Support for coal-producing communities to be overhauled with new Future Jobs and Investment Authorities

NSW Gov

The NSW Labor Government is today launching the proposed model for the Future Jobs and Investment Authorities, an important framework which will support workers and communities for a future beyond coal mining.

This is the next step in the establishing the authorities and delivering on the NSW Labor Government’s election commitment.

Led by the Future Jobs and Investment Advocate, it will play a central role in government to support the Hunter, Illawarra, Central West and North West as coal mines and coal-fired power stations close in the coming decades.

Today, coal plays a crucial role across NSW, with more than 125,000 workers in the state either directly or indirectly employed by the coal mining or coal-fired power sectors.

But it’s expected that by 2040 all 4 of the state’s coal-fired power stations, and 32 of the state’s 39 coal mines will close.

Under the proposed model, the Future Jobs and Investment Authorities will include:

  • The Future Jobs and Investment Advocate, a statutory role established in legislation and providing advice to the Minister for Natural Resources to lead strategic work with each regional authority and coordinate the authorities’ work across government.
  • The Future Jobs and Investment Board, comprised of the chairs of each regional authorities, unions, industry associations and relevant government agencies. The board will be chaired by the Advocate.
  • Office of the Future Jobs and Investment Authorities, a central, dedicated delivery unit within the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, staffed to support the work of local authorities, the Advocate and the Board.
  • Regional Future Jobs and Investment Authorities in each of the Hunter, Illawarra, Central West and Far West with representation from local government, community groups, unions and the mining industry to ensure locally-led input and bespoke advice can drive government decision making.

The Future Jobs and Investment Authorities will replace the Royalties for Rejuvenation and Expert Panels scheme set up by the previous Liberal-National Government.

The authorities will play a central role inside the government to advocate for coal-producing communities, unlike the Expert Panels which are isolated from the rest of the government and unempowered to advocate or champion the issue across government.

Proposals and projects suggested by the authorities will be tailored for each region so they can:

  • Drive investment opportunities which are aligned to competitive advantages for each region. In the Hunter this could mean promoting renewable energy manufacturing, and in the Illawarra industries like clean energy and defence.
  • Facilitate economically beneficial post-mining land uses. The authorities can help facilitate new and innovative uses for coal mines after they close. Already this year, the government has announced a former Hunter coal mine will be transformed into a motor park resort and tourism centre, while others are exploring becoming pumped hydro and clean energy facilities.
  • Support opportunities for local manufacturing. Often located on large tracts of land with existing infrastructure, and with skilled labour already deployed, the state’s manufacturing can be boosted by leveraging the history of coal mines.
  • Ensure a ready pipeline of skills to support the activation of new industries. Providing workers with access to TAFE courses and other training to obtain the skills required for future job opportunities.

Over the past year, Minister for Natural Resources Courtney Houssos has hosted stakeholder roundtables across the Hunter, Illawarra, Central West and North West.

Having consulted widely and gained advice from hundreds of community members including unions, industry groups, mining companies, and local and state government representatives, this is the first time a model has been proposed for the Future Jobs and Investment Authorities.

The issues paper also includes a detailed analysis of planned coal mine closures, employment rates, and economic data for each of the 4 regions.

Coal-fired power stations generated 71% of the state’s electricity in 2023. 87% of coal produced in NSW in 2022-23 was exported. Global demand for coal is projected to decrease by 30% by 2050, including among NSW’s key trading partners.

Earlier this month, Minister Houssos asked NSW Legislative Council’s Standing Committee on State Development chair Emily Suvaal to undertake an inquiry into post-mining land use. That inquiry will also inform the whole-of-government approach to assistance for the coal-producing workers and communities.

The authorities will also work with the Commonwealth Government’s Net Zero Economy Authority to deliver real support for workers, industries and communities to seize transformational opportunities.

The NSW Government invites submissions on the issues paper prior to the introduction of legislation later in the year. Consultation opens Tuesday 28 May 2024 and will be open for 6 weeks.

To view the issues paper, go to the Future Jobs and Investment Authorities website.

Minister for Natural Resources Courtney Houssos said:

“Coal mining will continue to support thousands of local jobs and underpin the state’s energy grid for many years to come. But with global demand for coal projected to decrease over the coming decades, we want to ensure workers, communities and regional centres are given the support they need.

“Releasing this issues paper continues the government’s work with local communities for a future beyond coal.

“The Future Jobs and Investment Authorities delivers on an important election commitment for the NSW Labor Government to support coal-producing communities across the state.

“I’ve been hearing from workers, communities and industry about how important it is the government provides the right framework of support.

“I look forward to receiving feedback on our proposed model and then getting to work to establishing these authorities by the end of the year.

“Workers and communities across NSW need to know we’ve got their back.”

Minister for the Illawarra and the South Coast Ryan Park said:

“The Illawarra has always been a manufacturing heartland, having a strong network of production and supply chains which has been a key part of not only the NSW economy, but the entire Australian economy as well.

“Our highly skilled workforce has been making strides in transforming our region to be future ready, transitioning skills to modern industries necessary to continue attracting investments and new opportunities well into the future.

“The NSW Government is ready to support the thousands of skilled workers currently in coal mining in the Illawarra, who will continue to be the cornerstone of our region for years to come.”

Minister for the Hunter Yasmin Catley said:

“Coal has long been a source of economic prosperity for the Hunter, but as the world evolves we must ensure our region can continue to employ workers, provide good jobs and ensure people have a good, prosperous future.

“The Hunter is Australia’s largest regional economy and today’s announcement will help support our community go from strength to strength.

“A Hunter authority will ensure that local voices are heard and give us direct input to help drive investment, develop new industries, re-skill workers and enhance our already great manufacturing capability.

“Today’s announcement gives us a clear roadmap to building a prosperous future for the Hunter. I’d like to thank Minister Houssos for the dedication and support she’s given our region.”

Overview of coal mining in NSW, 2022-23

HunterIllawarraNorth WestCentral West
Active coal mines

22

5

5

7

Active coal-fired power stations

3

0

0

1

Direct employment in coal mining sector

14,919

3,397

3,134

3,534

Raw production

134.6mt

14mt

25.1mt

46.7mt

% of coal exported

Approx. 90%

Approx. 80%

Approx. 95%

Approx. 50%

/Public Release. View in full here.