Australia, Policy, Projects, Renewables, Solar, Storage

First Nations advocate for meaningful clean energy involvement

As the Australian Government prepares to introduce its Future Made in Australia Act, advocates are urging Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to ensure the legislation includes and empowers the country’s First Nations peoples.

The First Nations Clean Energy Network (FNCEN), a leading voice on Indigenous clean energy issues, has welcomed the government’s plans for the ambitious new act. However, FNCEN co-chairs Karrina Nolan and Chris Croker caution that the legislation must not “be at the expense of, nor take for granted, First Nations consent”.

The FNCEN has pointed to precedents set by landmark clean energy legislation in the United States and Canada, which have recognised the crucial role of Indigenous communities in the clean energy transition.

The group argues that Australia’s own energy transformation and manufacturing renaissance under the Future Made in Australia Act will require genuine partnership with First Nations peoples.

“We want to see economic and policy systems that include and embed First Nations culture, rights and interests, and priorities,” Nolan and Croker said in a statement. “We don’t want to see a repeat of the mistakes of the past.”

The advocates are calling for the principles of Free, Prior and Informed Consent to be “embedded in the Future Made in Australia Act”.

They note that where Indigenous communities have been engaged as genuine partners on major projects, the results have been faster development, better value for investors, and decreased risk.

The FNCEN has submitted recommendations to the government on ways to incentivise First Nations outcomes in the new legislation, such as through provisions for Indigenous ownership, jobs, and business opportunities, as well as protections for cultural heritage and the environment.

With many First Nations communities on the frontlines of climate change, the group argues this is a critical opportunity to recognise the mutual benefits of embedding Indigenous interests in the government’s vision for Australia’s economic and energy future.

“Incentivising First Nations outcomes must be at the centre of the Future Made in Australia Act,” Nolan and Croker said.

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