Government seeks comments on First Nations Clean Energy Strategy

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The Australian Government is seeking responses from First Nations communities following the release of a consultation paper on the country’s First Nations Clean Energy Strategy.

The consultation paper is based on six roundtables with First Nations communities and input from the First Nations Clean Energy and Emissions Reduction Advisory Committee.

“The Australian Government is ensuring First Nations people have a real say in Australia’s energy future and are not locked out of the clean energy transformation,” Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney said.

“First Nations people have strong local and cultural knowledge, including management of Country, and this can and should inform how Australia transforms its energy systems to achieve net zero by 2050,” Minister Burney added.

Adertisement

The Strategy, developed in collaboration with Indigenous Australians, aims to promote investment, cooperation, and long-term benefits for Indigenous communities across Australia.

The following priorities were identified at the initial level of engagement:

  • ensuring First Nations Australians have access to reliable and affordable energy, regardless of their location across the country,
  • prioritising access to skills and workforce development to promote meaningful economic involvement and entrepreneurial prospects for First Nations,
  • providing practical support so First Nations people can participate as equal partners in the transition.

The strategy aims to provide Indigenous households with equitable access to cleaner, cheaper energy, reduced diesel usage, cheaper finance, and more skilled employment in remote areas.

“The creation of a genuine First Nations Clean Energy Strategy and improving collaboration with government and industry sectors will be fundamental to securing support for Australia’s once in a lifetime clean energy transformation,” First Nations Clean Energy and Emissions Reduction Advisory Committee member and co-lead Dr Kate George said.

First Nations Clean Energy and Emissions Reduction Advisory Committee Travis Thomas noted that the strategy aims to support the Closing the Gap agreement’s four priority reforms, focusing on transforming government organisations to better serve First Nations people.

“It could also improve First Nations people’s access to data and information to make informed decisions, and build the community-controlled sector,” he continued.

“This can be looked upon as a moment, which do not come often, which if the involved industry, government, First Nations and the broader community approach in a reciprocal, considered manner, can truly change opportunities in involved First Nations communities,” he added.

According to the Federal Government, it is collaborating with First Nations Australians to enhance energy access to cheaper, cleaner sources and involve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the energy transformation process.

The Government is committing $83.8 million to the First Nations Community Microgrids program to improve energy affordability, reliability, and emissions reduction in First Nations communities by deploying microgrids.

Additionally, $2 million has been invested to assist First Nations communities in engaging with hydrogen project developers for the Hydrogen Headstart program.

“Indigenous Australians are important partners in the clean energy transformation, and they deserve access to cleaner cheaper energy – and energy security,” Minister for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen said.

“By providing the opportunities for First Nations communities to share their perspectives, government and industry are better equipped to ensure the First Nations Clean Energy Strategy delivers for Indigenous Australians.”