CANBERRA, AAP – Voters believe the future prosperity of NSW and Queensland won’t be found in coal or gas, a poll shows.
Some 60 per cent see a future in clean industries, including renewable energy manufacturing and exports, and mining for battery minerals, the survey released on Thursday has found.
Months out from a federal election, only a quarter of voters polled in Queensland (26 per cent) and less than one fifth in NSW (19 per cent) say their state’s future prosperity lies in coal and gas.
Six in 10 agree that regional areas will benefit most from the global transition to renewables – a key battleground for the major parties.
But only two in 10 say workers who rely on fossil fuels are getting enough support to prepare for a decarbonised future.
The survey of over 2000 voters in regional, rural and metropolitan Queensland and NSW was commissioned by the Climate Council and conducted by YouGov.
Economist Nicki Hutley said the poll shows people understand the era of coal and gas is coming to a close in Australia.
“Significantly, voters recognise that further cuts to carbon emissions – critical if we are to keep global warming in check – will increase jobs and lift economic growth,” she said.
“However, there is a strong view that there needs to be better support from government for communities that currently rely on fossil fuels in order for them to adjust to the changes.
Six in 10 say the government’s top investment priority should be in renewables (60 per cent in Queensland and 62 per cent in NSW).
In Queensland, 20 per cent backed coal and 15 per cent said gas. In NSW, the figures were 15 per cent for coal and 17 per cent for gas.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says his government is delivering the affordable, reliable energy that Australian businesses and especially regional economies need to power their futures.
A modern manufacturing strategy and a focus on new technologies is being used to distribute federal grants.
The Queensland and NSW governments have set up renewable energy zones to link low-cost solar and wind generation with transmission and energy storage for cheap, clean and reliable electricity.
Sam Mella, whose father worked in Queensland coal mines, now works for Beyond Zero Emissions in the Hunter region.
She said renewable energy industrial precincts across Australia could grow a new green export market worth $333 billion a year by 2050 – almost triple the value of our current fossil fuel exports.
“A Hunter REIP could attract $28 billion investment by 2032, generate 34,000 new jobs and $11 billion in annual revenue,” Ms Mella said.
Geoff Bragg, a solar installer in Armidale, says there is a critical shortage of local workers in solar and batteries and not enough training.
“There should be accreditation for all electricians in renewable energy and a requirement for the big renewable projects to use local workers,” he said.