Qld’s ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ jobs boom
As young Queenslanders struggle with unemployment in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, a new report from a leading independent body reveals the state could be sitting on a bonanza with the potential to create tens of thousands of new jobs.
The Sunshine State has a "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity to become a world leader in renewable energy industries, create about 25,000 new roles and contribute $500 billion to the national economy, according to a new study from the Climate Council.
The report, Leaders and Legends: Thousands of Clean Jobs for Queenslanders, has outlined how the state has a unique advantage to capitalise on the energy industry and export opportunities.
The council proposes the investment to come from both the public and private sector to unlock the benefits for the economy.
"There are so many reasons to be optimistic about Queensland's economic future as it rebuilds from COVID-19," Climate Council chief executive Amanda McKenzie said.
"The Queensland Government can seize this moment to create jobs that get people back to work now, and turn Queensland into a clean industry superpower.
"Generations of Queenslanders could work in these clean industries."
Young Queenslanders in smaller communities outside the southeast corner of the state have been disproportionately impacted by job losses during the pandemic, presenting a rare opportunity for an industry revolution, Ms McKenzie said.
She noted cities such as Townsville, Gladstone and Mackay where youth unemployment in July was 15.8, 13.7 and 10.5 per cent respectively.
Ms McKenzie says these areas are prime for capturing renewable energy because of the strong wind and sun elements, while also having existing industrial infrastructure.
The Climate Council's recent Clean Jobs Plan could create up to 20,000 jobs focusing on 12 policy areas.
These include large-scale renewable energy projects, ecosystem restoration, collection and processing of organic waste, electric car network expansion, and retrofitting inefficient public buildings and homes with sustainable energy alternatives.
The Climate Council claims the Copperstring 2.0 project - the connection of industrial power between Mt Isa and Townsville - will unlock wind and solar plants and increase demand for resources such as copper.
The report says this will create more than 4000 direct and indirect jobs and contribute to slashing power prices by 20 per cent in Brisbane.
The mining of materials used for the construction of solar panels, wind turbines and batteries could contribute $500 billion to the economy, the council's head of research Martin Rice said.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for governments to invest in programs that will deliver secure, skilled and long-term jobs now and into the future for Queenslanders," he said.
"It's a win-win-win, for the economy, for jobs and for our climate."
On Wednesday, the major party leaders vying for power in the upcoming state election presented their green energy projects.
In Brisbane, Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said the Liberal-National Party would invest nearly $500 million into the government-owned corporation Energy Queensland to help bring down the cost of electricity.
"This investment will secure the jobs of Queensland's 163,000 manufacturing workers and create new jobs in the future," she said.
"Cheaper electricity will make Queensland Australia's manufacturing powerhouse and secure thousands of additional jobs by bringing more investment into our state."
Meanwhile, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk headed northwest earlier in the day to spruik the Copperstring 2.0 project from Mt Isa.
"Our economic strategy is underpinned by traditional strengths like the resources industry," she told reporters.
"It's going to mean cheaper power prices for the industries to establish here. We want a competitive price for industries to come here, to set-up, and to manufacture here.
"That will eventually drive down power prices when you have it connected to the national electricity market."
Originally published as Qld's 'once-in-a-lifetime' jobs boom