Hundreds of Victorian public servants face seeing their jobs driven out of Melbourne in a state government bid to boost a hard-hit regional economy.
At least 400 jobs based out of the VicRoads’ headquarters will be relocated more than 100km away to the rural city of Ballarat if the coalition retains power in the November election.
The plan, announced on Sunday, will see VicRoads move out of Kew to a site beside Ballarat’s Civic Hall, taking with it jobs in licensing and registration, finance, HR, administration, legal and many senior positions.
Premier Denis Napthine described the plan as a ‘‘win-win’’.
He said it would take a couple of years to sort out the details with the union and current employees.
‘‘This is an issue that we want to talk through with the staff at VicRoads so those staff have options,’’ Dr Napthine told reporters in Ballarat on Sunday.
But he expects most people would be excited about getting the chance to call Ballarat home.
‘‘People I think should be very enthusiastic about coming to Ballarat in terms of the quality of life, affordability of living here,’’ he said.
He said employees will have time to decide if they want to relocate, commute from Melbourne or apply for a VicRoads job in a smaller CBD office.
Ballarat Mayor Josh Morris said he was thrilled with welcoming hundreds of new residents to the area.
‘‘It will certainly be of a great benefit to the economy here,’’ he said.
‘‘We’re talking about $40 million of added economic activity.’’
The relocation plan comes as thousands of jobs are vanishing from rural areas, especially with the looming closures of Alcoa’s refinery and Ford’s plant by 2016.
At least 2,700 jobs were also at risk in the Goulburn Valley until the state government threw a $22 million lifeline last month to keep food processor SPC Ardmona operating its plant in Shepparton.
The state opposition said the government’s proposed VicRoads relocation plan, however, won’t actually create more jobs.
‘‘We need to do more than simply move jobs around Victoria - we need to work to create new ones,’’ an opposition spokesman said.
There were no financial details released on the potential cost of the VicRoads plan.
But Dr Napthine said it would be cheaper than building a new VicRoads headquarters in Melbourne.
A smaller VicRoads centre will be set up in the CBD while the site of the current headquarters in Kew will put to market.