Unions have lashed the South Australian government’s hypocritical opposition to the thousands of renewable energy jobs and vital emissions reductions that an offshore wind farm zone would create.
The Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union of Australia South Australian branch – with the support of Maritime Union of Australia, CFMEU and AMWU SA branches – has condemned the Labor government’s recommendation that an offshore wind farm zone not extend to Commonwealth waters off the state’s southeast.
The unions say claims about potential harm to the rock lobster industry and marine life are at odds with its policies including the state’s net zero target and declaration of a climate emergency.
“Peter Malinauksas and his government have jumped the gun here overreacting to concerns raised by the rock lobster industry before any proper impact studies have been conducted,” CEPU South Australian state secretary John Adley said.
“We know that rock lobster fishing and offshore wind coexist in other parts of the world. Uninformed knee jerk decisions like this risk the state’s broader economy and environment.
“Thousands of jobs in renewable electricity are at stake. And transitioning to a greener, cleaner economy will put the rock lobster industry on a sustainable footing for the future. The CSIRO says that the southern rock lobster is highly sensitive to climate change and will decline, alongside other key species, as a consequence of global warming.
“It’s absurd that the government has overridden its own policy, its stated commitment to reducing emissions and the party’s platform to protect an industry that inaction on climate will ultimately decimate if we do not act.
“The government’s claims that energy generated within waters off SA’s coast would be connected exclusively to Victoria’s power grid are wrong. The idea that increased renewable electricity generation and supply, lower prices and massive carbon pollution abatement doesn’t benefit South Australia is not just misguided, it’s misleading.”
Maritime Union of Australia South Australian Branch Secretary Brett Larkin said: “Maritime workers are shocked by the government’s decision to oppose investment worth billions of dollars and the thousands of secure union jobs that could accompany it.
“There is great potential for offshore wind in waters off South Australia. The Australian Energy Market Operator has found that waters off South Australia have stronger and more consistent winds than anywhere onshore in the state.”
AMWU SA Secretary Peter Bauer said: “The future of manufacturing in the state relies on access to reliable cost effective energy sources to make us more competitive to interstate companies.
“The government’s opposition risks denying us the opportunity to develop good sustainable jobs, as well as being at odds with the state’s renewable energy policies. It must be reconsidered.”
CFMEU SA Assistant Secretary Marcus Pare, said: “It is disappointing to hear that the state government is turning on its commitments to greener energy alternatives”.
“Achieving Australia’s goal of net zero means that each state must play a role in supporting renewable projects like offshore wind, including South Australia. The CFMEU supports the Southern Ocean zone proposal and will continue to campaign for part of this zone off South Australia’s coast.”
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