The Australian Government is being urged to establish a National Energy Transition Authority (NETA) in the upcoming May budget.
The call comes as the Liddell Power Station, located between Muswellbrook and Singleton, shuts its doors on Friday 28 April and the imminent cessation of Lake Macquarie’s Eraring Power Station, which is one of the next high-carbon facilities slated for closure.
More than 100 workers, residents and Electrical Trades Union (ETU) members took to the street, Rocky Point Road, this week with banners and flags to highlight a number of their concerns throughout the Hunter, as well as the state, while requesting federal politicians to step up – and make a difference.
It’s understood the NETA would coordinate across governments, departments, industry and communities to make sure no worker or community is left behind in the nation’s energy transition to net zero.
In the past decade, 11 coal-fired power stations have closed with an average notice period of just four months, leaving employees and surrounding towns devastated.
An official agency could also help plan and coordinate the investment of billions of dollars to create new industries and better jobs, according to ETU acting national secretary Michael Wright.
“A National Energy Transition Authority is beyond overdue,” he said.
“And, the changeover to renewables isn’t some distant, hypothetical event.
“It is happening now… and workers and their communities are shouldering the burden.
“When a massive mine or power station closes, it has to remediate the environmental mess it leaves but it has no real obligation to fix the social impact of its closure.
“That must change.”
Mr Wright stated it was a “basic issue of justice”.
“The fact you happen to work in an emitting industry should not mean you wear the cost of a global shift by losing your livelihood and your community,” he said.
“We have been heartened by the reception we’ve had from federal Labor about establishing an authority and are hopeful of good news in the coming budget.
“Our union will relentlessly advocate for all of our members to make sure the transition to renewable energy is an opportunity, not a cost.”
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