Feds legislate standalone authority to support energy transition


The Net Zero Economy Agency has received a makeover with the federal government legislating its independence and a new name, keeping its mission to support industry, investment, community and employment through the nation’s energy transition.

Now known as the Net Zero Economy Authority (NZEA), new legislation transitions the existing Net Zero Economy Agency within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to standalone statutory authority.

The leadership team will also transition, retaining the chair, former federal energy minister Greg Combet, and board members, including renowned climate scientist Professor Ross Garnaut and Australian Energy Regulator (AER) Chief Executive Officer Anthea Harris.

The federal government has committed $53.3 million annually over the next four years to resoure the authority which it said will function as a catalyst for private and public investment, major project development, job creation and transition, and skills and community development.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said there is no nation on earth better placed than Australia to achieve the energy transition here at home and power it in the world.

“We are home to every metal and critical mineral essential to net zero. Our workforce is skilled and valued, our safety standards are the highest in the world and we have a proven track record as a reliable producer and exporter of energy and resources,” he said.

“The Net Zero Economy Authority will play an important role in one of the most significant economic events in Australian history and position us as a renewable energy superpower.”

“We are committed to working across governments, with regional communities and industries, and our international partners, to secure the opportunities of Australia’s net zero future.”

Australian Energy Minister Chris Bowen said neither government funding nor private capital alone can meet the net zero challenge and it will take both, working together, to secure the opportunities of Australia’s net zero future.

“Our local and regional communities are at the forefront of the economic shift. Through this new body, we can better support them to seize the opportunities of a net-zero economy,” he said.

“We will work in genuine partnership with business, unions and communities to help make sure no one is left behind as we seize on this once in a generation opportunity.”

The NZEA’s functions will include investment facilitation to new industries and jobs, particularly in emissions-intensive regions where coal-fired power stations are scheduled to close, and investment is needed to develop new industries that provide jobs.

The authority will help coordinate policy and program design and delivery for an orderly and positive net zero economic transformation, through advice to government and by working on-the-ground in key regions.

The NZEA is also tasked with building community understanding, confidence and engagement with net zero economic transformation.

Eight other board members filling precursor roles in the NZE Agency will transition to the NZEA representing industry, trade unions, finance, investment, academia and community, including Rio Tinto Group Chief Executive Kellie Parker, Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) National President Michele O’Neil and BHP Chief Technical Officer Laura Tyler.

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