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New Net Zero Authority must leave no worker behind: AWU

May 6, 2024

The Australian Workers Union (AWU) is calling on the government to pass its Net Zero Economy Authority Bill as soon as possible, with minor amendments to ensure it protects the interests of all workers through the net zero transition. 

The Bill aims to establish the Net Zero Economy Authority (NZEA), a federal government agency to manage the transition, with a particular focus on supporting workers as facilities are shut down.  

Crucially, the NZEA would operate a scheme where workers at sites scheduled to close could join a pooled redeployment to alternative employers in their region. This measure would initially be put in place for coal power stations and associated mines, as well as for gas power stations due to close.

AWU National Secretary Paul Farrow says the union supports the NZEA, but that government needs to get the settings right to ensure that no worker is left behind in the net zero transition. “We’re staring down the barrel of the most significant economic shift since the Industrial Revolution,” he says.

“There’s a real risk we’ll lose entire industries and their workforces without the appropriate support and investment. Keeping vulnerable sites open has to be our first priority.”

“We can’t reach net zero by just closing industries and sending thousands of jobs overseas. Aside from the massive loss of skills, expertise and experience, abandoning tens of thousands of workers would be a huge blow to towns, regions and cities across the nation. We can’t expect people to have faith in a transition that puts them, their friends and families out of work.”  

“But where sites are forced to close, the government must do everything in its power to support workers into new industries with quality pay and conditions. Workers should be walking into jobs every bit as good as the ones they’re forced to leave.

“Fortunately, only minor amendments to the NZEA Bill are needed make sure this happens.”

The AWU’s submission to the Bill calls for it to be passed as soon as possible, with minor amendments to:

  • Incentivise hiring employers to participate in pooled redeployment
  • Guarantee strong labour conditions are attached to any support government provides for redeployment, to ensure this support helps workers into good, secure jobs
  • Allow the Authority to expand its remit beyond coal and gas—especially to high-emitting industrial facilities—as circumstances may require.

For more information on the Net Zero Economy Authority Bill and to read the AWU submission, click here!


Read our submission here
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