Former Labor minister Greg Combet will spearhead the Federal Government’s new Net Zero Agency, an authority tasked with seizing economic opportunities in the continuing transformation to clean energy.
Anthony Albanese announced Mr Combet’s appointment as the agency’s chair on Wednesday (14 June), saying his first task is establishing the agency.
Mr Combet will begin in the role on 10 July.
The Prime Minister also named an advisory board comprised chiefly of climate change experts and mining industry leaders.
“As chair, Mr Combet will guide the agency to ensure that the workers, industries and communities that have powered Australia for generations can seize the opportunities of the net zero transformation,” Mr Albanese said in a statement with his Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen.
“The chair will be supported by an advisory board to design and establish the legislated Net Zero Authority.
“Mr Combet is uniquely qualified to lead the agency, with expertise in government, investment, climate policy and industrial relations, as well as holding qualifications in coal mining engineering.”
Mr Combet is currently the chair of IFM Investors and Industry Super Australia. He formerly served as Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Minister for Industry and Innovation, Minister for Defence Personnel, Science and Materiel, and was a leader of the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
Members appointed to the advisory board are:
- Professor Ross Garnaut AC – Professor Emeritus in Economics at the University of Melbourne and Professor Emeritus, College of Asia & the Pacific at ANU
- Professor Paul Simshauser AM – CEO of Powerlink Queensland and Professor of Economics at Griffith University
- Anthea Harris – CEO of the Australian Energy Regulator
- Nicole Lockwood – Chair of Infrastructure WA, board member of NBN and former Shire President of Roebourne;
- Kellie Parker – CEO of Rio Tinto Australia
- Michele O’Neil – President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions
- Professor Robynne Quiggin – Pro-Vice Chancellor of UTS and part of the Steering committee for the First Nations Clean Energy Network
- Anna Skarbek – CEO of ClimateWorks, Director of the Green Building Council of Australia, the Centre for New Energy Technologies, the Sustainable Australia Fund, Impact Investment Group, and Sentient Impact Group
- Tony Maher – General President of the Mining and Energy Union
- Laura Tyler – Chief Technical Officer, BHP.
The Prime Minister said advisory board members were appointed for their significant expertise across a range of areas, including workplace relations, energy markets, regional development, First Nations engagement and economic development.
“In addition to the chair and advisory board, stakeholder reference groups will be established to guide the agency’s work with representatives to include regional experts, to engage with workers, industry and communities about the transition to net zero,” he said.
“Last month, the government committed to legislate a national Net Zero Authority, which will work with state, territory and local governments, existing regional bodies, unions, industry, investors and First Nations groups to help key regions, industries, employers and others proactively manage the transformation to a clean energy economy.
“To kickstart the authority’s responsibilities immediately, the Net Zero Agency will start work from July this year.”
The new Net Zero Authority will support workers in emissions-intensive sectors to access new employment, skills and support as the net zero transformation continues.
It will coordinate programs and policies across government to support regions and communities to attract and take advantage of new clean energy industries and set those industries up for success.
It will also formulate strategies to help investors and companies to engage with net zero transformation opportunities.
The authority’s work will include a focus on regions and industries that have traditionally powered Australia’s economy and help traditional industries adapt as new industries are coming online.
The authority will work collaboratively with state and territory governments to support the change to a clean energy economy.