The Guardian • Issue #2046

Illawarra renewable energy zone to deliver long-term work

Mick Cross, Southern NSW, Branch Secretary, Maritime Union of Australia (MUA)

Maritime workers living and working in the Illawarra are excited by the opportunities and long-term industry development that will come from the declaration by the NSW government of the Illawarra Renewable Energy Zone.

With Port Kembla’s maritime infrastructure, steelworks, and proximity to transmission networks, large scale renewable energy projects including offshore wind, green hydrogen, and onshore installation of wind, and solar infrastructure will ensure sustainable and rewarding employment for waterfront workers and seafarers in the Illawarra for generations to come.

“We have the skills and the resources locally to manufacture, build and install clean energy infrastructure in our own region for the betterment of the whole state,” said the MUA’s Southern NSW Secretary, Mick Cross. “Maritime workers know that the future of our energy needs will be delivered by an ever increasing mix of renewable energy, but that this needs to promote local employment opportunities and maximise local content,” he said.

While the Renewable Energy Zones have been legislated by the NSW Liberals and Nationals Government, the MUA notes that the inclusion of the Illawarra as a Renewable Energy Zone was only achieved through the lobbying of unions, local MPs and industry figures who saw the opportunities which the NSW Liberal Government had until then ignored.

“Left to their own devices, the Liberals would have overlooked the Illawarra and all its significant advantages for renewable energy projects. We thank the South Coast Labour Council and Labor MPs like Paul Scully and Yasmin Catley for negotiating on behalf of our community to ensure these reforms deliver long-term employment opportunities in Port Kembla,” Mr Cross said.

The Renewable Energy Zone will promote investment in the Illawarra and Port Kembla, with $43 billion dollars of private investment already on offer through an Expression of Interest process undertaken by government last year, the bulk of which is in offshore wind.

“We have a massive opportunity here to eventually be using locally produced steel to produce wind turbine blades on the shores of Port Kembla which can be installed and maintained by locally flagged and crewed vessels. The opportunities and the work this investment will deliver will provide generations of well paid, skilled jobs right here in our harbour,” Mr Cross said. “That’s on top of the utility-scale battery storage equipment, solar arrays and on-shore wind turbine equipment that will come through our port as more and more of these renewable energy projects come to life,” he added.

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