Latrobe City Council is calling on the State Government to commence the immediate establishment of a Brown Coal Royalties Investment Fund for the Latrobe City.
Latrobe City mayor, Councillor Kellie O’Callaghan said in January the State Government tripled the royalty rate in Victoria, which was predicted to generate an increase of $252 million in royalties over the coming four years.
“At the time of announcing the massive increase in royalties, Treasurer Tim Pallas said, ‘this increase will basically ensure Victorians get their fair share’. I am determined that the Latrobe City community sees their fair share,” Cr O’Callaghan said.
“The Fund should secure a portion of the coal royalties received by the State and diverted to job growth and employment development in Latrobe City.
“As the closure of the Hazelwood Power Station draws nearer the community is desperate for news of a jobs announcement.
“The concept of a Royalties Investment Fund was developed at Council’s first Strength Led Transition community conversation. It focused on securing a fair and equitable portion of the royalties earnt from mining activity in this community for the future security of our community.
“It is our community who for generations have lived alongside the open cut coal mines; along with the fugitive dust, varying air quality and other impositions that come with it. And while we support the utilisation of the plentiful coal deposit, it seems a fair exchange for the State to acknowledge ongoing contribution by returning the royalties to support a just transition.
“For generations royalties generated from the extraction and sale of Gippsland’s natural resources have been used to build employment generating infrastructure across the State, it’s time that effort was redirected to Latrobe City.
“With secure long term employment now mocked as an antiquated notion, it’s time for the community to regain control and to demand due financial compensation for the years spent living with the impacts of this energy sector.
“For years the State Government has experienced the comfort of this secure and reliable income stream. Our community is now saying that we’ll exchange our notion of long term secure employment for a long term secure royalties fund, focused on securing long term sustainable jobs for this community.
“Our first priority for this Brown Coal Royalties Investment Fund would be jobs and economic growth.
“We believe that a dedicated Latrobe City Brown Coal Royalties Investment Fund – established for the duration of the brown coal mining industry – could serve as a catalyst to many employment and economic innovation opportunities.
“While we are still focused on decentralisation, rail investment and the expansion of Latrobe Regional Hospital – a Brown Coal Royalties Investment Fund would provide a structure for continued jobs focus and effort.
“In taking the temperature of our community in recent days, we have given frank advice to the state and federal governments that the next funding announcement for this community must be about long term sustainable jobs.
“Jobs - that’s all anyone is talking about. It quite literally is keeping people awake at night and we implore the state and federal governments to abate the raising anxiety in our community by fast tracking any discussions, developments, ideas or plans that they have for providing jobs into this community and to put our collective mind at rest.”
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