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Workers must be at the centre of the energy transition: AWU

April 28, 2023

The Australian Workers’ Union is fighting to ensure workers are put front and centre of the renewable energy transition.

The AWU has been central to the union-wide movement pushing for the establishment of an Energy Transition Authority in this year’s May Budget.

Recently, AWU representatives, with union delegates working in coal-fired power stations already suffering from closures, led a huge effort in Canberra to tell these workers’ stories at Federal Parliament.

And  ACTU President Michele O’Neil has underscored the urgent need for an ETA in an address to the Press Club, highlighting that it wasn’t just workers impacted by these closures – but their families and the regional communities around them.


An Energy Transition Authority (ETA) is essential in making sure key industries continue to thrive as Australia moves towards a renewable energy future.

Australia’s renewable energy transition presents opportunity but also risks, which the Government must step in to mitigate.

Dan Smith (MEU member and Lithgow power station worker), Gavan McFadzean (Australian Conservation Foundation), Lisa Chesters MP, Gerard Spinks (AMWU member and power station worker), Taylor Rundell (AWU National Economist and Policy Director)

As Australia transitions its economy in the coming decades, the AWU will work to ensure our industries survive and thrive, and that regional communities aren’t left behind.

ETAs or similar organisations and strategic plans are already in place in countries that are making the transition to renewable energy futures including Spain and Germany.

The AWU, along with other unions, is calling for the urgent establishment of an ETA in Australia to:

  1. Guarantee quality, secure jobs for workers transitioning out of carbon-intensive industries;
  2. Diversify jobs and the economy in traditionally carbon-intensive regions; and
  3. Provide education and training for workers to get jobs in new net-zero carbon emission industries

“All of the workers I represent across a range of essential industries, deserve to have certainty,” says AWU National Secretary Dan Walton.

“The best way to ensure workers have that certainty is for the establishment of an Energy Transition Authority that should put in place support mechanisms for those impacted by facility closures and job losses.”

“One large facility – be it a power station, or a manufacturing plant – doesn’t just support hundreds of workers with skilled, good-paid jobs. They also support entire communities.


“We have seen time and time again regional communities hollowed out as facilities close, leaving hundreds of workers in the cold.”

“Right now, power stations across Australia are closing their doors. That is why we are calling for an ETA to be established in this year’s May Budget,” he says.

“Australian workers simply cannot afford to wait any longer.”

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