In a joint statement, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Treasurer Jim Chalmers, and Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen said the new authority would ensure the “workers, industries, and communities that have powered Australia for generations can seize the opportunities of Australia’s net zero transformation”.
The funding will come from the $1.9 billion Powering the Regions Fund to support existing industry and new clean energy industries, creating a $400 million industrial transformation stream.
“The global transformation to a net zero economy is a massive source of economic opportunity for Australia, its regions, industries, and workers,” the joint statement said.
“The authority will have responsibility for promoting the orderly and positive economic transformation associated with achieving net zero emissions.”
According to the government statement, the authority will support workers in emissions-intensive sectors to access new employment, skills and support; coordinate programs and policies to support regions and communities to attract and take advantage of new clean energy industries; and help investors and companies to engage with net zero transformation opportunities.
“The shift to net zero emissions by 2050 must happen fairly for Australians in emissions-intensive industries and the communities they live and work in,” the statement said.
“The regions that have always powered Australia can power Australia into the future, but we need to seize those opportunities. This authority is about leaving no one behind as this global shift continues.”
The government said that it intends to have an agency established by 1 July that will provide advice to the government on the design and establishment of the Net Zero Authority.
Response from industry groups
The announcement has been met with broad support from advocacy groups and peak bodies, such as the Clean Energy Council, which said the authority is a “vital piece of the puzzle”.
“A Net Zero Authority will safeguard worker support, ensure regional employment, and enrich education in the sector and beyond,” said Clean Energy Council chief executive Kane Thornton.
“A Net Zero Authority is a vital piece of the puzzle as we shift towards a cleaner, more prosperous economic future for all Australians.”
The Climate Council said the announcement would allow Australia to take advantage of the opportunities in clean, cheap energy and strong new growth industries.
“Australia’s global allies and trading partners are forging ahead with the transition to net zero and it makes perfect sense for Australia to get in the game,” Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie said.
“Taking strong action now is the best way to ensure Australia captures growing markets for clean energy and low emissions products, to power the next era of our national prosperity.”
Mining and Energy Union (MEU) general president Tony Maher added that the authority would support workers in emissions-intensive sectors to access new employment, skills and other support as needed; and support energy regions to diversify.
“Workers in coal-fired power stations and associated coal mines are living with the reality that the timeline for closure of coal-fired power stations is accelerating,” Mr Maher said.
“Until now, coordinated federal support for coal power workers and communities has been the missing piece when it comes to climate and energy policy.”
The Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC) called the announcement an “important step towards a just, orderly, and accelerated transition”.
IGCC’s director of policy and advocacy, Erwin Jackson, said: “Australia’s transition away from fossil fuels and towards a clean, renewable energy future is happening now.
“For the transition to net zero emissions to succeed, we must share the benefits of our transition to a clean energy economy. We cannot afford to leave workers and communities behind.”