The Federal Government will deliver $43 million to support Hazelwood Power Station workers and Victoria’s Latrobe Valley following the closure of the facility at the end of March 2017.
The support will include $20 million in support for local infrastructure, $3 million to help employees and a $20 million Regional Jobs and Investment Package to help create local jobs and growth, build a highly skilled local workforce, take advantage of export opportunities and diversify the regional economy.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has also created a Ministerial Committee to co-ordinate and oversee the Federal Government’s response. The committee includes:
· The Minister for the Environment and Energy, the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP (chair)
· The Minister for Regional Development, Senator the Hon Fiona Nash
· The Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, the Hon Darren Chester MP
· The Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, and
· The Minister for Employment, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash.
The Committee will work with all levels of government and the community to help the Latrobe Valley community, particularly affected workers and their families, manage the transition.
Engie and Mitsui, the joint owners of the Hazelwood Power Station, have announced that independent commercial reasons led to their decision to close Victoria’s oldest brown coal generator.
Engie has confirmed to the Government that it will meet all of its legal obligations for affected workers.
In 2015-16, Hazelwood met 22 per cent of Victoria’s energy demand and accounted for about four per cent of firm energy capacity in the National Electricity Market.
The Government has sought the advice of the independent Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), which manages the National Electricity Market, on how this closure will affect the secure supply of electricity.
AEMO has advised the electricity market will continue to operate reliably after the closure of Hazelwood.
The Government has also today written to the Australian Energy Regulator to ensure the closure does not lead to unjustified price increases or allow market participants to unfairly profit.
COAG Energy Ministers, with the Federal Government, will help ensure a reliable supply of energy across Victoria and South Australia and minimal price impacts.
The Minister for Regional Development Senator the Hon Fiona Nash said the Latrobe Valley would become the 10th Region under the Government’s Regional Jobs and Investment Package. The Federal Government will work with the local community on the funding priorities.
The Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester MP said an additional $20 million would fund a jobs and infrastructure package, with projects to be determined with the local community.
To support affected workers to get back into jobs as soon as possible, the Minister for Employment, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash has announced an immediate $3 million labour market structural adjustment package.
The Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, will hold a series of small business roundtables in the Latrobe Valley recognising the impact of the closure.
The Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester and Mr Russell Broadbent MP, will represent the Federal Government on a joint Federal/State Government Taskforce.
The Federal Government is already investing in the Latrobe Valley and greater Gippsland region to deliver jobs and growth with the $260 million Princes Highway duplication and $200 million Defence funding for the East Sale RAAF Base redevelopment.
New infrastructure and community programs already announced this year include:
· $25 million to upgrade the South Gippsland Highway;
· $25 million to improve safety on the Princes Highway East from Sale to the NSW border;
· $20 million to fast track the upgrade of the Macalister Irrigation District;
· $10 million for the Latrobe Performing Arts Centre in Traralgon;
· $5 million to upgrade the Hyland Highway between Loy Yang and Yarram;
· $5 million to fix dangerous sections of the Great Alpine Road between Bruthen and Mount Hotham;
· More than $5 million in debt financing for Novapower in Gippsland to acquire gas-fired energy equipment; and
· $4.8 million for the Port Welshpool long jetty rehabilitation project.
Individuals and businesses in the Latrobe region interested in participating in the small business roundtables, should contact business.gov.au to register their interest or by calling business.gov.au on 13 28 46.