- The Guardian
- Issue #2062
Photo: Andy Dingley – Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).
Australian maritime workers continue to benefit from the fast pace of investment and expansion of offshore renewable energy projects around our coastline. The Maritime Union of Australia welcomed the announcement by the Federal Government of the final form of a new renewable energy zone in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of the Newcastle and Hunter Region that will add hundreds more new seafaring and port services jobs in Newcastle Harbour.
“These new jobs are a direct result of the growing investment in sustainable, reliable, and clean renewable energy being unlocked by regulatory and legislative reforms which the MUA has been campaigning for over many years,” said the Union’s Assistant National Secretary, Adrian Evans.
Evans has been working with MUA branches around the country to promote the opportunities for workers in the seafaring, port services and waterfront sectors that will come from massive new renewable energy projects.
The 1800 square kilometre area will reach across the Hunter coastline, from Swansea to Port Stephens, an area which is home to one of Australia’s largest ports along with a number of electricity grid assets and declining coal fired power stations that have come off line or are due to be decommissioned in coming years. The potential capacity of the area is around 5GW of wind energy, enough to power 4.2 million homes and underpin the energy needs of the thriving industrial and manufacturing sectors in Newcastle and the Hunter.
According to government analysis, the offshore wind projects in this region will generate up to 3000 jobs during construction and 1560 jobs ongoing, many of which will be new jobs in the maritime sector.
The MUA’s Newcastle Branch Secretary, Glen Williams, is a long term advocate for renewable offshore energy investment to generate new job opportunities for MUA members on the Australian east coast.
“It is members of the MUA who have loaded and transported the coal and other natural resources which have provided employment and prosperity for Newcastle throughout the 150 years of our union’s history and our members now stand ready to put their skills towards building these huge, incredible wind turbines out at sea so that we can decarbonise our economy,” Williams said. “Cheaper and more reliable renewable energy will keep manufacturing towns like Newcastle working, which is good for the economy and good for our own industry, so we are excited to play such an important role in building the infrastructure that will make that possible.”
The announcement comes after many years of advocacy and policy leadership by the Maritime Union of Australia calling for new clean energy jobs, a just transition for workers employed in hydrocarbon industries, and for a comprehensive plan to decommission and clean up disused offshore oil and gas infrastructure from the sea floor.