Title: Forward with fairness: conceptualising just transition for Australian labour law and the coal-fired power generation industry

MPhil Candidate: Phoebe Burgess

Milestone: MPhil Confirmation

Time and Date: 11am, Friday 8th October

Location: Via Zoom: https://uqz.zoom.us/j/2316954260


Australia has committed to an economy-wide target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 28% below 2005 levels by 2030. To achieve this target, the use of fossil fuels for energy must be significantly curtailed, if not ended. Policymakers must consider how such a transition can be achieved while mitigating the adverse effects on those who will be disproportionately impacted by adaptation strategies that will result in the closure of coal fired power stations across the country.

A just transition seeks to guarantee a safety net for workers in industries that will close in the energy transitions. It encompasses both procedural and substantive elements: ongoing consultation with workers about climate policies, transition management and structural change; and the provision of adjustment assistance to compensate for losses experienced and to facilitate adaptation to low carbon economies through the creation of decent work and quality jobs. Despite its nascent rise in global climate change dialogue, just transition has not yet been the focus of detailed academic scholarship in the context of the Australian coal fired power industry. This thesis will explore the concept of just transition through literature review; draw on case studies of energy transitions and just transition policy; and situate the concept within the Fair Work Act system using the example of the closure of the Hazelwood Power Station in 2017. It will also discuss the intersection of just transition policy, climate change policy and the philosophies of labour law, including its protective and regulatory perspectives.