Gippsland South The Nationals Industry

All of Gippsland hurt by Hazelwood Closure

The Nationals Member for Gippsland South Danny O’Brien said today his thoughts were with workers at Hazelwood Power Station their families and the people of the Latrobe Valley following the announcement of the station’s closure by March next year.

Mr O’Brien said this was devastating news for all of Gippsland, not just the Latrobe Valley.

“This decision is a blow for all of us in Gippsland. I went to school with and played footy with people who are losing their jobs as a result of this announcement and I know many Gippslanders will be in a similar situation. Our hearts go out to the workers and we call on all levels of government to do everything they can to assist with the transition.

“This is a very sad day indeed for the Latrobe Valley and Hazelwood workers, but all governments need to remember that the heavy industry of the Latrobe Valley supports jobs and businesses right throughout the Gippsland region.

“I know in my own electorate places like Sale, Rosedale, Mirboo North, Leongatha and Korumburra have businesses and workers that rely on Latrobe Valley industry for their income.

“The Hazelwood closure will impact far beyond the boundaries of Latrobe City and will herald further difficult times for the wider Gippsland community.

“I find it galling that the Labor Government is crying crocodile tears today when it has in fact been Labor policy to close Hazelwood since 2010 and this year’s Budget whacked a $252 million coal tax increase on Latrobe valley generators,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Indeed the now Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said in 2011:

‘Mr Baillieu’s decision to keep Hazelwood fully operating is disgraceful.’

“Labor and the Greens have now got their wishes to close Hazelwood and reduce the brown coal industry and it is Hazelwood workers, the Valley, Gippsland and all Victorians who will ultimately pay. 

“I am sick of hearing green groups claiming they care about jobs and suggesting ridiculous alternatives for workers in the Valley.

“The Valley has a competitive advantage based on energy production and Labor and the Greens have just sold it down the river.”

Mr O’Brien said that he remained optimistic for the future of Gippsland which has great opportunities in natural resources, agriculture and tourism, but governments should not turn their back on the brown coal resource entirely.

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