The Senate Environment and Communications Reference Committee inquiry into the retirement of coal fired power stations has heard Australian industry, unions, communities, and environmentalists loud and clear; Australia needs an orderly and planned transition of our electricity system.
The inquiry’s interim report, informed by leaders in the energy sector, broader industry, as well as unions, community groups and environmentalists, calls on the government to:
All four of these recommendations are consistent with existing Labor policy and all four have been rejected by the Coalition members of the Committee and the Coalition Government.
It is incredible that the one organisation that is responsible for developing a national energy transition plan, the Federal Government, is practically the only organisation that rejects the need for such a plan.
Only the Turnbull Government is happy to have inevitable coal plant closure decisions made by company boardrooms based solely on the interests of shareholders. Along with wide sections of industry, policy experts, unions and the communities directly affected, Labor believes Australia’s broader energy interests, as well as the interests of affected workers and communities, should be front and centre in these decisions.
Industry needs certainly to invest, transition to clean energy and create jobs; workers need a plan that includes a just transition for them and their communities, and all Australians deserve to know their energy security and affordability is being looked after by a federal government that understands its job. This is clearly not the reality today.
Under the Turnbull Government’s policy vacuum, there is currently no support for new renewable investment post 2020, there is no mechanism to ensure inevitable coal closures occur in an orderly way and there is no plan to support workers and communities impacted by closures.
Regardless of what the Government thinks, Australians know this status quo isn’t a plan for a prosperous, secure, affordable, clean energy future.