darren.chester.mp@aph.gov.au 1300 131 785
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June 29, 2009

Protecting local jobs and helping Gippsland weather the worst of the economic downturn will be the focus of the next 12 months for Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester.

This week marks the one year anniversary of the Gippsland by-election and Mr Chester said he hadn’t had much time to reflect on the milestone.

“It has been a very busy year with the global financial issues along with the horrific bushfires, drought and the campaign for pension reform,” Mr Chester said.

“I have received outstanding support from my staff throughout the year and we have been able to forge partnerships with a range of community groups to make sure that we strongly represent the views of our region in Federal Parliament.

“It is an honor and a privilege to represent our region and I’m looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead.”

Mr Chester said the flow-on impact of the global financial situation would be the biggest challenge for Gippsland and the entire nation over the next 12 months.

“The unemployment forecasts are a major concern and I’ve been encouraging local residents to support local businesses as much as possible,” Mr Chester said.

“Putting locals first is a good way to help create jobs in our region and ensure that there are opportunities here for young people in the future.

“For those Gippslanders who do lose their jobs, I’m working with the government to make sure that re-training opportunities are provided so they have the skills to take up new positions when they are available.

“We also need to make sure that every cent the government spends in our region as part of its economic stimulus package helps to provide jobs for local people and gives good value for money to taxpayers.

“The school upgrade program needs to be better targeted to take into account the needs of local schools and the availability of local builders to get the job done on time and on budget.”

Mr Chester also intends to continue his campaign against the government’s proposed changes to independent Youth Allowance which will make it more difficult for Gippsland students to pursue university studies.

“We’ve already collected 5000 signatures for a petition on the issue and I’m encouraging young people, parents and their teachers to continue lobbying the Education Minister to bring her to her senses,” Mr Chester said.

“I’m totally opposed to any changes that discriminate against country students, particularly the students in their gap year who have followed the existing rules and now find themselves in a difficult position.”

Mr Chester believes the Rudd Government’s proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme legislation will also be a major topic of debate over the next six months.

“Unfortunately, the more we learn about this legislation, the more we understand that it will be a jobs killer in regional areas and I won’t support the current bill,” Mr Chester said.

“The government should be honest with the Australian public and release economic modelling that indicates the full impact of the scheme on jobs in regional communities like Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley.”

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