Prime Minister Scott Morrison used his speech at the Business Council of Australia dinner to take a swipe at inner city residents, pointing out that Australia should be looking at a different alternative to taxing the mining and coal industries
Speaking about climate action, the Prime Minister said net zero emissions will not be achieved in “the cafe’s, dinner parties and wine bars of our inner cities”.
Morrison took a hard stance in his speech, saying his Government will not look to tax the mining or coal industries, but rather focus on innovation.
“[Net zero] will not be achieved by taxing our industries that provide livelihoods for millions of Australians off the planet, as our political opponents sort to do, when they were given the chance,” Morrison said.
“It will be achieved by the pioneering entrepreneurialism and innovation of Australia’s industrial workhorses, farmers and scientists.”
Morrison said the focus should be on utilising the county’s scientists and innovators in collaboration with the industrial, agricultural and manufacturing sectors.
“This is where the road to net zero is being paved in Australia. And those industries and all who work in them, will reap the benefits of the changes they are making and pioneering,” he said.
Renewable energy could be a major source of jobs
Research by UTS found that renewable energy positions provide a good match for existing coal jobs across the workforce.
The study found that renewable energy will be a major source of jobs in the next few years and depending on the policy decisions taken now, the renewable energy industry could create 20,000 new jobs in the next five years or lose 11,000 jobs by 2022.
The reason for the disparity, the study found, was because there are very different trajectories depending on government COVID-19 stimulus measures and wider energy policy.
“Renewable energy currently employs more people than the domestic coal sector – and employment would be comparable to the entire coal workforce under Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) renewable growth scenarios,” the study says
The study also concluded that around 75 per cent of renewable energy job opportunities by 2035 could be distributed across regional and rural Australia.
Interestingly, a study conducted in April 2019 in the United States found that for the Government to completely subsidise the cost of re-training miners from coal-powered to renewable energy, it would only amount to 0.0052 per cent of the Federal budget.
The results show that in the US, a relatively minor investment in retraining would allow the vast majority of coal workers to switch to [renewable] positions even in the event of the elimination of the coal industry.
Albanese claims a “jobs revolution”
Leader of the Labor party Anthony Albanese said the switch to renewable energy would create a “jobs revolution” and help Australia's economy.
“I’m talking about a revolution in jobs growth right across the Australian economy based on one inescapable fact: renewable energy is not only clean, but cheap. And getting cheaper,” he said.
Albanese said the Liberal and Nationals parties are ignoring the world's shift towards renewable energy and Australia is at risk of falling behind.
“For more than 20 years, the Liberals and Nationals have rejected scientific advice and chosen to portray the rise of clean energy as a threat to jobs and exports,” Albanese said.