Gippsland short-changed on job incentive scheme
The Andrews Labor Government has serious questions to answer as to why one of its key Latrobe Valley job incentive schemes has fallen well-short of forecasts.
State Nationals MPs have questioned the government as to why the Latrobe Valley Economic Growth Zone program was allocated $50 million in late-2016, but has expended less than 20 per cent of that.
The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien said the Latrobe Valley Authority’s (LVA) community report from late last year indicated just $6.9 million had been spent on this program.
“Daniel Andrews and Labor promised to create jobs by establishing the Economic Growth Zone across Baw Baw, Latrobe and Wellington Shires,” Mr O’Brien said.
“It was supposed to provide an incentive for businesses to relocate or expand and create jobs by refunding state government taxes and charges such as stamp duty and payroll tax.
“On the government’s own figures from the LVA’s community report in November last year it has spent just $6.9 million – far short of the $50 million indicated.
“The questions the Government must now answer are: what has happened to the rest of that money? Was the program a failure from the start? Did Treasury recoup the funds in a desperate bid to boost the Government’s failing bottom line.
“Workers and families in the Latrobe Valley deserve to know the answers as to why this program hasn’t run as expected.”
The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath said the Government’s work to support the Latrobe Valley after the closure of Hazelwood was not done.
“I think we have all had a suspicion that the LVA and its programs were all about announceables and picture opportunities than about really creating jobs and the Economic Growth Zone is a good example of this,” Ms Bath said.
“Workers in the Valley need jobs and a transition to new industries, but so far we’ve mostly seen spin, not substance from the Labor Government.”
“After forcing the early closure of Hazelwood and now planning to shut down our native timber industry, Labor doesn’t have a clear plan for jobs in the Valley.
“The government needs to explain why it hasn’t spent the money on this program and helped create more jobs in the Valley. “