A high-profile national policy think tank has joined calls for a public authority to coordinate economic transition in the Hunter and says the NSW government should direct far more coal royalties back to the region. The Grattan Institute on Sunday published a report on how state and federal governments should steer the "next industrial revolution" to achieve the nation's 2050 net-zero target.
The report says the NSW and Queensland governments should set up well funded transition authorities in the Hunter and central Queensland, "where 40,000 jobs are likely to disappear over the coming decades".
The report's authors, including Grattan energy and climate change program director Tony Wood, said the NSW government had "made a good start" by establishing the Royalties for Rejuvenation program, but the $25 million a year set aside for the scheme amounted to a tiny fraction of the billions in coal royalties the state expects to collect in 2021-22.
"For as long as coal lasts, all or part of the royalties that state governments collect should be directed towards improving resilience and economic diversity in coal regions," they wrote.
"Governments should start doing this now. If they wait until coal exports shrink dramatically and mine closures begin, the royalties will be too little to make a difference and economic shocks will already be hurting the coal regions."
They said record prices were delivering a royalties "bonanza", meaning governments could dramatically increase funding to affected regions "without having to reduce spending elsewhere".