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The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has urged the Latrobe Valley community to remain positive, despite news of more local job losses.

He has flagged an announcement within weeks on successful applicants under the Federal Government’s $20 million Regional Jobs Investment Package (RJIP).

“The RJIP applications are with the Minister for Regional Development for final consideration and I expect an announcement soon,” Mr Chester said.

The owner of the Hazelwood Power Station, Engie, announced 60 jobs would be lost in June, six months earlier than expected, due to a change in how the mine’s walls were stabilised.

Also this week, news broke that Coles Supermarket at Mid Valley Shopping Centre, which employs 57 staff, would close in August. The supermarket chain has stated all staff would be redeployed.

The announcement came less than a week after Target announced up to 40 jobs would be lost when it closed its store in the shopping centre in June.

“These recent announcements are unwelcome news for a community that has already weathered difficult times,” Mr Chester said. “We need to try to stay positive, support one another and do what we can to help.

“The Federal Government has made significant funding announcements, primarily for local sporting and community infrastructure, to support local jobs and liveability in our region.

“This is welcome, but more needs to be done to create more sustainable local jobs through investment in critical infrastructure to improve productivity and boost industries and small businesses.

“As a Member of Parliament, I will continue to lobby hard to ensure Gippsland, and the Latrobe Valley in particular, continues to receive the Federal Government support it needs.

“We will also continue to encourage investment in the Latrobe Valley, diversify the economy, and provide alternate markets for affected supply chain businesses.

“Locals can also help by choosing to buy local products and use local tradesmen whenever they can.  Every dollar spent in Gippsland helps create more local jobs for the future.”

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