• New industry report confirms global coal demand in terminal structural decline
• Taxpayers and state governments will be left with a mine clean-up bill worth billions of dollars
• Greens release plan to transition thousands of jobs and fund rehabilitation costs
The Greens have today released a plan to deal with the structural decline in Australia's coal export sector, in response to a report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis that confirms the sector is in terminal decline.
"The report concludes what many market analysts have been saying for some time - that the rapid decline in Australia's coal exports in recent years is not a cyclical blip but a structural and terminal decline that will not recover. We need a plan for workers and their families, for our economy and our environment," said Australian Greens Leader Dr Richard Di Natale.
"My address to the National Press Club this week will discuss the opportunities and challenges created by this restructure of the global energy sector.
"China, Japan and India are all diversifying their energy sectors away from imported coal, with coal imports from China down 31% already this year. This scenario creates two major public policy challenges: how to transition thousands of jobs in the sector, and how to pay for billions in clean up and rehabilitation costs for dozens of disused coal mines."
On the eve of his inaugural National Press Club address Senator Di Natale, along with resources spokesperson Senator Larissa Waters, has released a proposal to protect thousands of coal workers from being left stranded by mine closures, and to collect billions of dollars needed to pay for mine rehabilitation, so that the cost burden doesn't fall on cash-strapped state governments and taxpayers.
Australian Greens Deputy Leader Senator Larissa Waters said that mining companies have a long history of walking away without rehabilitating the land and leaving their workers in the lurch.
"As coal companies go bankrupt or leave Australia it's coal workers who are hit hardest, followed by state governments who are regularly left to foot the bill for cleaning up the mine. The Greens' plan would protect workers, state governments and the environment," Senator Waters said.
"Under the Greens' plan, rehabilitation funds would be paid into a Federal Trust Fund for the companies to access at the conclusion of their operations. Adequately funding rehabilitation efforts will immediately create new jobs in the same communities where coal workers are losing jobs.
"The long-term creation of 21st century jobs requires an investment in 21st century industries, which is why the interest made on the Fund would be spent on retraining workers and attracting new clean industries to the area.
"The Greens don't want to see coal workers stranded with nowhere to go. These people are victims of an industry in decline and both government and industry must play a role in protecting them and their families.
"By requiring rehabilitation funds from mining companies now, before they inevitably walk away, we can afford to clean-up the mess they leave behind and secure the future employment of their workers," Senator Waters concluded.