Like all Australians, Central Queenslanders want secure jobs so our families continue to live and prosper in these cities that we’ve called home for years.

That’s why it was so good to see Central Queensland take an active role in its future through the recent Energy Futures Summit held in Gladstone, sponsored by the Australian Conservation Foundation and energy generators CleanCo and Stanwell.

Here, representatives from energy companies, energy-intensive industries, governments, trade unions, Traditional Owners, environment groups, employers and educators met to open the conversation on the destiny of this region.

Central to the conversation was finding a way to make sure the region emerges from Australia’s energy transformation in an even stronger position, increasing the liveability of regional Queensland.

We know the world will stop producing energy and manufactured goods from coal and gas.

We also know Gladstone, and other Queensland cities, can seize the opportunity found in clean energy and green manufacturing to build a community-led transition.

Equal seats at the table

With so many diverse stakeholders and interests, it was critical the summit ensured voices had equal opportunity to be heard, even if those voices had been in conflict in the past.

And with the community keen to understand ‘how’ not ‘if’ the region’s energy transformation will take place, it’s up to leaders from across the industry to start having fair, meaningful discussions with those who call Central Queensland home.

What emerged after two days of discussions, was a consensus that the community must lead the conversation, and offer the solutions.

And governments, unions, environment groups and industries must ensure Central Queensland communities — Gladstone, Rockhampton, Emerald and surrounding towns — continue to thrive economically.

Queensland Future energy summit

Delegates at a panel discussion with Australian Conservation Foundation climate program manager Gavan McFadzean pictured on panel (far left). Photo: Paul Sinclair.

Central Queensland can be stronger than ever

A fair outcome will also only come from strong regional coordination and cooperation.

A core outcome emerging from this summit was a series of recommendations to governments about how local communities want to lead the energy transformation discussion and what support we want from the Queensland government to make it happen. It will also be critical in supporting the Central Queensland community to ride the wave of the global energy transformation and emerge stronger. 

No Queenslander, and no Australian, wants to see regional communities ‘boom and bust’ because governments failed to plan with industry and communities to create new, exciting and durable opportunities for everyday people as renewables replace coal and gas to meet our energy needs.

It’s exactly why we need to be given every chance to embrace the opportunities of the future, and be empowered to replace old industries and technologies with new ones that can provide jobs to everyone who calls Central Queensland home.

Renee McLeod

Climate and Energy Campaigner, Australian Conservation Foundation