Major Investment to Transition Coal Workers to New Industries in Western Australia
The Western Australian (WA) Labor government has pledged $662 million (US$465.2 million) to attract new industries and create new local jobs in the southwestern town of Collie to help the region’s 1,200 coal workers transition to new roles and secure a future for the town.
This comes after the government announced on Tuesday that all state-owned coal-fired power stations in WA, all of which are located in or near Collie, will be retired by 2030 due to the large-scale uptake of rooftop solar and other renewables across the state.
The 340-megawatt power station in Collie will shut its doors in late 2027, while the nearby 854-megawatt Muja complex will see a gradual closure of its facility, with full closure by 2029 putting 1,200 people out of work.
A new $547 million investment will build on the $115 million-plus the WA government has already put towards diversifying and transitioning Collie’s economy and includes a new $200 million Collie Industrial Transition Fund to attract new industries and major projects to the town.
This fund will focus on enhancing industrial land readiness and supporting new and emerging industries, such as battery manufacturing, wind turbine manufacturing, hydrogen, minerals processing, and green cement.
The state government will carry out orderly and coordinated decommissioning works of Muja and Collie power stations immediately after each is retired, an estimated $300 million investment that is expected to create an ongoing pipeline of work for several years following the closures to support the transitioning of the blue-collar workforce.
Premier Mark McGowan said on Tuesday that his government is committed to supporting economic diversification in Collie to create new industrial and blue-collar jobs in the town.
“The package will work to attract new industries and create jobs, provide grants for local businesses, and support new training and career pathways for workers,” he said.
So as to upskill the workers, the Collie Jobs and Skills Centre will be expanded, providing free career, training and employment advice for individuals and businesses, free skills assessments and recognition of prior learning to utilise workers’ existing skills and knowledge to get a formal qualification and free training for impacted workers who want to obtain a full qualification or do a short course.
A new Collie Futures Curriculum Fund will be established to develop industry-specific skills training, and job seekers will be given assistance connecting with employment opportunities, while employers will also be provided assistance in attracting and recruiting employees.
Energy Minister Bill Johnston said on Tuesday that the government is focused on ensuring there continue to be quality, well-paid local jobs in the types of heavy industries the Collie region is known for.
“The town’s location, existing power infrastructure and skilled local workforce means it will remain central to the State’s energy generation efforts,” he said.
“Along with coordinated power station decommissioning works and new industrial projects, this program will provide new opportunities for blue-collar workers from Collie and surrounding regions.”
Meanwhile, the member for Collie-Preston, Jodie Hanns, stressed that the WA government has been working closely with industry and community in the region for the past five years to lay the groundwork for the transition.
“Collie has a long future ahead as an industrial town—including exciting opportunities in a number of new and emerging industries—ensuring there will continue to be a high-quality local jobs in the region for years to come,” she said.
However, WA Liberal leader David Honey said that he would like to see the government elaborate on what specific jobs will be available for the former coal workers.
“We need to understand the detail behind the jobs that will replace those lost due to the closure of the Collie power stations, rather than broad training programs,” he said.