LVA review if Nats win

Nationals leader Peter Walsh with Nationals candidate for Morwell Sheridan Bond. file photograph

Nationals leader Peter Walsh with Nationals candidate for Morwell Sheridan Bond. file photograph

The Latrobe Valley Authority is set to undergo an external review by a group of 20 Gippsland CEOs at the request of the Nationals ahead of November's state election.

The LVA is one of several areas the party has requested feedback on from industry leaders as it considers the framework for its policies on areas including decentralisation, tourism, private investment and infrastructure.

It comes days after Morwell Labor candidate Mark Richards expressed his concerns about the future of the LVA – should the Coalition win November's election – fearing the opposition could "remove" the organisation if it wins power.

The Gippsland Regional Executive Forum – made up of 20 Gippsland CEOs and business owners – has been tasked with providing feedback on potential policy with its main intent to strengthen regional investment.

Nationals leader Peter Walsh met with forum members in Traralgon last week where he called on business leaders to advise the party on the region's greatest needs.

He said he asked members "if the Latrobe Valley Authority was meeting the expectations of the community".

The forum has also met with Liberal Party leader Matthew Guy in recent months and will seek a meeting with the state Labor government in coming weeks to discuss their policies for regional Victoria ahead of the election.

It is one of three forums consisting of more than 50 business leaders and owners across the state.

Gippsland Regional Executive Forum chairman John Mitchell said there would be a strong focus on the decentralisation of public sector jobs in the forum's feedback.

"The LVA was something which was raised in Peter Walsh's talk and he said to the group he would invite the forum to outline their views on the operation of the authority and to suggest ways in which the authority could be improved," Mr Mitchell said.

"I have now invited all of the members to provide their comments and I will then ... pull together a discussion paper arising from the comments of our members."

Labor candidate for Morwell Mark Richards told The Express on Friday he was under the impression the Latrobe Valley Authority could be removed under a Coalition government.

"You'd have to be crazy to consider removing the LVA," Mr Richards said.

"I don't know any other government body that's helped this region as much as they have. They really are drawing the links between businesses and governments and communities and governments."

Mr Mitchell, a former inaugural Latrobe City chief executive and former managing director of Gippsland Water, said the forum was keen to encourage "bold plans" which would direct further investment and population into Gippsland.

"We want to see the relocation of public sector jobs into the region. We want to see a much more focused investment in terms of the upgrades to rail - both freight and passenger - with greater car parking capacity," Mr Mitchell said.

"We also believe that Gippsland has some wonderful natural assets but we think they're underleveraged in terms of cycling, bush walking and also cultural tourism.

"We think that we need a much more strategic and focused plan in those areas to encourage increased visitation and investment in tourist facilities and accommodation and these will form part of submission."

It was not the first time the organisation has met with the National Party, having held yearly meetings with the government and opposition of the day since its inception in 2010.

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