Illawarra can lead green jobs revolution: union

The Illawarra could become a major player in any future green, energy efficient economy, ACTU president Sharan Burrow and Australian Conservation Foundation executive director Don Henry told a public meeting at the University of Wollongong yesterday.The pair are on a nationwide campaign, calling for public and private investment to help kick-start jobs in areas such as energy efficiency, waste and recycling, and alternate energy sources.But both were keen to point out that the future they were advocating would not spell the end for the coal and steel industries in the Illawarra.They voiced a similar view on the impact of the federal Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, which they believed should be passed in its present form."Coal and steel in this region are critical," Ms Burrow told an audience of students and academics."Traditional industries are part of the supply chain for existing demands ... but they also have a place in green industry."Our real concern is while the politicians wrangle in Canberra we are not unleashing investment into jobs, into regions, into new industries, that is necessary if we are going to be globally competitive."You can't win a global race by starting last."Mr Henry said it would be important to progress technologically to reduce the future emissions from steelmaking and mining."Let's get cracking as a nation on tackling climate change but let's be really vigorous in regions like the South Coast to make sure we generate the job opportunities that are there," he said.The pair were vocal in their praise of the South Coast Labour Council and University of Wollongong for the formation of the regional green jobs plan.Meantime, Ms Burrow poured cold water on rumours she might be about to follow in the footsteps of Throsby MP Jennie George, a former ACTU president, by moving into Parliament via a seat in the Illawarra."Not at all, I can assure you, it's not in my plans to go into Parliament," she told the Mercury."You have some very good advocates from the union movement in our Parliament and Jennie George, of course, my predecessor, represents you in Throsby and she's a terrific woman and I have no plans to go following in her footsteps."

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