Ex-Labor minister to head new net-zero agency

Former Labor climate change minister Greg Combet has been picked to head the agency tasked with easing the transition to a renewable energy-fuelled economy.

The ex-union boss will chair the Net Zero Agency, which the Labor government has established to ensure workers, industries and communities don’t miss out during the push to reach net-zero carbon emissions.

Mr Combet, who is the chair of IFM Investors and Industry Super Australia, will be joined by 10 other members on the advisory board.

Economists such as Professor Ross Garnaut and Professor Paul Simshauser have been selected, along with the head of the Australian Energy Regulator, Anthea Harris, the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Michele O’Neil, and Rio Tinto Australia chief Kellie Parker.

The Albanese government committed to legislating the national net zero authority last month to manage the transition.

Assistant climate change and energy minister Jenny McAllister said the agency would have three main tasks: coordinating support for workers during the transition, coordinating business investment and working with the most affected communities.

“We want to work with local government or state government, with local institutions that may have been established to deal with this challenge, with union representatives – all sorts of entities that have an interest in seeing our regions transformed,” she said.

Senator McAllister defended the appointment of three union voices to the board.

“These are important questions for workers and we want working people to know that they have a stake in the new economy,” she said.

She added there was also representation from business and economics professions to guide the transition of the energy market and economy.

The Net Zero Agency will start work next month.


Poppy Johnston
(Australian Associated Press)


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