MARITIME workers are positioned to benefit from the establishment of the national Net Zero Authority, according to the Maritime Union of Australia.

The federal government announced on Friday 5 May it would legislate the authority, whose responsibility is to promote the “orderly and positive” economic transformation associated with achieving net zero emissions.

One core aim of the Net Zero Authority is to help workers in emissions-intensive sectors access new employment, skills and support as the energy transition progresses.

The MUA said the government announced the new body during a time of change in the offshore energy sector, as plans for offshore wind projects take shape in areas such as Gippsland, Victoria.

The union said its membership has been campaigning for renewable energy jobs over the past decade.

“Our union is relieved that finally action is taking place to lock in new jobs and long-term employment prospects for workers employed in the coal and hydrocarbon industries,” MUA national assistant secretary Adrian Evans said.

“The new Net Zero Authority will provide workers in all sectors, with wide skill sets and specialist experience, the chance to retrain and redeploy in the renewable energy sector,” he said.

“This is a reassuring and important measure for the maritime workers who built the offshore oil and gas infrastructure that is now being decommissioned.

“We look forward to now turning our skills and experience towards building and maintaining clean energy infrastructure.”

The National Farmers’ Federation also welcomed the announcement of the energy transition body, noting farming communities would be “among the most acutely impacted” by the national transition.

NFF chief executive Tony Mahar called on the authority to look closely at the cumulative impacts of the energy transition on farm production.

“When we talk about new renewable energy or new transmission lines, we’re talking about old farmland,” Mr Mahar said.

He said a constructive and considerate partnership with farmers is central to the government’s energy transition plans.

“This new authority will need to work closely with farmers to strike the right balance between hitting net zero and maintaining our capacity to produce food and fibre.”

Mr Mahar said the NFF is calling on the government to introduce an enforceable code of conduct to “steer the practices” of energy companies.

“The federal government has a responsibility to level the playing field here before it embarks on a building spree on farmland across the country.

“We look forward to the new authority being an important player in that.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, treasurer Jim Chalmers and minister for climate change and energy Chris Bowen said the government would recommend to the governor-general the establishment of an executive agency to commence the body’s responsibilities immediately.

“Initially housed in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the agency will also develop advice to government on the final design and establishment of the legislated national Net Zero Authority,” they said in a joint statement.

“The authority will work with state, territory and local governments, existing regional bodies, unions, industry, investors and First Nations groups to help key regions, industries, employers and others proactively manage the transformation to a clean energy economy.”

The government also plans to provide additional funding from the $1.9 billion Powering the Regions Fund to support existing industry – including rail and aviation – and new clean energy industries, with the creation of a $400-million Industrial Transformation Stream.