Victoria premier Denis Napthine has unveiled a $33.4 billion jobs plan in a bid to create 200,000 new jobs in the next five years, although advocates of the renewable energy want the sector to be given ample focus by the government.
Friends of the Earth Australia, a federation of local groups aiming for an environmentally sustainable future, have called on Napthine to create a Victorian Renewable Energy Target that will drive investments in the renewable energy sector and create more jobs in the process.
The renewable energy sector in Victoria would need support from Napthine especially with Premier Tony Abbott sceptical about Australia’s renewable energy targets.
The sector has been affected by the Abbott government’s plans to reduce its renewable energy target by up to 40 per cent. Keppel Prince Engineering recently announced that it would cut down its workforce from 360 to about 250 by mothballing its unit building towers at its headquarters in Portland in southwest Victoria.
CEC Jobs plan
The Clean Energy Council (CEC) recently released a position paper suggesting five ideas that could help in generating more jobs in the region. The paper titled “Quick Clean Energy Jobs for Victoria” underscored that the state needs to have new jobs in sectors that are sustainable and with a ‘significant future growth potential,’ which were marginalised in the current jobs plan.
The report’s five clean energy ideas is said to be capable of creating hundreds of jobs without consumers shouldering an additional cost, and without state spending. It added that focus should be on solar technologies like solar hot water, rooftop PV and energy efficiency.
It added that funding solar hot water systems, for instance, could create new jobs and even help families reduce their energy usage and lower their power bills. The report added that the government should help low-income households to lease solar power systems so they won’t have to pay a lot of money for their electricity use.
During the launch of his jobs plan, Napthine declared that the jobs state budget of $33.4 billion would be used to fund 60,000 apprenticeships and support training for 850,000 citizens.
Napthine’s jobs plan comes in the heels of new reports that the unemployment rate in the region has reached its highest level in the past 13 years.
Jobs plan lacking in detail
Aside from its lack of support to the renewable energy sector, Napthine’s jobs plan has been criticized for lacking in detail.
Josh Gordon, political writer for The Victoria Age, said that Napthine and treasurer Michael O’Brien failed to provide details on how they intend to execute the plan, and where the funding would come from.
He wrote that many of Napthine’s announcements were recycled like the $27 billion allotted for future infrastructure projects which had been reported last May, as well as the airport rail link to be completed by 2026.
He added that while the government’s target of creating an average of 40,000 jobs a year is achievable through the jobs plan, past experiences would suggest that the public need to be wary when it comes to such lofty goals.