Energy communities will be backed by a net-zero body

Coal and gas workers in areas where power plants are shutting down will soon have an agency to support the shift to new jobs in the renewables sector.

Federal laws establishing the Net Zero Economy Authority passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

The agency will support workers transitioning to jobs in the renewables industry, as part of a government push to meet net-zero and emissions reduction targets.

It will also co-ordinate planning and policy within communities and efforts to meet climate targets.

Laws locking in emissions reductions of 43 per cent by 2030, and a target of net-zero by 2050, are already in place.

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister Patrick Gorman said communities heavily involved in the energy sector will have employment opportunities in emerging industries.

“Generations of Australians have powered our nation safely, reliably and with dignity,” he told parliament.

“This bill will help ensure they continue to do so for generations.

“We must support these communities and all of those that live in them, and the workers that work in these industries.”

Debate on the authority will now move to the Senate, where the government needs the support of the crossbench to get the laws through the upper house.

The Greens are yet to say whether they will back it.

Party leader Adam Bandt agrees that workers in energy industries need to be supported.

But he’s also criticised the government for facilitating new coal and gas projects, saying this undermines the transition to net zero.

“We’re seeing an increasing trend from Labor of greenwashing, saying that they care about the climate crisis and bringing legislation … but then doing something very different: opening up more coal and gas mines,” he said.

“Now is the time for Labor to decide where it stands.”

Opposition climate spokesman Ted O’Brien said regional communities were being impacted by the move to net-zero.

“They are seeing their way of life and their livelihoods threatened because they are dealing with a government that has set arbitrary targets,” he told parliament.

“This is not a community-centred approach, this is a Canberra-centred approach.”


Andrew Brown
(Australian Associated Press)


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