The union representing coal fired power station workers and affected miners is calling on the Queensland Government to make good on their promise to fund a just transformation for energy and coal communities in the state.
The Palaszczuk Government made a promise before the last election to ensure re-training and business development was pursued in relevant regional areas, but funding for these transitional arrangements was missing from this week’s Queensland budget.
While money has been allocated to renewable energy projects in other districts, no funding has been allocated to help those regional areas transitioning from the carbon economy.
The District Vice-President of CFMEU Mining and Energy Division Queensland, Shane Brunker, says transition funding needs to be allocated sooner rather than later.
“Future mining, carbon-capture-and-storage, solar, wind or hydrogen projects must be planned such that Queensland’s thermal coal mining and power generation communities can recalibrate. Community resources can then be transferred accordingly in an orderly way.
“Districts most affected are the South-West, the bottom of the Bowen Basin, and towns like Biloela, Kingaroy, and Chinchilla.
“These are the communities which mine thermal coal and run the power stations which keep the lights on in this state.
“There has been plenty of money spent by power companies who are busy buying new renewable power – but what about the workers who supply the rest of their existing business?
“Power generation companies can pivot away to new sources of power, but they have taken no responsibility in bringing their existing mining and energy generation workforce with them.
“This is where the Queensland Government can step in and help these communities develop new industries before it’s too late.
“The Palaszczuk Government campaigned on representing coal communities and they have not delivered on their promise.
“Businesses want to invest in these communities, but they need direction and seed funding from government.”
“It’s not going to happen until there is money on the table for the business community.
“We also need to see certainty around workers entitlements from power generation and mining businesses which are rapidly transitioning away from traditional energy industries.
“A statutory body to oversee this transition could overcome some of the red tape of Government.
“In the US Joe Biden has put $2 trillion into transforming coal and power station workers away from coal fired generation, and Germany has put $500 million on the table to transform their industries.
“We need our state government to show the same commitment.
“There are ample international examples of what happens when governments get this right and, sadly, also examples of when they get it wrong. We need to make sure Queensland falls in the right bucket.”