REGION - Northern Grampians Shire Council has vowed to continue lobbying government at both state and federal level for increased funding support, to boost the economy once Stawell Gold Mines closes.
Council has been disappointed with the level of support offered to date, since the announcement was made by Crocodile Gold that the mine would close, starting with the winding down of underground mining operations.
Voting unanimously in favour of lobbying state and federal governments for support to mitigate the economic and social impact on the community due to the closure of the Stawell Gold Mine, councillors used the example of how much money was being 'thrown' at the Geelong community after Ford announced it was closing the city's manufacturing plant.
Cr Kevin Erwin said he was shocked that the federal government in particular had not made contact with council, or made any offers of financial assistance, regarding the mine closure.
"Ford represents one percent of Geelong's entire workforce and the federal government has committed millions of dollars to assist the community," he said.
"When you compare Ford's closure with that of Stawell Gold Mines, it is about 12% of our workforce, I do wonder why we haven't seen the Prime Minister here yet.
"The report presented to us identifies shortcomings and things we need to look at in the future and we need to continue fighting to ensure we get the support we deserve."
Cr Tony Driscoll agreed that it was surprising the federal government had not offered support to Stawell, given the severity of job losses to the region.
"When Ford announced it was closing the Geelong and Broadmeadows manufacturing plants, the federal and state governments suddenly found $39 million to provide support," he said.
"Stawell Gold Mines announces it will be closing the underground operation and that eventually the mine will close and yet, we haven't seen any support.
"We need to keep lobbying to ensure we do get more financial support so we can have strategies in place to keep those people who work at the mine, right here in our shire."
Council's Director Marketing and Community, Jim Nolan, said there were numerous reasons why council must continue to advocate strongly to government for financial and other support, with the loss of jobs at Stawell Gold Mines the top of the list.
"The loss of in excess of 300 jobs as a result of the transition plan by Stawell Gold Mine will impact significantly on the Northern Grampians economy," Mr Nolan said.
"Recently Ford Australia announced the closure of its Geelong and Boadmeadows Manufacturing plants to result in approximately 1200 jobs lost. In response, the Federal and Victorian Governments agreed to "contribute $39 million to help the Geelong and Broadmeadows communities deal with job losses, and called on Ford to make its own contribution.
"While council has already advocated strongly in respect of the Stawell Gold Mine closure, the extent of government commitment to date in financial terms is minor in comparison to the Ford closure response.
"Council has received funding towards council projects such as the Stawell Airport, 108 Main Street project and the Halls Gap Community Hub. More recently, the State Government has provided $110,000 towards the Golden Legacy Feasibility Study to investigate opportunities beyond the mine closure, and provided funding to assist business expansion at Frewstal abattoir. However, the long term impact of the Stawell Gold Mine closure is significant and warrants ongoing government attention."
Mr Nolan said at a state level, opportunity exists for infrastructure development and other funding through the Regional Growth Fund.
"Council has had an excellent record to demonstrate its ability to delivery major infrastructure projects within time and budget," Mr Nolan said.
"However, the situation for Northern Grampians is now urgent and a commitment is needed from other levels of Government to work with Council to identify and fast track opportunities to stimulate investment and jobs growth."