The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and Electrical Trades Union of Australia (ETU) today welcomed the introduction of the Offshore Electricity Infrastructure Bill to Parliament today after more than two years of advocating for exploration of offshore renewables potential in Australian waters . There are more than 10 offshore wind projects, billions in investment and thousands of jobs waiting on this legislation and it’s good the Government are finally doing something about it.
This Bill would allow the government to designate large Offshore Electricity Areas in Commonwealth waters more than 3 miles offshore. The many offshore wind projects now proposed around Australia could then apply for a feasibility licence to survey the wind resources within those areas, and then a commercial operating licence to build wind turbines, substations, and transmission cables back to shore.
MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said “The ETU and MUA have together been working to support legislation for offshore renewable energy and to achieve the best possible outcomes for workers since 2019. Our members have got the skills to build these projects, and we can’t wait to get started. We are pleased that the government has listened to some of our concerns and will ensure the harmonised WHS Act will apply to offshore renewables projects, and that maritime safety legislation will also apply to vessels working on offshore renewables projects at all times – unlike in the offshore oil and gas industry.
“We will need to take a close look at this legislation to ensure that it includes a clear trigger and timeline for the assessment of Offshore Electricity Areas. The legislation must also allow for jobs and regional development to be included in licencing requirements and that renewable energy developments won’t face unfair decommissioning taxes that aren’t currently applied to oil and gas projects.
ETU Assistant National Secretary Michael Wright said “Each offshore renewable project can create thousands of construction jobs and then hundreds of ongoing operation and maintenance jobs, and the supply chain opportunity in creating manufacturing components for projects means this new industry could play a much larger role in transitioning workers and communities who are currently being impacted by the energy transition. But to maximise local jobs and economic benefits, the Government needs to ensure a good pipeline of projects is created through an offshore wind industry package. This should include investment in offshore wind port terminals and manufacturing hubs, particularly in areas like Gippsland, the Illawarra and Newcastle. An offshore wind research and development program is needed, alongside measures for a just transition to support skilled workers in getting the additional qualifications they may need to transition to this new industry.”
“This government is pouring hundreds of millions into coal seam gas and fracking projects, gas pipelines and gas power plants even though their own regulator AEMO continues to say that gas and coal use in Australia is in structural decline. Offshore wind can provide thousands of jobs in an industry that could be developed quickly, would reduce emissions and will be needed for decades to come. The government should instead be funding the development of offshore wind and the thousands of jobs this will create in around Newcastle, Gippsland, and regional ports around the country, including through expanded public ownership of new renewable energy projects.”