Northern Territory hosts two-day roundtable to unearth big ideas for ensuring First Nation leadership in energy transition


Ensuring First Nations people and communities participate in and benefit from the clean energy transition is the focus of a community roundtable in Alice Springs on 16-17 May 2023.

The Federal Government and State and Territory Energy Ministers committed in 2022 to co-design and implement a First Nations Clean Energy Strategy under the National Energy Transformation Partnership.

Energy Ministers committed to resource roundtables around the country to support the First Nations Clean Energy Network’s three pillars – community, industry partnerships and policy reform.

Luritja Steering Committee member Chris Croker says the roundtables are an opportunity to identify and address known regulatory and financial barriers and to develop pathways to sustainable solutions for accelerating First Nations participation in the energy transition.

“Our people are being left behind,” says Croker. “Compounded by extreme weather events such as heat waves and flooding, the need for an initial urgent overhaul of energy security and efficiency measures for First Nations people is clear.

“First Nations communities struggle with unreliable expensive power and poor quality housing stock and the impacts are worsening as the costs of living rise.”

Recent analysis of the NT Power and Water Corporation’s electricity disconnection data reveals First Nations households with pre-paid meters experience some of the highest rates of energy insecurity in the world.

“In Australia’s world-leading consumer uptake of rooftop solar, social housing and First Nations communities are the last to benefit.

“Getting off diesel and installing solar PV or community-led power generation shouldn’t have to be a pipedream.

“Removing regulatory barriers can mean critical heating and cooling services stay connected,air conditioning stays on, food and medicines are kept cold, our kids can do their homework, and we can stay living and working on Country.”

Karrina Nolan, a descendant of the Yorta Yorta people, says there’s no time to lose.

“With offshore wind, solar, green hydrogen and critical minerals developers and investors already knocking on doors, the key equity and resourcing issues facing First Nations’ negotiation of small and large scale projects must be unpacked and addressed.

“First Nations have a chequered history with mining projects and the extractive industries on their land. The moment is ripe for doing development right this time, protecting Country and sacred sites while delivering reliable power, jobs and economic opportunity for our communities.”

“The Strategy co-design presents governments with an opportunity to review laws, regulation and policy, lift barriers and implement regulatory reform, and to stoke government investment in innovation, technology and infrastructure.

“This show of commitment from Energy Ministers means we have an opportunity to position First Nations peoples as co-designers and drivers of projects.

“And with Indigenous land title now recognised over more than half of the Australian continent, First Nations’ land and consent will be more critical than ever.

“Together at the roundtable, we will come up with recommendations for actions, policies and programs that the Federal and Territory Government should implement.

“Once the First Nations Clean Energy Strategy is in the government’s hands, it will then be the job of Minister Bowen and governments at all levels rolling up their sleeves and getting on with the job of implementing it.”