UNIONS have urged the Victorian and Commonwealth governments to back the offshore wind sector in order to cut carbon emissions and provide jobs for workers leaving fossil fuel industries.

In a joint report launched by the Victorian Trades Hall Council, unions from the maritime, energy and manufacturing sectors outlined steps to not only encourage the use of offshore wind, but take advantage of the emerging industry to diversify job opportunities.

Putting the ‘Justice’ in ‘Just Transition’: Tackling inequality in the new renewable economy focuses on the Star of the South project, Australia’s first proposed offshore wind farm between 10km and 25kms off the Gippsland coast.

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The report, produced by the Maritime Union of Australia, Victorian Trades Hall Council, Gippsland Trades and Labour Council, Electrical Trades Union, and Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union, outlines steps required to not only support the development of this emerging sector, but ensure it delivers positive outcomes.

The report recommends:

• The Commonwealth establish an energy transition authority to work with states and regions, develop a stand-alone Offshore Renewables Act, and create an agency responsible for facilitating the development of offshore renewable energy in Commonwealth waters;

• The development of offshore and onshore renewable energy master plans;

• Ensure renewable energy financing, targets, contracts, licensing and approvals;

• The Victorian government establish a just transition group to ensure a well-planned energy transition;

• Maximising the social benefit of the Star of the South project by requiring local design, manufacturing, and construction;

• Funding of training and retraining through local TAFEs, along with minimum apprentice ratios; and

• maximising the number of jobs available by ensuring good rosters and reasonable hours of work.

MUA deputy national secretary Will Tracey said Australia already had highly skilled seafarers and offshore oil and gas workers, capable of constructing offshore wind projects

“Political inaction has seen the decline of Australia’s shipping industry, while the growing shift away from fossil fuels threatens the jobs of skilled workers in the offshore oil and gas sectors,” Mr Tracey said.

“The development of an offshore wind industry gives us the opportunity to transition those highly-skilled workers into the important work of delivering Australia’s clean energy future.”

The report can be viewed here.

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