JOB losses during the coronavirus pandemic have hit Wannon harder than any other rural Victorian federal electorate, a new report says.
A Grattan Institute report based on Australian Bureau of Statistics data states 9.2 per cent of jobs disappeared in Wannon between March 14 and May 30 this year, higher than any other electorate in regional Victoria.
Initial job losses particularly in hospitality and tourism sectors hit Wannon hardest in the state, institute program director Brendan Coates said, but some Melbourne-based electorates had since taken greater hits.
"While regional areas have started to recover it underscores there is a long way back," Mr Coates told The Standard.
Rural Councils Victoria is calling for a statewide $4 billion "emergency package" from the state and federal government to create jobs, invest in regions' long-term futures and secure food production.
The council's chair Mary-Ann Brown, also a Southern Grampians Shire councillor, said the money could be used to invest in roads, stimulate tourism-based businesses, and relieve ratepayers.
She said rural councils were set on the $4 billion figure because it reflected 10 per cent of the whopping $40 billion rural Victoria contributes to the state's gross domestic product.
"One of the major transport projects in Melbourne is $2 billion, we are talking about this type of support spread across a large area of Victoria," Cr Brown said.
The group did its own figures comparing ABS employment data and found Warrnambool and the south-west had the third highest job loss rate of 6.6 per cent between February and May, behind Gippsland and Ballarat.
"There is discussion about what's going to happen when JobKeeper stops in September, because some of those businesses are still not up and running," Cr Brown said.
"There is an opportunity to invest in capital works programs that are not only going to result in long-term benefits for communities but also our state and nation as a whole."
Federal Wannon MP Dan Tehan said a "heavy hit" to the tourism sector was "recognised in the ABS data".
"We said that JobKeeper would be reviewed, it is currently being reviewed, we are methodically looking at the data trying to work out the next steps," Mr Tehan said.
"We want to make sure there is support there for those who need it. But we begin to withdraw support for those business that can begin to reopen."
Asked whether further support would be offered to regional areas, Mr Tehan said "everything is being looked at as part of the review".
"We are very consistent of the fact that some sectors have been hit harder than others," he said.
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