What about jobs that won’t cost us the earth?


THE federal election has exposed fracture lines within the Labor party, the CFMEU, and also in our communities, particularly in regional Queensland.  

We are fractured on the future of mining jobs with the opening of new thermal coal deposits in the Galilee Basin, versus a re-imagined future with an economy that is less reliant on fossil fuels.

The IPCC reported last October that we are facing a climate crisis, and have just 12 years to transition to a new economy that does not include escalating carbon emissions.

'Just transition' though is a phrase and no one is quite sure what it means.

Simply put, it means that governments at state and federal levels lead the way with defined plans to pivot the economy, and develop new jobs in new industries - in consultation with those affected communities - to supplement the inevitable shift away from coal.

We must remember the number of coal mining jobs is actually a mere 1.1 % of all Queensland jobs (according to The Australia Institute).  

In contrast, tourism in Queensland, which has been hit by negative publicity around the impact of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef, accounts for 9.1 per cent...  But the mining lobby is loud and powerful, crowding out other industries.

A different vision for Australia is easy to imagine and straightforward to implement. It just needs political will- and a plan.

To support our communities in this transition, there must be planning and preparation that unites us and leaves no one behind. The great news is there are readily available options.

In regional Queensland these include:

  • Manufacturing of solar and electric vehicle batteries in Townsville - they have the rare earth materials required
  • Developing an engineering innovation hub in Mackay at the University and Paget
  • Manufacturing wind or solar components for domestic use or export at the disused Aurizon workshop in Rockhampton
  • Rehabilitating 15,000 abandoned mines in Queensland, creating new jobs in Clermont, Middlemount, Moranbah and Blackwater.
  • Accelerating the Queensland renewable energy program that is already producing thousands of jobs
  • Developing a research and hydrogen export hub at Gladstone and exporting liquid sunshine.
  • Developing regional hubs for manufacture of plastic or road products from recycled waste materials in centres with rail access to the Ports for export.

At a community level, it is imperative that we build an economy and a society that reflects our spirit of endeavour, intelligence and innovation in a way that will support future generations as well as ourselves.  

We have just this one planet and we have this short 12-year period to flatten our emissions trajectory if we want to prevent suffering an intolerable climate catastrophe.   

It takes courage and perseverance to commit to change, and transition won't be cheap, but to do nothing will cost us the earth, and each other.


Christine Carlisle is a long-term Mackay resident, grandmother and president of the Mackay Conservation Group