Diversifying the Hunter

The electric motor of the Australian economy

Ambitious projects are underway to ensure the Hunter maintains its position as Australia’s regional powerhouse

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The Hunter: home of a quiet revolution

In regional New South Wales, the Hunter is set to become the electric motor of the Australian economy.

For two hundred years, the Hunter has been a powerhouse of Australian mining and energy exports. In fact, Australia’s first export commodity left from the Port of Newcastle as a shipment of coal bound for India in 1799. The region is also well known for manufacturing, and energy-intensive industries such as aluminium and steel.

The Hunter is now writing a new chapter in this proud history as an industrial and energy superpower. There is a quiet revolution happening in the Hunter, characterised by innovation, clean tech, adaptation, collaboration, battery manufacturing and retrofits, electric vehicles, hydrogen cells, niche wind solutions, and some of Australia’s biggest industrial-scale use of renewable energy.

The Million Jobs Plan: The Hunter Region Case Study

In 2020, Beyond Zero Emissions released the Million Jobs Plan. It showed how in just five years, renewables and low emissions projects can deliver 1.8 million new jobs in the regions and communities these are needed most.

Chapter 9 of the Million Jobs Plan is a deep dive into the Hunter Region, presenting five opportunities for new renewable energy and zero emissions jobs in the Hunter Region. Our ideas in the Million Jobs Plan will provide over 50,000 jobs over the first 5 years, and 115,000 jobs over 10 years with 24,000 of these being ongoing, to Hunter residents. It showed:

  • COVID-19 has highlighted that the Hunter is highly risk-exposed due to its reliance on coal. However, the Hunter’s legacy coal infrastructure and workforce paves the way to diversify the economy
  • The Hunter has been on a path of transformation since the BHP closure. Ongoing diversification is an extension of this with an emphasis on clean energy, an electrified industry and land restoration.
  • Among Hunter residents is optimism and confidence for the future, and a strong desire to seize the stimulus opportunities available now to fast-track change.
  • The Hunter case studies for The Million Jobs Plan are housing retrofits, land use, fly ash, green steel and zero-emissions vehicles. However there are many other potential opportunities in the Hunter that can create jobs that benefit ALL Hunter communities.

We want to hear your vision for a bright Hunter future. Contact our Hunter Diversification Lead, Samantha Mella: sam.mella@bze.org.au