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Greens call on Labor to back National Energy Transition Authority Bill

The Greens have called on Labor to support its bill to establish a National Energy Transition Authority, which was introduced in the Senate today by Gladstone-based Queensland Senator Penny Allman-Payne.

The National Energy Transition Authority Bill 2022 establishes a new independent public authority to guide Australia’s shift from an economy powered by polluting coal and gas to one powered by reliable, secure and low-cost renewable energy.

By providing national coordination, expert advice and funding, the National Energy Transition Authority will work with communities, workers, unions, energy companies and governments at all levels to plan the pipeline of clean energy projects, creating good, secure jobs and opening up new export markets while pushing down power prices for homes and businesses.

During negotiations on the Climate Change Bill the government agreed to consider the Greens’ proposal for a transition authority, a body that has the support of coal and gas workers and communities, unions, climate and energy experts, businesses and rank and file Labor members.

From next week Senator Allman-Payne will host a series of roundtables and public forums in the Latrobe Valley, Hunter region and Gladstone to discuss the bill with stakeholders and community members.

Lines from Greens spokesperson for Industry, Transition and Regional Development, Senator Penny Allman-Payne:

“The climate crisis is happening before our eyes. In the past few months we’ve seen record flooding on Australia’s east coast; apocalyptic fires throughout Europe; and a third of the land mass of Pakistan submerged by torrential rains and fast-melting Himalayan glaciers.

“The biggest contributor to the climate crisis is the extraction and burning of coal and gas, which is why the IPCC, the International Energy Agency, climate scientists and environmental groups all say we must open no more coal and gas projects.

“To keep global heating below 1.5 degrees we also have to phase out existing coal and gas and transition rapidly to a zero emissions economy – and the good news is that this is already starting to happen. The global market for coal is drying up and renewable energy is taking off across the country.

“But what’s missing is a plan for a fair and equitable transition that ensures we are able to rapidly and responsibly exit coal and gas while securing the futures of the workers and communities who are at risk of being left behind.

“We know from similar energy transition bodies in Europe that if you plan the transition, workers can move into new well-paid jobs, be redeployed through industry-wide pooling or benefit from early retirement. But it needs government leadership.

“The only thing standing in the way of the creation of a National Energy Transition Authority is the Labor Party. Labor has said they will consider the Greens’ proposal, but we think they should listen to what workers, unions, businesses and their own members are saying and commit to backing our bill.

“If the government and Greens are able to work together to make this authority a reality during the life of this parliament, we will blunt the Coalition’s climate scare campaigns and render them even more irrelevant than they already are, while securing the futures of tens of thousands of workers across the country.”

About the bill:

The core functions of the NETA are:

  • to support communities and workers affected by the closure of coal and gas extraction and power generation to adapt, including by helping to attract new public and private investment in job-creating industries and social infrastructure to affected areas, and ensuring ongoing equivalent employment or social services are provided;
  • working with employers in relevant industries to encourage workforce pooling, to enable workers to shift between employers where skills are transferable; and
  • planning with workers and relevant agencies to assist workers nearing retirement age to transition to a voluntary, financially secure retirement.

The Authority will draw on a Diversifying Coal Communities Fund of $2.8 billion over 10 years, which will approve and fund local plans across the nation, developed by regionally based transition bodies in partnership with the Authority.

The NETA’s board will be composed of experts in energy, workplace planning and engineering, along with worker representatives, and will be responsible for developing strategic plans to manage the energy transition. The Authority will be independent of government but guided by government policy and decision-making that may overlap with the Authority’s work.

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