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Offshore wind a winner for Wollongong

Electrical Trades Union - Maritime Union of Australia 2 mins read

The Electrical Trades Union of Australia (ETU) and Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) applaud further progress toward the development of Australia’s offshore renewable energy with today’s announcement the Albanese Government has declared an offshore wind zone in the Pacific Ocean off the Illawarra in New South Wales. 


This announcement is another key step to delivering both energy and job security in a region home to key industrial processes that require careful long-term planning. 


The ETU and MUA said the Government’s commitment to building renewable infrastructure in Australia would support heavy industry with cheaper renewable electricity, maximising local content and workers, and expanding Australian supply chains.


“This is a win for workers, industry and our future,” said ETU National Secretary, Michael Wright. "No nation is better placed than Australia to turbocharge its economy with abundant, cheap emission free electricity.”


MUA Assistant National Secretary, Thomas Mayo said: "The declaration of this offshore wind zone is another step to building an Australian offshore wind industry that will deliver and sustain many thousands of long-term and rewarding jobs for maritime workers. Dockworkers and seafarers are ready to use their skills handling steel and building big offshore oil and gas projects to deliver offshore renewable energy for the Illawarra.”


The zone will be 20 kilometres from the coast and excludes significant environmental areas including the Biologically Important Area for the Little Penguin, the Shelf Rocky Reef Key Ecological Feature and the Southern Right Whale migration and reproduction area.


At the announcement alongside Federal Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen, representatives of the ETU and MUA celebrated the next step towards the massive economic and social opportunities on offer through new renewable energy projects off the Australian coastline.


The government estimates the new Illawarra area will create an estimated 1,740 new jobs during construction and 870 ongoing jobs. 


“We look forward to assembling offshore wind turbines in Port Kembla, using floating foundations made from Port Kembla steel,” Thomas Mayo said. “Many Illawarra seafarers currently have to travel to work in West Australia, Victoria and the Northern Territory, and they will be thrilled to bring their skills home and provide energy for their community. We also want to see Port Kembla steel supplying foundations and towers for the huge number of new offshore wind projects in Gippsland.” 


During the feasibility licence stage, developers must undertake detailed environmental assessments and engage in further consultation, including how the project will coexist with shipping, tourism and fishing industries.


Construction can only begin after the feasibility stage is completed and developers have gained subsequent environmental and management plan approvals, as well as demonstrating how projects will benefit Australian industry and jobs.


The unions highlighted how crucial it was that projects announced by Minister Bowen and the Albanese Government were backed with plans to skill up Australian workers.


“We need to maximise the opportunity for local businesses, local manufacturing and local steel and we need this work to be done by Australian workers in good, well-paid, union jobs right across the renewable energy sector,” Michael Wright said.


“We look forward to working with Minister Bowen and the Albanese Labor Government to turn these important verbal commitments into broad economic benefits for all Australians. Enforceable procurement rules will guarantee they deliver the quality jobs and local supply chain opportunities that are being promised.”


CONTACT: Nick Lucchinelli 0422 229 032

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