The peak body for working people has backed calls for an independent statutory body to manage energy transition for working people and their communities, as a major report warning of the dangers of inaction was released.
The Ruhr or Appalachia? report from the University of New South Wales Industrial Relations Research Centre identifies key characteristics of successful and unsuccessful approaches to communities in transition globally to inform approaches to transition in Australia.
The report recommends a national transition authority to oversee the energy sector transition and protect workers and communities affected by the transition to clean energy.
Such an authority would co-ordinate support for workers through income assistance, redeployment, retraining and early retirement.
The report also recommends programs to facilitate investment in high-tech industries and services in affected areas, and public sector infrastructure investment to create local employment in affected areas.
Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:
“People working in industries, regions and communities that are exposed to energy transition have contributed a huge amount to Australia. Their wellbeing should be ensured as our energy system changes. Communities that are facing transition must flourish, not just survive.
“International experience shows that without firm, competent and consistent direction from a national body, people in coal-power dependent communities can suffer enormously.
“That’s why we need an independent statutory body to manage energy transition and make sure that communities and people at the heart of this transition benefit from it.
“We know that this is achievable because it has been done before – in Germany, in the Netherlands and in Singapore for instance.
“We also know that getting it wrong can cause enormous suffering and poverty, as we have seen in the Appalachian region of the USA.
“It’s up to our leaders to choose the path that will look after working Australians affected by energy transition and allow communities and regions to thrive.”