Labor gets practical with policies on energy reform and skills and training

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In the lead up to next year’s election, recent announcements by the ALP in the areas of energy policy and skills and training have been welcomed by the ETU.

In the past 12 months the ETU has been engaging with both Tanya Plibersek, the ALP’s Shadow Minister for Education and Chris Bowen, the ALP’s Shadow Minister for Energy on what the ALP would do if it was elected to government at the next election. It is clear from their policies that the Labor party has been listening to the views of the ETU.



For too long the Australian TAFE system has been neglected and we have seen 85,000 less apprentices under the Abbott, Turnbull, Morrison Government.

Labor has announced a significant plan to revitalise vocational training with plans to:

  • redirect at least 70% of Commonwealth vocational education funding to public TAFE instead of prioritising dodgy private providers
  • create 465,000 new free TAFE places
  • invest $621 million in TAFE training courses, delivering free TAFE in skills shortage occupations and for school leavers
  • allocate $50 million for a TAFE Technology Fund to revitalise and modernise training equipment in TAFE campuses
  • invest in 10,000 New Energy Apprenticeships providing direct subsidies to apprentices who commence apprenticeships in electrical occupations connected to renewable energy, transmission upgrades and advanced manufacturing facilities.

These policies will help head off any future skills shortage and provide opportunities for the next generation of electricians.


Energy policy

Australia’s broken energy laws have also prioritised energy company profits over the needs of the workers and the community as well as driving more and more privatisation. This has left our grid in disrepair and unprepared for the transition to renewable energy sources.

Labor has announced some significant proposals for energy reform and job creation, including:

  • establishing a ‘Powering the Region’ fund to invest in regional communities to make sure they aren’t left behind in the energy transition
  • a national reconstruction fund with a focus on rebuilding an Australian manufacturing base with a focus on secure, stable jobs
  • the establishment of a publicly owned Rewiring Co. to invest $20 billion for the urgent upgrades needed in the electricity grid so it can handle the energy transition that’s already underway
  • co-investing $100 million for 85 solar banks across the country – providing cheaper electricity for more than 25,000 households that are locked out of rooftop solar, like renters and low-income households
  • installing 400 community batteries across the country with an investment of $200 million to improve distribution network congestion and maximise the benefits of Australia’s rooftop solar transformation
  • providing significant support and incentives to create a real electric vehicle industry in Australia with EV Charging infrastructure to be installed throughout Australia.

“Privatisation and marketisation of Australia’s energy system has stripped thousands of maintenance jobs out of the power industry. This has left our energy network vulnerable to the impacts of the energy transition and unprepared for the increased frequency and severity of extreme weather events caused by climate change,” said ETU National Secretary, Allen Hicks.

“The suite of policies put forward by Labor to address these shortfalls will strengthen the energy network while creating thousands of jobs.”

So where are the Liberals?

The Morrison Government haven’t had an energy policy for the last nine years, and they’re not interested in investing in renewable energy or creating a Just Transition for workers in the fossil fuel industries in any significant way. 11 coal fired power stations have closed under this government with no plans for any of the workers or communities who have been impacted. Instead, the Morrison Government prefer to rely on technology that doesn’t exist yet. They’re not interested in meaningful discussion on energy policy either.

“Since Angus Taylor became Energy Minister the ETU has sought meetings on several occasions to discuss energy policy federally and how it impacts on workers. To date, Minister Taylor has never met with us,” said ETU National Policy Officer, Trevor Gauld.

As we head towards a federal election next year, we ask our members to think seriously about the future of our trade, job opportunities in the energy industries and our apprentices coming up through the workforce when casting your vote.

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