The following letter was published in the Ballarat Courier, June 20, 2012.
Last Friday, the Premier spoke in Ballarat at the regional press club.
When asked about the impacts of his government’s wind policy on regional employment, he flatly denied there was a problem. There are two observations that have to be made about his statement:
Firstly, job loss is undeniable. Figures put together by Friends of the Earth suggest that in less than a year, the Coalition policy has cost Victoria up to 650 direct jobs in construction, 54 on – going jobs in management of wind farms, and 1,408 indirectly associated (flow-on) jobs in the sector. The majority of these would be in regional Victoria.
Secondly, the government was warned by the industry that there would be significant job losses if it proceeded with implementing its controversial policy. It is a major intervention in how the wind industry can operate in Victoria, with the creation of a right of veto and No Go zones not faced by other sectors.
When a government decides to intervene in an industry in a way which is likely to have a major impact on employment in that sector, it is standard practise to investigate the impacts and plan for transition.
For instance, when the previous state government ended logging in native forests in the Otway Ranges, it set up the Industry Transition Taskforce (ITT), which was intended to help timber industries and communities adapt, and contributed $2.7 million for an industry transition package for timber workers in the Otways.
Given that this government has also intervened in major way in a sector that employs many in regional Victoria, it has to be asked what modelling has been done on the employment impacts of its policy, and what transition plan is in place to assist workers impacted because of this policy?
Friends of the Earth