After Coal - Our Plan for Coal Workers
The world is moving away from coal. A report released by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis finds that the global market for Australian thermal coal has entered “structural decline”, with prices falling 70% since 2009.
Even BHP’s head of coal recently acknowledged that ‘there are no signs of things getting better in the immediate term’. Many mines are operating at a loss, mines are regularly shutting down and many more closures are inevitable. The hardest hit from this global energy transition will be the coal workers as coal companies go bankrupt or leave Australia and return to their headquarters. The next hardest hit will be State governments who are financially exposed to sudden closures with only a fraction of mine rehabilitation costs secured.
The last thing that Australians want is a repeat of the James Hardie era where companies flee - leave workers abandoned and the public purse picking up the tab.
The solution to these two risks are related; if we can secure the rehabilitation money from mining companies now, we can start the transition by providing employment in rehabilitating mines which is much more job-intensive than mining. We can also start retraining workers for the industries of the future.
The Greens have a comprehensive plan to secure a bright new future for coal workers and provide a more secure bridge to retirement for older workers:
1 // The first step is to find out how exposed State governments are by establishing an independent auditing taskforce to determine the gap between secured rehabilitation bonds and the actual cost of rehabilitation.
2 // The audit will inform the development of tailored plans for each mining company who will be required to pay their liabilities into a Federal Trust Fund. The fund will be made available to the companies at the end of their operations to do rehabilitation works.
3 // The interest made on the Fund will be spent on the jobs transition by either attracting new, clean industries to those regions or retraining workers. The money can also be made available to those companies that bring their rehabilitation works forward to create local employment and secure a safe environment.
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