Just transition critical to climate action and political success

Anthony Albanese

When asked to explain Donald Trump’s appeal to white, working class American voters, I start with the Democrats.

Trump may be a snake oil salesman. But, the reason he has a market is because many traditional Democrat voters feel the party no longer has their backs.

The issue started during the Clinton administration, with a lack of effort to create new opportunities for manufacturing workers who lost their jobs as Bill Clinton pursued free trade.

It got worse under Barrack Obama, as coal jobs evaporated under more ambitious climate policies, with little to take their place.

When many of the blue collar workers affected looked to the Democrats, they perceived a party more concerned with progressive causes, than helping them keep food on the table.  All of this created fertile ground for Trump, with his MAGA lure of restoring the economic and cultural primacy of white America.

The introduction of the Net Zero Economy Authority Bill to the House of Representatives by Patrick Gorman last week suggests Australian Labor has learned from at least one mistake made by the Democrats.

It’s designed to create new jobs in coal regions as Australia decarbonises, from projects like the solar panel factory Anthony Albanese recently announced for the site of the closed Liddell coal fired power station.

Delivering a ‘just transition’ is not only critical to maintaining public support for climate action. It will be critical to Labor denying Peter Dutton a Trump-like path to government.

This article also appeared in The West Australian newspaper.


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