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November 11, 2011

The Gillard Government has confirmed it has no plan to safeguard jobs in the Latrobe Valley from its carbon tax.

In a letter responding to Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester’s concerns over the impact of the carbon tax on the region, Climate Change Minister Greg Combet indicated that the government will ‘monitor the impacts of the carbon price on regions to determine areas where structural adjustment assistance may be required.’

Mr Chester and State Member for Morwell Russell Northe have called on the Gillard Government to stop wasting time and start supporting Latrobe Valley workers and their families.

Mr Chester, who voted against the legislation, said the Gillard Government rushed its carbon tax through Parliament whilst ignoring the impact it will have on regional communities like the Latrobe Valley.

He said the $200 million Regional Structural Assistance Package is not sufficient to assist all communities across Australia which would bear the brunt of the carbon tax.

“It’s obvious this government doesn’t have a plan to protect local jobs in the Latrobe Valley,” Mr Chester said.

“We’ve known for years that our region stands to suffer the most as the carbon tax costs jobs, hurts small business and increases the cost of living for local households.

“The Minister has failed to be honest with the people of the Latrobe Valley and conduct a full socio-economic analysis of the potential impacts.

“If the government is serious about introducing this tax it needs to come up with a plan to safeguard jobs in our region.”

Mr Northe said modelling has shown that 600 jobs would be lost and output reduced by $70 million by 2015 in the Latrobe Valley as a result of the carbon tax.

He said the Gillard Government was already in closure talks with Latrobe Valley power generators despite not having a plan in place to protect local jobs.

“It is understandable why local power companies have engaged in closure talks but I’m concerned that the consequences of the ‘Contract for Closure’ scheme have not been properly investigated,” Mr Northe said.

“The Gillard Government has been unable to properly manage a number of its own programs and these conversations are happening with no plan in place to support Latrobe Valley jobs or the local economy.”

Mr Northe said the Victorian Government was already supporting the region and it was now up to the Gillard Government to come to the party.

“The Victorian Government recognised the need to support the Latrobe Valley well before the 2010 State election,” Mr Northe said.

“We are already delivering on key election commitments to the region like the Latrobe Valley Advantage Fund and the Latrobe Valley Industry and Employment Roadmap.

“These initiatives are underway and will deliver a clear plan for new industry and investment as well as securing local jobs.

“It’s now up to the Gillard Government to come to the party and release its plan to support the region.”

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