Greater push for renewables, net-zero urged for budget
An unlikely alliance of business, union and conservation groups warns Australia risks becoming a global laggard without significant investment towards net-zero emissions.
The joint report from organisations including the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Australian Conservation Foundation has called for greater investment in renewable industries to ensure an economic boost.
In its submission ahead of the federal budget in May, the groups have called for a national energy transition authority to be set up and funded.
They also pushed for the development of a national renewable infrastructure plan to fast-track renewable energy developments in the country.
A further $10 million should be set aside in the budget for a net-zero economy task force to develop strategies for renewable exports.
The report said opportunities in the industry could create more than 400,000 new jobs and contribute $100 billion to the national economy by 2040.
Coming off the back of multibillion-dollar energy deals in the US, EU and South Korea, the group said Australia needed to contribute more in the area.
Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said Australia had the potential to become a world leader in many of the industries.
"Australia is in a global race to attract the capital we'll need to decarbonise, harness new technology and create the industries of the future," she said.
"Other nations like the United States are acting now.
"We can't risk squandering our natural advantages and losing out on the jobs and opportunities this change can deliver."
The report said Australia's position next to major economies of Asia would be a major advantage in areas such as renewables and critical minerals, but indicated there would be a limited window of opportunity.
ACTU president Michele O'Neil said the new industries would lead to many more well-paying jobs for workers.
"We need decisive action in the 2023/24 budget from the federal government to ensure we seize the opportunity to create these high-quality jobs and industries, build a sturdy bridge to the net-zero future, and leave no worker or community behind," she said.
"We have the chance to create over 400,000 new jobs and upskill over 150,000 additional workers to accelerate infrastructure build-out, power the energy transition, and help the world decarbonise."
Australian Conservation Foundation chief executive Kelly O'Shanassy said a greater push to renewables would lead to more jobs and further protect the environment.
"Australians are suffering devastating climate-induced floods, fires and droughts, which emphasises the urgency to decarbonise Australia and help other countries decarbonise fast," she said.
"At the same time, many of our global trade partners have introduced significant new green deals which are threatening Australia's opportunity to lead."