Union action helps save ARENA

Strong representation and lobbying by the CPSU and environmental groups has delivered bi-partisan funding and support for ARENA, a key funding body for CSIRO renewable energy research.

The Coalition's Omnibus budget savings measures sought to cut $1.3 billion from Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

The omnibus bill would have ended ARENA's role as the cornerstone of Australia's renewable energy program and jeopardised many crucial renewable energy projects within CSIRO’s Energy, Manufacturing and Oceans and Atmosphere Business Units. Axing ARENA had been a Coalition policy goal for the past three years.

Over the past three weeks, the CPSU worked with a broad coalition of political, environment and community groups, including the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), Friends of CSIRO, Labor Environment Action Network, Solar Citizens, The Greens and ‘Getup!’ to win major changes to the Omnibus Bill.

CPSU Assistant National Secretary Michael Tull said, “Working together we were able to retain $800m in funding for ARENA and preventing further job losses in CSIRO. This represents a substantial shift in Coalition policy on ARENA. The fact that ARENA’s role and funding now has bi-partisan support provides more certainty to not only CSIRO, but also the broader renewable energy industry.

"We didn't get everything but in a tough Parliament to navigate, we did get enough. We will keep working with the groups above and others to secure better funding arrangements in the future.

“We will also work with our community allies to secure the key role of the public sector in developing and implementing solutions to climate change," said Mr Tull.

The win has been warmly welcomed by union members in ARENA and the CSIRO.

One delegate said “This outcome means that our pipeline of research projects can continue to be funded, which is a huge relief for myself and my co-workers.  

“For the first time ever, there is bipartisan agreement on ARENA funding so we can now focus on delivering great research without having to worry about our future job prospects.

“The Staff Association and CPSU fought hard for this outcome and it’s great that the union is doing this type of work to protect agencies like ARENA.”

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