unemployment in Latrobe City at 8.1 per cent – more than double that of Geelong and close to double that of Bendigo and Ballarat local government areas.
“Under Daniel Andrews and the LVA watch, Latrobe City one of has the highest local government area unemployment rates in Victoria by a country mile.
“Addressing the Committee Mr Buckingham said the LVA had a ‘mandate to do things differently’ however this intent hasn’t equated to establishing ongoing jobs – there are more people out of work now than when The Nationals and Liberals left office in 2014.
“In light of the loss of Hazelwood power station and with the shadowed closure of Yallourn, our community deserves tangible investment in expanding existing local industries and facilitating new technologies for redeployment of our skilled workforce.”
The last Community report published by the LVA was released in 2019.
In giving evidence to the Inquiry Mr Buckingham refused to elaborate on any funding requests made to the Andrews Government despite the LVA’s budget being set to run out in three months.
Ms Bath said it’s disappointing that the LVA hasn’t provided the community with any further update on job creation and industry attraction in Latrobe Valley.
“The only performance information released by the LVA over the past three years is contained in the Inquiry submission that it was obliged to provide.
“If the LVA is to continue, its role, ongoing employment outcomes and reporting transparency must improve.
“The LVA claims its created thousands of new jobs, yet there’s no evidence of where these jobs are located, in what industries and most importantly, if they are ongoing.
“Tasked with transitioning the region, the LVA was to establish local jobs for our highly skilled engineering and trade workforce, yet to date it can’t point to new industries to match the Valley’s workforce expertise.
“A high level of unemployment in Latrobe City suggests that the LVA’s ‘mandate to do things differently’, is still passing off more of the same.”