Mike Cannon-Brookes has endorsed a plan to create 1.8 million jobs and turn Australia into a ‘renewable energy superpower’

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  • Think tank Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) has launched its ‘Million Jobs Plan’ mapping a vision for an acceleration of the renewable energy sector.
  • It plans to create 1.8 million jobs via the acceleration of new energy projects, creation of new zero-energy social housing and retrofitting of existing stock.
  • The framework for creating 1.8 million jobs was backed by corporate heavyweights Mike Atlassian co-founder Cannon-Brookes, First State Super CEO Deanne Stewart, and long-serving corporate director Kevin McCann, as well as former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Three Australian corporate heavyweights have thrown their influence behind an ambitious plan to create almost two million new jobs and propel the renewable energy sector forward.

Atlassian co-founder and vocal green energy champion Mike Cannon-Brookes backed think tank Beyond Zero Emissions’ (BZE) five-year project at its launch this week.

“Let’s focus on our assets, let’s focus on the resources we have as a country, let’s look at the natural resources we have,” he said. “We can build a renewable energy superpower with a very low cost of energy generation.”

“We can use this as an opportunity to electrify so much of our economy in lots of different ways and we can use it to build a better strategically-positioned economy.”

“It’s the way we need to start thinking about our future.”

Cannon-Brookes was flanked by Deanne Stewart, chief executive of $103 billion First State Super, as well as former Macquarie Group chair and corporate stalwart Kevin McCann.

It comes after the federal government announced its technology investment roadmap, which Cannon-Brookes called an “interesting option” but “a strategy without a destination”.

This plan, he said, provides a proper direction in which Australia can lead.

“At the moment there’s a lot of risk out there without a really clear path and policies,” Stewart said. “We’d much prefer to be leading bravely on this matter than being a laggard.”

The three’s endorsement adds significant weight to the ‘Million Jobs Plan’ which will create “secure, well-paying” employment via the acceleration of new energy projects.

Those include the building of 90 gigawatts worth of solar and wind projects, an expansion of the electricity transmission network, the establishment of a battery manufacturing sector and growth of wind turbine production.

The bulk of jobs, however, would be created in the building sector, with 935,000 Australians needed to retrofit 2.5 million low-income homes, build 150,000 net-zero carbon social housing dwellings and install solar and batteries at schools and public pools.

Additional projects span transport, manufacturing and environmental regeneration, as Australia aims to rejigs its energy needs as much as its production and manage the damage already done to its land.

As Australia heads into its first recession in three decades, BZE CEO Eytan Lenko said renewable energy investment could help lead the economic recovery.

“It shows how we can rebuild our nation through investment in practical projects, modernise our industry, reskill our workforce and deliver a bright and secure future for all Australians,” he said in a recorded message.

BZE lists some 20 economists, academics, and business people among its advisers including former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Such an ambitious plan doesn’t come cheap requiring hundreds of billions of dollars of investment, but BZE suspects there’s sufficient appetite for low-carbon initiatives. It expects super funds, banks and corporates will all line up next to government funding to make it happen.

While this week’s announcement suggests parts of the business sector are ready, waiting for an Australian government to step up is a more complicated affair.

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