A new statutory authority announced by the Prime Minister will be a game-changer for workers and communities affected by the energy transition, the Mining and Energy Union (MEU) said today.
The national Net Zero Authority will support workers in emissions-intensive sectors to access new employment, skills and other support as needed; and support energy regions to diversify.
MEU General President Tony Maher said the Authority would have workers’ backs at a time of rapid change in the energy sector.
“Workers in coal-fired power stations and associated coal mines are living with the reality that the timeline for closure of coal-fired power stations is accelerating,” he said.
“Until now, co-ordinated federal support for coal-power workers and communities has been the missing piece when it comes to climate and energy policy.
“Today’s announcement means that the future of workers in emissions-intensive facilities facing closure won’t be simply left up to patchy employer programs and struggling local jobs markets. The Authority will have powers to support workers into new jobs and to facilitate investment in affected communities to create the good jobs of the future.”
Mr Maher said the design of the Net Zero Authority was based on extensive consultation with workers, unions and community representatives in energy regions already grappling with the seismic changes caused by decarbonisation.
“The Government has listened and taken action to make sure that workers and communities reliant on emissions-intensive industries aren’t left to bear the brunt of national efforts to address climate change,” he said.
“We know from looking around the world energy transition can be done well or poorly, with consequent positive or devastating outcomes for energy-dependent regions.
“With today’s announcement, Australia is setting out on a path of doing energy transition well. The benefits of the Net Zero Authority will flow through our regional communities in terms of jobs, economic activity and positive social outcomes for generations.
“We look forward to contributing positively to the Authority’s work in the years ahead.”