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Invest in another Qld Big Battery not propping up coal - Greens

2 June 2021

Queensland Greens MP Michael Berkman has joined Greens Leader Adam Bandt in calling on the State Government to divert the millions required to repair Callide C towards a big battery and a transition package for displaced workers.

Reports yesterday suggest the cost of repairing the unit could be as much as $200 million and take up to a year.

The Greens want the Queensland Government to work with unions and the power companies to put in place an industry wide workplace transition program, similar to that in Germany, including pooled redundancies, redeployment and retraining.

Michael Berkman Greens MP for Maiwar:

“Spending $200 million on propping up coal would be throwing good money after bad. Coal is increasingly expensive and unreliable - for the cost of patching up this out of date technology, Queensland could have another big battery.

“We know that early closures will be necessary for the State Government to meet even its 50% renewables target by 2030 - why not put a plan in place for workers now, rather than springing redundancies on them in a few years’ time? Coal workers and communities have helped build this State, so they deserve a fair go.

“At the moment NSW is planning Australia’s biggest battery - let’s go one better and build the biggest right here in the Sunshine State.”“One of the benefits of publicly owned electricity is we don’t have to leave these decisions to profit-seeking corporations. Shareholding Ministers (Mr. Dick and Mr. de Brenni) should direct CS Energy’s Board to invest in batteries instead of coal, ensuring investment is made in the technologies of the future, not the past.”

Greens Leader, Adam Bandt MP:

“We are in a climate crisis. This is an opportunity to drive the transition to renewable energy in Queensland and deliver on meeting the Queensland Government’s renewable electricity targets while looking after coal workers and communities.”

“The Callide explosion and increasing unreliability of coal, along with the changes to the wholesale energy prices driven by renewables, will mean that coal-fired power station closures will inevitably be brought forward, so we need a plan to look after coal workers and communities.”

“It is now urgent for the Queensland Labor government to work with unions and industry to put in place an industry-wide just transition program to enable workers to retrain and redeploy or take early retirement as power stations close.”

Under the Greens’ plan:

  • At least $150M would be set aside to build a big battery
  • $50M would be set aside to offer any workers affected by the early closure:
    • A job in another coal fired power station with the same pay and conditions under a “pooled redundancy” scheme across publicly and privately owned power stations owned by CS Energy, Stanwell, Intergen and NRG.
    • Redeployment to a similar job elsewhere in the State Government and publicly owned companies at the same pay and conditions and support for relocation.
    • Retraining via free TAFE or university qualifications and scholarships for living expenses. 
    • Early retirement for older workers, with a redundancy package until the official retirement age. Vacancies created by early retirements would be filled with younger workers, including from other power stations, under the above pooled redundancy scheme.

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