September 6, 2012
The Gillard Government has been warned not to use the decision to abandon its ‘contract for closure’ policy as an excuse to ignore the impact the carbon tax is having on Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley.
Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has told Government Ministers they must not abandon the region in the aftermath of the decision to not proceed with the policy of closing power generators in the Latrobe Valley.
Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson announced this week that the government had not been able to reach an agreement on the flawed plan to use taxpayers’ money to shut down Latrobe Valley power generators.
Mr Chester said the backflip was a small reprieve for local power industry workers and their families but the region still needed critical government assistance to deal with the impacts of the carbon tax.
“This is a win for the community which has joined me in the fight to protect local jobs from a policy that made no sense from an environmental or economic perspective,” Mr Chester said.
“There’s no cause for celebration because jobs have already been lost as a direct result of this policy. The Latrobe Valley in particular, has been trapped in a state of uncertainty since the ‘contract for closure’ program was announced.
“The crisis of confidence throughout the community has had a direct impact on industries that support the power sector along with the construction sector, agriculture and retailing. The Gillard Government mustn’t use the scrapping of this program as an excuse not to assist industries which have been harmed by the carbon tax.”
Mr Chester said the government had failed to release any guidelines for its $200 million Regional Structural Adjustment Assistance program which was meant to assist adversely affected regions in the aftermath of the carbon tax.
“The Gillard Government claims that concerns about the impacts of the carbon tax have been exaggerated but all it has achieved throughout this process has been job losses and uncertainty for local workers and their families,” Mr Chester said.
“Instead of more empty rhetoric, we need Ministers to come to the Latrobe Valley with funding commitments to support the innovative projects that have been put forward by our region to ensure our future prosperity. The government must accept the consequences of its failed policy and act to compensate the Latrobe Valley and broader Gippsland region by investing to create new jobs and support growth in our established industries.”