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Industry demands job transition agency after government plans to phase out coal

Muja Coal Fired Power Station
Muja Coal Fired Power Station

An agency should be formed to help find a new job for anyone affected by the Federal Government’s plan to shut down the coal sector, mine workers have said.

Several coal mine and power station workers believe a newly established Energy Transition Authority could help remove uncertainty caused by Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor’s proposed framework for retiring coal fired power plants across the nation.

Heads roll

AGL Energy has already started closing down its Liddell Coal Fired Power Station in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley. The minister is closely watching this process and will use it to shape his framework.

The Western Australian Government recently announced up to 80 job cuts at Synergy’s state-run Muja Coal Fired Power Station, 79km east of Bunbury.

Station employee Rod Roe is worried he might become one of the heads that roll and revealed many generations of families have worked there.

“There will be those that would like to take a redundancy and there will be those that want to stay,” Roe told the Special Broadcasting Service. “I would put my hand up now and say I definitely need to stay, I am 50-years-old … generations of families that have worked there. Proud people, proud families, proud area, I don’t want to lose that.”

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Renewables blamed

Allan Jauncey, who has worked for the same station for the past 40 years, blames the wide scale closures on falling demand for coal and a jump in solar and wind projects. He believes the government should do something.

“The demise of the coal fired power station in WA is directly related to the uptake of renewables,” he told the broadcaster. “The Federal Government has been known be the answer to the energy crisis and end the uncertainty.”

Mass unemployment feared

Mine heavy machinery operator Kim Praetz believes there has to be a long term solution to the transition away from coal power, otherwise there will be mass unemployment.

“Guys like us do not want to be left behind and we want to be informed,” Praetz said. “We just don’t want it to finish overnight and say sorry you haven’t got a job.”

More than 1000 people work at the power station, Premier Coal’s Collie Coal Mine and Griffin Coal Mining’s Griffin Coal Mine.

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