MEDIA RELEASE: Friday 9 June, 2017
Energy workers are closely reviewing the recommendations of Australia’s Chief Scientist into the future of the
National Electricity Market to ensure that not only is energy security addressed, but that a genuine pathway
towards renewable energy investment, addressing looming skills shortages, and delivering a fairer transition
for workers and communities impacted by the shift from coal generation is provided.
The Electrical Trades Union, which represents the majority of electricity generation and distribution workers,
said investment in the sector had been hampered by years of infighting and opportunistic politicians who had
worked to halt investment in new, clean-energy investment, resulting in uncertainty for workers, business,
ETU national secretary Allen Hicks said that while the union would be closely examining the
recommendations of the review over the coming days, the success of any reform would depend on Prime
Minister Malcolm Turnbull having the spine to stand up to the extreme right of his party.
“Power workers have been warning for years that a lack of certainty is threatening the future reliability of our
electricity network, but it took catastrophic weather events that knocked out power in South Australia and
threatened supplies in New South Wales to force the hand of the Federal Government,” Mr Hicks said.
“One of the positive elements of this review is the recognition that better processes need to be in place to
manage the transition of our electricity sector, such as the recommendation that generators be required to
give three years notice of the closure of power stations.
“We would urge the Federal Government to go further than that by putting serious resources into ensuring
this timeframe is used to retrain, reskill, and redeploy workers, while also investing in new industries and
technologies in impacted regions so new employment opportunities are provided.
“The recommendation for a national assessment of the skilled workforce required for the electricity sector is
also extremely important, particularly as privatisations and funding cuts to trade training have resulted in
declining apprentice numbers and many skilled workers leaving the sector.
“Dr Finkel’s blueprint provides an opportunity to act as a circuit-breaker after years of toxic energy policy.
What we need next is for Malcolm Turnbull to have the ticker to stand up to the wreckers in his own party and
work cooperatively to deliver outcomes that are in the best interest of consumers, workers, and our planet.”
Mr Hicks raised concerns that some of the major flaws in the current electricity market did not appear to be
adequately addressed by the review.
“The devil is often in the detail, and there needs to be further examination and debate over Dr Finkel’s
recommendations, but what everyone agrees on is the fact that the current system is broken and urgent
action is needed,” he said.
Media comment: Allen Hicks — 0419 721 037
Further information: Tim Vollmer — 0404 273 313
This article was written by John Adley