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AWU National Secretary to co-chair NSW Government’s Renewable Energy Board

February 23, 2021

The Australian Workers’ Union has secured a key seat at the planning table with the appointment of National Secretary Dan Walton to co-chair the NSW Government’s new Renewable Energy Board.

Unveiling the new board, Energy Minister Matt Kean said it would play an important role boosting opportunities for local jobs and industry – particularly in the regions.

The new board is a victory for unions, with the AWU in particular long campaigning to have local procurement included in all NSW planning and purchasing policies.

The new board will look at everything from material sourcing and supply to contracting arrangements, and explore ways to give NSW manufacturers a competitive advantage in emerging “green” supply industries.

Mr Walton said the nation needed policies that supported workers by expanding existing industries as well as creating jobs in new and innovative industries. The new board would help put Australian workers at the head of the procurement queue.

“COVID-19 has shown us the importance of domestic capability – and this board should allow us to give our manufacturers a chance to compete. Australia’s manufacturing of steel, aluminium, copper, glass, bricks and everything in between is world-class; but if we preference imports – which are often low quality, dumped below cost, or benefit from foreign government subsidy – then we are betraying Australian workers and tax payers.”

“These new policies should drive genuine accountability and replace the ‘tick and flick’ culture of procurement which has favoured overseas suppliers in recent decades,” Mr Walton said.

“This board will play a critical role in maximising the use of locally produced and supplied goods.

“If we are rebuilding and retooling our economy, then it only makes sense that we use Australian inputs and Australian workers in the task.”

“This will both sustain and boost jobs for local workers and foster opportunities for apprentices and trainees in the renewable energy industry.”

The board will be co-chaired by Craig Memery, policy team leader at the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC), and includes another 12 senior industry representatives.

Mr Kean said: “We have bought all the key players to the table to make sure we don’t miss any opportunities to support local jobs and industry as we modernise the state’s energy infrastructure.

“This is a once-in a generation-opportunity to secure the economic and employment benefits under our Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap for our local industries, workers and consumers.”

The PIAC’s Mr Memery said: “We want to make sure our local workers and industries reap the economic benefits of the transition to cheap, reliable and renewable electricity.”

The board, which will provide its first report to the minister by the end of March, is an ongoing body that will meet at least once every six months. It was a key component of energy legislation that passed through the NSW Parliament in November.

Board members include:

Mark Cain, CEO, Australian Steel Institute.

John Coyle, director, Varley Group.

Anna Freeman, Policy Director – Energy Generation, Clean Energy Council.

Lynne Gallagher, CEO, Energy Consumers Australia.

Grahame Kelly, General Secretary, CFMEU (Mining and Energy Division).

James Hay, CEO, Energy Corp of NSW.

Paul Italiano, CEO, TransGrid.

Justin Page, Secretary NSW & ACT, Electrical Trades Union.

Matthew Robertson, National Strategy & Market Development Manager, BlueScope Steel Australia.

Stacey Sleeman, Chief Financial Officer and Company Secretary, Tomago Aluminium.

Rod Stowe, former NSW Fair Trading Commissioner.

Cory Wright, State Secretary, Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union.


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