Northe fund puzzles Shing

Lake Narracan developer Pearse Morgan and Member for Morwell Russell Northe. photograph heidi kraak

Lake Narracan developer Pearse Morgan and Member for Morwell Russell Northe. photograph heidi kraak

It is not clear how Member for Morwell Russell Northe's Essential Services Fund would operate to deliver the improvements he is talking about, Member for Eastern Victoria Harriet Shing said.

It comes after Mr Northe last week called on the state government to provide $40 million for a fund that would allow essential service providers to apply for funding for off-site essential services on already-approved developments in the region, stating the commencement of these projects would stimulate employment.

Speaking to media at Lake Narracan last week, Mr Northe said there were a number of approved projects and developments in the Latrobe Valley that were unable to commence "primarily due to financial impediments of on-site infrastructure", including the Lake Narracan development.

"People have put their hard earned [money] on the line to get developments to occur at this particular precinct and this is an example [of] where these sort of infrastructure barriers have come to pass," he said.

"Basically, the project is at a stale mate because we can't get water, sewerage and roads constructed to this site."

"It is not just this high level development here, there are developers across the municipality where site infrastructure is required to makes sure developments can commence."

Mr Northe said there would be a "strict application process" for applicants to the Essential Services Fund "requesting the applicants establish the need for the service and what financial and economic benefits would flow on from its implementation or upgrade".

However, Ms Shing many of the things Mr Northe was calling for "three months out from the election" are "already being done".

"I am always very happy to meet with anyone who wants to discuss a particular idea or initiative to drive jobs and growth in and across our region," she said.

"But people might be forgiven for being sceptical that, after being in government himself including as a minister when the Coalition delivered none of those things for the area, it is suddenly a top priority for Mr Northe three months out from a state poll."

Ms Shing said the region had experienced a drop in unemployment recently and ABS statistics showed almost 2000 new jobs had been created.

"It is not clear how [Mr Northe] wants [the fund] to work and how these sorts of incentive would operate to encourage competition to actually deliver the improvements he is talking about," she said.

"Regional jobs figures will fluctuate over time, but the work that has been put in to the Valley has not only assisted people displaced by the closure of Hazelwood to transition into new work but also created new job opportunities for the broader community.

"This includes small business and agriculture as well as healthcare and manufacturing and our investment in projects including the Gippsland hi-tech precinct, the Latrobe Valley GovHub and grants to businesses for transition plans and business growth are all making a positive difference."

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