Federal Government moves to establish National Net Zero Authority for Just Transition from 1 July

May 6, 2023 at 12:19 am Leave a comment

In a joint media release today Federal Government Ministers announced that a National Net Zero Authority would be established during the budget session with an aim to start from 1 July 2023. Unions Australia and some 60 organisations and community groups, including Climate Action Merribek, lobbied for a National Energy Transition Authority in the budget.

The new Authority will have responsibility for promoting the orderly and positive economic transformation associated with achieving net zero emissions. An agency located in Prime Minister and Cabinet will be setup first to outline more detailed structural arrangements in setting up the formal Authority.

The new, legislated Net Zero Authority will:

  1. Support workers in emissions-intensive sectors to access new employment, skills and support as the net zero transformation continues.
  2. Coordinate programs and policies across government to support regions and communities to attract and take advantage of new clean energy industries and set those industries up for success.
  3. Help investors and companies to engage with net zero transformation opportunities.

The Government will also provide additional funding from the $1.9 billion Powering the Regions Fund to support existing industry – such as rail and aviation – and new clean energy industries, with the creation of a $400 million Industrial Transformation Stream.

Unions welcome establishment of new Transition Authority

Unions Australia welcomed the establishment of a Transition Authority. The submission by Unions Australia focussed narrowly on energy transition. ACTU President Michele O’Neil said in a media release:

“This is an important victory for Australia’s energy workers, their families and communities, and for the climate. The National Net Zero Authority creates a sturdy bridge for workers, their families and communities to a clean energy future.

“Supporting creation of new quality jobs and skills and providing the resources workers and communities need are essential elements of this plan.

“Reaching net zero emissions is a nation-building, history-making, generation-defining project. The creation of this Authority will allow Australia to advance that project with confidence, knowing no one will be left behind.

“The union movement is proud of the workers and communities who have powered Australia and are central to Australia’s transition to a decarbonised economy.

“We congratulate the Government and urge it to move quickly in passing this historic legislation. After a decade of denial and delay under the previous Government, we have no time to waste in securing a just transition.”

ACTU media release

Reaction from climate and Environmental NGOs

The formulation presented by the Federal Government offers a much broader policy remit with regard to transitioning vulnerable workforces and communities than advocated for by Unions Australia..

The Australian Conservation Foundation also welcomed the Albanese government’s announcement of a National Net Zero Authority to coordinate Australia’s clean energy transformation. “This is an essential step in Australia’s energy transformation,” said CEO Kelly O’Shanassy.

“A coordinated and well-planned transition is needed to make sure communities, workers and the economy enjoy the benefits of this inevitable transformation.

“It will be important for the new authority to have regulatory power, independence and financial sustainability, and to include representation from industry, unions and affected communities, including civil society and First Nations representatives.

“It will also be important that the National Net Zero Authority oversees the transition away from fossil fuel exports, towards clean exports, not only power station closures. This is where the big jobs, manufacturing and emissions reduction opportunities are.

“If the clean energy revolution is managed badly it will result in a lot of damage to nature, so the authority must make sure the transition is done in a way that’s good for nature.

“A transition that allows communities to help lead the way to a future beyond coal and gas will be a faster and more effective transition – and that’s better for our climate.

“Communities will look to this authority to support, coordinate and complement existing state and regional transition planning processes, starting with the regions experiencing closures of coal-fired power stations.

“In recent months we’ve been big announcements in Europe and north America relating to the global race to reap the jobs, climate and economic benefits of becoming a clean energy superpower. This authority is essential to make sure Australia is a competitor in the global clean energy transformation.

“It will be important for the authority to deliver and administer labour adjustment packages and policies so energy workers have access to good quality, secure and safe jobs.”

ACF media statement

The Climate Council highlighted with the growing phase-out of coal power the need for this transition authority to hit the ground running. CEO Amanda McKenzie said:

“Last week the Liddell coal-fired power station went offline. The Victorian and Queensland Governments have announced their plans to fully exit coal power generation. It won’t be long before all coal is retired for good. 

“Communities in regions where fossil fuels are being phased out and those in Renewable Energy Zones need a voice, clear plans and strong investment to guide the transformation of their local economies and industries. The National Net Zero Authority can provide important leadership and coordination for this shift. 

“The sense of momentum towards a clean future in Australia is inspiring. As well as Federal action, every Australian state and territory – bar the Northern Territory which appears to be stuck in the dark age with last week’s fracking and Beetaloo announcement –  is in a race to the front of the clean energy pack.”

Climate Council media release


Entry filed under: Just Transition, Labors Climate Record, news. Tags: , , .

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