• News
  • A transformation built on the very best of Australian values

A transformation built on the very best of Australian values

This week, the Hon Greg Combet AM delivered his highly anticipated National Press Club address, as the outgoing Chair of the newly renamed Net Zero Economy Agency. At the core of his address, was the sense that true Aussie values should and will guide our nation through this once in a century transformation. We take a closer look at what was shared and what’s to come.  

As Greg Combet took to the mic on Tuesday, he was quick to point out the last time he stood there was during his tenure as Minister for Climate Change, a not-so subtle reminder to us all that he is not new to this game.  With a career marked by dedication and leadership, Combet has consistently advocated for policies aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change and securing a sustainable future for generations to come, fighting for a “win for Australia’s children”. 

It is safe to say, his no-nonsense approach over the years (dare I say decades!) has earned him respect and admiration across the political divide. 

In an era when skepticism still lingered regarding the severity of climate change, he spearheaded initiatives to reduce carbon emissions, promote renewable energy sources, and foster international cooperation on climate action. While many of us spend a lot of time in this space now, Combet recognised its significance a decade or more ago and wasn’t afraid to stick his head up and take decisive, and sometimes divisive action to mitigate its effects for future generations.  

Fast forward to today, and Greg Combet, Chair of the Net Zero Economy Agency, and incoming Chair of Australia’s Future Fund, stood before us as a trusted pair of hands in this space and outlined a clear vision for the nation’s shift to a net-zero economy.  

Starting with a mandate made clear by Prime Minister Albanese and Minister Chris Bowen, Mr Combet explained that the Agency’s role was to champion an orderly economic shift to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel dependence. It will also ensure that workers and regions are not only supported but can actively participate in and benefit from the transition. 

“My instructions were clear: develop a plan that will help people and communities through change, respect their interests, create opportunities, and leave no one behind – the best of Australian values.” Greg Combet, NPC April 2024.  

While highlighting a suite of policy measures and legislative frameworks the Australian Government have committed to including legislated emissions-reduction targets, a dramatic expansion of renewable energy and storage, significant infrastructure investments, and incentives for green industry innovation, he made it clear that none of these efforts will work without coordination.  

The critical need for various levels of government, businesses, and communities to partner, work together and keep Australian values at the heart of it all was his point, very well made. These values, he described as the “most vital thing” to guide the way that we go about the change, ensuring we are respecting people and communities and achieving equitable outcomes, and a commitment to a common sense of purpose – essentially not just talking about ‘social licence’ but actually having it.  

We all know the energy transition is the as the catalyst for economic transformation and those in the room were reminded that we have already come along way. Renewables made up almost 40% of our total energy generation in 2023, however Mr Combet pointed out that just 12 years ago it was only 13 percent. With the significant investment in renewable energy and the proactive measures taken by state and territory governments, Australia is on the right path to achieving a low carbon economy.  

“The energy transition is well underway, and is set to accelerate.” Greg Combet, NPC April 2024.  

Combet’s address articulated a clear vision for Australia’s future—a future where the challenges of climate change are met with the optimism and action necessary to transition to a renewable-powered economy. This transition is underpinned by Australia’s unique resource endowments, a skilled workforce, and a robust investment climate, positioning us to thrive as a global renewable energy leader if we get it right. Now is the time to ensure the values and common sense of purpose are part of the change, not an afterthought.  

It is encouraging to think, if it takes Mr Combet another decade or so to stand in front of the National Press Club, how far we will have come by then and hopefully, this time we have really listened.  

Full address available here – Address to the National Press Club | PM&C (pmc.gov.au)