Newcastle and the Hunter Valley will be eligible for a major share of $250 million in upfront investment to support and assist coal workers and coal communities to manage the transition to a low carbon future under a plan announced by the Greens today.
According to Newcastle Greens candidate John Mackenzie, the Greens’ Renew Australia policy to provide 90% of our nation’s energy needs from clean, renewable sources by 2030 includes establishing a Clean Energy Transition Fund to limit the risk and exposure of workers and communities dependent on carbon-intensive industries like coal mining.
The fund will start with an initial amount of $250 million and is expected to fund projects worth around $1 billion over the next 15 years.
“Newcastle and the Hunter have unmatched skills, knowledge and expertise in energy and manufacturing industries, with potential to play a central role in the emerging renewable energy economy,” said Dr Mackenzie. “The purpose of the Clean Energy Transition Fund is to re-tool these unique attributes so we are globally competitive in the industries of the future.”
“Right now, the energy economy is in a period of profound structural shift, and this is having a disproportionate impact on workers and households in Newcastle and the Hunter region. The Greens believe it is the government’s responsibility to ensure these workers and their families are looked after so that no coal worker has to suffer the anxiety and financial insecurity that comes from abruptly losing their job.”
“For Newcastle and the Hunter, this funding means training and reskilling opportunities for coal workers, incentives for new businesses, start-ups and innovation hubs, and assistance to enable our community to take advantage of the renewable industry boom,” said Dr Mackenzie.
“With the seed funding provided by the Fund, proposals for full scale renewable energy projects located near coal-dependent communities in need of new employment opportunities will have a much needed competitive advantage,” said Dr Mackenzie.
“The Clean Energy Transition Fund includes funding full income maintenance for workers in the fossil fuel industry as their workplaces scale down and close. At the same time, The Greens are pushing for legislation to provide job guarantees for all displaced workers from fossil fuel power stations with equivalent pay, security and benefits,” said Dr Mackenzie.
The Clean Energy Transition Fund would be administered by a new $500 million government authority – RenewAustralia – which would have independent agency and the authority to drive the transition to a new clean energy system nationally, including the assistance provided to workers and regions affected by the phase out of fossil fuel indiustries.