A pledge to create 50,000 new green jobs was a showpiece announcement in Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's speech to the ALP national conference on July 30.
Twenty-four hours later, his pledge was revealed as totally bogus.
The government had to admit there were no plans to create 50,000 new green jobs. It turned out only 6000 jobs could be expected through the government's jobs fund, along with a further 10,000 positions in a new initiative — the National Green Jobs Corps.
Soon, these 10,000 green jobs were in doubt. It turned out they weren't jobs at all. The 10,000 "jobs" were really a glorified work-for-the-dole scheme for the long-term unemployed.
Then it was revealed the other 6000 green jobs weren't new — they'd been announced previously.
So Rudd's "50,000 jobs" weren't 50,000, weren't new and mostly, weren't jobs.
And neither were they green.
The popular demand for "green jobs" becomes a meaningless buzzword in the hands of the major party politicians. What they mean by more green jobs (when they are not simply telling bald-faced lies) is creating jobs in addition to existing industries.
However, the real green jobs we need are those that replace dirty jobs as soon as possible.
Most of all we need green-collar jobs for workers now employed in the mining, energy, forestry and agricultural industries. Creating green jobs is an essential part of the transition away from fossil-fuel intensive industries.
A 2008 report commissioned by Greenpeace looked at the potential to create such green jobs in the Hunter Valley in NSW. The area is now a centre of coalmining and is home to six coal-fired power stations.
It found that, were NSW to shift to 100% renewable energy, between 63,200 and 73,800 green jobs could be created in the Hunter.
These are the real clean energy jobs of the future. To get them, we'll have to defeat the political agenda of a government that talks green but acts brown.