I’d like to acknowledge that we are standing on the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. I pay my respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.
I’m Steve Murphy, the National Secretary of the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union.
Can I say firstly, congratulations to all students and young people taking strike action today.
Our union has been engaging with some of the strike leaders here in Sydney, and I want to acknowledge your work in educating and organising your peers, and pushing the adults in the room to take notice.
I look forward to seeing how you all reshape the world after you finish your studies and join your union.
We are supporting students taking action because we believe that we can have both climate action and job creation.
Like many Australian’s taking action today, I was bitterly disappointed to see how narrow and unimaginative the COVID-19 recovery plan is- and how many opportunities we are letting slip.
We are disappointed because $18 billion of public money is about to be spent on an industry that;
Won’t fix the unemployment crisis.
Won’t lower power prices.
Won’t solve the climate crisis.
We should be putting this money where it could really matter- rebuilding Australian manufacturing.
Workers’ in coal communities and in the fossil fuel industries deserve more than having their livelihoods kicked around like a political football- they deserve honesty about the future of these industries, and they deserve to have a say in what the jobs of the future will look like.
Right now, we’ve got a choice.
We can wait until the CEOs of fossil fuel companies decide to pull up stumps because they’re no longer making enough money and leave workers and their communities high and dry.
Or can take action and put public money behind industries that will get hundreds of thousands of Australians back to work, and build a better society along the way,
We are calling on the Government to do three things.
Commit to spending taxpayer money on supporting a massive reinvestment in Australian manufacturing, not gas.
Ban political donations from energy companies - who are influencing this debate in their interests of their profits, and not for social good.
Create a Transition Authority that will include workers, business, and community groups.
Bringing Back Australian Made
It goes without saying that this pandemic has shown the social and economic value of a strong manufacturing sector.
There is strong community support for rebuilding Australia’s manufacturing capabilities- including the build of future renewable energy infrastructure.
If this Government was serious about lifting us out of this crisis, it would do more than line the pockets of it’s big business donors and make decisions in the interests of all of us-
Workers in affected industries need certainty, and the Australian public deserves a debate around energy that is about creating jobs, reducing bills and preserving our environment.
What we have instead, is decision-makers more concerned with maintaining corporate donations to their political parties and the easiest possible path to retaining their spot in parliament.
We need to put this issue to bed once and for all.
We can deliver certainty and find a genuine solution to our changing energy needs by banning political donations from fuel & energy companies.
A ban on political donations is essential if we want to restore faith in our political system
Australians need a government that is answerable to its people, not donors and lobbyists with deep pockets.
We’ve had more than a decade of climate culture wars - where politicians and mining bosses have created conflict between workers and the environment movement - for their own benefit.
Workers know that our energy needs are changing. They are worried about their futures and the kinds of jobs their kids will have.
It’s time for the Government to put aside the ideology, and work with our communities to build a real plan for decent jobs and a healthy future
Shifting large workforces and industries takes time- and without careful planning- it can be devastating to affected communities.
That’s why we need a Transition Authority- one that is independent, that will have affected workers and their communities at the centre.
Our union is ready to get to roll up our sleeves and work on a plan for our future that puts workers front and centre.
We invite the government to join us and listen to the strikers today, by funding real future industries - ones that promise good, secure jobs and builds a better world for the next generation.
Steve Murphy is the AMWU National Secretary. Twitter