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May 17, 2011

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester says that Climate Change Minister Greg Combet only has to answer one question when he visits the Latrobe Valley: how many local jobs will be lost under the Labor Party’s carbon tax?

Mr Chester said he was pleased that the Minister was visiting the region and hoped he gained a better understanding of local concerns about the Gillard Government’s handling of the proposed new tax.

“The Prime Minister misled voters before the election when she promised there would not be a carbon tax,” Mr Chester said.

“Workers in the Latrobe Valley are telling me that they don’t want a household assistance package, they want to keep their jobs.

“Labor and the Greens are talking a lot about jobs that people might have in the future but I’m fighting for the jobs that Latrobe Valley families rely on today.

“Mr Combet must be honest with our community and explain how many jobs will be lost under the Labor Party’s plans to introduce a tax which will do nothing to change the temperature of the globe.”

Mr Chester said he was heartened by comments attributed to Australian Workers Union National Secretary Paul Howes who said he would withdraw support for the carbon tax if Australian jobs were lost.

“The unions are finally starting to wake up to the fact that it’s their members who will lose their jobs in regional areas like the Latrobe Valley,” Mr Chester said.

“Paul Howes said that ‘if one job is gone, our support is gone’, and it’s about time that Ministers like Greg Combet started listening to people in the regions that will be directly affected by the carbon tax.

“It makes no sense to introduce a new tax that will disadvantage Australian businesses competing in international markets while at the same time putting upward pressure on the cost of living for local families.

“It makes no sense to introduce a new tax that will undermine the security of baseload power in Victoria and reduce investment in our region.

“If the government wants to introduce a new tax, it should design the scheme and then call an election to let the Australian people make their decision.”