JIM CHALMERS MP
MEMBER FOR RANKIN
REGIONAL QUEENSLAND LOOKS TO A GREEN FUTURE
After 46 visits to 24 regional cities and towns in Queensland over the past couple of years one thing is clearer to me than ever: they can be winners from economic change, not victims.
Nowhere is this more true than when it comes to new sources of cleaner and cheaper energy.
That was a key conclusion of a key report released this week by the country’s biggest employers, which confirmed what most of us already knew – that cleaner and cheaper energy means more jobs and more opportunities, especially in our regions.
The Business Council of Australia’s welcome contribution detailed the hundreds of billions of dollars of extra economic activity and hundreds of thousands of jobs within reach if we do something meaningful to ensure our emissions and our energy costs come down at the same time.
According to the BCA, embracing the opportunities that would flow from net-zero emissions could deliver our economy a $890 billion dividend, 195,000 jobs, and leave the average Australian $5,000 a year better off.
Action on climate change doesn’t cost jobs, it creates them.
This torpedoes for all time the ridiculous scare campaign that the LNP has run and is still running in Queensland.
They don’t understand that Queenslanders and Australians are practical and pragmatic people who know we can back ourselves to grab these opportunities without abandoning mining communities or areas of traditional economic strength.
They don’t understand that continuing to do nothing about cleaner and cheaper energy is the job-destroying, economy-wrecking, opportunity-thieving approach to climate change.
The National Farmers Federation, Australian Council of Trade Unions, Minerals Council, state and territory governments of both political persuasions and the majority of Australians all agree and understand that the world’s climate emergency is also Australia’s economic opportunity.
This is about new jobs and new sources of energy, to create new industries as well as turbocharge those parts of our economy we’ve relied on for so long, like agriculture and resources.
Our communities most exposed to the risks and the costs of destructive climate change are also best placed to cash-in.
Take Gladstone, which will soon be home to one of the world’s largest hydrogen-equipment manufacturing facilities.
This major partnership between Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Fortescue Future Industries will make Gladstone a world-leading hub for the manufacture of electrolysers, vital to the production of renewable hydrogen, and will create hundreds and hundreds of local jobs.
More communities and economies stand to share in the spoils of these kinds of multi-billion-dollar investments, as the rest of the world transitions to cleaner and cheaper energy.
If only we saw the same enthusiasm, ambition and leadership from Scott Morrison and Barnaby Joyce in Canberra.
They’d rather divide and play politics as they have for more than a decade now.
That’s why this is yet another race Australia is losing when it should be winning.
In the lead-up to the international climate conference in Glasgow, Labor’s spokesperson Chris Bowen has called for the Morrison Government to commit to net zero emissions by 2050, legislate that commitment, and significantly improve its medium-term targets for emissions reductions.
Regardless of whether Scott Morrison goes to Glasgow, or if he announces yet another energy policy this week, we all know it will just be another political fix to help paper over an awkward image of an isolated Australia on the world stage and growing disquiet amongst his ranks.
His head doesn’t understand the opportunities and his heart’s not in it.
He underestimates Queenslanders.
He fails to grasp that this is no longer a choice between our economy and our environment.
It’s a choice between destroying jobs or creating them; grabbing opportunities or seeing them go begging.
We don’t have to choose between Glasgow or Gladstone.
Getting climate change policy right means more jobs and investment that more of our people will benefit from in more parts of Queensland and around the country.
This opinion piece was first published in The Courier Mail on Wednesday, 13 October 2021