ECCO has been coordinating and writing the Earth First column in the Central Western Daily for more than 15 years. Earth First is a primary vehicle for ECCO to create awareness and educate the community on environmental issues that impact on the Orange Local Government Area and more widely. ECCO acknowledges the opportunity and support that the Central Western Daily provides. A recent Earth First column is reproduced below.
Farewell Liddell. What About the Workers?
By Nick King
Published: 29 April 2023
Yesterday the Liddell power station went offline, after providing power for New South Wales for fifty-two years. Liddell was Australia’s oldest coal fired power station. It joins the list of eleven coal fired power stations that have been retired since 2013. Seven more are destined for retirement by 2030.
Shutting down coal fired power stations is essential if we are to avoid catastrophic global warming. However, we must be aware that, if not done in a way that protects workers, closures will cause unacceptable levels of social and economic hardship.
In order to avoid social and economic dislocation associated with closures, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU} has proposed the establishment of an Independent National Energy Transition Authority. The purpose of this Authority would be to support workers through developing schemes for redeployment and retraining, and recruitment to jobs associated with the renewable energy industry and other industries which are sustainable and carbon neutral. The Authority would also be responsible for coordinating plans and financing new industries in coal dependent regions. Its role would also include ensuring that training programs and infrastructure are established to support envisaged regional programs.
Transitional plans already exist in some regions, but they don’t have the coordinated backing and level of long-term commitment that an independent national authority could provide. A national authority would be able to provide long-term backing and support as well as coordination across all levels of government, ensuring the long-term sustainability of community initiatives.
To be successful, the Authority would need to have systems in place that ensure that the voices of those directly affected by coal fired power station closures are heard. This will require support for the proposal from all levels of government. The role of such a proposed Authority needs to extend to communities dependent on coal mining, which in the not-too-distant future will be challenged by similar closures. The electorate of Calare contains coal dependent communities situated in the Mudgee and Lithgow districts. The economic and social fabric of these communities will eventually be affected by mine closures as the global demand for coal diminishes. These communities will require support to ensure their continued health and prosperity. Let us hope that our local Federal member Mr. Andrew Gee, now freed from the shackles of is former party’s approach to climate change and fossil fuels will give support to this initiative.