Latrobe City Council will continue to standby the community after Energy Australia today announced it would close the Yallourn power station in 2028 – four years earlier than planned.
Council Mayor Cr Sharon Gibson said the community was aware the ageing power station was due to close in 2032, but today’s announcement came as a surprise to Council and the public.
The closure will result in the loss of hundreds of jobs directly associated with the power station, and will impact local businesses that service the power station or are supported by the wages of power station workers. For every direct job at the power station, there are three or four indirect jobs in the community.
“Council is aware that any loss of jobs has a substantial impact on our communities and our families, and their physical and mental health, and empathises with people feeling stress at this time,” Cr Gibson said.
Council is expected to lose significant rates income from the closure. The closure of Hazelwood resulted in $2 million being taken from Council’s budget.
Retaining jobs in the Latrobe Valley was not only essential to the City’s economy, but also to keeping the City’s social fabric.
“We need to keep the families who call Latrobe City and Gippsland home, as these people are not only workers at Yallourn, but their families are employees in other sectors and treasured community volunteers,” Cr Gibson said.
Cr Gibson said while the community was proud of its history of generating electricity for more than 100 years for the state of Victoria, Council and the community have been actively transitioning away from coal-fired electricity generation.
“As a Regional City, we have long sought ways in which to diversify our economy. With or without the coal industry, we are working with government to develop a strategy and plan for transition,” Cr Gibson said.
“The community of the Latrobe Valley cannot continue to take substantial economic hits. Firstly we lost the Hazelwood power station and now we are faced with the earlier closure of Yallourn.
“Latrobe City needs greater support from all levels of government to bring new industries, new employers and more jobs to our region, while assisting existing businesses to grow and create employment opportunities.
“We have so much technical expertise in the Latrobe Valley and we need to maximise opportunities to harness these.”
Cr Gibson called for the State and Federal governments to meet with Council to plan a way forward to ensure a just transition for Latrobe City to bring more industry, more government services, more jobs and more support to the community.
“Council has welcomed the State Government’s investment in the Latrobe Valley Sports and Community Initiative that has brought grand infrastructure to the City, but we need more,” she said.
“The Latrobe Valley is open and ready for business. Diversification is a long-term process where the breadth of our economic base will expand to capitalise on our natural and social assets.”
Latrobe City Council is ready to partner with community, industry and all tiers of government, leading transition through all its phases.
“We are a manufacturing hub, have a wealth of technical skills and are a centre of innovation. Latrobe City is well placed to grow its existing industries and welcome new ones,” Cr Gibson said.
Cr Gibson called for government support for projects listed in Council’s Strength-Led Transition document, with more funding for diverse manufacturing, health, public transport, agriculture and job re-training.