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Statement from Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester MP:

It’s important to note that there has not been any formal announcement by Hazelwood’s owners but I’m deeply concerned about the ongoing speculation.

When and if Hazelwood closes is a decision for the owners.

I successfully fought the Labor Party’s flawed ‘contract for closure’ scheme because I was opposed to wasting taxpayers’ money to shut down an important source of local jobs and reliable energy supply.

There is no Federal Government policy which would force Hazelwood to close.

If Hazelwood does close in the near future, there will be a need for all levels of government to work together to provide funding for infrastructure upgrades, skills training and others initiatives to secure jobs in our region.

Hazelwood is not just a provider of baseload energy, it’s a provider of baseload jobs in our community.

The social and economic impacts of a premature closure would be devastating for the Latrobe Valley at a time when we are already experiencing high unemployment levels.

I’ve already met with Cabinet colleagues in relation to the speculation about Hazelwood’s future and raised three key points: the potential impact on energy security; household cost of living increases; and the assistance which would need to be provided to support families and the regional economy.

My primary responsibility is to look after the interests of hard working local families who have been unfairly vilified in recent years.

Australia is going to depend on the reliable baseload energy from the Latrobe Valley for decades to come and there are alternative uses for brown coal which can provide long-term jobs in our region but industry needs the confidence to invest in new technology.

I will work with other political leaders, industry, business and community members who have the best interests of the Latrobe Valley at heart.

The Latrobe Valley has a rich and proud history of powering economic growth in our nation and I’m confident we have a bright future.

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