The Albanese government is being pushed to provide an extra $100bn over 10 years to boost jobs and reduce emissions including through investments in clean industries and manufacturing of renewable energy components.
At the Australian Renewables Industry summit in Canberra on Monday unions, the renewable energy sector, community and investor groups will call for the package to respond to massive investment overseas including the US’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
Labor faced a similar push before its national conference in August, resulting in a substantial increase in ambition in the party’s platform. It now recognises the energy transition is the “most significant economic opportunity since the Industrial Revolution” and commits to “substantial public investment in or underwriting of” critical assets.
The latest push is endorsed by groups including the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Australian Conservation Foundation, Climate Energy Finance, Rewiring Australia and the Smart Energy Council.
The group wants a minimum of $100bn over 10 years for: critical minerals; green iron, steel, and aluminium; advanced manufacturing including solar and wind components and batteries; heat pumps and home energy management; transmission; clean energy exports; zero carbon transport vehicles and fuels; and recycling.
The proposal does not specify the form of investment, which could include a mix of tax credits for advanced manufacturing, off-budget funds such as the National Reconstruction Fund, or direct government spending.
The assistant minister for manufacturing, Tim Ayres, will address the summit. Stakeholders are lobbying the climate change and energy minister, Chris Bowen, ahead of decisions on further clean energy investments to be included in the mid-year economic and fiscal update.
The Smart Energy Council chief executive, John Grimes, said Australia was “standing at a crucial juncture in our nation’s history”.
“Our world-leading resources and renewable energy potential provide the opportunity for Australia to become a driving force in the global green economy while driving down emissions in line with the science to maintain a safe climate.
“But without significantly greater investment, we simply won’t be able to build the industries of the future, reduce emissions, create jobs or strengthen national prosperity and social equity.”
The ACTU president, Michele O’Neil, said “the US, Canada, European Union, India, Korea and Japan are already committing hundreds of billions of dollars towards clean industrial support packages”.
“Australia needs to do the same to fulfil our enormous clean energy potential and create hundreds of thousands of well-paid, safe and secure jobs.
“Both the urgency of the climate crisis and the enormity of the clean energy opportunity for workers and communities call for a bold, ambitious, and timely response from government.”
Climate Energy Finance’s founder, Tim Buckley, said, “we need a far more integrated and ‘big picture’ approach to encourage greater investment, commensurate with the scale of this massive renewables and critical minerals and metals embodied decarbonisation export opportunity for Australia”.
In May, Bowen announced $2bn for a “hydrogen headstart” program. The Albanese government has set up a $20bn rewiring the nation fund for transmission and the $15bn national reconstruction fund but faces questions over whether it will need to scale it up given the Inflation Reduction Act’s US$369bn investment in energy security.
In August the industry minister, Ed Husic, said the government wanted to signal that decarbonisation is “really important to Australia”.
“The challenge of the IRA is that you don’t lose your capacity – that is, that firms don’t get lured offshore to do work in the US,” he told Guardian Australia.
The opposition under Peter Dutton has called for consideration of nuclear energy to help reach net zero, an uncosted idea yet to become official Coalition policy.
On Saturday the New England branch of the Nationals pushed for the parliamentary party to abandon its commitment to net zero, the cost of which Barnaby Joyce labelled “utterly untenable”.
Source : TheGuardian