O’Brien calls out Labor’s failure to save Gippsland jobs
The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien, has taken concern for Gippsland jobs to State Parliament.
Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, Mr O’Brien questioned the priorities of the Melbourne Labor Government.
“Labor has failed dismally when it comes to supporting jobs in Gippsland, particularly with respect to Hazelwood Power Station and the threat hanging over the Australian Sustainable Hardwoods (ASH) timber mill at Heyfield.
“Not only is the government not doing anything about it, but it is aiding and abetting the jobs crisis that we are facing in Gippsland.
“It is Labor policy to close Hazelwood and the $250 million increase in coal royalties in last year’s budget was the final straw for the company.
“It is now threatening 250 jobs at ASH in Heyfield because it refuses to offer up the timber supply the mill needs.”
Mr O’Brien questioned why the Labor Government allocated funds to Portland’s Alcoa smelter but failed to offer similar support to keep jobs at Hazelwood or Heyfield.
“We have seen lots of support for Alcoa, a foreign company, and good luck to the workers there, but the jobs of 250 workers at a good Australian company in a sustainable industry are threatened and Labor made no attempt to keep Hazelwood open or even fight for a phased closure.
“They are more interested in appeasing the Greens, because they want to save the Leadbeater’s possum than the jobs of mill workers and the 7000 jobs that rely on the mill in downstream industries.
“In the past two years alone, 423 Leadbeater colonies have been verified and new areas of commercial forest locked up with each find.
“Under the former Coalition Government the removal of forest from protection zones was to be reviewed once 200 colonies had been found, but Labor has failed to do that, putting Gippsland jobs at risk.
“Labor needs to step up and not allow these jobs at Australian Sustainable Hardwoods to be lost.”