Federal Labor has revealed plans to dedicate $300 million in specialised funding to support the transition of Australia’s emissions intensive industries to renewable energy.
The funding, announced by Labor leader Bill Shorten on Tuesday at the ACT’s Royalla Solar Farm, was announced as part of a policy to establish a Strategic Industries Taskforce, to ensure Australia harnessed the opportunities in the renewable energy sector.
According to the announcement, the Taskforce would undertake in-depth engagement with emissions intensive, trade exposed industries, as well as peak bodies and research groups, to explore the specific challenges and opportunities of shifting to renewables, and to identify options for “future competitiveness”.
To facilitate this goal, the Taskforce would use a Strategic Industries Reserve Fund, which, with an initial funding profile of $300 million over three years from 1 July 2017 to 2020.
The fund would also seek to leverage new kinds of government and industry partnerships and innovative financing models, Labor said.
The Taskforce also plans to prioritise investment in science and research into commercialising the next wave of renewable and clean tech innovation; as well as developing networks of support for affected workers in emissions intensive regions.
Labor said it would also work with local TAFEs, universities and chambers of commerce on employment and retraining programs to assist communities through Australia’s transition to a cleaner, more sustainable economy.
Speaking to reporters at the Royalla Solar Farm, Shorten said the ALP’s main strategy for renewables was to put certainty back into investment.
“Renewable energy is not just a fringe industry any more,” Shorten said.
“It is a key strategy in delivering jobs in Australia and delivering investment into Australian industry.
“That is why we are prioritising our goal of 50 per cent of our energy mix by 2030 will be derived from renewable energy source such as these remarkable solar farms that we see behind us,” he said.
“It is forecast that there will be $2.5 trillion worth of investment in our Asia Pacific region alone, up til 2030.
“But this investment isn’t waiting for Australia to catch up. It’s looking for long-term stable homes where the investments can be made to generate the profits, generate the jobs,” Shorten said.
“The rest of the world in the last two years has added 2 million extra jobs in renewable energy. Unfortunately in Australia we’ve lost nearly three thousand jobs.
“It is most important that we have a government in Canberra committed to prioritising renewable energy. We have a plan for renewable energy; we have a plan for jobs, we have a plan for tackling climate change and not passing the problem to future generations.
“By contrast, Mr Turnbull doesn’t have a plan to deal with climate change or renewable energy. He’s simply adopted Tony Abbott’s plan… And we all know what Tony Abbott thought of climate change.”