The Albanese Government’s new National Net Zero Authority has been praised as a “game-changer for workers and communities” affected by the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables, according to the Mining and Energy Union (MEU).
The new statutory authority, announced on Friday, is aimed at providing support to workers in emissions-intensive sectors and energy regions to help them access new employment, skills, and other support as needed.
MEU General President Tony Maher said that the new Authority would provide a coordinated federal support system for coal-power workers and communities during a time of rapid change in the energy sector. He added that the future of workers in emissions-intensive facilities facing closure would not be 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,” Maher said. “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.”
The Net Zero Authority was designed based on extensive consultation with workers, unions, and community representatives in energy regions already grappling with the massive changes caused by decarbonisation.
The MEU General President said workers in coal-fired power stations and associated coal mines were living with the reality that the timeline for closure of coal-fired power stations was accelerating, and until now, coordinated federal support for coal-power workers and communities had been the missing piece when it comes to climate and energy policy.
“With [Friday’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,” Maher said.
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