Big firm leaves planned lab
The Victorian Government has admitted Fujitsu pulled out of its Latrobe hi-tech education precinct project before last year's state election.
Premier Daniel Andrews announced the $17-million education precinct project in November 2016, with Fujitsu agreeing to be the site's 'anchor tenant'.
The innovation laboratory is designed to link business with the education sector, with TAFE Gippsland and Federation University as partners, and is currently under construction at Morwell's Kernot Hall.
But it turns out that Fujitsu pulled out in October last year after failing to secure a Federal Government contract.
Victorian Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien says the Government of dishonestly withheld information about the failed deal to protect its own election chances in the seat of Morwell.
“They didn't want to admit that the big promises they made had been broken, the big promises of the hundreds of jobs weren't being delivered,” Mr O'Brien said.
“People can be pretty cynical about politics and politicians sometimes, and frankly this sort of cover-up really adds to that sort of cynicism.
“The Government is very big at the publicity and very big on the spin, making an announcement, but when those announcements come to nothing as this one sadly has, they don't tell anyone about it and it takes good journalism to find out about it.”
Liberal Member for Narracan Gary Blackwood said the Victorian Government should have told the community Fujitsu had pulled out last year.
“I can't explain why the Government hasn't been upfront and honest about this whole scenario,” Mr Blackwood said.
“It's very disappointing to hear now that that's not going to happen. It's indicative of the ad hoc approach that they do take to these sorts announcements, positive spin rather than actual jobs and a future for the Valley.
“It really annoys me that the Latrobe Valley keeps taking hits like this,” he said.
Victorian Youth Minister Gabrielle Williams has rejected the Opposition's claims.
“There has been no attempt to hide this fact. We've been entirely transparent about that,” Ms Williams said.
“Any suggestion otherwise, particularly by the Opposition, is an attempt by them to essentially seek to blame others for their own election loss.”
Fujitsu has issued a statement saying the company’s deal with the Government was as a partner in the development of a business case.
“The business case was dependent on a number of commercial considerations affecting the parties involved, some of which did not eventuate,” a company spokesperson said.
“The MOU expired in November 2018.”