Retired coalminer challenges Rudd over green jobs

Issue 

Graham Brown, a retired coalminer from the Hunter Valley in NSW, kicked off a national speaking tour by telling a University of Sydney forum on August 12 that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has "no clue whatsoever" about green jobs.

Brown was referring to Rudd's announcement at the ALP national conference on July 30 that he would create "50,000 new green jobs".

It was later revealed that Rudd's program only amounted to a few thousand new work experience positions, in areas including bush regeneration and installing insulation.

"Rudd's announcement shows how little the government knows about what green jobs should be. I would class green jobs as those that are part of the low-carbon economy. They are jobs related to achieving this economy", Brown said.

"The days of business-as-usual and pollute-at-will are gone and if the ALP is serious about doing something to reduce greenhouse gas emissions then Rudd needs to implement more than just work-for-the dole plans."

Since retiring from coalmining in 2007, Brown has committed much of his time to campaigning against the industry that employed him for 19 years.

The national speaking tour, organised by socialist youth organisation Resistance, aims to highlight the need and potential for a transition away from coal-fired energy that creates tens of thousands of new jobs in renewable energy and related sectors.

"Coalminers tell me 'You give me another job, that pays the same amount, and I'll be out of here tomorrow.' There will be more jobs in a green economy", Brown said.

Brown believes that, instead of "giving coal companies a free ride", the federal government should invest in new jobs and fund education and training programs for workers to move into the renewable energy sector.

"The whole population will need to transit to a low-carbon world, young and old, those employed and those not, and learn new skills.

"I can see a better society, and that's why I'm here today", he said.

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An excerpt from Brown's speech on Sydney University: