December 1, 2023
The WA Government’s announcement it will cease funding Griffin Coal in 2026, with no long-term plan to manage critical energy assets in Collie, will have dire consequences for jobs, energy security and the long-term future for the region, unions said today.
The Mining and Energy Union (MEU) and Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) said it was extremely disappointing the Government was doing the minimum possible to keep Griffin Coal afloat until 2026.
Earlier this month, the MEU and AMWU presented Premier Roger Cook with a detailed proposal for an innovative solution to the problems plaguing Griffin Coal. Under the proposal, a private sector-led transition trust would be established to take ownership of Griffin and potentially other energy facilities in Collie to restore long-term energy security, manage assets in line with community and worker-focused objectives, and attract investment to maintain Collie’s role as an energy hub as the economy shifts to renewables.
MEU WA Secretary Greg Busson said that in a difficult situation, the Government had taken the easiest and cheapest option, but it was a flawed approach.
“This funding arrangement rubber stamps the closure of Griffin, along with Bluewaters power station which it supplies, when funding runs out in 2026,” said Mr Busson.
“Griffin Coal has been a mess and workers have born the brunt of that, with pay cuts and years of uncertainty and mismanagement. With no new jobs in Collie for workers to go to, how does the Government think that Collie’s Just Transition is going to work from here?
“Today’s short-sighted announcement is likely to trigger rapid decline in the community.”
“Meanwhile, we’ll be fighting for the best possible employment deal for the workers at Griffin Coal. They must not be left to pay the price for the mess these private operators have created.”
AMWU Secretary Steve McCartney said the Government’s announcement in Collie today would go down like a lead balloon.
“Workers and the community in Collie have been promised a Just Transition as we move to renewables but we need more investment, courage and imagination to make that a reality. This decision flies in the face of what Collie’s Just Transition is all about.
“After multiple reviews by expensive consultants, the best plan the Government can come up with is to tip more taxpayer money down the black hole at Griffin Coal. It’s a challenging situation at Griffin, but this is a short-sighted and extremely disappointing response.
“We urge the Premier to keep the transition trust option on the table. It’s a corporate model that would prioritise workers’ rights, stimulate new investment into renewables, and support Collie now and into the future – all while limiting risk to Government and taxpayers.